AIDS/HIV | Art and Design | Film | New York | News | Photography | Spencer Tunick

World AIDS Day Premiere: Positively Naked

Florent23_1 Florent24_1

I've covered Spencer Tunick and his human art installations quite a bit on this blog, and at one point produced quite a lengthy post on New York's downtown meatpacking district bistro Florent, so I was quite interested to see a new documentary, Positively Naked, that premieres at 7pm tonight on Cinemax. Not coincidentally, today is also World AIDS Day.

Naked3The documentary chronicles a shoot done by Spencer Tunick at the restaurant to celebrate Poz magazine's tenth anniversary issue. For the shoot, which Tunick did for free, 85 HIV positive people gathered at the restaurant and disrobed for the photograph. The documentary follows several of the participants on their individual journeys over the course of the day the shoot takes place, from their morning trepidation about participating, to the shock of actually finding themselves naked in a restaurant full of strangers, to an ultimate liberation from the self-consciousness so many of them express.

In a very short time (the movie lasts less than 45 minutes) directors Arlene Donnelly Nelson and David Nelson give us both a glimpse of Tunick's creative process but also a look at the collaboration that takes place between Tunick and his human subjects. It's a collaboration that is ultimately more eye-opening for the participants than for the artist. The documentary is both serious and light, intimate but not saccharine or emotionally manipulative.

Said Julia, a former drug addict and prostitute who participates in the shoot: "I think the message is that HIV and AIDS affect all people, of all ages, of all colors, from all walks of life. That we’re living, we’re thriving. That, in fact, we don’t look any different from anyone else. And that it could be you."

If you happen to have Cinemax, it's on tonight at 7 and repeats December 10 at 6am.

You may have missed...
Destination Florent [tr]
Tunick Watch: Naked on the Coast of Spain [tr]
Spencer Tunick Celebrates Skin in Caracas [tr]
Moons for the Misbegotten [tr]
A River of Flesh [tr]

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Comments

  1. I find the pictures posted above spooky. Is that bad?

    Posted by: Martin | Dec 1, 2006 9:08:26 AM


  2. I kind of like the pictures. It's nice to see a more human face on a POZ person than the ones in the magazine ads selling the latest protese ihibitor. I still probably wouldn't eat at this diner. It looks dirty and it none of these naked people used a towel.

    Posted by: Matt | Dec 1, 2006 9:11:51 AM


  3. Florent has never been about clean. It's always had a grime to it...one of the few places that has kept to its authentic meat packing district roots, for better or worse.

    The picture itself is more haunting then spooky. Looks like human cadavers in a meat locker.

    I actually recognized for people in that photo that never mentioned their status before. Brave.

    Posted by: Bart | Dec 1, 2006 9:19:27 AM


  4. I was honored to pose for this picture...I'm the person smack in the middle on the floor,behind the lady with the bid red frizzy hair...FIRST::I have the original picture that was signed by Spencer & the colors are "off" on this page and the cover was a two page spread that opened up...so that could have added to the distorted views & color..it was a cold morning in February I believe 3 years(?) ago...and I have to tell you that floor was COLD..it was below 10 degrees outside..what you really see is the ravages of HIV medications & the virus on the group....it was the first time for me seeing a group of HIV people in a room nude and what their bodies looked like......many lumps,humps where they should not be in a normal healthy person....it was a total feeling of camaraderie that morning....and Spencer is a total professional & artist..BTW...Florent is not dirty..I would never eat there if it were.....explaining it to you is not like being there....you had to be there to feel the amazing energy emanated from everyone throughout this total experience & the stories behind each one.i turned down the HBO interview...I figured I'd given enough laying on that cold floor..see the film....it's well done....

    I've written some words on my blog for World Aids day
    http://guamanianinnyc.blogspot.com/

    Thanks,
    Tonny

    Posted by: tc | Dec 1, 2006 1:36:50 PM


  5. that's TONY

    Posted by: tc | Dec 1, 2006 1:38:09 PM


  6. Tonny-

    Thanks for providing context. That's why I love this blog. You never know who might turn up in the comments section.

