Location: Tacoma, Washington, United States
Nerd-Gasim! Are HIV+ men todays X-Men(TM)?
I realize some of us in the community might not be familiar with the comic book series that has spawned three Hollywood movies full of absurdly hot, buff, sweaty and hairy men fighting. But, just in case you've been living under a rock, Marvel Comics X-Men series chronicles the story of a group of people undergoing a genetic change that causes them to have super powers that society as a whole fears out of jealousy, inferiority and fear. Rather than embracing these differences, society instead chooses to brand these individuals as dangerous which leads to a constitutional crisis and persecution of these individuals. ( Read more at Cerebro's Guide to the X-Men )
So, that brings me to a sudden realization after browsing the online penis classifieds (Adam4Adam.com) of Seattle and Vancouver. In New Mexico, being HIV+ seems to be a source of great shame for some men. It seems like people go through great pains to hide their status, lie about it, and in many cases pretend like it doesn't exist. Seattle, however, seems to be a cultural leader (shock) and has a very different attitude. It seems HIV+ is the new in crowd. Bareback sex seems to be encouraged and popular. I saw advertisements by 20 somethings advertising they were having "gift giving" (Reference) parties. I saw HIV+ several men online sporting the circle "X" logo for the X-Men ( shown below ).
I guess the ideas of the X-men series really do apply to HIV+ men. The gay community tends to isolate them. Being public about your status seems to prevent you from ever establishing serious relationships with others. It seems like a a huge cross (pun intended) to endure. You have knowledge of death possibly being sooner than originally expected on top of social and sexual isolation. You have your rights taken away, you're treated as a second class citizen, well, you're being treated like a mutant of the gay community. No wonder I see so many HIV+ men sporting the X-Men logo on their chest. I see the affiliation and understanding that comes along with it. I privately wished I was 'Beast' from the X-Men series from marvel comics when I was a kid. I loved how wickedly buff and manly he was (swoon). I also liked how he balanced his awesome strength with intellect and compassion in just about everything he did. He was the very definition of masculinity for me. He proposed a new kind of inner strength - one that could balance our raw feelings of violence and anger with reason and compassion. I suppose having 33 inch arms and killer athletic talent is great too.
But now, it seems like attitudes towards this are changing quickly. HIV/AIDS doesn't seem to be the same death sentence that it was before. They are living longer, healthier lives with better sex, more partners and better community affiliation with other gay men then their negative counterparts do. Is life as a positive gay male really better than being negative? Do positive really live deeper, more meaningful lives becoming by being more appreciative of the time and activities they enjoy? Is the sex better?
I look forward to your comments.