Monday, December 14, 2015

1st Christmas Without Faith. Nudist Pagan Ritual or More "Santa Baby"

Those of you who follow this blog might be aware of this author's great schism of '14.  When after months of contemplation I parted with my former church, and consequently gave up "faith" in general.  I left in my usual understated way, with a few choice words for the pastor and leadership.  But a year has passed and the holidays are upon me and in truth, I really love the holidays.

Now without the fetters of religion I'm wondering how to under gird my holiday traditions. I'm wondering if I should go "full pagan" and celebrate the winter solstice, with perhaps an animal sacrifice in the nude or go "full commercial" with endless renditions of Santa Baby and lots of designer gifts.  Or do I do nothing....not acknowledge the holiday at all, although in my heart I want to.

War on Christmas.

So in full honesty, I'm celebrating the holidays this year like every year. Yes, I've cut out the midnight mass and much of the religious trappings of the holiday. The creche and the three kings did not come out of the box this year and probably won't ever again. Thankfully "The WAR on CHRISTMAS" has made cruising the holidays a very secular affair.  There's less Hark The Herald Angels, and much more Deck the Halls.  In fact, Starbucks' red cup makes me question the whole "reason for the season" entirely.

Importantly, I also have an addiction to cool ornaments. This year I'm doing a whole Mexican, Day of the Dead thing on the tree. (That seems like a good holiday too.) But my Star Wars and Start Trek ornaments are up there too.  I think the tree thing is just a way to channel your inner id. Why would I want to stop that? Of course as an atheist, I could put that tree up anytime, assuming I could find a Douglas fir on sale in May.

That being said, I just can't let go of the "spirit" of the holidays. Giving, seeing friends and family are joyful, regardless that it takes the holidays to make it happen.  Helping the less fortunate and thinking about children, both our own inner child and the ones in our lives is something we don't do year-round.  That being said, I can't completely let go of the religious nature of the holidays. I'm sure the pagans were, like "I'm so stressed, and I've got to pick up the goat for sacrifice, but then again, its the Holidays."  So while I claim to be a non-believer.....there's still belief in the hope of humanity and the real joy this season brings to so many.   So Happy Holidays everyone.

Those pagans! Then again I could go to Haulover Beach for Xmas

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I JUST CAN'T: Its Time to Change the Narrative on HIV and AIDS

I can't anymore. I just can't. I can't sit through another speech or ceremony where a sad gay man speaks about his boyfriend who died of AIDS in 1986. Or a slideshow homage to the victims of AIDS who are wearing Members Only jackets and big 80s hair. It's time to put that to rest, I'm sure the fabulous dead would be like "girl, move on, day-glo was so three decades ago."  Yet this sad broken record replays itself over and over.  The stereotype of a sickly HIV positive gay man who is sexless is still the image that comforts people who know little about the disease, or their own HIV status. 

Yet the "AIDS industry" struggles to keep this death based narrative alive, because that is the orthodoxy of the HIV Epidemic. AHF, AIDS Healthcare Foundation uses its multi-million dollar bullhorn to warn gay men against PrEP despite clear scientific evidence that it's overwhelmingly successful in preventing new infections. It uses tactics such as sex shaming gay men who take Truvada to prevent HIV. It throws out red herrings like "drug resistant STDs" which do exist, however, even most diseases treated with antibiotics eventually succumb to drug drugs are developed to fight resistance.

So, finally, in 2015 we can actually change the narrative around HIV disease.  We can move away from the depressing, fear-based tropes that have permeated our culture, especially our gay culture for the last three decades.  In the last two years, especially in the last year new medical breakthroughs have emerged that show that HIV is beatable. That we can finally turn the corner on the epidemic. In all seriousness, HIV is no longer a major topic of conversation in the gay set and there is a hunger to move on.  But we can't move on quite yet.

We can't move on until we agree that the new studies of PrEP: Pre Exposure Prophylaxis are amazing breakthroughs and offer gay men a hope of a life free from the fear of HIV. As gay men we should encourage men who are not infected to start taking Truvada faithfully.  Second we need to get all those gay men who don't know their status to get tested. New studies show that with sero-dis-concordant couples (couples with different HIV status) if the infected partner has an undetectable viral load, the odds of transmission are almost nil.  These two breakthroughs can finally put a halt to this disease among gay men. Governor Cuomo of New York has a stated goal to get all sexually active gay men on PrEP while getting positive guys to undetectable viral loads, the combination should be enough to break the back this epidemic.  We need to make this final push, to make HIV infection rare in this country.

We need to sell a positive future for young gay men, that life without HIV should be the norm. Oh, and tell all of us survivors from the worst of the epidemic, that despite all the horror that HIV brought on us in the 80's and early 90's. We won't forget the 500,000 men who died, but I think its time we let them rest in peace and not use their memories to promote outdated ideas about fear and death always intertwined with sex.