    All the best,
    Martin

    Posted by: Martin | Dec 1, 2006 2:24:14 PM


  7. In a society that equates nudity with sex and lacks the sense to see the difference, I don't see how this helps. It looks like a stunt or an attempt at titillation. And I don't think of disease or prevention when I look at it. Maybe that's because I can't see the "lumps,humps where they should not be." The pictures should be just as enlightening as the film probably will.

    Posted by: 000000 | Dec 1, 2006 2:51:10 PM


  8. OK, I’m getting ready to stick my toe into the well of controversy. I fully expect to be drawn and quartered for what I’m about to say but I can’t help but express my feelings here.

    When I first looked at these pictures I had very conflicted feelings. The Mississippi Southern Baptist in me was shocked but that quickly faded as the big ole homo in me took over and I started picking out the hotties (I’m married not dead). Being a leg and feet man, I especially enjoyed the one picture.

    Then an entirely different feeling came over me.

    As a gay man who came out in, was introduced to gay culture and friends in, and survived the 80’s, I couldn’t help but remember those horrible and terrifying early days of “the gay plague”.

    I remember families turning their backs on their kids; even families that had accepted their son’s homosexuality, because the “shame” of AIDS was just too great to endure.

    I remember HIV positive CHILDREN trying to enter their schools having to walk a gauntlet of screaming, sign caring adults, foaming at the mouth with raging HATE in their eyes until they finally forced the children out of the PUBLIC school.

    I remember HIV positive sports “heroes” and celebrities calling special press conferences to make it perfectly clear to the public that they had contracted the disease because they were intravenous drug users and frequenters of FEMALE prostitutes but they WERE NOT GAY!!! Because THAT would be shameful!

    I can remember pastors and priests and evangelists pounding their pulpits admonishing gays for their wickedness and telling their flocks and their national television audiences that AIDS was a plague sent by God to punish homosexuals for their abominations. They even blamed gays for the collateral damage of innocent children getting the disease because evidently God didn’t have very good aim when he was sending down plagues.

    I remember having a president (who has been practically sainted in recent years) who refused, throughout his two terms in office, to even say the words AIDS or HIV, and he refused to fund research to stop or slow down this disease before it got out of hand. Of course there was little incentive, or popular call, to spend time and money to curtail a disease that was killing queers, n*ggers, whores and dope heads by the thousands.

    I can remember when the disease started becoming a problem in America when white women and children started coming down with it. THEY were called, as THEY often are, INNOCENT victims.

    And finally, I can remember back in the early days, as a man who had just come to grips with being gay, watching as SCORES of new found gay friends contracted this awful disease and QUICKLY became unrecognizable as their bodies and their spirits wasted away to a lifeless, corps-like, skeletal heap, long before they actually succumb to the disease.

    This brings me to me LONG overdue point.

    Though I know medical advances have drastically changed the prognosis of an HIV diagnosis (I thank God every day that it is no longer a certain death sentence), I can’t help but think that we have forgotten just what a devastating disease this has been and CONTINUES to be for our community. Therefore, I can’t help but think that an AIDS AWARENESS picture of 85 beautiful, healthy, naked, HIV-positive people helps to feed the myth that life after AIDS is wonderful, painless and rosy.

    For those of you who didn’t live through the 80’s as an out gay man, pick up a book and do some reading! This disease is not gonorrhea. You don’t get a shot or take a couple of pills and all is well.

    I get sick to my stomach every time I see another report that gay men are increasingly resorting to unprotected sex. I get enraged when I hear that crystal meth is running so rampant through our community. I am speechless when I hear about porn studios promoting bareback sex. Jesus Christ, who needs James Dobson, Jerry Falwell and Tony Perkins to destroy us. We’re doing a damn fine job of destroying ourselves!

