I am a red-blooded man and I have a lot of sex. I’m not afraid to say it. Often times it’s mediocore. Sometimes it’s bad. And on a few occasions, it is mindblowingly fantastic! One of those happened last week. I have a regular sex buddy that I hadn’t seen in a while. Work and an overly active social life were making it difficult for me to drive to his place. Last week, the universe aligned and I found myself in his bedroom having an amazing time. On the drive home, I got a text from him where he said those dreaded three words, “I love you.”
I always dread it when I hear or read those words, especially when I know I don’t currently and probably won’t ever feel the same. Do I lie and say the words back just to ensure I keep getting laid? Or do I say nothing and hope it’s fine? Or do I do the honorouble thing and tell the truth, risking the end of a rather pleasant sexual relationship? I resent having to make this choice, especially post-coital in the middle of the night on my way home! And I especially resent having to make that choice because I always make it very clear when I embark on any kind of relationship with someone what I want from the relationship. I learned a few years ago to put everything out in the open as quickly as possible. This is perhaps a bit of a vain attempt not to lead someone into heartbreak and hurt. I call it vain because this assumes that every person I come into contact with is going to develop deep feelings with me. But, what can I say, I am a very lovable person.
Back to this particular night. I chose not to say anything until the next morning. I called him before I went to work and laid out all my cards. I reiterated that my feelings hadn’t changed since we first started hooking up. We couldn’t be more than we were. I told him it was up to himto take the next step. I haven’t heard from him since, and you know, that’s ok. We had a great run. My sex life continues. I just hope I haven’t turned imto my worst nightmare; a 30-something cynical gay man who doesn’t believe in love anymore!
Nostalgia is such a dangerous feeling to have. It creeps up on you and all of a sudden the past is roses and rainbows and unicorns. You start going back and looking at old picture galleries. Sadness and fear take over for a brief moment; sadness because the past is gone and fear that the future will never be as good as the past. The festive season is the worst for some strange reason. I think it’s the heady combination of celebration, family and alcohol. They bring out the best and worst in all of us. Today has been one of those hard days for me. I found myself in the nostalgia trap as I was finalising my plans for the festive season.
What’s got me looking back? It has been juts over a year since the man I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with sent me the text messages that ended our nearly decade-long relationship. It hasn’t been easy for me to get over the hurt and betrayal I felt. A year later and I still find myself curled on my bed in sadness. Time and distance have made things easier, but every time nostalgia creeps in things get difficult.
But it’s not a bad place to be. As long as you can see through the rainbows and unicorns and see the past for all that it was. There’s a strength that comes from acknowledging that good times were had but you can’t forgot the bad as well. That’s the problem with nostalgia, you forget the bad and dwell on the good. In doing that you can sucked in and fall in to a sadness. Every day is a struggle and as they say, time makes it easier. That’s the hope that I will have to hold on to.
Movember has come to an end once again and we can all return to our pre-mustached lives. But for me, the reality of life and death has hit me hard. I’ve just been diagnosed with prostate cancer. It’s in the early stages and all indications point to a slow progression that won’t require treatment for a while. It’s odd to think of a cancer growing inside me. My own body going wrong. I’m not scared anymore. I’ve accepted it as part of the journey I’m going to have take.
The reason I’ve chosen to write about it is to let people know that the Big C is real. It doesn’t just affect older people. It’s not a disease that picks and choses who it will affect. It can come at anytime. I urge everyone who is reading this to speak to their doctor about cancer screenings. Most men don’t know about or get the tests done until it’s too late.
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.
It’s been three days of Zim Pride and I’m going to try being less journalistic and more opinionated in this post. It’s been fun seeing Harare’s (and Chitungwiza, Ruwa and Norton as well) gays gather together to discuss, network and I’m sure hook-up! One of the things that’s worried me though, is the tiny presence of our lesbian sisters at these events. Now I know I’ve said some not so nice things about my sapphic sisters, but that doesn’t mean that at events like Zim Pride they should be under-represented. But I guess that’s also the case with the GALZ staff make-up; I know only two female officers.
My other big worry comes from the lack of diversity in the attendants. I didn’t see any non-black Zimbabwean queers at any of the events. Now could that possibly mean that there aren’t any? Easy answer: NO! I personally know and interact socially and professionally with some of these elusive non-black queers. The problem is that they don’t see GALZ and it’s activities as relevant to them. To be fair, I didn’t either until quite recently. But my friends who work there and are members of the organisation have taught me otherwise. Maybe that’s what needs to happen; an outreach event for our white, Asian and coloured brothers and sisters. I mean we are all fighting in the same battle. Let’s actually start behaving like we are.
Now for my own personal confession… I’ve been so embarrassed at the last two events. You see, I’m a very sexual person. I sometimes think with my small head. Since these events are drawing in a wide variety of the gays, I’m bound to bump into a few I’ve had carnal knowledge of. Well on Tuesdsay night, I counted 9! That’s right 9! Now I’m not wearing that as a badge of honour, but I’m also not slut-shaming myself. I guess I just realised that when I saw them all in one room that I need to slow down. I’m seen by a lot of people as respectable and I just think my self-respect went down a few notches!
I have a confession to make. I always talk like I don’t fit the stereotype of the young gay man, but alas I do. I love wearing jewellery! I can’t leave the house without at least one accessory hanging round my neck, dangling on my writs or adorning my fingers. I feel naked without them. My family, friends and bf have all come round and accepted it as part of who I am. The other day though, a new guy at work saw my rings (I wear two) and asked what they meant. I know he wanted to ask me if I was gay, but I let him struggle and stumble with his words as I played dumb! I probably should have just told him what he wanted to hear, but it was hilarious watching him squirm. But then again my policy has always been, and I’m sure always will be, ask and you shall be answered. So to those out there who want to know something, take your heads out of the sand and ask me already!