A story has been doing the rounds on my Facebook timeline that claims that my president has a son who has recently come out of the closet in a radio interview in England (follow this link if you’re interested). The people who have been taken in by this fiction are utterly stupid! And I’ll explain why:
I’m an educated, free-thinking, sex-positive liberal. I’m sure that’s been apparent to everyone who’s been reading my blog. Nothing really unsettles me. Until a few nights ago. I met a guy online and we hit it off really well. We’ve met a couple of times and our chemistry is really good. Our last date was intense and we were going to take it to the next level, until he stopped and looked into my eyes and announced that he’s HIV positive.
I never would have thought that about him. And I never could have guessed my reaction either. I was visibly stunned and remember recoiling away from him. The first thought that went through my head was “OMG, we were kissing, do I have it now?” Stupid, I know! He must have read all of that on my face because he promptly stood up and put his shirt back on (yes, we’d gone that far). I immediately started apologising again and again, blaming my reaction on shock and nothing else. But the mood had changed and there was no way we were going to pick up from where we left off, even if I’d wanted to. We chatted for a bit about nothing in particular, doing our best to avoid the issue we should have been discussing. I left after about half an hour later and made my way home. We haven’t seen each other again since then, but we are still talking and chatting online.
That incident really got me thinking about stigma. I had convinced myself that I was a part of the population that didn’t stigmatise based HIV status. I had convinced myself that my years of working in HIV, sexuality and sexual rights education had left me unable to discriminate. I had convinced myself that having colleagues and relatives living with HIV in my life made me a shining example to the rest of the world. But, I have learned that I am just as bad or even worse than the people I called ignorant for their prejudices. Because I was teaching others how to overcome their prejudices, I thought was automatically free of bias and intolerance; my intellectual snobbery masked my own prejudice and allowed it to fester unchecked and unchallenged. Nothing could ever make me more ashamed of myself than that. Now that I’m so keenly aware of it, it’s now something I can work on.
As for the mystery man… Perhaps I’m not ready to be in a relationship with someone who’s HIV positive. I just hope that my reaction doesn’t discourage him from disclosing his status to potential sexual partners. It was really brave of him and I applaud him for letting me know his status. I would love to still be friends with him and I hope that will happen. And who knows where that may lead.
The Government of this glorious nation of mine has been on a voluntary male medical circumcision drive for the past couple of years in a misguided (in my humble opinion) attempt to put a dent in the numbers of new HIV infections in the country. According to reports I’ve encountered, the numbers have been less than satisfactory and far less than the donors expected. Why? Simply put, I know very few guys who would willingly get their symbol of manhood disfigured, especially when the procedure does not completely prevent infection with virus. Consistent and correct us of condoms is still a must after the procedure. It seems like this part of the message isn’t getting across to people. Reports of men contracting HIV after circumcision and of prostitutes having clients who don’t want to use protection because they’ve been circumcised have surfaced. That’s worrying. And they now want to experiment on babies! No thank you! Let’s focus on behaviour change, universal access to condoms, lubes and proper sex education.
I’ve had four serious relationships in my life. In all but the last I was younger than my partner (significantly so in one instance). In my last one I was the older party. I was never in it for the money and my most recent ex boyfriend didn’t need or get any money from me. Just because there’s an age difference between two people doesn’t mean that monetary transactions are the basis and binding force of the relationship. I’ve always been able to provide for myself in every relationship I’ve been in; and to some extent, I expect my partner to be able to do the same. Don’t get me wrong, I love being spoilt with romantic gestures. These gestures just can’t be forced.