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Vol. 2, No. 1
Winter 2004
© 2004 AIDS Project Los Angeles
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher.
An HIV Prevention Publication
Editor Jaime Cortez
Concept George Ayala
Design Patrick “Pato” Hebert
Translation Omar Baños
Copy Editing Laurence Angeleo Padua, Mónica Leibovich-Adrabi, MD
Publication Support Monica Nuño
APLA
3550 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 300
Los Angeles, CA 90010
www.apla.org
(213) 201-1537
[email protected]
Matt Bernstein Sycamore’s, “Four Hugs,” originally appeared in Pulling Taffy, published by Suspect Thoughts Press (© 2003).
Ricardo Bracho’s essay, “Ridin’ sidesaddle through thug life,” and Derek Jackson’s photographs from the series, “Thug Life”
were part of the exhibition DL – The Downlow in Contemporary Art. DL was curated by Edwin Ramoran and exhibited at the
Longwood Art Gallery in the Bronx. The exhibit was supported by the Bronx Council of the Arts.
William I. Johnston’s essay, “HIV-Negative Identity,” first appeared in HIV-Negative: How the Uninfected Are Affected by AIDS by
William I. Johnston, New York: Insight Books-Plenum Press (© 1995).
Marvin K. White’s poem, “The Children,” will appear in his new and highly-anticipated collection of poetry, Nothin’ Ugly Fly,
slated for release in the spring of 2004 and published by Rootworks Books (© 2003).
Front cover art, P. vii Jaime Cortez, altered details from “Burning Bush,” 2003, photonovela
Back cover art Alex Donis, “Officer Moreno & Joker,” 2001, oil and enamel on plexi, 28” x 41”
Pp. ii-iii Tri D. Do, “Succubus,” 2003, digital image, 16.75” x 8.375” (altered)
P. 1 Anonymous, “Cum Reimagined,” 2003, digital photograph, 8.375” x 8.375” (altered)
Contents
v
Foreword
George Ayala
ix
Introduction
Jaime Cortez
2
Four Hugs
Matt Bernstein Sycamore
10
Masculinity and HIV Prevention: A Discussion with Cedric Brown, Jaime Cortez,
Eric Rofes and Marvin K. White
32
BOMBA: An Interview with Artist Alex Donis
Jaime Cortez
38
Ridin’ sidesaddle thru thug life
Ricardo A. Bracho
44
My Funk About Spunk
Javid Syed
46
Cum Essay
Robert Vázquez-Pacheco
48
You
Philip Huang
50
HIV-Negative Identity
William I. Johnston
66
Burning Bush
Jaime Cortez
84
the children
Marvin K. White
88
Contributors
En la primavera del 2003, comencé la primera
edición de Corpus de AIDS Project Los Angeles
escribiendo: “En estos días, encontrar el
homosexualismo en la industria del VIH/SIDA es
como buscar una aguja en un pajar”. Si tú todavía
sigues buscando, tenemos buenas noticias: La
encontramos. Está viva, bien y lista para hablar en
esta segunda edición de Corpus.
Corpus is about the sex gay men
have: how we feel about our sex; Foreword
Corpus trata sobre el sexo que
George Ayala, Director of Education tienen los hombres gay: qué
how we perform the beautifully
AIDS Project Los Angeles
broad range of masculinities
sentimos sobre el sexo, cómo
and femininities inside our sex;
hacemos la representación del
and how we seek to experience
hermoso y amplio rango de
and learn about our own and each other’s bodies
masculinidades y femineidades dentro de nuestro
before, during and after our sex. Sometimes, our
sexo, y cómo nosotros buscamos experimentar y
sex happens in irreverent celebration,
aprender sobre nuestros propios cuerpos y el de los
communion and joy, and at other times, in the
otros, antes, durante y después de nuestros
silence of self-reflection or the poetry of
encuentros. A veces, nuestras relaciones sexuales
anonymous park sex. “We have acquired animal
ocurren en celebraciones, comuniones y gozo
genius,” proclaims Corpus Editor, Jaime Cortez.
irreverentes y en otras ocasiones ocurren en el
silencio de la auto-reflexión o en la poesía del sexo
Seldom is that genius tapped. More often than
en el anonimato en el parque. “Nosotros hemos
not, gay men and our sex get reduced to
adquirido el genio animal”, proclama el editor de
ridiculously simple characterizations, or even
Corpus, Jaime Cortez.
worse, we get erased. Case in point, in October,
2003, USA Today reported the results of a recent
Pocas veces se despierta ese genio. Con frecuencia,
study of men, which found that roughly 10-20
los hombres gay y nuestro sexo es reducido a
percent are most like to engage in risky sex.
simples caracterizaciones ridículas o, peor aún,
Highlighting the survey results from the gay men
somos borrados. Esto demuestra este punto: en
participating in the study, the reporter writes:
USA Today de octubre del 2003, se reportaron los
resultados de un estudio reciente sobre hombres, en
“The threat of catching a
el cual encontraron que aproximadamente entre el
disease does not seem to cool
10 y el 20% son más proclives a involucrarse en
their desire, as it would for most
actividades sexuales de riesgo. Para sobresaltar los
people, and depression or stress
resultados de los hombres gay que participaron en
can send them cruising for
el estudio, el reportero escribe:
Foreword
In the spring of 2003, I began the premier issue
of AIDS Project Los Angeles’ (APLA) Corpus by
writing, “(t)hese days, finding gayness in the
HIV/AIDS industry is like looking for Waldo.”
