There is a moment when you know it’s over. That his proximity disgusts you. That no amount of love can disguise what was or what could be. These photographs were taken at the moment, the moment I knew for sure. The fast train to Paris from Cannes. A beautiful boy sat opposite me and I wanted to ravish him. I couldn’t wait to say goodbye to the loved one. Yet, I knew, the moment we parted I would not stop thinking of him. From the moment I woke up to the moment I fell into a fitful sleep. Gone, the door slammed. He was dead to me long before I made it impossible for him to do anything but take drastic measures. It was the worst kind of grief because nobody died…
This morning Robby picked me up from the house and drove me to Van Nuys.
The handsome deputy in the court room gives me a cheery wave, the clerk courteously holds open the door and even the wicked witch looks softer… more agreeable. She’s only doing her job. I can’t be too hard on her.
After our short stint in the court we had coffee with my lawyer who is, it turns out, covered in tattoos.
Robby then drove me into Hollywood to the Gay and Lesbian Center where I waited in line for my annual HIV test. Since 1984 I have been regularly tested for HIV. Since I was Robby’s age. It has always been a fearful time for me. I’m sure it is for everyone.
I was given the wrong diagnosis in my mid thirties. A confused New York nurse told me I was HIV positive. For three weeks I thought I had it. Until I fled to London and the doctor told me I was perfectly ok. In those days an HIV positive result meant certain death. The kind of death that included cancerous lesions inside and out. Opportunistic diseases caught from potted plants, cats and canaries. Dramatic weight loss and the most painful end.
Now, of course, HIV just means being wedded to big pharma for the rest of your life, a huge liver and for most people… a new closet to live in. It occurred to me, as I sat waiting for my result, how I would tell you all if I had contracted HIV. I live a public life. I am sure that the shame I have heard others talk and write about would envelop me too.
But, as I sat there I decided to tweet the fact that I was there and what I was waiting for. I gave myself no option but to come out and tell you… if I was HIV positive. I knew it wouldn’t be like telling you I had cancer. I asked the counsellor what would happen if I was HIV Positive? He gave me the medical facts. It didn’t seem that bad. But we all know: it’s not the medical implications… it’s the social implication that packs the negative punch. In the gay community there is huge prejudice around HIV and AIDS. The frank discussion we need to have about HIV is not being had.
After he read the result I looked obviously shocked. I really did not expect to be negative. In fact, I rather thought I might be seriously ill.
“Why?” He asked.
Because, and it grieves me to tell you this but after JB and I saw each other that last time… I had no way of drowning my fury so I trawled the internet and transformed from the ‘curious top’ to the ‘pig bottom’. The pig bottom who wants to be fed. I think you know what I mean.
“Just cum in me.” I said. They were very eager to please.
“It was a suicide bid. The only one I knew would work. I hated him so much…”
“Did you hate him? Or you?” The counsellor asked kindly.
I smiled wryly. “I’m still HIV negative.”
“You dodged the bullet.”
You see, I have never been like most gay men… craving sex many times a day. I have never visited a bath house or a cruising park. I rarely meet the men I speak with on-line. I am not like you. I tried it once… not so long ago and it made me feel sick.
This week Paris Hilton was caught squealing at her friend’s Grindr. She’s right to be appalled. AIDS has taught us nothing. Pre bug chasing… I didn’t want to have sex with someone I didn’t know. It kept me negative. I wasn’t about to be shamed into having sex with anyone.
When I was a kid, men would invite me into their homes. The mere acceptance of a cup of tea somehow meant agreeing to full on butt sex. They try to shame you. Get angry with you… but I fought back. Fuck off. I’m leaving. It saved my life. Now the youngsters who get HIV are similarly shamed. My friend told me (he’s 24) that a guy he really wanted told him they had to fuck ‘raw’ (unprotected)… when my friend protested his amour said, “What? Don’t you believe me? I’m HIV negative.”
He wasn’t. Now… nor is my friend. Are we kidding ourselves when we say that we are having protected sex? There’s outrage because Paris Hilton is disgusted by Grindr. She’s right. We should all be disgusted. My women friends say, “There should be a Grindr for straight people.”
I tell them that a usual Grindr introduction consists of one word: Hung? Then: Clean? Then: Dick Pic? Women are usually appalled when I tell them the way gay men cut to the chase.
I’m happy that I am HIV negative. I’m happier that my death wish has been thwarted. I’m happier still that all that hate and self hate came to nothing.
Writing my film has had a wonderfully cathartic effect on me. He is just a distant memory. Even though I see him daily on the page he now exists as I want him to. Suffer and thrive the way I want him to… without ever having to suffer myself.
Today… today was a good day to be HIV negative.
Jess and I decided to put on our best togs, book into the coolest hotel we could find (Hotel Amour) and spend the weekend in Paris.
I woke early on Dean Street and to my delight a young man popped over to say a sweet goodbye. He stayed a few minutes. His lithe, hairless, Irish body for my delectation.
I packed…a punch and my suitcase. After a HUGE English breakfast, we were on the train to Dover. When we got there however, this grey miserable Kentish town, we realized that we had missed our last train from Calais to Paris.
Good naturedly we decided to press on and agreed that once on the boat we would ask if anyone, by any chance, was going to Paris and could we cadge a lift?
Well, one might think that would be a hard task to accomplish. Initially it was. I sent Jess (red tight sweater, full lips) to schmooze the lorry drivers but they were mostly Polish so immune to her pigeon French and hand gestures. She cut no ice with these gruff eastern Europeans.
Whilst she was gesticulating wildly and grinning like the Joker at fat men…I met a beautiful 24 year old soldier called Nick with blue eyes and the sweetest nature. Surprise, surprise!
Nick hung out with us for the duration and I couldn’t stop thinking about him…he was/is gorgeous.
Anyway, finally, we found a British coach driver with abnormally bad teeth, pallid complexion and a weasily midland disposition called Leigh. He wanted our cash so we willingly handed over 200 euros for a lift to Paris. What he failed to tell us was that the majority of the other passengers on the coach were so drunk that they could not sit squarely in their seats, farted continually and made conversations that made even me blush. Not because they were lewd but because they were so puerile.
I have not been in such ghastly company for ages. Jess described them as ‘pond life’.
They all suffered, like children, from the disease of more. More food, more alcohol..and of course Penny from Wolverhampton, sitting directly behind me could not think of anything but her suppurating vagina as she tried hopelessly to blow one man and coax another into the bathroom..neither of whom would have anything to do with her.
Penny (Pennoy) then grabbed my head and told me to look at her. I said, “Have you met my wife?” She then leapt out of her seat to kiss Jess, her alcohol sodden body falling onto my poor, sober friend.
Anyway, seething with resentment, my jaw clenched for three hours we finally disgourged in Paris…as it happens a few kilometers from out hotel so, in a few surprisingly short moments, we were eating delicious cheese and drinking Badoit before falling into a deep and deserved sleep.
I slept with Jess because of a room issue. She does not snore, fart or talk in her sleep. I, on the other hand, could not stop thinking about my blond squaddy and what I would do with him if it was he and not her laying beside me.
The room issue is now resolved…so perhaps…nah…well…maybe.
Today we shopped. Collette, Lanvin, Comme…etc. My post tumour life. We ate lunch at Costes. Hanging out with Jess is so much fun. Last time I was here I was with the HIM who I rather cruelly but accurately described as Jean-Baptiste Grenouille the guy from the novel Perfume in my vlog.
Slinking behind me like a crippled, foul-smelling, dwarf.