For months I’ve been meaning to watch the documentary How To Survive a Plague, and I finally got around to it last night. It was incredible to watch this recounting of the ACT UP movement in the late 80s.
I remember as a kid in elementary school reading about AIDS, watching the struggles of those stricken by the disease and the incredible courage of Ryan White. It fucking scared me.
Even before I knew I was gay, I knew that I never wanted to get AIDS. I didn’t have to know how you got AIDS. Seeing people wither away into nothing as Kaposi sarcoma sores festered all over their bodies was indelible.
Eventually by 1991, I put two and two together. You got AIDS by fucking, and the two best ways to help prevent getting it was by using a condom or not having sex at all. No glove, no love.
Then all of a sudden, Magic Johnson had that news conference. He was a dead man.
It was really fucking scary.
Then in 1996 a cocktail of protease inhibitors worked its magic, and although it didn’t eliminate AIDS or HIV if you were privileged enough you got to make your viral load undetectable.
On Saturday I was chatting up with a 27-year old from a hookup site. He got my dick hard saying all of the right things, how he wanted to flip fuck, how he loved giving and taking a pounding. What can I say? I’m a romantic.
We exchanged numbers, various pictures, HIV statuses. Just as we were getting ready to make the all-important date, he wrote, “Do you like it bare?”
“Nope, I keep it covered,” I replied. I knew where this was headed and my outtie was turning into an innie as I like to say.
“aw, I like it bare :/”
Our conversation dwindled into the ether. That’s not going to happen.
I remember what it was like being fucking scared of this disease. I remember what a death sentence it was. I’ve been in the doctor’s office with others who got the diagnosis and saw what a death blow it still is.
In 2002 I fucked bare. I took AIDS tests twice six months apart petrified that I was going to be positive. The second test was worst than the first. I was lucky. I was negative, and I made sure to never let that happen again.
Sure there are protease inhibitors, but if you’re uninsured how do you pay for it? What if the government pulls it subsidies out because of budget cuts, do the poor just die out?
There are no guarantees, and if I can prevent myself from getting it in the first place I don’t have to worry about it.
So sorry. I don’t fuck bare. Anything organic that goes into my poop chute has to be covered. That’s how I survive.