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October 13th, 2010

In Praise of HIV Negative Gay Men!

In the anxious world of sexuality and HIV risk, we could all use a little love and support. So, in the spirit of everyone getting the attention they deserve, allow me a moment to throw a party for HIV negative gay men.

HIV negative gay men hear a lot about what they should be doing (or not doing), but rarely about what they are doing well. They have had to plod along, making the best choices they could to remain negative, fearing every blood test, and often watching friends become infected with HIV.

MedalGRABClearly, HIV positive people are subjected to daily stigmatization and prejudice, from the workplace to the dating pool. But this isn’t a contest. Considering this blog site is devoted to living joyfully with HIV, it’s probably about time that I sent some love toward my HIV negative brothers (and sisters).

Finally, do me an important favor. Please share this video with an HIV negative friend you care about (for the direct YouTube link click here). Let them know you appreciate the choices they are making. I speak from the perspective of a gay man, but everyone could use a little encouragement!

Meantime, my friends, please be well.

Mark

p.s. I hope you will consider becoming a Facebook Fan (upper left) or joining my e-mail list (top right). I don’t stalk you, but you do get occasional alerts of cool new postings here.

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26 Responses to “In Praise of HIV Negative Gay Men!”

  1. Charles Green Says:

    October 13th, 2010 at 8:24 am

    Very clever and very well done. Now, how about a medal for those HIV+ persons who, despite the stigma of being poz (I call it mental bullying), seek to maintain a healthy mental outlook, get their regular checkups, and ensure that their sex life is a pleasurable and safer one for themselves and their sexual partners?

  2. Ken Says:

    October 13th, 2010 at 8:36 am

    Thank you, that was f**kin’ fabulous. Truer words have never been spoken. I totally empathize with negative guys and how scary it must be for them if they’re sexually active. The thought of having to be tested over and over… ugh…that’s some major stress. The sad thing is, because of that stress many don’t get tested like they should and go around just “assuming ” they’re neg. Love you, Mark.

  3. russell almond iii Says:

    October 13th, 2010 at 9:11 am

    I need to know how to be negative. I am deaf.

    (You’ll find great support by clicking this link — Mark)

  4. Anthony Says:

    October 13th, 2010 at 9:57 am

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks so much for the love with this latest project. There has been a great deal of stigma around being negative. I was telling my friend yesterday that it was time for “another” test. Keep doing what you’re doing. we are all lucky to have you.
    anthony

  5. anna Says:

    October 13th, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Wow! Wow! Wow! Thank you for writing and producing and starring in such a clever, thoughtful video. Now, can you please do one for the gals? If you’re as creative as I realize you are, you could do a drag version, couldn’t you? Please? You deserve a medal for reinforcing negativity positively.

    (You have no ideas what a dangerous request you are making. Behold: Anita Mann, in all her glory! — Mark)

  6. Simon Says:

    October 13th, 2010 at 10:07 am

    Thank you Mark! it feels good to hear some good words in this matter. It is actually getting harder and harder to keep the guys negative. Plus, the video is sooo funny (in a good way off course).

  7. Gerry M Says:

    October 13th, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Thanks for taking this on and making it humorous as only you Mark King can do. I still love how you can slap these together and they look so good. I am still editing Sunday’s screening I went to! LOL Great job. I’ll pass it on! GM

  8. Joseph C. Says:

    October 13th, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Great job Mark! I’m so proud of you and the work you are doing! I am proud to say that I am negative. Being in a very happy and loving relationship for 24 years was my saving grace. Even though my life partner passed away on Feb, 13, 2010 due to cancer, he too was negative. Lots of Love to you and your continued success.
    Your first Lover from Louisiana!!

  9. Michelle Williams Says:

    October 13th, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    I loved the ad! I first saw it at the convention in Beaumont TX! You are truly an inspiration to all. As a nurse for many years I have seen people struggle with this disease and it devastate them and their families. i wish there were more angels like you around to help!!!!!!!!!

  10. Kevin Anderson Says:

    October 13th, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Had a “stay negative” shirt on at Pride 2010 in Atlanta. I was told by someone that it was offensive. Go figure. I think everyone, pos or neg, wants others to stay negative.

