AIDS SHITS AND GIGGLES

Let’s Talk About Gay Sex and Drugs – ALIENS

Act Up London are an AIDS activist group billed on their facebook page as a diverse, non-partisan group of individuals united in anger and committed to direct action to end the HIV pandemic. Until recently AIDS activism was an ‘alien’ concept to me. However far from being the ‘angry’ bunch of individuals that I was expecting to encounter at this group, they were warm, open, welcoming and fun if not regularly fucking hilarious!

Last Tuesday afternoon on a mere 2 hours sleep after working all night at Popcorn at Heaven, I wearily made my way to Angel for the Act Up summer fair at the Positively UK offices. To say that I was less than my bouncy, usual self is an understatement. I was pro-actively 30 mins early for the 3pm kick off. As I posted my obligatory check in and promotional post on facebook, Dan Glass replied to the thread to let me know he was going to be fashionably late by about 20 mins so it was looking like the day was going to be a longer, more draining ball buster than it was already feeling like.

My brother had arranged to join the event after work to catch up with me and get a glimpse into what his ‘Social Outlier’ big bro actually got up to at these intriguingly ‘alien’ aids shin digs!

Towards the end of the meeting, after my brother a few other latecomers arrived and joined us, Dan Glass decided to throw another one of his impromptu icebreaker activities of name and statement rounds. The theme of this round was “state your name and something that no one else here knows about you”…

This is where hilarity broke out! I honestly almost pissed myself laughing…leading me seamlessly on to shit…Yes, shit. Tom our wonderfully fabulous cis-male joker proceeded to tell a story of when he found himself in KFC in Hackney – bursting for a poo that he had been in labour with all day. He deposited said poo in the KFC toilets, which he then tried to flush away. However the gods of the porcelain bowl were against him and the poo refused to go! So he flushed again further filling the blocked loo causing the monster poo to float up and over the toilet rim and land firmly at this feet – which he now takes the time to point out were dressed in 6 inch stilettos, below his ra-ra skirt! In a panic he decided to take action and leave the KFC, however as he opened the door the poo decided that it wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Tom just yet and surfed out of the loo and onto the main floor of the restaurant alongside six and a half foot Tom in heels and a ra-ra skirt!

Tom’s shit story seemed to have totally broken the ice beyond all expectation and we quickly arrived at sexual tales of the most graphic and amusing nature.

We soon arrived at my brother’s moment to share his name and chosen story, I was starting to feel nervous and uncomfortable! And I think he knew…He begins….

“Hi everybody, I’m Brendan and I’m Greg’s brother. And eh…I’m straight….And…”

He was then greeted with the not too unexpected heckles of “Ah ha!?” “Uh Hum!?” “Yeah! OK GUUUURL”

He continued “ Yeah so….I’m not really sure how sexual to go here…I have some right WRONG stories…but I dunno…”

I think the chorus then pitched in ad-libs to the effect of “go on straight boy…get nasty” and “wrong is always right gurl”

He continued…”Eh? Greg?”

I then shared a story about my brother that I maybe shouldn’t have but that was right for the moment and that he was gracious and sporting enough to allow me to tell. Bless him, I loved him for jumping in at the deep end so unconditionally and I was so proud of him holding his own and shining in a world so alien to him.

So as to keep with the tone and the theme of unapologetic sexual confessions…I admitted or bragged actually, to the group that I can suck my own dick… Which luckily I didn’t discover I could do until about 2 years ago…Otherwise I would never have got an education, got a job or left the fucking house! Mind you, though no one in THAT particular room knew this self-sucking selling point, a good proportion of Grindr and South London’s sex party fraternity DO!

Stepping into an arena that is alien and embracing people that may seem alien to us can reward us with the greatest gifts sometimes. Regardless of what gender we are, what colour, what religion, what sexual orientation or what status. Alien to each other or not, we are all joined by common ground by sex and sexuality. The ability to love and the need for love and of course the joy of being able to laugh with and at each other.

AIDS IS NOT ALIEN!

Thank you

*The audience then applauded

One more thing guys…I asked Pat Cash for 20 seconds more to speak with you after I finished my piece. He very kindly allowed me that extra time. That’s like gold dust at these events so I’ll crack on. I just wanted to take a moment to point out why groups like Act Up and events like  this are so import for us right now.