    Let me say, as a man who worked for Merck and Co. (maker of a few AIDS meds) for a number of years, NO ONE benefits from pretending that, and promoting the idea that drugs can make post AIDS life no different from pre-AIDS life BUT the drug companies! Think about it the next time you see an ad for Crixivan with the healthy, muscular jock talking about how his meds have restored him to his pre-HIV self. That’s a fine and encouraging message for HIV+ people but it is a dangerous message for ignorant uninfected people. It is also an image and a message that the drug companies are FULLY aware will encourage young, HIV-negative men to think AIDS is no big deal because they can just take the meds and be fine. Now WHO benefits from this message?

    On this day of awareness, I ask that all of my older gay brothers remember the early days of the “gay cancer”. I encourage you to talk about it often to those who are too young to remember it or were closeted at the time. More importantly I ask those of you who are too young to have experienced the 80’s, or were in the closet at the time, to educate yourselves about the history and the continuing dangers of this disease.

    Take a few words of advice from your elders: “Party and Play” is a recipe for disaster! Condoms save lives when they are used properly and when they are used EVERY time. And finally, in my humble opinion, NOTHING is sexier than monogamy. Try it! I'm certain that knowing and following these three rules was the greatest factor that kept me and my husband HIV-negative for our 20+ out years.

    If we want our community to be respected then we have to start behaving responsibly. I know that’s a dirty word to some but it’s damn well time we, as a community started taking responsibility for ourselves, our brothers and sisters and our personal choices. Being gay is not a choice, but acting like an out of control animal is. We need to take care of and support our currently infected HIV/AIDS brothers and sisters but we have also got to step up to the plate to break the cycle of infection in future generations through education and personal guidance. We older gay men and women, like in ANY family, have a duty and obligation to educate and guide the younger generation and to work to ensure that they have a better, safer and freer life than we did. Those of you who are parents understand this implicitly. I challenge everyone in our community to work toward that end.

    Take care of yourselves and take care of each other.

    Sermon over; let the flaming commence.

    See what happens when I don't comment for three weeks and then I get stuck inside all day!

    Peace.

    Posted by: Zeke | Dec 1, 2006 2:56:30 PM


  9. Tony, thanks for telling us more about the picture. Unfortunately the ravages of the disease on the bodies are not evident in the photograph. I think the Awareness message would have been much more effective had they been visible.

    Posted by: Zeke | Dec 1, 2006 3:07:22 PM


  10. Zeke,

    It's interesting that your first response was "When I first looked at these pictures I had very conflicted feelings. The Mississippi Southern Baptist in me was shocked but that quickly faded as the big ole homo in me took over and I started picking out the hotties (I’m married not dead). Being a leg and feet man, I especially enjoyed the one picture."

    From a very eaarly age I disconected with my very religious Roman Catholic background, and found nude men very sexually appealing. Those who know of Tunick's work, know he takes people in different places and changes the dynamic by photographing them nude. I find it very interesting that you look at it with a different eye.

    I have been going to Florent since I moved downtown. It was a fav after a late night of dancing before crashing. When I looked at the photo I had several different things going through my mind. First was to find Tony. I knew he was doing the shoot and he is one of my best friends. Second I was amazed that the look was not what I expected. Like Tony, most of the people looked just like anyone you would run into on the street.

    Being a witness to this nightmare, twenty five of my forty seven years, and being HIV-, colors how I see everything in my life. I have seen far too many people die from this nightmare, including several close friends. I told my family that while I did not have HIV they should make no mistake. I have been living with HIV/AIDS most of my life, and I will die with it still being with me.

    It does make me angry that so many people, young and old, are getting infected today, but it has nothing to do with the HIV infected looking healthy and having a beautiful life. It is from those who are not educated, or simply not caring. That said I still care about them and hope to do some educating.

    That is what I love about this site. Andy brings us a forum to open up our minds and hearts and try to grow. While I may disagree with many, there are only a handful who I find to be total aholes or clueless. You regular towlies know who they are.
    :)
    Peace to all and lets pray for an end to this nightmare.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Dec 1, 2006 3:36:51 PM


  11. Zeke: I understand your sentiment. As usual, you are articulate and logical in your reasoning. Your point about the drug companies being the beneficiaries of the “productive life with HIV” (my quotes) ads is well taken and is really at the crux of the matter, I think.