If you are still looking, good news: we have
found Waldo. He is alive, well and ready to talk
in this second issue of Corpus.
v
Ayala
casual sex. ‘For most of us,
the way our bodies are set up
probably makes it easier to do
the right thing,’ [the study
investigator] said. These men did
more cruising for casual sex
partners, many of whom they
did not know well.”1
vi
In contrast and response to these types of
minimizing portrayals, this second issue of Corpus
stands as a fierce refusal to allow the lives and sex
of gay men to be flattened, as is often and sadly
the case in our efforts to prevent HIV
transmission. Yes, it is true that some of us have
histories of childhood sexual abuse and some of
us seek out sex as a relief from stress and
depression. Yes, some of us live for the
“danger” culturally assigned to fucking without
condoms. AND YES, we are so much more.
Addressing the risk for HIV exposure means that
our prevention efforts must be squarely situated
in a nuanced understanding of gay men’s sex.
This is different than asking that HIV prevention
once again embrace the identity politics of the
1990’s. We don’t have to establish communities
organized around particular identities before we
can make peace with our bodies, our serostatuses, and our manhoods as we try to create
possibilities for pleasure, intimacy, love, escape,
connectedness, and community. Condom use
imperatives disrupt and minimize the complexity
and vastness of our sex and sense of self. This
is why you will not see the “boxed” HIV
prevention messages in this issue of Corpus. HIV
prevention messages are instead embedded in the
“La amenaza de coger una enfermedad parece que no
enfría sus deseos, como lo haría para la mayoría de la
gente, y la depresión o el estrés puede conducirlos a
buscar el sexo casual. ‘Para muchos de nosotros, la
manera en que nuestros cuerpos están establecidos
probablemente hace más fácil hacer las cosas bien”,
dijo [el investigador del estudio]. Estos hombres
buscaron más sexo con parejas casuales, muchos a
quienes no conocían bien.”1
En contraste y en respuesta a estos tipos de
presentaciones minimalistas, esta segunda edición de
Corpus se mantiene firme rechazando ferozmente que
las vidas y sexo de los hombres gay sean aplastadas,
como casi siempre—y tristemente—es el caso en
nuestros esfuerzos de prevención en la transmisión
del VIH. Sí es cierto que algunos de nosotros
tenemos historias de abuso sexual en nuestra infancia
y algunos de nosotros buscamos el sexo como una
forma de escape y alivio del estrés y la depresión. Sí,
algunos de nosotros vivimos para el “peligro”
asignado culturalmente al acto de tener sexo sin
condones. Y SÍ, somos mucho más.
Hablar sobre el riesgo de exposición al VIH significa
que nuestros esfuerzos de prevención deben ser
situados honestamente con el entendimiento
matizado del sexo de hombres gay. Esto es diferente
a pedir que la prevención del VIH otra vez acoja la
política de identidad de los años noventa. Nosotros
no tenemos que establecer comunidades organizadas
alrededor de identidades particulares antes de poder
hacer paz con nuestros cuerpos, nuestros estatus
serológico y nuestra hombría, mientras tratamos de
crear posibilidades para el placer, la intimidad, el
amor, el escape, la conexión y la comunidad. Los
imperativos del uso del condón interrumpen y
Ironically, this approach to examining and
disseminating HIV prevention represents a risk
on the part of the leadership at APLA, a risk the
Board of Directors and Executive
Director, Craig E. Thompson so
wisely understand as necessary
because it is missing from
today’s intervention
approaches. It is risky to
honor and respect gay
men’s lives at a time when
doing so can mean
governmental retribution
and diminished private
funding. Corpus therefore
functions as a political
placeholder for the requisite
loving discussions and
discoveries we must make about
gay men’s sex if we are to see HIV
transmission among gay men halted.
Thank you APLA, Jaime Cortez, Pato Hebert
and Corpus contributors for heroically and
humbly creating space for collective selfreflection.
1 Elias, Marilyn. “Study: Some Men May Be Hard-Wired for
Unsafe Sex.” USA Today, October 28, 2003.
minimizan la complejidad y magnitud de nuestro
sexo y sentido de ser. Por eso es que no encontrarás
“encajonado” el mensaje de prevención del VIH en
esta edición de Corpus. En su lugar, los mensajes de
prevención están envueltos en las historias, el arte y
en la voz editorial. Tendrás que mirar y escuchar
para ver y oírlas. Lo que encuentres aquí puede
sorprenderte y hasta perturbarte. Pero nosotros
creemos que para poder tratar los retos que
enfrentan los hombres gay, primero tenemos que
iluminar y comprender esas complejidades.
Irónicamente, está aproximación a la
examinación y diseminación de la
prevención del VIH representa
un riesgo por parte del
liderazgo de APLA, un riesgo
por parte de la junta directiva
y del director ejecutivo, Craig
E. Thompson, que sabiamente
lo entienden como algo
necesario porque no existe en
las actuales intervenciones de
prevención. Es peligroso honrar
y respetar las vidas de los hombres
gay en momentos en que el hacer
esto puede significar castigo por parte
del gobierno y la disminución de
financiamiento del sector privado. Por lo tanto,
Corpus funciona para sostener un espacio político
para las queridas e indispensables discusiones y
descubrimientos que tenemos que hacer sobre el
sexo de los hombres gay si es que nosotros vamos a
ver que la transmisión del VIH entre hombres gay se
detenga. Gracias APLA, Jaime Cortez, Pato Hebert
y a los colaboradores de Corpus, por heroica y
humildemente crear un espacio para la auto reflexión
colectiva.
Foreword
stories, in the art, and in the editorial voice. You
will have to look and listen to see and hear them.
What you find may surprise, even usettle you.
