A Queen Tells Me I Have an 'Unattractive Poz Face'
[UPDATE: Bruce Beaudette and I finally had the chance to meet up and chat about this episode. He told me he was speaking about attractive and unattractive faces in a queer brotherly way, and it was after I made remarks about his young friend Jose's handsome face. There was no harm intended in his campy comment and he's granted me forgiveness for mishearing and wrongly interpreting his words.
As fate would have it, we chatted while my face was in its most droopy stage from the Bell's palsy. We shared our feelings, poked fun at each other and life, and made peace. To mark the occasion of clearing the queer air, we snapped a photo of us homo-hamming it up.Bruce requested that I say my eye was swollen because he has a really huge penis and when it was hard, and he was trying to get me to blow him, his cock missed my mouth and hit me in the eye!]
The queen on the left said something totally rude to me yesterday at Books Inc after the panel about Harvey Milk concluded their talk. Don't know her name and see him at lots of protests, but his younger friend is named Jose. I snapped this photo before the celebration of Harvey's birthday. Good thing because I wouldn't have been able to after hearing his remark.
Schmoozing after the formal portion of the program ended, I told Jose how delighted and impressed I was that a young queer person came to the book reading and spoke up to tell us movement elders that he was educating himself about homo history. Told him it would be easy to remember his name having heard him talk during the discussion portion of the program.
Then the queen in a camp tone said, "I remember Michael's name because he's got an unattractive poz face." She chuckled at her rude comment.
"Well, the important thing is I'm alive and I like my face," was all I said before standing up and walking away. The jolt of having the stigma of living with AIDS and going through bodily adaptions thrown in my face, pardon the expression, was a reminder of how people with HIV disease are not, ahem, immune from stigma from within our own Castro community.
As if the goddess felt my pain and understood I needed some faith restored in queer humanity, Danny Nicoletta's friend Peter, pictured, stopped me on my way out to say how much he appreciated the anger of ACT UP, what it accomplished and everything he'd read by Larry Kramer. Peter made me smile and I left the event feeling upbeat and the anguish hearing the queen's words about my began to diminish.
To manage the stress from the episode, I yesterday went to the Immune Enhancement Project and had a wellness-restoring acupuncture treatment during their drop-in clinic for people with AIDS. There were others PWAs with poz face or other outward signs of body changes, and I went out of my way to make a joke and smile for them.
I stopped at Bike Dog Bikes on my way home to see my friends and one of them, Emily, took this picture of my smiling queer poz face.
Let me close with some wise words and advice from Mark S. King, a PWA who blogs at My Fabulous Disease, from his cover article in the latest issue of POZ magazine:
Today, our attitudes about HIV and other gay men range from
self-righteousness to outright contempt. From whatever our vantage
point, we have shamed and stigmatized everyone else into a corner, and
the result is a community in revolt against itself [...]
It might be easy to doubt this gloomy view of the gay community. None of
us like to believe ourselves guilty of treating “the other” badly. The
only thing we admit for sure is that we have been mistreated and
misunderstood. Our self-interest is telling.
Maybe the problem is that, beyond the convenient anonymity of online
hookup sites or mobile apps, you don’t usually see HIV stigma in all of
its black-and-white ugliness. You don’t hear its voice.
Listen closely to the ugly words of stigma.