black men hiv

A Date on World AIDS Day

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The last time we went on a date was 2008 maybe 9. Maybe I have an affinity for the past. I write period pieces about slavery and the civil rights era. On average, I think I keep in touch with more exes than most people. Here we are 2016: he has asked me on a date. Those were his exact words: date not chill.

I remember I met him when I was at Hampton University somewhere between a freshmen and a sophomore. He was a little dark, a little chubby, a little navy seaman. Now he’s retired and I’m bachelor degreed. He’s gotten more muscular and I’ve gotten a little thicker skin clearer. But there was always a certain symmetry in his face that I’ve been drawn too. With the baby weight off it’s a little more pronounced.

We’ve fucked in the interim. There was passion and lust and unbeknownst to him (probably) a little trepidation before, in the midst of, and after he act. But there’s a certain symmetry in his actions. I let my feelings be known he takes action. I said you haven’t taken me out on a date and day’s later he asked me if I wanted to go out on a date. I enjoy a man like that. I reveal in a man like that. I could honor a man like that.
The date: December 1st World AIDS Day. I don’t remember when I told him I was HIV positive, but I do recall telling him several times (because I kept forgetting I told him) and he told me to shut up, because he already knows.

A date; I can’t think of a better way to honor myself, others that are diagnosed with HIV, and those whose mortality has succumbed to the disease.

Before The HIV: Part 4 of 4 (Origin Story)

I wonder if he’s shouting Black Lives Matter now. I wonder if he’s protesting the senseless murders of Black men (and Black women). I know I rarely say it. I haven’t bought into it. I haven’t surmised how much I truly believe the statement when I’ve placed my own mortality on the line several times. Still, I wonder if Black lives matter to him now. I wonder if the statement only pertains to Black men slain by enforcement officers — if it does that’s fine by me, no animosity at all. Causes should be specific, plights are. I wonder how politically and socially conscious he is.

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It’s not that Black lives didn’t matter back in 2010 when we helped one another contract the disease, but obviously we cared a little less for our lives than we’d like to admit.

Things change rapidly. Though we weren’t in the midst of the 1980s rapid discovery and explosion of HIV/AIDS, 2005s mentality of the virus was nothing like it is in 2016. I remember back then if you met someone online there was very little exchange about HIV/AIDS status. Of course websites like A4A had a drop down menu that let you include your HIV status: positive, negative, unknown or it could be left blank. But rarely beyond that tidbit of information did men flat out ask one another. Fast-forward to 2016 (and in a testament to mattering more) plenty of men (if I haven’t gotten to it first) will ask me my status (and I love  it).

 The act of mattering to one self is a very internal feeling that is shaped by external forces whether they be government, media, faith, or family. On the surface my act of unprotected sex was the naivety of adolescents — I’m a young Black invincible gay motherfucker (imagine it in a Samuel L. Jackson cadence and tone).Under the surface I was condition to not matter to myself. I can’t speak for him.

I met him online the summer before my Hampton freshmen year. I fell quick and hard, hormones raging for this 6’3″ brown skin older boy with the legs of a soccer player and dick like the trunk of Snuffleupagus. We dated all freshmen year. We broke up all freshmen year. We reconciled all freshmen year. We fucked all freshmen year in my lone freshmen room (my roommate found out I sucked big black dicks and in some misguided notion thought I’d regress back to baby dicks requested to move out). We fucked raw all freshmen year. I fucked others all freshmen year. I fucked others raw, at times, and I fucked others protected, at times, all freshmen year.

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The most annoying question I repeatedly get since having HIV is “how did you get it?” I can’t recall anyone ever asking me “are you okay?”, or “are you mentally and emotionally healthy regarding it?”. Do I matter? Do Black lives still matter? I’m not sure how I contracted it. Well, the real question that they want to know and some do ask “do you know who gave it to you?” It never mattered to me, so why does it matter to so many other people. Nosey no empathy having motherfuckers — I say. It seems once you’ve contracted the disease you become an alien and according to what people have said to me once they know, I now know extraterrestrial lives matter but not my black one.

