The music my friends liked when I was a teenager intimidated me. It was the head-banging rock of the early seventies, and it felt alien and unappetizing. Most of all, it just felt… straight, in a way I knew I could never be. Alone in my room, I listened to my beloved Broadway musicals, and resigned myself to the fact that popular music would never really speak to me.
And then in 1977, when I was sixteen years old, I began sneaking into the only gay bar in Shreveport, Louisiana. Inside I found joy and liberty, fashioned with bell bottomed pants and handsome smiles and the dance floor – oh my God the dance floor – centering the nightclub was a glorious explosion of colored light and swinging hips and arms reaching up, up to the sky as if we could clutch it in our hands. The music was an entrancing bombardment of sound, and one song, one mesmerizing invitation to touch the heavens, was played again and again.
This is directed to HIV negative gay men. Listen carefully. This is your time.
I’ve lived with HIV more than half my life, and people often praise me far more than I deserve, simply for surviving. They use words like brave and courageous.
You know what takes courage? Getting an HIV test every few months. You, waiting nervously while your most personal sexual choices are literally being tested, waiting to find out if you’ve been good — or if you’re going to pay for a single lapse in judgment by testing positive, when the look on the faces of your friends will say you should have known better.