    I’m a bit older than you, having come into my full sexual awakening in the 70’s, while in the army. I remember the casualness of sex. The abandon with which so many of us engaged in pure FUN! Morals were for the moralists. Many enjoyed one-night stands, anonymous glory holes and bath houses.

    Being in the military, with a top-secret clearance, I tended to be a bit more discreet. I consider myself lucky. It’s pure and simple. I didn’t contract HIV because I had sex with those guys and didn’t have sex with that one guy. That’s what saved me.

    I don’t know many men who’ve had AIDS. Aside from my volunteer work with the Lansing Area Aids Network, I only had one friend and one acquaintance whom I know of with AIDS and they’re both long-gone.

    “…acting like an out of control animal…” is what I have problems with. I am not an out of control animal. I’m just lucky. Acting “responsibly” is fairly much is up to each individual to determine. My partner of almost fourteen years and I don’t have protected sex. I have had low-risk sex with other men and I don’t know about my partner. “Monogamous?” Yeah, sort-of, in a Bill Clinton sort of way. I’m still lucky. I like to think that I’m responsible, but that’s how I’ve defined “responsible.”

    Your son will soon have the same pressures you and I felt in out teens. He’ll very likely start snoffling fairly soon (if he hasn’t already!) He and the millions of other young men and women who discover sex are exactly like you and me. They’re young. They’re responsible, as they define “responsible.” They’re also highly at risk. Telling them not to have unprotected sex is pointless when Daniel Craig’s James Bond (bless his gorgeous body) has unprotected sex with a hottie; when the media pepper the screens (big and small) will unprotected sex; and when the back covers of gay “news” magazines have ads for drugs that tout productive lives with HIV.

    Those young men and women are at risk because sex is still fun. They smoke. They drive without their seatbelts and they drink. Did you know that? It’s true.

    We can preach about “responsibility” all we want, Zeke, but it’s up to us as the old farts who’ve survived (through luck, morals, or the drug cocktail) to help young people define “responsible” in a way that THEY can own and in a way that can reduce the chances of them having to live the rest of their lives dependent on drugs…if they have insurance.

    Posted by: JT | Dec 1, 2006 4:02:47 PM


  12. Our co-worker Marek de Solla Price and his husband Vinny participated in this great film. Mark is simply one of those HIV positive people who is an inspiring individual. MArk has a BLOG that can be accessed through the POZ website.

    Posted by: Giovanni | Dec 1, 2006 4:40:28 PM


  13. Amen, Zeke and Patrick. I attended so many funerals and memorial services in the early eighties in New York that I spent that decade in perpetual tears. I still tear up at the lost generation. I too am enraged at those who do not remember, or who do not care to learn about, or do not learn from the lessons of our family's history. Then we did not know much; now we forget too much. Keep raising your voices. We must respect oursleves before others will do so. Often, I am overcome with weariness at the long struggle but am re-energized by your commitment. We must take care of each other everytime we enjoy the pleasure of another's body. Rage on!

    Posted by: rudy | Dec 1, 2006 5:14:07 PM


  14. With all due respect, JT:

    Yes, you were lucky--lucky you played Russian Roulette and didn't end up shooting yourself in the head. You can't "tell" (my quote) who has HIV or any other sexually transmitted disease just by looking at them (ESPECIALLY nowadays), and let's not forget that lying is second nature to many people. So, simply picking and choosing who to have unprotected sex with isn't any more responsible (in the truest sense of the word) than having unsafe sex with every guy (or girl) that gives you a hard-on. I don't think telling young people to protect themselves by using condoms if they're having promiscuous sex is too tall an order for anyone, least of all anyone who lived through the first horrors of the AIDS epidemic.


