My buddy “Sylvan” this week passed on some bad news to me about a married, down-low buddy of his, “Mike.”
“Mike called me Sunday to tell me he is HIV positive,” Sylvan said.
I was on my way to work, had just parked my car and was talking on my cellphone as I walked to the commuter train. I almost paused in my tracks.
“Wow, how did that happen? Was he having unprotected sex — getting fucked up the ass raw?”
“He didn’t say how he got it but I assume that’s how he got it,” Sylvan said.
“Damn,” I answered, my breathe forming a fog in the cold air. “Did he tell his wife.”
“Nope. She has an idea he was down-low because she found some gay porn tapes in the house he claims were not his. They haven’t had sex in months anyway.”
“Still, he should tell her — he could have infected her,” I said. “Damn, I’ve heard of wives killing their husbands when they get news like that.”
Sylvan has been married twice himself and is a grandfather but now lives with a male lover half his age. He has his finger on the pulse of news and gossip in the local down-low community and I have learned a lot by listening to him.
Sylvan went on to tell me that Mike had fallen in love with a dude, a very handsome promiscuous man who works for the airlines and has a string of lovers in several major cities. Casanova is also HIV positive and not always practicing safer sex.
“I warned him about that dude but he didn’t listen,” Sylvan said.
“Man, HIV is out there,” I said. “All these young dudes are having raw parties. They act like it isn’t going to happen to them.”
In 2006, 1.1 million Americans were infected with HIV but one out of five didn’t even know it, according to the Centers for Disease Control. There were 53,000 new HIV infections that year and over half were among gay and bisexual men.
Among black men and women the new infection rate was a whopping seven times higher, CDC said.
Many younger black men today don’t remember when AIDS was killing thousands. People were wasting away and dying right before our eyes, from the corner heroin addict to celebrities such as newscaster Max robinson and designer Willi Wear.
Another friend of mine said there are even folks who have the attitude, “I’ll end up with HIV any way so why bother to put on a rubber?” And then there are “bug chasers” who deliberately want to get infected. Go figure.
I guess now folks think all it takes is a pill and they will be fine. Sorry, taking pills every day (other than my Mega Men vitamins) is not something I want to do. I ALWAYS wear a condom when fucking and I know the risk of getting other diseases from unprotected oral sex but I accept that danger.
But while riding on the train to work I couldn’t help but wonder why a grown ass married man with a wife and kids would have unprotected sex. Sylvan told me that Mike was a serious bottom who loved getting his ass pounded but is the added pleasure of raw worth it?
The DL culture might be a reason for Mike’s behavior, at least according to some experts. Hiding one’s sexuality and leading a double life can lead to depression and risky sexual behaviors.
Licensed clinical social worker and author Terrie Williams in “Black Pain,” her book about depression in the black community, wrote about a brilliant classical pianist who was secretly gay.
He would vanish periodically and behaved erratically. Finally he called his friends to say he was in the hospital with full blown AIDS. His friends didn’t even know he was gay. Williams wrote:
“It turns out that he had led a shame-based double life for years, and that denial of his sexuality mirrored his denial of being HIV positive. Ashamed of being gay, he could never come out and find a stable long-term partnership that would nourish the soul; instead he had hundreds of anonymous partners and rarely engaged in safe sex.”
Blog readers, please pray for Mike and his wife and family. As soon as I finish writing this I will. And be safe.