But we believe that in order to address the
challenges facing gay men, we must first
illuminate and understand those complexities.
vii
Jaime Cortez, Editor
Corpus is an HIV prevention magazine. You may
find it beautiful to look at and hold, but the
contents are not about the elegance and tidiness
of man-to-man sex. Corpus is about the
physically and emotionally messy sexuality we
sometimes practice. We use gestures and single
words to negotiate immensely complicated sexual
unions. We creep. We surrender to the need for
skin on skin. We sweat our manliness. We sweat
our sissyness. We transfer fluids. We age and
grow and assign new meanings to sex. We treat
each other’s bodies as meat or sacred vessels,
sometimes in the same sexual act.
No matter what we’ve been told by well-intended
(and not-so-well-intended) HIV prevention
campaigns, our sexuality resists corralling. It
resists in ways that are forceful, scary and
beautiful. Our desire is fundamental. To
constantly fight this most fierce part of ourselves
is exhausting and demoralizing. In this issue of
Corpus, we can sit in our mess. I want us to hold
the idea that we are at once careful and reckless,
wounded and optimistic, detached and
passionate, because it is in those heaped
contradictions that we will mine the new stories
we need to tell each other about our desire, our
sex and our health.
Enjoy.
Corpus es una revista sobre la prevención del VIH.
Podrás encontrar que es una revista bonita que
puedes mirar y tener, pero el contenido no trata
sobre la elegancia y la pulcritud del sexo entre
hombres. Corpus trata sobre el relajo y la revoltura
física y emocional de la sexualidad que a veces
practicamos. Nosotros utilizamos gestos y palabras
sueltas para negociar uniones sexuales
inmensamente complejas. Andamos secretamente.
Nos vencemos a la necesidad de la piel sobre la
piel. Nos da pavor nuestra hombría. Nos da pavor
lo afeminado. Transferimos fluidos. Crecemos y
maduramos y asignamos nuevos significados al
sexo. Nosotros tratamos nuestros cuerpos como
un trozo de carne o como barcos sagrados a veces
en el mismo acto sexual.
No importa qué se nos haya dicho por bien
intencionadas (y no tan bien intencionadas)
campañas para la prevención del VIH, nuestra
sexualidad resiste el acorralamiento. Resiste de
maneras que son energéticas, temerosas y hermosas.
Nuestro deseo es fundamental. Luchar
constantemente con esta parte más feroz de
nosotros mismos agota y demoraliza. En esta
edición de Corpus, podemos sentarnos en nuestro
relajo. Yo quiero que tengamos la idea de una vez
por todas que nosotros somos cuidadosos e
imprudentes, heridos y optimistas, desprendidos y
apasionados, porque es dentro de ese montón de
contradicciones que encontraremos la fuente para
las nuevas historias que necesitamos contarnos
entre nosotros sobre nuestro deseo, nuestro sexo y
nuestra salud.
Disfruta.
Introduction
Introduction
ix
Four Hugs
Matt Bernstein Sycamore
This trick sounds like the same flake I got two weeks ago, the one who called me at 3 a.m. and then didn’t
even bother to answer the door when I arrived. The guy tonight has a different phone number and
address, but something about his voice sounds the same. They say always trust your intuition, it’s always
right, but I’ve learned that’s not really true so I head out in a cab.
Bernstein Sycamore
I get to the trick’s apartment and he lives in the building on Avenue A that must be the ugliest thing in the
East Village, this brick building from the ‘60s with huge concrete balconies. They were renovating it last
year and I couldn’t understand why they didn’t just tear it down. I look inside and it’s kind of posh.
The guy buzzes me in and I go upstairs, his door’s got a police lock in the center—I’m in a paranoid
mood, hoping the extra lock isn’t there to keep the neighbors or the cops away from the stench of rotting
flesh on the other side. He opens the door and he’s studying me with this scowl on his face, I guess
another whore might have a pose to go with that scowl but I’ve got nothing. He’s tall, too— for a second
I think am I really six feet?
2
He offers me a drink and I ask for water; his apartment’s beautiful. I say from outside, I never would have
expected the apartment would look like this. It’s a two-story loft—sleek and modern and spare in that
Europe-meets-Japan kind of way. Dining-room table that looks like it’s ready for a conference and a
black-leather sofa with—is that really a fur?—on it. Gross.
We go into the bedroom and he says is this okay. I say sure. He says I’d like a massage first, so I get
lotion out of my bag. Still can’t tell if he likes me. There’s a futon on the floor and everything in the
room is on the floor too, only there’s not much in the room. I wonder about rich people who don’t have
anything laying around: where do they keep it all? The radio’s tuned to the BBC; they’re talking about the
bombing of Kosovo, and the trick says this ought to relax me.
I start to unlace my boots and he pulls off his clothes and says which way should I lie on the bed? I say
you choose; he’s obviously tense. I take off my clothes and I straddle him, start to rub lotion into his
back. He says I like it deep, so I push hard and it’s nice feeling his skin, being on top of him. I get into
the massage, letting my tension leave my body as I push into him. I try to get aroused, but my dick
doesn’t budge. I push into his body with my elbows, forearms, and then wrap my hands under his chest
to his armpits, and suddenly I’m hard, grabbing him under his armpits and up to his shoulders, feeling his
sweat on my fingers.
Cuatro abrazos
Matt Bernstein Sycamore
Este levante suena como el mismo huevón que tuve hace dos semanas, el que me llamó a las 3 a.m. y
después ni siquiera se molestó en abrir la puerta cuando llegué. El hombre de esta noche tiene un
número de teléfono y dirección diferentes, pero algo en su voz suena a lo mismo. Siempre dicen que
confíes en tu intuición, siempre es correcta, pero he aprendido que eso no es precisamente cierto, así que
tome un taxi.
