Every time I see one of those over-the-top “in Memory of” ads in one of the weekly gay mags for a guy whose birth and death dates make him old enough to be my younger son, my first thought is – was it AIDS?
Then comes my second.
Any gay guy today who gets AIDS having consensual sex deserves it.
There are those of you out there who think I’m one rotten fuck for that statement, but I can’t believe I’m the only gay man out there who is tired of guys with AIDS playing the role of victim or fed up with all those well meaning, but misguided organizations or groups or maudlin gays playing on my sympathy.
Listen, I’m from the generation that got hit the hardest, the guys who fucked like bunnies during the decadent seventies, and who, while sinful sodomists in some eyes, innocently didn’t know what was just around the corner in the ‘80’s. We all know what happened next. The result: look around. How many really good looking over sixty gay guys do you see? A healthy percentage are long six feet under, victims of their own lust and popularity, while their homely surviving counterparts who couldn’t get sex when they were 20 are now clinging on to the bar rails or some twink who they hooked with their fat pension or portfolio. Luck or smarts, I think I was spared only because I didn’t get fucked, though I was tempted to give up my ass to many a man in my youth. (I also think a small percent of us are genetically immune from the disease; even my gay doc thinks so.)
So, O.K., we Flower Children had an excuse. But what excuse does a twenty-five or thirty year old have? Know how many young boys my gay doctor in Lauderdale has told me he has to break the news to? Or, for that matter, anyone who’s been sexually active since 1985? By then, we all knew, unless we were totally brain dead, that you didn’t get AIDS from toilet seats or a bad bottle of poppers. Yet, so many of us still go on our merry, uncondomed, barebacking ways. (There’s even a few “I want four loads in my ass tonight” sites for those who exclusively BB.)
One night as I was departing my favorite sex club, a do-gooder from one of the local Safe Sex organizations came in to replenish the condom container by the door. “Don’t bother,” I quipped, thinking back to the guys in the orgy room that night with their asses up in the dark. “Nobody’s using them.”
The young, straight and gay, still think AIDS is an old faggots disease, or that, if they do get infected, what’s the problem? There’s meds now, right? After all, look at those bright and cheery four page ads for HIV meds in the gay rags. There, beaming with his bike helmet on, is some squeaky little twenty something with the headline blaring, “I bike, I travel … and BTW, I’m HIV positive.” Misleading? Damn right. What about the next two pages of contradictions and side effects in 5 point type? And these miracle meds don’t work on everyone, you still can puke your brains out on them, and there’s no long term track record to prove whether your body may, at some point, a decade from now, let’s say, no longer respond to the meds. Or if that bastard of a virus inside you decides to mutate, or you get re-infected by some new strain.
I know three guys right now, 52, 56 and 46, all who have been on meds since the late ’90′s. One had to have hip replacement surgery at 48 because the meds turned his bones to mush; the second is showing the beginning stages of dementia; and the third, dementia and cirrhosis of the liver (not due to drinking), and HIV positive guys aren’t eligible for liver transplants. There are just some things the pills can’t halt.
So when a bar event says its proceeds are going to support some AIDS cause, all I picture is how my money will go to continue to enable bad behavior like that young, strung-out twink at the sex club who gets fucked by half a dozen faceless men in the space of twenty minutes. I even had the balls once to send a letter of disgust to AIDS Care Resource in Miami, known far and wide for its noble mission, where I berated it for accepting proceeds, which I realize are a large part of its funding, from the White Party which is notorious for drugs and unsafe sex. A social worker buddy of mine, who worked for AIDS Care Resource and had to cover the party as part of his job, told me how the white stuff was as plentiful as dog shit on a side walk. Couldn’t the organization sponsor something constructive like a gay marathon or run or the Gay Rodeo, I suggested? I never did get even a politically vapid response from its executive director, like the ones I used to write when I was in the PR business. Sure, support the White Party, fuck like a bunny in exchange for your overpriced ticket, and, oh, by the way, if you come down with you- know-what as a consequence, we’ll take care of you. One big sexual merry-go-round.
That same social worker buddy also confided in me his frustration with some of his clients who felt the benefits bestowed on them for fucking around (some of which we support as tax payers) were their God given right, or who weren’t compliant with their meds or medical regimens. I also get personally pissed that some of these guys bulk up, thanks to illegal steroids you can buy right off the web, and end up looking like brick shit houses. Yet, they still collect SSI Disability and get rent subsidies because they’re not well enough to go back to work at a legitimate job. Huh??
Even testing is bullshit. How many promiscuous guys out there, tops and bottoms, lie about their status because they want to bareback? Or a guy lists on his profile he was tested last month and he’s as clean as the Mother Superior of the local nunnery. So? And from that day to the time he wants to fuck you BB-style, he played with Typhoid Marvin. Testing results are meaningless unless you can get them a moment before he sticks it in you. Playing it safe every time is the only way.
Today, South Florida has the highest HIV infection rate in the country. Yet, bottom line, like polio, a disease relegated to the medical history books, AIDS among gays under 35 should have been virtually non-existent. If we want respect from others, we need to begin respecting ourselves by being responsible. Or accepting the responsibility if we choose not to be.
Only, enough with the damn drama already, O.K.?