    Posted by: Dex | Dec 1, 2006 6:18:48 PM


  15. I have to add... that I originally did this shoot solely because Spencer Tunick was doing it (I had admired his works for several years) & the people at POZ magazine thought it would be a great idea to have it as their cover for their 10th anniversary. I'd drop my "draws" anywhere for his photographs, they are so amazing! (BTW:if you are ever interested in posing for Spencer...just go to his website and he'll let you know where he is & the stats of people needed etc..if it's outside you just throw your clothes in a bag as we did, and put them out of view) ...but EVERYTHING changed about why I was there, when I was there......and the clothes came off & there were people crying,hugging ..it was really emotional because not only were some of us realizing our OWN mortality but besides Spencer, I did it for ALL my friends that have died from AIDS and I knew laying on that cold floor was NOTHING compared to what they endured in the 80's where the nurses were the brave souls of this epidemic and did what they had to do to help out.I also worked on an aids floor as a pharmacist during the 80's at St Luke's Hospital..we've come a long way but complacency,wars & what ever issue that will divert the energies needed to finally end this plague need to be put to the forefront again in this country....Thank you,

    Tony(nyc)

    Posted by: tc | Dec 1, 2006 6:34:52 PM


  16. I'm 20 yrs old but I don't indulge in to much activism and really, I'm a little ashamed of that. I'm not too out-going. I'm an extremely laidback person but whenever I do get on my pedestal I just say as much as a paragraph, and from what I've told a friend, he quit barebacking to pursue something more.

    "Assume everyone you fuck is poz. No matter their age, race, body type, or honest, shy face and mannerisms. You CANNOT take anyones word for it. Don't have good insurance? Then expect HIV to eat through your pockets like a Pac-Man. No matter how much so and so says he's neg, if he's infected, his words will not make it go away."

    I don't know if that should be taught in school but I think its good advice. I really do think gay men are just passed the safer sex tactic. Its time to talk about the realities of things. Not just, "Fuck bareback, you get HIV."

    They'll just sit back and think, "well Joe, Mike, and Tanner are POZ and they look hotter and get more ass then I do!"

    Posted by: Damon | Dec 1, 2006 6:55:06 PM


  17. As is often the case when I go on a rant, I stated some things in ways that didn’t accurately or fully reflect my feelings.

    I’m not as big a prude as my comment may have lead people to believe. I certainly have no problem whatsoever with nudity; live, in photographs or in films. I’ve even been nude once or twice myself over my lifetime. Yes, pictures of scores of naked people intertwined on a floor are shocking to me but not because of religious baggage. It’s more because I was raised in a culture where physical modesty was deeply instilled in me. People just didn’t get undressed in front of strangers. You can imagine how traumatic basic training was for me; partially because I was embarrassed about being naked in front of strangers but more because I was embarrassed about being around other people who were naked. For the record, I thoroughly enjoy the sight of beautiful nude bodies, especially male ones and the shock quickly wears off.

    Patrick I have to disagree with you that people looking healthy and living seemingly unaffected by the disease has NOTHING to do with the ambivalence to AIDS awareness and to safe sex by gay men today. There is A LOT of HIV information and education out there these days. Unfortunately the education hasn’t been nearly as effective in promoting safe sex today as the sight of a whole generation of gay friends wasting away and dying before our eyes in years past. I would never want to go back to the days of stigma, suffering and almost certain death that used to follow an AIDS diagnosis, but the lack of these very visible reminders of the horrors of AIDS has clearly resulted in a community that takes the disease less seriously than we did a decade or two decades ago. This makes education and guidance all the more critical in today’s world.

    JT, I totally agree with everything you said (no surprise) After rereading my comment it became clear that I typed on the fly and said things that made me seem uncharacteristically judgmental. I hope people have come to know me here well enough to know that I am not as self-righteous and judgmental as my comment seemed.

    “Responsible” and “responsibility” are VERY relative terms. I never intended to insinuate that my moral code is superior to anyone else’s or to claim that people who are HIV+ are in any way immoral or universally irresponsible.

    I don’t know if it makes any sense to anyone else but I want to encourage and educate HIV-negative people to be “responsible” for protecting their health in any and every way they can while at the same time making it clear that there is, and should be, no judgment of how anyone who is HIV+ got that way.