I understood the Emmy nominated production that is Beyonce’s Lemonade right away. I don’t matter to the world, but why am I also being betrayed and disregarded by the man (or men) I love? After freshmen year, I didn’t think I was coming back to Hampton so we ended it. I don’t recall the reason why I didn’t want to go back or didn’t think I’d be able to. We knew long distance was not logistical for us. However, we kept in touch through penis pictures and videos. About 6 months before the semester was to start I found out I was indeed returning to HU (the real one) and I proceeded to tell him. He said we would pick up where we left off.

He didn’t mean the monogamy or the relationship, but instead the back and forth. I wish I could say I remember it like yesterday, but I don’t. Somehow he told me; it could have been by phone call, email, plane or train. A week before I was to trek back to HU (the real one) he had confessed he was in a new relationship.

I still carried on with him my whole sophomore year off and on. Sex. Unprotected fornication. He was mine first. The first boy I swore I ever loved. Sex. Unprotected fornication in their home. He was mine first and he said I’d be his last. Swore he’d break it off. Some first year psych major may say I didn’t hold myself to a high standard, because I didn’t value my own self worth. I didn’t value myself enough to demand to be the only one in his life or have protected sex; if he was fucking me raw they must have been fucking raw and seven years later I think to myself who wasn’t he fucking raw. I guess Black lives didn’t matter.

I can admit: I haven’t cared for living for some time now. I didn’t care before the HIV and haven’t shifted my self-worth post diagnosis. I admit I’m a 27 year old insecure and suicidal Black gay male. I go off and on meds, even though I know that could create complications and lead to death. Hell, recently I almost overdosed on prescription drugs and alcohol, full disclosure: it was not my intent, but when I woke up in my car on the side of the road at 5am vomiting I couldn’t help, but think why I couldn’t have just died instead. I hypothesized (and I’m probably not the only one) that until Black gay men really internalize the feeling of worth, value, of mattering HIV/AIDS will never be a thing of the past for the Black community.

It was (guesstimating) maybe 5-7 months after we stopped having sex that I was diagnosed. It was (guesstimating) 3 years later that we both confided in our statuses to one another with no anomosity. No questions of how it was contracted just two Black men now making sure we were both okay, making sure we knew we mattered with honesty.

Before The Hiv: A Lie Pt 3 of 4 (Coming Clean and a Confrontation)

I’m a lazy liar. Couldn’t keep up with the effort of portraying a newly diagnosed HIV person. I lied and tried to make him believe that I just found out I was positive after going for a STD panel screening. He believed me at first, concerned and torn and tears. Ugh — I ain’t shit, but frankly I couldn’t afford to get my ass beat by telling him the truth to his face when he asked. I mean we fucked in the heat of the moment. Why wasn’t he responsible before he crept inside me raw? Shit — why wasn’t I. Usually I am. I have a good track record of disclosure. So much so that I tell people over and over again, because I forget that I’ve told them. I never sit down and have a heart to heart about it. I just tell them. Sort of like —

“Hey, Patton, where would you like to go for lunch?” Me: I have HIV. But let’s go to that place off Piedmont with the mussels that I like.

No lie; but in the moment, I froze, I panicked, I didn’t want my pretty face bludgeoned. But I had to come up with a way to know he was at risk so I came up with that lie.

 

A month then two went by and I kept up the statement of how I got it, but I couldn’t fake a somber deposition that you would assume one would have with a new diagnosis. So I confessed. I told him the truth. Through text — of course. Again, I couldn’t afford to get my ass beat. He asked me to come to his place. I agreed. I told my best friend; he has a gun.

 

I was greeted with a kiss and hug, like I always had been. However, he wasn’t going to catch me with my guard down. Told my best friend if I didn’t send an ‘I’m safe text’ at the fifteen and thirty minute mark to come rescue me. I scanned the room for things I could use as a weapon: a potted plant, a pen on the table, a prayer to God. Positioned myself between him and the door, so I could take off if need be.

 

We sat and talked about a few things like why I lied, about each of our account ability in the matter, the fact that he knew cause I can’t act worth a damn, and where we would go from there.  I text my bestie and said I was okay.

