Regarding the LA Gay & Lesbian Center’s new “HIV is a Gay Disease – Own It, End It; social marketing and advertising campaign (“HIV Ads Embrace, and Stun, Audience” (Sharon Bernstein, September 30): As a gay man living with HIV since 1990, and since that time working in HIV mental health and social services in various community agencies (including the LA Gay & Lesbian Center), and as currently a psychotherapist in private practice specializing in serving gay men, including many living with HIV, I am deeply offended by this campaign. I find this campaign heinous as much for what it isn’t as for what it is. It is a throwback to the early days of the AIDS crisis when anti-gay forces in this country used AIDS as “justification” to hate and discriminate against the entire gay community, without realizing that AIDS is a disease caused by a virus that can strike anyone –
In my work providing counseling for couples of all kinds (M-W, W-W, M-M), I find that the partners frustrate themselves all too frequently by falling into certain common traps that impair communication. These are some of the ones I see; the “roles” that you want to avoid in order to have productive communication:
It’s July Fourth – Independence Day for Gay Men: What Do You Want Independence From?
As we celebrate the summer and the Fourth of July — Independence Day — let’s consider the meaning of that word, “independence.” Historically, this means celebrating America’s freedom from the tyrannical rule of a cruel and imbecilic king who over-taxed his hardest-working citizens to enrich the elite and fund wars that aggrandized his ego. (OK, so I guess not much has changed in over 200 years!) For gay men, the word “independence” can mean so much more. For many or most of us, we grow up hiding our sexuality for a long time, and we are imprisoned by isolation, secrecy, and lack of validation for who we are.
Independence Day for gay men, coming usually soon after the annual Pride celebrations in June, as a community, is a celebration and commemoration of the Stonewall Uprising in New York in 1969, when, as a community, we declared our independence from systemic oppression (by the anti-gay New York City Police Department in particular, but also oppression in general). For each of us as individuals, the coming out process is like declaring our independence from widespread heterosexism (“the assumption that everyone is, or should be, heterosexual”).
We declare our independence from the sexism that imprisons us into strict demands for gender-conforming behaviors, whether we like those things or not, and we certainly declare independence from the outright hate and bigotry that we hear about almost constantly in the news, particularly from conservative religious sectors and/or Republicans. We also declare independence from people telling us we “can’t” — can’t be a part of certain groups, can’t hold certain jobs, can’t adopt children, can’t celebrate our sexuality, can’t have benefits, can’t have protections from discrimination, can’t have our Pride month recognized by the government, and so on. The entire LGBT community fights for independence from oppression in many ways, not just on July Fourth, but every day, in the United States and worldwide.
Labor Day was designed to be a holiday where we take time to celebrate the accomplishments and the sacrifice of the American worker. Recently in my psychotherapy practice, I have begun to offer more and more sessions on executive or vocational coaching, because a rewarding work life as part of a satisfying career is a key component of a person’s mental health.
In part I of this article, I described some of the very practical HIV transmission risk management issues involved in sex between HIV negative and positive guys. Other issues that often confront “magnetic” or “serodiscordant” couples include not fully understanding the burden that HIV is to your partner, and being only partially able to sympathize and “relate” with his various fears, frustrations, and symptoms.
[NOTE: This article was written before PrEP. I’ve been a gay men’s specialist therapist and blogger for a VERY long time…]
You’re on your third date with someone who very well could be Mr. Right. You’re impressed that you got him to go to your favorite restaurant when you weren’t sure he would like it. You’re staring across the candle-lit table at those beautiful green eyes of his. He pauses and then takes a deep breath, a little sigh, and says, “So… I guess I should tell you that I’m HIV-positive.”
[NOTE: THIS BLOG ARTICLE IS FROM 2005, AND HAS MANY ANTIQUATED IDEAS IN IT, SUCH AS THE TIME BEFORE PREP, TASP, AND U=U. IF YOU DON’T KNOW THESE ACRONYM TERMS, PLEASE LOOK THEM UP BEFORE READING THIS ARTICLE. THIS ARTICLE IS INCLUDED HERE ONLY FOR AN HISTORICAL REFERENCE, AND IS ONLY PARTIALLY RELEVANT PRESENTLY. PART OF BEING EDUCATED…UB2 IS BEING UP TO DATE; THIS ARTICLE IS NOW OBSOLETE, EXCEPT IN ADDRESSING SOME REMAINING STIGMA IN SERO-DISCORDANT (POZ/NEG) DATING, A TOPIC I EXPLORE IN MORE DETAIL IN OTHER ARTICLES.]
Recently I was browsing through online personal ads in various online services for gay men. I was surprised at how often the term “UB2” came up. This is an appreviation for, “You be, too!”, in reference to a negative HIV status. It seems to say, in those succinct three characters,
The recent (and perhaps transient) popularity of “The Secret,” the almost “underground” self-help DVD that has become the latest rage of “Oprah” and “Ellen” in recent weeks, has been the topic of water-cooler conversations all over the country and certainly in therapist’s offices like mine.
As a psychotherapist working with gay men in West Hollywood, body image and fitness issues come up more often than if I were practicing with another population in a different place. Our culture “suggests” – some would say vehemently “demands” – high levels of fitness in part for our health but largely for our looks. … Read more
After recently shifting my focus after 10 years of working with non-profit HIV and mental health social service organizations, I’ve been reflecting on both the positive – and negative – things that I witnessed. With the re-election of President Bush and a Republican majority in Congress, social services and other “liberal” institutions are certainly out of favor and have come under fire as a low priority for the American public and taxpayers.