    I don’t want to come across as trying to be daddy to anyone here but I do feel a certain amount of responsibility to try to help younger generations of gay men with guidance, life lessons and support that I and many other gay people in my generation were not given. I guess it’s the parent in me.

    Most of us who survived the 80’s and 90’s are fully aware that our negative HIV status is as much a result of luck and/or the grace of God than it is about our level of responsibility or morality; especially in the early days when we didn’t even know what caused the disease. I want to make sure that current and future generations have the education and tools, and not just luck, to rely on when making choices that will help them avoid contracting HIV, as well as any number of other sexually transmitted diseases. That sometimes requires very frank and straight forward talk that may be considered offensive to some.

    I’m sorry if my statement about people acting “like out of control animals” offended some people but I honestly believe that there are people, gay and straight, who act like animals when it comes to sex and drugs, with no self control, no boundaries and no limits. You don’t have to be a Christian fundamentalist nut to know that there are inherent risks associated with being sexually irresponsible and I believe we do our community a great disservice when we act as if it’s inappropriate or judgmental to say so.

    As for my son’s future; all I can do is educate him and try to instill into him the knowledge, morals, values and YES the sense of responsibility that I think will give him the best chance of having a happy, healthy and productive life. Ultimately the decision to follow my guidance or not will be his and I’m cool with that.

    Posted by: Zeke | Dec 1, 2006 9:16:48 PM


  18. My journey was tough. Especially when I was young. I came out in the early 90's at the age of 21. Having grown up in the closet (1980's), but reading all the scary articles on this "mystery" plague, I had a really hard time participating in a gay sexual relationship. Scared the hell out of me that I might contract this horrible disease. For that reason I never went through that period of time that so many other gay men do. That sexually liberating period everyone calls “gay puberty.” I still wonder if I short-changed myself of those sexy experiences everyone else always loves to share.

    Fortunately, I developed a “friendship” with someone I trusted at the age of 24. That turned into love which has turned into a life partnership (our hope for one, anyway).

    We’re both HIV-neg, committed to our exclusivity with each other and try not to judge others who open their relationship up. It’s hard being committed to one person. SO VERY HARD! However, when you read the stories above or experience the health issues of friends who have multiple partners in a given week it makes me realize that I made the right choice, for me.

    That’s really what it comes down to. Doing what’s right for you.

    Posted by: John M | Dec 2, 2006 12:25:37 AM


  19. I have a serious question that I’ve struggled with. Maybe someone can shed light on it.

    Is it cruel to tell someone who is HIV+ that you can’t date them because you are HIV- and are concerned about the potential for contracting the disease?

    Before everyone jumps on me, I’m being serious. I hate to lie, especially given the fact that someone has shared the most personal thing you could ever tell a potential partner.

    I just don’t see the value in putting myself in the position if I don’t have to. Even if I love the person. Is that being cruel and selfish? Trust that I've heard both side of the argument from friends. Would like a stranger's point of view. Better yet, HIV+ and - men.

    Posted by: Bryan, Texas USA | Dec 2, 2006 12:42:59 AM


  20. Bryan, thank you for having the honesty to ask a tough question. I hope no one here flames you for stepping up to ask a common if sometimes unpopular question.

    I think the answer lies within you. You must challenge yourself and ask some tough questions. Are you afraid of contracting the disease or are you scared of becoming attached to someone who's health could take a turn for the worse?

    I say this because I have a partner who is many years my senior. While we are both HIV -, he has a history of mental disorders in his family and it's not unrealistic to imagine his mind deteriorating in his senior years - a time when I, myself, will be just passed middle age.

    The thought scares me to death. If I had known that he did have psychiatric issues that required medication BEFORE we started dating, it may have given me pause. That's a terrible thing to say but it's very human.

    You must call yourself out on these kinds of things. If you recognize that your fear (of infection, of losing someone to illness) is what is holding you back, then consider whether you can overcome this or not.

    It's better to confront the issue upfront than to hope to change but later hurt someone because you can't or won't change.