 

Where did we go from there? We went to the bedroom without a condom in sight.

Dog Whistle Compliments and Positive Statuses

Scandal called it “Dog Whistle Politics,” and dark hued beauties hear the whistle loud and clear when suitors spit the line “You’re cute for a dark skin girl.” With a gaze of disappointment at the man offering the line and a raised chin as to assert the next words uttered out from her lips, “I am not pretty for a dark skin girl. I’m simply a beautiful woman,” girls with skin as rich as oil know a slighted compliment when they hear one.

I am not sexy for an HIV Positive person; I am simply a sexy motherfucker. I met him over a year ago and at that time he wanted to beat on my box. However, when I told him I was HIV Positive he backed off. I didn’t really care. I’m ‘unbothered’ by men who do not want to engage me sexually, because of my status. I’ve always felt there is always some reason why someone can reject you; if it’s not my HIV it could have been my small ears, or my calloused heel or my dry scalp. There are a ton of reasons why I’m not ideal so just add my HIV status to the list.

About a year has passed since this man, a self-confessed Atlanta gym rat with boulder sized biceps and bigger thighs complete with a baby face of a sixteen year old although he is 29, lost interest because of my status. I was never angry; I’m sure he’s had sex with positive people who have not disclosed their status or lied, but ignorance is bliss when it comes to HIV and sex at large in Atlanta.

Recently, he’s come back around, but I’m not readily available when he has text me with his mating call and this is the issue. I’ve been subjected to that tired ass tune that niggas give when you are not prepared to fuck upon command, “Why you playing, Bruh?” Girl, go ahead with that bullshit, I’m not sitting around waiting on you to get horny, so I can fulfil your sexual request.

Then this nigga proceeds to say “You told me your status, and I’m still trying to fuck, so why you playing?” Wait, I didn’t know I was supposed to feel grateful as an HIV positive person to have sex with someone that is negative. My self-worth has not diminished, because of my HIV status. I’ve had sex and I’ve had relationships. I’ve had one night stands and I’ve had men tell me they love me. I’ve never, nor will I ever look at a man and think I am lucky because they have accepted my status, because it is not a burden.

My HIV status is not something that people fleeting or long term should treat as a burden. We don’t treat cancer patients and their illness as such or any other disease. However, there is this thought that HIV, because heavily transmitted through sex and drugs, is a dirty disease and those that have contracted it are close to biblical leprosy.

While I’ve had my fair share of self-esteem issues; HIV has never contributed to any of those issues. I won’t lie, I have done things to make sure my body doesn’t physically look like its battling a chronic illness, but a man’s sexual approval was never what I was after.

In hidden or maybe not so much hidden code, this young man was trying to tell me he is a privilege to me because of his status. His words uttered a totem pole essentially placing his negative status on top and my positive status below, and I should be gleeful to be offered dick with someone of his status.

Status once simply meant the socio-economic grade of one holds in society, but for Queer Black Americans (especially in Atlanta) status incorporates the aforementioned and HIV status. Status (as in the medical sense) has created a psychological divide amongst the Black Queer community — literally the Have and Have-Nots. I know a number of positive individuals that are happier to meet other HIV positive men to date. There seems to be an air of disappoint pushed from their lungs when they tell me they’ve met someone and he’s HIV negative and this is even when the negative person has no problem starting a romantic relationship with the positive person.

Many times we like to date those that are equal yoked and serodiscordant relationships (one person HIV positive the other HIV negative) automatically disrupt that contentment in the worst way for some. There is this psychological battle the positive one may have to endure of not being as sexually viable, not being as healthy, not being able to sire offspring as easily. So when a motherfucker tells me, “You told me your status, and I’m still trying to fuck, so why you playing?” I know he looks at me as if he is doing me a favor and I should be grateful. I’m confident that I’m a sexy fucking bunny, not a sexy fucking bunny for an HIV positive person. So thank you, but no thank you on that dick sir.
INSTAGRAM: @pattonthequeercurator