El hombre me deja entrar por el intercom y subo las escaleras, su puerta tiene una chapa de policía en el
centro—estoy en un ánimo de paranoia, esperando que la chapa no sea para mantener a los vecinos o a
los policías alejados del mal olor a cuerpo muerto. El abre la puerta y me está estudiando con un
semblante ceñudo en su cara; supongo que otra puta tal vez tenga una pose que vaya con ese ceño, pero
yo no tengo nada. El es alto, también—por un momento pienso, ¿en realidad mido seis pies de altura?
Me ofrece una bebida y pido agua; su apartamento es hermoso. Digo que desde fuera, yo nunca hubiera
esperado que su apartamento se viera así. Es una apartamento de dos pisos –pulido y moderno y, de
alguna manera, al estilo de mezcla euro-japonesa. La mesa del comedor que parece estar lista para una
conferencia y un sofá de cuero negro —¿es eso verdaderamente piel?—encima. Asqueroso.
Entramos a la recámara y dice si esto está bien. Yo digo por supuesto. El dice me gustaría un masaje
antes, así que saco loción de mi bolso. Todavía no puedo decir si le gusto. Hay un colchón en el piso y
todo en la habitación está en el piso, solo que no hay muchas cosas en la habitación. Me pregunto de la
gente rica que no tienen nada en el suelo: ¿Dónde ponen todas sus cosas? La radio está sintonizada en la
estación de la BBC, hablan del bombardeo a Kosovo y mi levante dice esto va a relajarme.
Empiezo a desamarrarme las botas y él se desviste y dice ¿de qué manera debo acostarme en la cama? Yo
digo tú escoges; él está obviamente tenso. Me quito la ropa y me monto en él, empiezo a ponerle loción
en su espalda. El dice me gusta profundo, entonces presiono más fuerte y su piel se siente bien, estar
subido en él. Me meto en el masaje, dejando que la tensión deje mi cuerpo al mismo tiempo que me
acerco a él. Trato de que se me pare mi verga, pero no responde. Presiono su cuerpo con mis codos,
brazos, y abrazo su pecho y sus axilas, y de repente la tengo dura, tocándolo debajo de las axilas y hasta
Four Hugs
Llegué al apartamento de mi levante y él vive en el edificio de la avenida A que ha de ser la cosa mas fea
en la East Village; este edificio de ladrillos de los años 60 con enormes balcones de concreto. Los estaban
renovando el año pasado y no pude entender porqué no los demolieron de una vez. Lo vi por dentro y
parece algo lujoso.
3
Bernstein Sycamore
I move to his ass and then down his legs to his
feet. Rubbing his feet against my chest, I’m
turned on and then he flips over, picks up the
remote control to change the radio to music.
He says that was great, and starts sucking on my
chin. I get on top of him and suck on his neck,
he puts his arms around me, then picks them up
and replaces them, over and over, hugging me
from different directions. I relax, lie in his arms
and then lick down his neck to his nipples, to his
crotch, to his dick.
4
His dick is big and it curves upward, I’m nervous
about getting fucked but excited about sucking.
I start with the cockhead and then move slowly
down and then back and forth until my throat
relaxes and his dick pushes back. He puts his
hands on my neck and pets me gently, moaning,
and I’m sucking up and down, hoping he’ll
suddenly get close to cumming and I can jerk
him off. I suck for a while and he’s shaking, but
I can tell he’s not going to cum, so I move up to
kiss him on the lips, lying on top of him.
He flips me onto my back and then he’s on top
of me, my legs in the air and his dick right at my
asshole. I’m thinking this is definitely not the
way I want to get fucked, but I figure I’ll let him
tease my asshole for a while then we can change
positions, put a condom on, and go from there.
I pull his hands to my chest, then lean my neck
up to take his dick in my mouth and he grabs my
head, fucks my face for a minute, and then I relax
onto the bed.
sus hombros, sintiendo su sudor en mis dedos.
Me muevo hasta su culo y después a sus piernas y
su pies. Frotando sus pies contra mi pecho, me
pongo más caliente y después se da vuelta,
levanta el control remoto para cambiar la radio a
música. El dice eso fue buenísimo y empieza a
chuparme la barbilla. Me subo encima de él y le
chupo su cuello, él pone sus brazos alrededor
mío, después los levanta y los reemplaza uno tras
otro, abrazándome desde diferente direcciones.
Me relajo, me acuesto en sus brazos y después
lamo desde su cuello hasta sus pezones, su
bragadura y hasta su verga.
Su verga es grande y curvada hacia arriba, estoy
nervioso al pensar que me va a coger pero me
exita mamársela. Empiezo con la cabeza de la
verga y después bajo suavemente, y luego para
arriba y para abajo hasta que mi garganta se relaja
y su verga empuja hasta atrás. El pone sus
manos sobre mi cuello y me acaricia suavemente,
gimiendo, y yo se la mamo, esperando que esté a
punto de acabar para poder masturbarlo. La
mamo un rato más y él tiembla, pero puedo ver
que él no va acabar pronto, así que me muevo
para besarlo en los labios, acostado encima de él.
Me da vuelta y estoy sobre mi espalda y él está
encima de mí, mis piernas en el aire y su verga
exactamente en mi hoyo. Estoy pensando que
definitivamente esta no es la manera en que me
gustaría que me coja, pero pienso que voy a dejar
Eddie Milla, “Sueño #2,” 2003, Fuji crystal archive print, 30” x 40”
He’s fucking me and he says it’s so beautiful again,
and I kind of want to cry, and I want to say don’t
cum inside me but I can’t even say that, I don’t
know why. I can’t believe he’s fucking me with his
whole dick in my ass and it’s so easy, I’m so hard
que juegue un poco con mi ano y después
podemos cambiar de posición y ponerle un
condón y partimos de allí. Halo sus manos hasta
mi pecho, y me hago para atrás para recibir su
verga en mi boca y él me agarra del cuello, coge
mi cara por un momento, y luego me relajo en la
cama.
