The Adventures of the Boi Wonder: The Fears of Our Past Don’t Scare Me
“The world I used to be afraid of doesn’t scare me anymore
‘Cause I know the things that matter are behind another door
This world’ll keep on turning and the stars’ll always shine
And I started living on that night your heart became all mine”
–“The World I Used to Be Afraid Of” by Blanche
Some of the first gay films I ever saw dealt also with the subject of the early days of HIV/AIDS, films like Longtime Companion, Angels In America, and Love! Valour! Compassion!, and Jeffrey (this still continues today with viewings of The Witnesses, Parting Glances, and The Living End). I was a confused new teenager with cable and insomnia, so I would stay up and watch anything that had to do with homosexuality (with a particular fixation on gay men, even then I felt more akin to them than to lesbians). It just happened that most of the films I saw were a little before my time.
I am pretty fresh and sheltered when it comes to the history and realities of HIV/AIDS in our community; I wasn’t born until the early 90’s, have almost always lived in suburbia, and have never known anyone who has HIV/AIDs, let alone died from it. According to Larry Kramer, that puts me in the league of the lazy, uneducated gays of my generation by default (after he admonishes me for calling myself queer). However, I strive to be neither purposefully ignorant nor excessively fearful.
As I try to enter the world of dating and sex, I find myself periodically asking the question, “Would I date someone who was positive?” “Would I still hook up with them after they told me?” Looking at the OkCupid and ManHunt profiles of cute guys who are brave enough to clearly admit their status in their profiles (because, it is hard to be upfront about things that are often considered “less than ideal”), it certainly doesn’t rule them out in my mind. If you want to be ruled out in my book then show an open dislike for intellectual pursuits or put something along the lines of “no fats or flamers” in your profile.
There is definitely still a lot of unfair treatment and generalizations made. I can relate in more than one way to being stigmatized for a medical issue and have it become an automatic disqualifier in people’s eyes. There is this judgment that you can see pass through people’s eyes, and often that appalling silence that follows or that damn “Oh…” followed by the silence and judgment. I don’t have HIV/AIDS, so I cannot fully understand, but I’d like to think I can at least make an effort not to be prejudiced despite my unintentionally sheltered upbringing.
It is really interesting hearing what my peers think about HIV and people who happen to have it. For the most part, it seems more like a punchline to them than anything else. With the exception of some of the social justice types with their sights firmly set on Africa and Bono, it seems to have disappeared from the mindset of those around me except in the form of a joke or an eyeroll when adults lecture about the importance of protection. Our thoughts seem so separate from the interpersonal side of things. I wonder what their responses would be if I asked, “Would date someone who was positive?” If it is anything like the responses I hear from many people about the question, “Would you date someone who is transgender?”, then clearly we have some things we need to talk and think about these matters on a personal, human level rather than technical terms and afterschool specials.
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