I have severe RSI and am not supposed to write at all, so everyone tells me, the physiotherapist, the doctors, the work doctor. Today i cancelled a semniar to which I applied follishly just a couple days ago, mostly because the thought of having to prepare a presentation to a potentially very critical audience on top of my usual chores might leave me severly handicapped. I can't tell you how difficult it is not to write, even as I write this......
P. stuff is trickling into my apartment, and we live here, but it isn't yet official, it's two months already that he is in the process of moving. Today, my Ukrainian Jewish friend S. told me she will be married to her Dutch boyfriend. But she has a lot of doubts, mostly about the permanent seperation from her family that this would entail. I saw myself in her, although there is nothing I would like more than to marry P. & have his kid(s). We met my parents in Belgium the other weekend, and it was the first time that he had spent a substantial amount of time with them, and for me, that was heartbreaking: I only got to see my dad for one day, and I watched him and P. walking alongside each other, my dad looking so stooped and frail somehow next to P., although on paper he is taller! My mum has shrank too. When it was time to say goodbye and goodnight, I burst into tears. This was the first time I had cried upon leaving my parents. I cried because I am realizing that I might be forced into spending the rest of my life away from my parents, and also because I was too lazy to get up at 5.30 to say goodbye to my dad, who was taking a train at 6.00. Yes, I was too lazy to walk to the station with him. I was still taking Stokrin/Sustiva at the time (I have since switched to Viramune, my 3rd switch in a year and a half), and that might be a lame excuse, but I just couldn't envision my self rising. Sleep is so precious to me. Or rather, without a sufficient amount of it I am a zombie. How the hell can I envision parenthood then, I don't know.
So it took a lot from me to cancel that thing in the UK, but now it's over and cancelled. It's all about prioritizing, my chronic disease psychologist at the hospital whom I see once monthly said today. I guess I am prioritizing by sacrifycing my arm writing this rather than on my job.
Finally, to justify the title of this post, I came across this book about AIDS in fiction, movies and TV today. It's quite an old book, from the early 90's, and I forgot who wrote it, so there will be a bit of plagiarism here. I didn't read the whole book but one part about TV really caught my eye. It said there that until AIDS came along, gays were always portrayed on TV as the straight soceity's problem. The very fact that gays need to "come out" and that most gay related mainstream TV dealt with the coming out process, and how the all-American suburban family embraces the gay son, assumes the being gay is a secret that is at best accepted. Adding AIDS into this narrative in the 80's resulted in "disease of the week" type dramas in which the clean cut, well educated, well paid gay individual or couple reveals the horrific result of his "lifestyle", ending in imminent tragic death, which is portrayed, again, in the way that it affects the "healthy society" - parents, friends, collegues. This is when dramas even dared to venture into the "dirty" (and common) HIV infection narrative, because there was an abudance of the clean-infection types stories (via transfusion). In any case, anytime AIDS was on TV, it cost the networks advertising money; meanwhile we have to consider (this is not what the book said but I thought) that HIV/AIDS is the first major televised epidemic, and in the consciousness of the vast majorty of the public, this drama/movie image is what it is all about. As with the gay issue, AIDS is always about the effects of "disclosure" on the healthy ones - parents, friends, collegues, partners - who themselves, naturally, cannot be possibly at any risk for HIV! Moreover, the social, political, face of AIDS, the fact that it is a true epidemic spreading through all layers of society, was so terrifying to the media (and whoever is in charge of it), that the major US networks preferred even to depict gay coupledom, while keeping the epidemic marginalized at the level of individuals suffering as a result of their irresponsible, flawed actions (and still semi-embraced by the forgiving straight society), and risk outrage from mainstream (read: Christian rightrous) viewers, to revealing the Truth: HIV is here to stay; get used to it and teach your pre-pubescent kids about it, because by the time they are in high school, they will need to know how to get and use a condom.
Considering that this book was written in '93, I find that things have progressed pathetically slowly, if at all. Just consider the last TV infection story, which had its own forum in AIDSmeds. I know it has been debated a lot and want to use it just as an example, at least those 80s clean infection dramas were realistic in the sense that this is how infection happened in some cases back in those days, it wasn't just some aobscure "immaculate infection" (to quote an AIDSmeds user).
Yes, HIV is still the disease of the "others", and so it was to me, until I found out that I had it. And even though I am still not sure how I got it, and even though I consider myself to have been sexually responsible, I don't want to have an immaculate infection. I can't say that I identify with double penetration and fisting stories, but I am not the Virgin Mary. I love sex, and I don't obssess about it as long as I get it regularly, and this is not a contradiction in terms. I am not dirty, nor clean. I don't have an infection story to tell, I just have shreds and suspicions, but in this sweeping epidemic, aren't all stories the same? Instead of focusing on isolating HIV people and insinuating our seperation from society, in a way that no other - infectious or not - sickness was isolated in the modern era, we should be getting a narrative that emphasizes that we are the very fabric of society, and we are not going anywhere because a virus has entered our bloodstream, whether it happened in a mass orgy or in a blood transfusion is completely irrelevant, what is insanely relevant is the enforcement of abstinence, the lack of affordable medication and treatment, and the lack of acceptance of the fact that poz people are part of society, just like people with cancer, Parkinson's or gingivitis are.