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poster/VIRUS: Artists Affected by HIV Use Images to Make Daring Statements

2 Years of Posters From a Toronto Street Campaign by Canada's AIDS Action Now

November 15, 2013


Silence = Sex

"Silence = Sex," 2012

Jordan Arseneault

"The New Equation"

It's that awkward moment when ...
You're naked in bed with a boy you've just made out with on a rooftop.
Looking up at the little toy cross
On top of the big, dark mountain.

That awkward moment where you bring in the Greek chorus
Of Angels in America characters
And the dump truck of dead bodies and
News segments of ashes actions
And Diamanda Galas howling over Fire in My Belly.

That awkward moment when you decide to cough it up
To rip the band-aid off the unhealed wound
And tell him:

I just need to tell you something that's really not easy to say and
I'm legally required to tell you before we take this any further:

I have been shortlisted for a very special prize.
I am on the shortlist for those who didn't win the bet.
I am biopolitically pegged for a lifetime of awkward moments.

There's 50 parts per milliliter of me
That are Having It Very
difficult; that are too late for a vaccine,
That didn't do their due diligence
And that echo a Harsh Interior Voice
Saying "stay away,"
Even though any other combination of bodies in a moment like this
Would just be getting it on right now.

It's that awkward moment where you look up at the
On his cluttered bedroom wall
And say the words
Only to see him freeze, lose his boner, sigh,
And explain trippingly that he has an anxiety disorder
And "just can't take it right now."

It's that awkward moment when you want to rip a hypocritical poster
off someone's wall
Or at least half of it:
SILENCE = riiippppppp crumple crumple
All those posters say THAT to me now:
Silence equals sex.

If you just keep your mouth shut
And don't talk about cells and replication and undetectability
And minor cuts or abrasions
And rinsing with lemon juice
And tests every three months
And how you ever got it in the first place ...

"Oh," you ask "you were in a video PSA about serophobia too?"
"Yes, I'm sure you are very open-minded.
Thank you for showing me that," you say,
As you put your clothes back on.

Get used to the new equation,
Cause these bastards just don't know the math.

This article was provided by
See Also
World AIDS Day 2013: Features and News

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Ray (Rural Midwest) Mon., Dec. 2, 2013 at 7:15 am UTC
That disclosure mantra might be great for you big city folks, but for us out here in the corn/bible/gun belt, non disclosure is paramount to survival. And no it's not about getting laid. I've lived under self imposed celibacy since my diagnosis 7 years ago. My friends and neighbors know I'm gay and most treat me with dignity and respect. But most out here are simply not ready for the hiv/aids thing. I'd have to leave my job and move. I'd even be fearful for my life. Hiv is as private as any other medical condition to be shared in strictest confidence with folks you feel safe with. Not some convoluted badge of honor to challenge casual acquaintances with. Thank you for your time and for allowing me to share another take on the disclosure debate.
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