Su verga presiona mi ano, yo puedo sentir el calor
del dolor que pasa en mi cuerpo y estoy
pensando que va a dolerme demasiado cuando
me coja y luego pulgadas de su pene en mi ano,
se deslizan suavemente hasta adentro. Sé que yo
debería de sentarme y alejarme, pero no lo hago,
me está cogiendo y es tan fácil sin condón. El
dice esto es hermoso y sí se siente fantástico,
aunque yo estoy pensando sobre cuál taller de
Eddie Milla, “Sueño #1,” 2003, Fuji crystal archive print, 40” x 30”
Bernstein Sycamore
6
His dick pushes against my asshole. I can feel
the heat of pain going through my body and I’m
thinking it’s going to hurt too much to get
fucked, and then his dick inches into my asshole
and slides gently all the way inside. I know I
should sit up and pull myself away but I don’t,
he’s fucking me and it’s so easy without a
condom. He says this is so beautiful, and it does
feel amazing, though I’m thinking about which
emergency safer sex workshop I have to go to—
is there one for whores who let their tricks fuck
them without a condom because it doesn’t hurt
as much?
He asks me to turn over, so I’m on my stomach
and he gets on top of me; he’s one of those guys
who needs to at least pretend he’s fucking in
order to cum. His dick’s right up against my
asshole, and I reach back to help him get off, but
really I’m covering myself. I’m worried some of
his cum might get in my asshole, even though I
realize that’s kind of ridiculous, considering his
whole dick was just in there. He starts moaning
like he’s crying, and then I can’t tell if he’s
cumming but I figure that’s what happened
because he lies down next to me and puts his
arms around me.
The radio’s playing some old song and I struggle
to catch the words, something about not just
being another one-night lady. It’s always funny
like that. I’m looking at the black pillows, white
sheets, and the room in tones of grey, flickering
in candlelight, looking out the window at the
building across the street and everything’s so still.
I’m filled with a sad sense of paralysis but there’s
comfort there too, I’m letting my body release all
of its pain instead of pretending everything’s
casual. Me and this guy are lying there together
and it’s like we’re one body until I move slightly
emergencia sobre sexo seguro debo de asistir—
¿hay uno para putas que dejan que sus clientes las
cojan sin condón porque así no duele demasiado?
El me está cogiendo y dice es tan hermoso otra
vez y yo casi quiero llorar, quiero decir no vengas
dentro de mi pero ni si quiera puedo decir eso,
no sé porqué. No puedo creerlo, que me está
cogiendo con toda su verga dentro de mi ano y
es tan fácil, y yo la tengo bien parada gracias a él
y no me estoy tocando para nada. Siento que ya
voy a acabar, estoy gimiendo y luego vengo sobre
todo mi pecho. Nunca he acabado así antes—sin
que nadie me toque—suavemente saco su verga y
me acuesto en mi espalda, pensando en lo que
estoy sintiendo, la emoción y el bajón.
Me pide que me de vuelta, así estoy sobre mi
estómago y él se sube encima de mi; él es de esos
hombres que necesitan por lo menos pretender
que están cogiendo para poder acabar. Su verga
está presionando mi ano, y con mis manos le
ayudo a acabar, pero en realidad me estoy
cubriendo. Me preocupa que algo de su semen
pueda caer en mi ano, aunque me doy cuenta que
es como un poco ridículo, considerando que toda
su verga acaba de estar allí adentro. Empieza a
gemir como si estuviera llorando, y no puedo
decir si ya está acabando, pero me imagino que
eso fue lo que pasó porque él se queda tendido
junto a mí y me abraza.
En la radio están tocando una vieja canción y me
esfuerzo por entender la letra, algo sobre no ser
otra dama más de una noche. Siempre es curioso
Four Hugs
for him and I’m not touching myself at all. I can
feel myself getting close to cumming, I’m
moaning and then I shoot all over my chest. I’ve
never cum like that before—without someone
touching me—I ease myself off his dick and I’m
lying on my back wondering what I’m feeling, the
rush and the crash.
7
Bernstein Sycamore
to reach for some water, and he says do you need
to use the bathroom?
8
I go to the bathroom and it’s all black and
white—stark—and I look at my chest in the
mirror and there’s dried cum all over me, how’d
that get there? Oh right, I came on myself. I
look in the shower and there’s Japanese shampoo,
the only thing in the room except Japanese liquid
soap. I think it’s funny the way everything is so
blank on purpose. I wash up and then go back
into the bedroom.
It’s dark in the bedroom and he says are you
okay? I almost want to answer him, but I say
yeah. The whole room smells like cum, and he’s
sitting on the bed with his laptop. He’s put my
clothes in a pile and I get dressed, follow him
into the living room, and he goes into another
room—filled with computers and stacks of
videos—there’s his stuff. I notice a spiral
staircase that leads to another room, I guess. He
gives me the money and we kiss goodbye, this
feels too monumental.
I get to the street and I’m thinking about
something I heard on the radio, how everyone
needs at least four hugs a day, and I’m wondering
if that trick counted as four hugs. I get to the
store, and there’s the guy I usually give money to,
slumped over; he says I only slept three hours last
night. I’m choosing vegetables, and someone’s
screaming Pancho Villa, Pancho Villa. I turn
around and there’s this guy in a huge Mexican
de esa manera. Estoy mirando las almohadas
negras, las sábanas blancas y la habitación en
tonos grises, que cambian con la luz de las velas,
estoy mirando hacia afuera por la ventana el
edificio al otro lado de la calle y todo está tan
quieto. Estoy lleno de una triste sensación de
parálisis, pero también hay cierta comodidad,
estoy dejando que mi cuerpo saque todo su dolor
en lugar de pretender que todo es casual. Este
hombre y yo estamos acostados juntos y es como
si fuéramos un solo cuerpo hasta que me muevo
un poco para alcanzar el agua y él pregunta
¿necesitas usar el baño?