    I think you're on the right track by asking if your motivations are selfish. If you decide that they are, then consider how you might overcome these challenges and grow from them. And if you decide that you can't get past the issue, then just be upfront and honest about that with everyone you come in contact with while dating. You may be judged harshly for it, but at least you are giving them a heads up.

    Posted by: mark m | Dec 2, 2006 10:12:21 AM


  21. I'd like to add that no matter what the future holds for my partner and I, I believe in the vow "in sickness and in health."

    While I may not have taken any such vow in a church or in front of a judge (can't with this current government), I DID make that vow in my heart. This is a man to whom I owe my life and my happiness. Taking care of him is the very least thing I can do to show him how much I appreciate what he has given me.

    Posted by: mark m | Dec 2, 2006 10:16:39 AM


  22. BRYAN, As MIKE M put so well, only you can answer that question. There is no right or wrong one here, but one that every gay man at one point has to face if they are dating. First off you have to learn that just because the person has the strength and honesty to tell you of his HIV status, that does not mean all men do. As I have said many times here, on many issues, when it comes to sex, both men and women lie. Whether because they are not strong enough, or are afraid, they do.

    I was faced with this issue very early on in the AIDS epidemic, in the early 80's. Since I had also started doing volunteer work with AIDS orginizations and had a gay Doctor, I was well informed on how you could or could not get the disease. I also took the approach that as far as I was concerned, everyone was HIV+, that way I did not let my guard down. If men lied to me about dating one on one, or being single, what made me think I could trust them on their HIV status.

    The first time someone told me they were positive was a few years later, in the late 80's. It was on our second date and when we went back to my place he told me he had something to tell me. After he did and I told him I was OK with it, he broke down crying. He said I was the first man who did not walk away since he found out. It broke my heart to see how much pain he was going through, on top of being positive.

    We did not go out too much longer, his decision, because he was dealing with facing his job of telling his family, work and friends of being both gay and HIV+. I was glad I was of some help in his dealing with so many issues, but most of all in not treating him like he was a leper. I continued, and still do not judge a person because of his HIV status. I'm not saying I'm a better person than you, or anyone who can not deal with it, I'm just saying I made an educated decision.

    I am still HIV-, after living in and dating in NYC, which along with San Fransico, has the largest population of HIV in the country. While I am monogamous with my partners, I can never know for sure if they are. I also am sexually active when I'm single, or as my friend Dean once said, "Miss Patrick you get more ass than a toilet seat." Not bragging, just making the point, that if you are careful you too can stay HIV-, regardless of who you date.

    I'm not sure if you have seen the HBO production of Angels in America, but it has a great example of lovers who deal with the issue of infection after dating for some time. I highly recommend you rent it if you have not. If you find you do not have the strength to date those who are HIV+, that is your decision and there is nothing wrong with you, you know your limits and are being honest. It is probably best you bring it up as soon as you start to date, before you become sexually or emotionally attached. This way the hurt is limited for both of you. You should ask yourself this though, like the characters in Angeles, would you stay with your partner if he got sick after dating for a time, or if he got cancer?

    I wish you much luck, and remember that there is not a wrong or right answer to your question. Like MARK M said before me, thank you for the honesty to ask it. I hope I was of some help.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Dec 2, 2006 12:42:33 PM


  23. Mark M & Patrick NYC-

    I really appreciate your thoughtful answers. Such a hard topic on so many levels.

    All the best this holiday season!

    BRYAN

    Posted by: Bryan, Texas USA | Dec 2, 2006 1:27:55 PM


  24. For everyone who's familiar with my rambling sermons you'll all be thrilled to know that all I can say in response to Bryan is DITTO what Mark M. and Patrick said.

    Mark M, WOW, I am truly impressed my friend!

    Patrick, I'm used to you being amazing! ;)

    Posted by: Zeke | Dec 2, 2006 4:43:49 PM


  25. John M, considering how you turned out, I don't think you missed a thing buddy.

    Posted by: Zeke | Dec 2, 2006 4:45:46 PM


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