black lives matter

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.

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Hating the Freddie Grays

I remember being a little faggot; at least that’s what they called me. I was a faggot; color didn’t matter, dashing down the street, hurdling over 6-inch curbs. Though we all looked alike to outsiders, to me, they looked like dark demons: red eyed, with needles for teeth. To them, I looked like, well I’m not sure. You’d have to ask them. With feet that have always been too big for my frame, I began to trip over myself. I was near the front door of 744 Gravel Cork Rd., and just as I made it onto my front lawn, *WHACK*. I fell to the grass and covered myself up so at least if they stomped me, maybe they wouldn’t get my face. They didn’t stomp me. As all the other kids in the neighborhood arrived, the Jamaican boy and his sister, both seven years my senior, grabbed me (one by the feet, one by the wrist). They swung me like a jump rope counting down from ten. When they said one, I went hurtling into the air and landed in a puddle of water on my mother’s cement driveway. I remember the eldest brother watching and not having much to say.

I’ve always felt uncomfortable around heterosexual Black men. I’ve always hated heterosexual Black men.

There’s a lot of killing right now. A lot at the hands of systemic racism and the police force in America is just the vessel. Though my skin and genitals say Black Male, my spirit does not. I’ve long separated myself identity from being a Black Male. I call myself a Black Queermale, which for me holds a very separate distinction. I am not like them, therefore I have not shed a tear, much less blinked when Trayvon Martin was killed by a vigilante, or Michael Brown was left in the street like an opossum hit by a 18-wheeler. Most recently, I thought it was sad when I heard about Freddie Gray. I was also disgusted by the way the police (allegedly) broke his neck — killing him in their custody; I was disgusted as an outsider for those people. Not those people of Baltimore, but for Blacks, because I am not one of them. Though, at times, I think I should be.

Now I know hypothetically, if the Ku Klux Klan were to run through my neighborhood lynching niggas, they wouldn’t say, well he’s a Black Queermale, not a Black. However, I’ve never been habitually abused physically or emotionally by the KKK, so I don’t see them as much a threat. However, to me, Black men in my overwhelming experience have been like a pack of wild hyenas. I had a thought when all this epidemic of Black slayings was happening, and the thought is not kosher: If they want act like a pack of wild dogs, then perhaps they should be put down like them. Then I looked at the Black man in my life, specifically last night (April 28, 2015), and I thought, “I’m falling in love with a Black man.”

I look at him as a Black man, and not the queer adjective I’ve designated as a noun for myself, not because he’s masculine in mannerism and physical in appearance, but because of the fellowship he has with heterosexual Black men (one that has eluded me). The friendships he has forged, the comradery, the philanthropy towards Black men; these things have eluded me moving me continents away from my kin. When I look at him, I see a Black man and I see love. I’ve expressed my ideology to him and my hate; his eyes say he’s sad for the demons I keep as company. To think that I would be disgusted by him or wouldn’t be moved by his untimely death if I didn’t know he was a same gender loving man actually does hurt me to my core. I am hoping for change.

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We once had a conversation on his antique couch; he asked if I believe people were put into our lives for a reason. I lied. I said no. Though, I do believe it’s true. I believe he is my gateway into loving Black men again.