Voy al baño y es completamente blanco y
negro—fuerte—y me miro el pecho y hay semen
seco en todo mi cuerpo, ¿cómo llegó eso allí?
Bueno, acabe sobre mi. Veo en la ducha y hay
shampoo japonés, la única cosa en el cuarto a
excepción del jabón japonés liquido. Creo que es
curiosa la manera en como todo está vació a
propósito. Me lavo y regreso a la recámara.
Está oscuro en la recámara y él pregunta ¿estás
bien? Casi que quiero responderle, pero digo sí.
Toda la habitación huele a semen, y él está
sentado en la cama con su computadora portátil.
El ha puesto mi ropa en un rimero y yo me visto,
lo sigo hasta la sala y él se va a otra habitación—
llena de computadoras y videos—allí están sus
cosas. Me doy cuenta que hay una escalera en
espiral que lleva a otro cuarto, creo. El me da el
dinero y nos damos un beso de despedida, esto
se siente demasiado monumental.
Llego a la calle y estoy pensando sobre algo que
escuche en la radio, cómo todos necesitamos por
lo menos cuatro abrazos al día, y estoy pensando
si este levante cuenta como cuatro abrazos.
Llego a la tienda y allí está el hombre al que
usualmente le doy dinero; él dice solo dormí tres
horas anoche. Estoy escogiendo los vegetales, y
alguien está gritando Pancho Villa, Pancho Villa.
Me doy la vuelta y allí esta este hombre con un
enorme sombrero mexicano, sonriéndome de esa
manera extraña que sonríen los hombres
heterosexuales borrachos cuando quieren sexo.
El dice me gusta tu chumpa y yo digo gracias,
sonriendo; regreso a escoger más vegetales y
alguien pasa con un perro. El hombre que está
gritando Pancho Villa dice a mi me gustan los
perros—con un poco de ajo, algunos chiles y
jalapeño—y me doy la vuelta para entrar a la
tienda.
Four Hugs
hat, grinning at me in that way drunk straight
guys do when they want sex. He says I like your
jacket and I say thanks, laughing; I go back to
choosing vegetables, and someone walks by with
a dog. The guy screaming Pancho Villa says I like
dogs—with a little garlic, some chiles, and
jalapeño—and I turn to go into the store.
9
Masculinity and HIV Prevention:
A Discussion with Cedric Brown, Jaime Cortez, Eric Rofes and Marvin K. White
Brown, Cortez, Rofes & White
SECTION I: Queen Be
Marvin:
I’ve wondered about what gay masculinity is. Are gay constructions of masculinity
different from hetero constructions of masculinity? What are the differences or
similarities?
Cedric:
Which is similar to one of my questions. Are there gay archetypes of masculinity or are
there just these ideas of what gay men look like? We were talking earlier about those five
guys doing the makeover show (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy). That show puts forth
this notion of the decorative queen, the witty one, the fashionable one, the one who
knows about interior design. There are so many gay men who are not like that. That is
drawing from just one archetype.
Jaime:
For me, the biggest revelation as a younger person entering the queer world was the idea
of gender as an ongoing performance. Gender is something you put on. As a queer kid,
I was always careful about performing as a “normal” boy, but the idea that everyone else
was also performing gender was a revelation. I thought others didn’t think about it.
They just got up in the morning and they did their gender. In contrast, I patrolled the
way I walked, moved my hands and used my voice. Gender was a supremely selfconscious act and theatricalized, right down to costume.
Eric:
At Bear Weekend, I could look at this crowd of millions of bears and otters and I could
say, “wow! All of a sudden these fat guys, these hairy freaks, they’re all sexy, and they’re
all comfortable in their bodies, and they are all out there, and they like big men, and
they’re gentle with each other, and they’re queeny.”
10
I love that, and then I looked at where the alpha males were. I saw this pocket of steroid
muscle, what looked like traditional masculinities, primarily white ethnic or Latino, and I
looked at their interactions, which involved drinking too much, and slamming each other
a little bit, stuff like that, and I started to say, “is that resistant? Is that doing anything
SECCION I:
Ser Loca
Marvin:
Yo me he preguntado qué es la masculinidad gay. ¿Son las construcciones gay de
masculinidades diferentes a las construcciones heterosexuales de masculinidad? ¿Cuáles
son las diferencias o las similitudes?
Cedric:
Lo cual es parecido a una de mis preguntas. ¿Existen prototipos gay de masculinidad o
sólo hay ideas de cómo se ven los hombres gay? Hace un momento estuvimos hablando
de los cinco hombres que hacen el show para el cambio de la imagen de otros hombres
(Queer Eye for the Straigh Guy—El ojo gay para el chico hetero). Ese show muestra la
noción de la loca decorativa, del ingenioso, del sábelo todo de moda y del que sabe todo
sobre diseño interior. Hay bastantes hombres gay que no son así. Eso es solo mirar un
prototipo.
Jaime:
Para mí, la gran revelación como joven entrando al mundo maricón fue la idea del género
como una continua representación teatral. El género es algo que te pones. Como chico
maricón, siempre tuve cuidado al hacer una representación de un chico “normal”, pero la
idea de que los demás también estaban haciendo un teatro de género fue una revelación.