    (That’s amazing. Why can’t we lift up negative men without people getting offended? — Mark)

  11. Bill K Says:

    October 14th, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Bravo! Kudos as always. I admit I had a sneak peak, but I liked it the second time, too! I think a message like this could really help some people stay negative.

  12. Sue Says:

    October 17th, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Great!

  13. Pascal Says:

    October 22nd, 2010 at 9:42 am

    well nicely presented! have been poz for 22 years and keep on living safely as I do not want to inflict that trauma on any other gay guy I sleep with but as such those who kept themselves safe all that time should also be praised!

  14. Julian S. Says:

    October 22nd, 2010 at 9:45 am

    I am negative and my partner of 9 years has been positive for close to 20 years. He and I have had numerous unsafe sex encounters. My “secret” is “no cum”… I’ve been lucky in that I’ve never liked cum… not in me… on me is OK. I also know a “negative” friend that would only bareback with other “negative” men… guess what…. he’s now HIV positive, because he loves “taking loads.”

  15. Don Normann Says:

    October 22nd, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Thanks so much for the props, Mark! I and all my HIV-negative compadres thank you, because it HASN’T been easy!

  16. Tom Says:

    October 22nd, 2010 at 10:08 am

    I did not like that video at all. I actually found it quite upsetting. It felt like he was making fun of HIV negative men for having made wise and responsible decisions. I hate people who see HIV as a “right of passage” in the gay community and this video had that feeling. I felt he was almost saying all gay men should just get HIV and be more like him to live without the worry of being positive, and that’s wrong. VERY wrong. I don’t think this is the sort of thing we should support.

    (Really? Funny how people interpret things differently. My intention was straightforward: to give some credit to HIV negative guys by speaking candidly. Hmm. — Mark)

  17. RICH Says:

    October 22nd, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    You come across as bitter and condescending towards negative guys. I think you wrapped up the end to try to make it appear that your sarcasm had a point. But I think you simply started out on a major rant and had to save face by the end. You do not come across as sincere.

    It’s interesting how when people proclaim their positive status it is perfectly acceptable (as it should be). But in profiles, chat rooms, and in real life, when someone proclaims they are NEG, it is considered offensive and a slap in the face to those who are positive. The reality is that until there is a cure, there will be POZ guys and NEG guys. As long as NEG guys are supportive of POZ guys (and we are! look around!), POZ guys should be supportive of NEG guys… and I don’t mean rants like yours that are very transparent in their subtle or outright criticism of someone’s NEGATIVE status.

    Additionally I agree with the poster who wrote:
    “It felt like he was making fun of HIV negative men for having made wise and responsible decisions. I hate people who see HIV as a “right of passage” in the gay community and this video had that feeling. I felt he was almost saying all gay men should just get HIV and be more like him to live without the worry of being positive, and that’s wrong.”

    (I am simply amazed that you could watch that video, and read this blog, and come to that conclusion. Thankfully, you are in the minority! — Mark)

  18. Len Says:

    October 22nd, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    I like the video… it was ok, but I will tell you I’m one of those men that gets tested every 6 months and OK with it, because I know what I do and when I do it. I also play safe and do not play a lot. I guess you have to play it safe and be safe. I think people that are Negative will want to stay that way. I know I do for sure… Sorry that people that are HIV Positive feel that it should be a meaner to hate on us for being safe, but we should respect as well as you respect us for being Negative as well. Thanks Len

  19. Mark Says:

    October 22nd, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    This guy makes two really horrible statements in this video 1-That HIV Poz guys have better sex because they don’t have to play safe and 2- That life is easier once you become positive because you don’t have to get tested anymore. He’s actually making fun of HIV negative guys as if to say they should be positive like him. I can’t believe someone would make such an irresponsible video like that… it’s a horrible message to gay men, especially gay youth or newly out. So irresponsible. Incredibly irresponsible.

