The Shameless Sexy Truth of Being an HIV-Positive Slut
So much of my life has been about self-effacement, pretense, masquerading, concealment and indirection.
-- Marlon Riggs
Most people want me to be repressed and repentant, I'm convinced.
For a short while, I wanted them to believe I was. It would be some comfort for them, if I cared enough about their judgment to hookup less than I did before receiving my results from a test many of them aren't brave enough to take.
It would absolve them of some of the work in protecting themselves in an epidemic that, in actuality, claims the preacher and prostitute alike. The reality of this black queer poz body though -- my fearlessly infected movement through a world where none of us are safe in sex or in love -- is that I refuse to bear that post-diagnosis burden.
It's as good a time as ever to clarify that all opinions on the sex I should or shouldn't be having are irrelevant. If these four white walls and tried cotton sheets could testify, they would assure you of the futility of moral arguments against the frequent sex I have with numerous people who honor my shameless truth by honoring my sexual interest. Over the past eight years of my life with HIV, this body has remained free and in high demand.
I've taken full advantage.
Despite public investment in the denial of my sexual privacy and bodily autonomy, the liberated sexuality I enjoy really wasn't hard-won.
The thing about this sort of freedom is you just have to claim it and live it. It was a change of mind. Years ago, I decided how and how often I cum with consenting adults will always be entirely up to me. Night after night, my hotline blings and it only means that the everyday concerted effort to control or kill my sex life for social convenience has failed. This is a celebration of the many decolonized orgasms I've enjoyed in my twenties and the many more to come, but it's also freedom prose for the ashamed HIV-positive slut.
We Don't Do It by Your Rules
I've never felt obligated to tell my status to casual sex partners because I take appropriate measures, but I've always felt it's the courteous thing to do. That's not to say I've ever had an issue with disclosing my status to anyone, especially not to anyone I bring into my bed.
Many of the people I've slept with were already informed because I've been so public about being positive for so long. There's always been full disclosure in bed with me, but probably not for the reason you might think; it's actually a turn on every time someone tells me they want me more after I disclose, which happens more often than not. There's an indescribable feeling of affirmation to be found in living and orgasming in such an open way.
Magnums were at the market and not tucked discreetly behind Nugent and Baldwin on my bookshelf where I typically put assorted sex tools, when I've been virally suppressed. In my experience though, most haven't wanted me to wear one even when I insisted for my own protection. Yes, for my protection.
On a few occasions, I've relented because we all prefer bareback and both of us (sometimes more) knew the risk involved. I've been having the sex agreed upon and, just as importantly, the sex that satisfies me. Not once has it struck me that I should do it any other way.
Charlie Sheen and I have had our share, and perhaps your share, of amazing sexual encounters. It's true, it's best that I've stopped counting. None of our pleasure has prioritized the comfort of the fearful or judgmental who are not in our beds, which is precisely what all the controversy is about. Yet, regardless of our respective climbing numbers and disregard for public sentiment, neither of us deserves this health battle. Only someone who doesn't fight this virus could say anyone deserves to.
In offending the sensibilities of the hypocritical moral majority though, hopefully I'm encouraging others living with this virus to do the same.
Destigmatizing our sex lives and leading dialogue about the criminalization birthed by that stigma requires us to tell our discomforting truth. It's about advocating for freedom from slut-shaming and poz-shaming but also about keeping our bodies literally free in a society that has allowed self-righteousness to create criminals in a health crisis.