Pensé que otros no pensaban sobre esto. Ellos se levantaban en la mañana y actuaban su
género. En contraste, yo patrullaba la manera de como caminaba, movía mis manos y
utilizaba mi voz. El género era supremamente un acto consciente y dramatizado hasta el
punto de la vestimenta.
Eric:
En el fin de semana de osos, pude ver a una multitud de millones de osos y nutrias (osos:
hombres grandes—gordos—y velludos; nutrias: hombres grandes, no tan gordos) y pude
decir, “¡wow!, de pronto estos hombres gordos, estas rarezas peludas, todos son sexy y
todos se sienten cómodos en sus cuerpos, y todos están allí, y a ellos les gustan los
hombres grandes y son muy gentiles entre ellos y son unas locas.”
Eso me encanta. Luego miré adonde estaban los alfa masculinos. Miré este montón de
Masculinity and HIV Prevention
Masculinidad y la prevención del VIH
Una discusión con Cedric Brown, Jaime Cortez, Eric Rofes y Marvin K. White
11
Brown, Cortez, Rofes & White
radical? Even if they just fucked each other, and they look that way and act that way and
they are performing this macho masculinity, is it radical?” Then I started to wonder,
“when the doors close, do they cross their legs like I cross my legs? Do they cuddle?”
They’re not cuddling in public, they kind of hug each other the way frat boys hug each
other. So, I’m kind of wondering about when they do these performances in a
progressive way, and when they’re kind of retro.
12
Cedric:
Marvin and I were out on Saturday and saw this guy sitting out on the patio. He was
wearing blues, various shades of blues. A blue fedora, white shirt, some kind of blue
sweater, pants.
Marvin:
He was like forties. This is in one of only two black gay bars in the East Bay, so this
space is 95% black men, most of whom are so influenced by black hip hop culture, so
that only queens are wearing tight things and anything flashy. Boys are all saggin’ jeans,
and baggy shirts.
Cedric:
Sean Jean, Timberland boots.
Marvin:
Yeah. You have to wonder what is under their clothes. There is no revealing unless
you’re really masculine.
Cedric:
Or a queen, then you’re wearing the lace getup that that one dude had on, or the
jumpsuit, or that tight Prada shirt. Anyway, this guy was dressed really nicely, and Marvin
said to me, “that’s a look that you can pull off, and we need to have these ideas about
how we are going to look and be when we’re that age or older.” When we turn sixty and
seventy, how are we going to be? Cuz we’re not going to be confused. We’re not going
to be trying to figure it out.
As I near my thirty-sixth birthday in a couple of weeks, and start reconciling with getting
older, I ask myself, “what does that mean for me to be an older black gay man? How
does my masculinity come across? How do I conceive of myself as a man when for so
long I’ve thought of myself as a boy?” Gay culture is so much about youth. So now,
I’m really starting to think this, what does it look like to be a man?
Jaime:
As you continue to look into that future, Cedric, what might your masculinity look like?
Cedric:
Marvin y yo salimos el sábado y vimos a este hombre sentado en un patio. Llevaba
puesto colores azules, diferentes tonalidades de azul. Una fedora azul (sombrero de
fieltro de ala ancha), una camisa blanca, un suéter azul, pantalones.
Marvin:
Tenía unos cuarenta años. Este es uno de los dos bares gay negros en la Bahía del Este
(East Bay), así que este espacio es aproximadamente 95% de hombres negros, cuya
mayoría están influenciados por la cultura de hip hop negro, así que sólo las locas llevan
puestas cosas
apretadas y
cualquier cosa
escandalosa.
Los chicos
todos llevan
jeans caidos y
camisas flojas.
Cedric:
Sean Jean, botas
de Timberland.
Marvin:
Sí. Tú tienes
que imaginarte
qué hay debajo
Photo illustrations by Jaime Cortez &
Patrick “Pato” Hebert, 2003
Masculinity and HIV Prevention
músculos de esteroides, lo que parecía como masculinidades tradicionales, principalmente
blancos o latinos, y miré cómo interactuaban, esto involucraba beber bastante, y
golpearse entre sí, cosas así, y comencé a decir, “¿Eso es resistencia? ¿Eso está haciendo
algo radical? Aunque se cojan entre ellos, y se miran y actúen de esa manera, y estén
actuando esta masculinidad de macho, ¿es radical?” Luego empecé a pensar, “cuando se
cierran las puertas, ¿ellos cruzan sus piernas como yo cruzo las mías? ¿Son cariñosos?
No son cariñosos en público, ellos se abrazan de la misma manera que lo hacen los
chicos de las fraternidades. Así que me pregunto sobre cuando hacen estas actuaciones
de una manera progresiva y cuando lo hacen de una manera retro.
13
Brown, Cortez, Rofes & White
Cedric:
There is a certain elegance that manifests. It is not quite the ascot-wearing, smoking
dandy in the lounge, but there is certainly a gentleness to it, coupled with a comfort with
masculinity, coupled with a comfort with crossing your legs. It is almost just a
resignation to be who you are.
Eric:
But then who are you? In our language we talk about performance and construction,
and yet in the same language we’re often defaulting to who we are, or an essence, as if we
really are a certain way in relation to masculinity. I’m just in a different place these days.
I really don’t think I am. I really think that I make choices. They are not conscious
choices sometimes, but they are choices about how I want to perform gender.
Marvin:
I love to dance, and when I get in that trance, my hand is over my head, my eyes are
closed, my waist is twisting like a girl’s, and I’m in it. But inevitably, I have to open my
eyes and see who’s watching. More and more, it seems everyone around me is going in a
different way. They’re paring down their dancing, they’re dancing more butch. Less
hand waving. Less grinding. More of this pumping of fists and thumping of feet that
doesn’t feel like dance to me. I feel like I’m the lone one out, trying to hold onto this
body that I’ve been trying to free forever.
