A Fool’s Opinion on HIV
I hadn’t planned on posting anything too exciting today because I’m getting ready for the road trip to Vermont to get married, and it’s cold as freak here. But when I saw this absolutely idiotic, self-indulgent piece of garbage in Huff Po about people with HIV I had to at least post a few comments that might disabuse the person who wrote it of a few misconceptions that seem to be based on inexperience. And he doesn’t just mention people with HIV. He even gets into people with cancer and other serious illnesses. Maybe I’m a little overly sensitive to these things right now because I’ve been following the ongoing emotional health crisis with authors TJ Klune and Eric Arvin. Not to mention a serious health issue I’m dealing with right now with a family member that started around the day after Christmas. But then again, I don’t really think I’d feel that differently if these issues weren’t happening all around me.
The author of the article to which I’m linking is Mike Alvear. It states he’s written a few books, near his byline. I haven’t read them, nor do I plan to read them in the near future. I also know nothing about him other than what he wrote in this article, which basically states he’s sick and tired of hearing people with HIV, or anyone with any serious health issue, talk about how their disease helped make them better people.
If I hear one more HIV-positive man tell me he’s “grateful” for the disease because it made him a more peaceful, loving, open, honest person, I’m going to scream. Those afflicted by disease, any disease, whether it’s cancer or HIV, have taken a pernicious slide toward rationalizing their conditions as something “necessary” for them to achieve some kind of enlightenment.
I’ve been lucky enough in life to have avoided anything major with my health, but I knock on wood when I say that and I’m grateful for THAT all the time. I know what it’s like to see people around me lose their good health and in a matter of moments entire lives change in ways people never expected. And yes, that’s life. Sooner or later we are, indeed, all going to deal with one thing or another. However, I have also seen, first hand, how people have changed and evolved for the better because of their illnesses, and how they have become more enlightened and more peaceful, as a result of their health issues. Sometimes it takes a while to reach that point after diagnosis, but I have seen it happen more often than not. And this has nothing to do with minimizing something as serious as HIV or cancer. This is about learning how to live with, and deal with, something that has the potential to change you forever. And if someone tells me he or she is grateful for the disease because it helped take them closer to self-actualization, I’m thrilled for them.
In the article Alvear does mention a personal tragedy, and he had me wondering at that point…hoping there would be something more to the article than just negativity and this selfish, privileged inexperienced voice lacking empathy. But even with his own intense disclosure, the article continued to devolve to the point where if I did have a serious health issue and I did feel as if I’d become more enlightened because of it I would feel pretty awful by the end of the article.
He also slams Oprah, Deepak, and even Lance Armstrong. I don’t think he’s lived long enough, or has gone through enough in life, to fully understand the magnitude of taking on a topic like this. He should stick to writing books on being a good bottom instead of topics that require sensitivity and emotion. This is just another example of how the wrong people get a platform sometimes. I have personally seen people in full blown AIDS. I know what happens each step of the way. I’ve also seen this with cancer, from beginning to end.
Alvear draws this “humble” conclusion:
Here’s what I say to all my HIV-positive friends: Don’t be grateful. Don’t carry the burden of trying to make HIV your friend. Like all friends, it’ll expect you to be loyal and introduce it to your other friends.
While HIV is not your friend, it isn’t your enemy either. It just is. Learning to deal with it is an admirable accomplishment, but please, don’t tell us it’s a gift, or that your grateful.
Here’s what I say to my HIV positive friends, or anyone in a health crisis: if you think being HIV positive has made you a more enlightened person, and this kind of gratitude helps you deal with your disease, you have all my support and more. There are NO words I can say to make it better, so the best I can do is support you no matter what that entails. If you’re grateful for your disease, I’m in no position to judge you or anyone else, and neither is Mike Alvear.
The comment thread is interesting. Most people reacted the same way I did. My heart ached for some.
One person wrote this:
I agree with some of the statements he makes, but others make my blood boil,
Some concepts that are unrelatable to anyone but those that have had that experience are difficult to talk about..
For me, the key word in that comment is experience, something Alvear clearly lacks. Again, he should stick to books about being a bottom.
Coke Bans Gay
Coke has a new marketing plan in South Africa that includes sharing a virtual can of Coke on social media, but the word “gay” has been banned.
Should a user attempt to personalise the can with “gay” on the Share a Coke website, the error message will read: “Oops. Let’s pretend you didn’t just type that.”
Other banned words include sex, fuck, homo and dyke. The website does not, however, ban the word “straight.”
Coke is a sponsor of the Russian Olympics and has made no comments on Russia’s anti-gay laws.
Side note: I know far more people who drink bottled water than soda. And that trend seems to be continuing as each year passes.