    (That’s me, Mr. Irresponsibility! My life does not have the anxiety of HIV testing, and that is a true statement, whether you like it or not. It is also true that HIV Negative men are to be praised for remaining negative despite the difficulty of doing so. Now, where you get the idea I am suggesting that negative guys should be positive like me… I have no freaking idea. LOL But this does tell me how touchy both positives and negatives are when it comes to bridging the divide between them. So I think I’ll go right on creating videos to talk about it. Thanks. — Mark)

  20. Randall Says:

    October 23rd, 2010 at 9:28 am

    WOW. From Some of the Conclusions reached by some guys on this thread, i’m guessing theres some new and improve Form of Meth out there that allows Guys to see one thing and Think you’re saying ANOTHER, Completely. DAMN! PERSONALLY, i think some of these guys had their toilet training RUSHED. You CLEARLY have a Consistent, “Safe Sex” Message.

    Great Work, Mark. To you boys who ENTIRELY MISSED THE POINT of the Piece, “Put DOWN the PIPE and Kick it Over Here.”

  21. Mark Says:

    October 23rd, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    But isn’t that the definition of being HIV positive? Being irresponsible? (WOW. What a statement. That certainly tells me where you are coming from. I’m sure your poz friends are loving you right now. — Mark)

    Perhaps we’ve hit a nerve with that word here – irresponsible. But what really upsets me (more so than your extreme sarcasm towards HIV Negative men) is we are doing everything to try to protect gay youth from killing themselves, and you come out with a message that basically says, “Life is better when you are HIV positive.” I can’t imagine a more irresponsible and upsetting and down right lacking of moral substance message to be sending out into the gay community right now.

    I hope gay youth you stumble upon this post of yours read through the comments and know it’s NOT OKAY.
    1- Life is not better when you are HIV positive… most of the drugs make you sick. I have friends who are HIV positive and they have diarrhea all the time due to the HIV medications.
    2- Not everyone responds to the drugs and treatments. Which means irresponsible behavior like this could end your life. Nobody wants this! Especially the people who care about you.
    3- You can meet someone who’s HIV negative and be in a meaningful relationship where you are both tested and free to have whatever kind of sex you want. HIV positive men do not have a monopoly on “great sex.” That’s an absurd statement to make (as the person in this video did). (Nowhere in the video do I say the words “great sex.” Angry much? — Mark)

    So think – and be safe. It’s your body. It’s your choice, so choose to be responsible.

  22. Julian S. Says:

    October 23rd, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Hey Mark…. First, I want to say that I think you are very creative in making this video. I haven’t looked through your website, but I assume that you are trying to take some of the stigma out of being HIV positive, and that’s a much needed thing.

    When I watched your video I got a creeping sensation that you were being sarcastic. Towards the end I realized that you were sincere , but I think your delivery might have been a bit over-the-top. The “over acting” or “over selling” each line in your script… instead of coming off as enthusiastic, just came off as sarcastic.

    I let my partner, who has been poz for close to 20 years, listen to the video (he wasn’t facing the screen). His immediate reaction was that you were being sarcastic.

    I think you were brave in trying to shine some of the limelight to the negative community. Since, at times, it seems as if the Poz community gets more attention. I know I have sometimes felt envious… that I wasn’t part of the “in-crowd” of HIV positive men. When I lived in Ft. Lauderdale, it seemed as if every friend I knew was poz, sometimes making me feel left out. And, I’m sure you have heard of guys seeking to be “seeded” and wanting to be “breeded”. I think that mentality comes from wanting to join the “in-crowd” of poz men. Which, from the title of this web site… makes it seem Fabulous to be Positive. It’s not a Fabulous disease. (Maybe your life is Fabulous after sero-converting…. or what they used to call a “person living with AIDS/HIV).

    My HIV+ partner has had lymphoma in May of 2005. It was considered an opportunistic infection. It was shocking to us, to realize that HIV can increase your odds of having cancer. Then in 2007 he was diagnosed with leukemia. They considered it a secondary cancer, making it that much harder to fight. One of the cures for leukemia is to have a bone marrow transplant. He was given such a bleak prognosis, because his HIV was supposed to complicate the transplant. The hospital that his infectious disease doctor worked from refused to take his case for the transplant because he was a bad risk, being an HIV positive man. We had to go from Michigan to the Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Thankfully he made it through the transplant, which happened in December of 2007. Since then he’s had numerous side-effects from the transplant…. currently leaving him in a wheelchair. Most of the treatments to help deal with transplant rejection use immune suppressing drugs…. Not a good idea for an already immuno-compromised patient.

