Recently Stephen Fry (British playwright, activist, comedian, TV/radio presenter and out homosexual) did a documentary for the BBC here in the UK titled “Out There" where Stephen looked at what it means to be gay in different parts of the world. He had a few celebrity guest appearances (Elton John and Neil Patrick Harris) as well as speaking to local ministers, "healers" and the locals from the cities he visited.
It was amazing to see the different challenges homosexuality had in these diverse environments. It opened up for me the tolerance (or lack of it in some cases) towards the gay community by those outside of it.
Many years ago homosexuality wasn't spoken of and neither was it legal here in England. Same-sex sexual activity has only been legal since 1967.
In 2013, so much has changed. As of this year, the right for marriage between two people of the same sex (it's not 'gay marriage', marriage is marriage either way in my eyes, let's not subhead it as it were) was successfully voted for in parliament. I can now one day legally marry the Man I love (he says, hoping...)
Gay rights has come a long way, but there's still so much more to be fought for.
What doesn't help, though, is the gay community starting a 'civil war' as it were. I've slowly begun to notice more and more how quick the gay community will attack its own with regards to a number of issues, a predominate one being HIV.
"Oh he's a slag, he deserves it with all the shagging he's done" or even "He looks like an AIDS victim" I've heard someone say in the past. What does an "AIDS victim” even look like?! It's the most ridiculous comment!
We are so quick to loosely throw around words without realising that it's sometimes shitty and insultinr. We have been through enough as a community; let's stick together and not piss all over each other, passing judgement. It makes you as bad as the homophobe living down the street from you or that anti-gay extremist who you so rightly get upset at.
Seriously there is too much hostility and we really don't need it.
Recently a friend was seeing someone and his relatively new boyfriend eventually turned around and said to him, "I can't do this because I can't be with someone who is going to be constantly sad and suffering because of HIV and because I'm definitely going to get it eventually if we're together and I don't want that, I don't think I could deal with it".
I was shocked. Literally it shocked me; his boyfriend clearly had done no research and this was the biggest cop-out going to clearly end it with him for reasons which, in all honesty, make very little sense.
My friend who experienced this is neither sad nor suffering and his (now ex-) boyfriend obviously failed to do his research. There are many poz/neg relationships out there where one partner wasn't at the start and still isn't HIV+ because they are sensible and use all the necessary precautions to make sure it doesn't happen! I know of one couple who are 15+ years together and they (I'm sure they won't mind me saying this) have an amazing sex life! (Yes, FYI we can safely have sex, lots of it and bloody amazing sex *CUE that shocking look on your face*)
The lack of empathy from our own community is still shocking. People are not doing their research and think they shouldn't have to know the facts as if HIV doesn't directly relate to them.
According to THT.org.uk (sourced from the Health Protection Agency) 1 in 4 (24%) people in the UK with HIV are undiagnosed, totally unaware of their infection. So my message to that guy and anyone else thinking the same - you've probably slept with someone who's positive and you have no idea. Moral of the story - it's possible!
Now you’re probably thinking "Christian, if you were negative and you met someone who said they were positive, would you do it?" As someone who was never knowingly in that situation I can't give a definitive answer; however I would like to think I would. I fall for a guy for his charm, attraction (yes looks do matter to a degree!), personality match, etc., rather than his HIV/health status.
Chances are I'm probably healthier than some negative people; same goes for my other positive friends as I know I look after myself with my diet, exercise, etc. We are not all needy and dying slow painful deaths and feeling sorry for ourselves. In fact we have A LOT to be grateful for (see my last article on the documentary "We Were Here" to see just what I mean when I say I'm thankful and humble as I'm sure many other HIV+ people are.)
This isn't about me being all preachy and self righteous so please don't see this as that. This is me talking about something which I think others are too scared to talk about and I want to cross that line and challenge our community in this day and age.
I can see the fear and worry behind going there but people need to realise we are not any different except we are kicking this virus's ass on a daily basis Yes, we are basically warriors; Spartacus, step aside!
For my friends and readers who are positive let's not be hostile towards our negative brothers and sisters also (now I do sound preachy!) and instead educate them, help them to understand and also not shed hate towards them if they throw your status in your face. If they do, as I said to my friend, they are not worth it, not worthy of your time and love.