I had managed to source some Truvada to use as Prep that I was due to start taking this weekend. Now I’m well enough clued up on Prep to know that before you start taking it you need to make sure you are definitely HIV negative so you don’t cause yourself problems with creating drug resistance issues by taking Truvada if you are positive and don’t know it. So off I went to Dean Street to take my test to confirm I was negative so I could start taking the meds that would KEEP me negative. 20 mins after arriving at the clinic yesterday – I was diagnosed as HIV positive. The irony is not lost on me. This is why us coming together and sharing and making changes in our world is so important. Prep needs to be made available to everyone and now!!! So someone else doesn’t find themselves in my shoes.

I wore this vest for a reason…

hiv front HIV back

Last week this vest was ironic – this week it’s uniform.

STAND TOGETHER – MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Thank you

Continue reading “AIDS SHITS AND GIGGLES”

LOVE and ANGER and HEPATITIS C

love

Yesterday at the RESHAPE HEP C discussion something struck me. ENERGY and the many ways it manifests itself. Energy can not be created or destroyed. It can only be changed. This is a law of physics.

I’m going to break this down very simply into anger and love.

There was a sense of ‘community’ in the room yesterday. I was privileged enough to hear first hand and face to face from several HEP C positive people who expressed that ‘community’ was greatly lacking amongst people living with HEP C in the UK. Especially when they compared that to the very real and visible community and support systems that exist among people living with HIV. In my experience hope and support are key in any journey or battle we face, be it HIV, HEP C, divorce/break ups, losing a loved one. As decent people we need to reach out to those who are on personal journeys to better, healthier, happier versions of their existing selves. Especially if we have ‘been there’ or have direct experience of the specific struggles they are facing. And equally as important… even if we have not. I am neither HIV nor HEP C positive. However my presence, support and the energy I brought to this meeting was no less valid or no less welcomed than those who were there because they ‘tick the boxes’ and are co-infected or in HEP C treatment. In order for people experiencing the undeniable physical, emotional and mental strains of living with and fighting back against a highly stigmatised illness they need to be freed of social/stigma based strains and anxieties and this is where ‘negative allies’ are integral to their process – I say ‘their’ but it isn’t really THEIRS it’s all of OURS. HEP C is a public health concern…Not an illness for ‘sluts’ and ‘drug injectors’ in the same way HIV is a human illness. It could be you or me or your mum one day. Do we have to wait until it’s so close and already got it’s advantage on us personally before we take action? I hope not. This is LOVE. This is what makes us as human kind so beautiful. But anger – we NEED anger to. In fact someone (the facilitator) actually asked at the meeting yesterday. WHERE IS THE ANGER? We need some…we have a cure for HEP C now but it’s expensive. Approx £50k to treat a person and cure them COMPLETELY. This cure has little to no side effects. But it’s being held back here in the UK – for several reasons, some of which as a logical person with a good working knowledge of processes, budgets, time frames, red tape and commercialism can understand. UNDERSTAND BUT NOT ACCEPT. If this was HIV we were talking about here – JUST IMAGINE! A cure for HIV that wasn’t being rolled out to everyone because ‘It’s expensive’!!!! You can picture the reaction to that – where is that action now? For HEP C pos people??? Ask yourself why the price of this treatment is so high…Someone quiet rightly pointed out yesterday that the cycle goes something like this… Pharmaceutical companies keep the prices high…causing people like myself to make some noise and high profile activist to start taking actions…it gets attention…it sparks change…negotiations take place between our health system and the pharmas and the drugs are made available…but still at a high price….and this goes round and round and all the time the activists doing the work that needs done to make these drugs available but with a bitter taste in their mouth from knowing they are fuelling the cycle that is making the pharmas huge profits at an extortionate cost to our NHS and to us.

Simply – THE COST OF DRUGS NEEDS TO BE REDUCED.

I have it on good authority that the big pharmas are willing to negotiate on the price of these drugs – the way they did on HIV drugs but THEY CAN NOT NEGOTIATE WITH THEMSELVES!!! Some body of people fighting this cause needs to take the negotiations to them!!!

Let’s make that happen…

Continue reading “LOVE and ANGER and HEPATITIS C”