    I don’t know what the answer is, but I thank you for opening up the dialogue.

  23. John Says:

    October 24th, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Big Bearhugs and a kiss finally some appreciation. I remember when we as a community had no clue as to this disease was transmitted. (Yes I hug and kiss my HIV+ friends/lovers and know how to have safer sex with HIV+ men). But it is great to have a pat on the back for trying to make the right choices.

  24. Stokley Says:

    October 25th, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Mark – Thanks for the cute, humorous video. Having HIV tests SCARE the HELL out of me. The stress of “what if” the test is positive and how can I deal with it really unnerves me. I go through this fear and anxiety every time I have a test. This time was a little different – I have started dating – a very sweet guy – and haven’t had sex yet (which is a twist for me, since he’s making me wait for it). I have changed my playing around to a lot of jerking off – and waiting/hoping things go well with this guy so we can do it – with condoms – and if things go well and we communicate openly and fully – maybe no condoms after a year (I said maybe – only if we test together and remain negative – and full trust builds).

    I have dated HIV + men in the past and have used condoms. Those guys I still have love and great friendships with, because they knew and respected my fears, and cared about me so much to protect me from getting infected.

    I know, I know – some who have gotten infected through their partners(s). And I know of that risk. I’ve had rotten luck in LTRs, so I’ve stuck to condom use mostly through all of those.

    What scares the absolute HELL out of me is on all of the on-line websites, most guys have RAW or BB in their profiles. This is really crazy. Don’t these guys care about their health or the health of others? What are the issues for those who love BareBack sex, despite having HIV or not?
    I won’t lie,the porn is hot, but I have that fear in me that reminds me of the consequences of being reckless.

    Mark – thanks for the praise and continued encouragement for us who are HIV Negative to strive to do so. Would love to meet and hug you in person – :)

  25. Don Bakert Says:

    November 16th, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    I don’t feel like a medal. Not taking loads was it for me; got tired of testing testing testing after 25 years of the same results. You reminded me it is time again. Thank you. That is not important. The medal goes to all my brothers who are poz. They deal with all of life’s challenges plus plus no pun intended. Sometimes I look at them and think, you are my hero. I see bravery in you that I look in awe. The medal goes to the poz guys not dying of anything. Living life head on… God has some amazing children… I know it sounds Polly Anna, it is just the way one person feels.

  26. Kevin Says:

    March 2nd, 2011 at 2:21 am

    This blog is amazing, and it’s become one of my favorite LGBT blogs for its warmth and humor.

    As a gay man who spent most of his 20s having lots (and lots) of safer sex (there is no “safe”, only “safer”), but who still worried about HIV, I can’t tell you how much this post touched me. The clinical frigidity of “MSM” checklists in a doctor’s waiting office and the ritualistic anxiety of each test, the constant anxiety about a broken condom or oral sex or one slip-up. It IS a hard psychological burden, and to have that burden acknowledged without any accompanying judgment (and a hefty amount of tongue-in-cheek encouragement) is rare.

    None of this is to take away a shred of the burdens (T-cell counts, medication concerns and side effects, financial costs of medication, stigma) that my HIV positive friends, peers and lovers have borne, often with incredible amounts of dignity and humanity.

    I was born the same week that AIDS first emerged — in mid June, 1981 (when I turn 30 this year, AIDS will “turn 30″), so I am keenly aware of the damage this virus has caused to all people — Americans, Africans, Europeans, gay, straight, black, white, Asian, Latino, all. Especially as HIV rates unfortunately continue to rise among young, urban gay men (like me), Mark’s message in this post provided a lot of comfort — to the extent it gives anyone who’s currently HIV negative just a little more strength to remain so, it’s an effort very much appreciated.

    Thanks, Kevin. I was so moved by your comments, because yes, my intention was truly to “lift up” HIV negative men. Thanks for your kind words about this blog! — Mark

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