Eric:
People do create certain spaces within hip hop or other cultures to perform different
things. It makes me wonder how much of what constrains us all about our gender
performance are the five alpha males in the room of 300 that everyone is bouncing off
and measuring themselves against? We measure not against the 295 people there, but
those five men.
Jaime:
Those five men who are as constrained, if not more constrained, as everyone else by
those same strictures.
14
Cedric:
O una loca, entonces llevas puesto la cinta que lleva el otro tipo, un atuendo deportivo, o
de esas camisas apretadas de Prada. Bueno, este hombre estaba muy bien vestido, y
Marvin me dijo, “ese es un estilo que te puede ir bien, y debemos tener ideas de cómo
nos vamos a ver cuando tengamos esa edad y seamos más viejos”. ¿Cómo nos vamos a
ver cuando tengamos sesenta y setenta años? Porque nosotros no vamos a estar
confundidos. No vamos a estar tratando de descifrar nada.
A medida que se acerca mi cumpleaños número treinta y seis en un par de semanas, y
empiezo a reconciliarme con el hecho de envejecer, me pregunto, ¿Qué quiere decir para
mi ser un hombre negro gay viejo? ¿Cómo se proyecta mi masculinidad? ¿Cómo me
concibo a mi mismo como hombre cuando por mucho tiempo me he pensado como un
chico? La cultura gay se trata bastante de juventud. Así que ahora en realidad estoy
empezando a pensar esto—¿Cómo es ser un hombre?
Jaime:
En la medida que continúas mirando hacia ese futuro, Cedric, ¿Cómo se podrá ver tu
masculinidad?
Cedric:
Se manifiesta cierta elegancia. No es como ponerse una corbata a la inglesa, fumar dandi
en la sala, pero si hay cierta caballerosidad, acompañada con la comodidad de la
masculinidad, acompañada con la comodidad de cruzar tus piernas, es como si fuera una
resignación de ser quien eres.
Eric:
Pero entonces, ¿Quién eres tú? En nuestro lenguaje, hablamos de actuación y
construcción y todavía, en el mismo lenguaje, a menudo volvemos a quienes somos, o a
una esencia, como si en realidad fueramos de cierta manera en relación a la masculinidad.
Yo estoy en un lugar diferente estos días. Verdaderamente no pienso que lo soy.
Verdaderamente pienso que yo tomo opciones. A veces no son opciones que tomo
concientemente, pero son opciones sobre cómo quiero actúar el género.
Marvin:
Me encanta bailar, y cuando entro en esa onda, mi mano está sobre mi cabeza, mis ojos
están cerrados, mi cintura se dobla igual a la de una chica, y estoy ido. Pero
inevitablemente, tengo que abrir mis ojos y ver quién me está mirando. Parece que más y
Masculinity and HIV Prevention
de su ropa. No se revela nada, a menos que sean verdaderamente masculinos.
15
Brown, Cortez, Rofes & White
Eric:
I’d like a study of macho, masculine or hyper-masculine gay men. It was interesting
when I came out and got to be friends with porno stars, or men who are really good
looking and built. What they were really saying to each other in the bar was “Oh God, is
he looking at me? I don’t think he looked at me at all.”
Jaime:
Eric mentioned having insecure friends that were considered by many to be really hot.
Marvin talked about dancing, releasing, finding your hips, finding your ass and then
opening your eyes and feeling that you weren’t quite safe in doing that. An interesting
current running through those two stories is fear. There’s a way that for queers and men
in general, masculinity is something we are forever falling short of. I want to talk about
fear and how that plays into being comfortable or not with masculinity.
Eric:
My response is bifurcated. On the one hand, I’m the kind of queer who grew up for 18
years feeling alien in male spaces. Those were spaces where I got beaten up, spit on and
pissed on and called names and humiliated. The sissy experience, which certain numbers
of queer men have, could guide us, when all of a sudden we’re twenty-one years old and
entering these queer bars which remind us of the locker rooms, which are all male. Is it
any wonder that we’re so uncomfortable and weirded out in those spaces, because what
rooms of men have meant to us, has been scary?
16
I also feel like lots of queer men do gender in a way that serves us really well, and we
know it. And we are able to play different lenses on gender in a way that creates really
satisfying lives for us. So I move out of a deficit-based approach to gay men and
masculinity, into a space where I feel like lots of empowered queer men mess around
with masculinity all the time, because we know how to get what we want out of gender.
We can perform the butch or the soft butch to get some things, we can be totally girlish
at other times, we can do different things with our friends, different things behind closed
doors, different things at different bars, or on different nights at the same bar. And to
me, that is not just liberating. That is about using power, as articulated through gender,
in a way that serves you well.
Marvin:
And I think that the fear comes in when my performance is not right and I’m not getting
the results that I thought I was gonna get that night.
más, todos van en diferentes direcciones. Ellos están emparejando en sus bailes, ellos
están bailando más machos. Menos manos quebradas. Menos movimiento de cintura.
Hay más lanzamiento de los puños y porrazos con los pies, que para mi no se siente
como baile. Me siento como si yo fuera el único, tratando de aferrarme a este cuerpo
que he tratado de liberar por siempre.
Eric:
La gente sí crea ciertos espacios dentro del hip hop u otras culturas para actuar cosas
diferentes. Esto me hace pensar en ¿cuántos son los cinco alfa masculinos que reprimen
la actuación de nuestro género en el cuarto de 300, en el cual todos están brincando y
comparándose entre si? Nosotros nos comparamos, no con los 295, sino con esos cinco
hombres.
Jaime:
Esos cinco hombres que están igual de
reprimidos, o están más reprimidos
que todos los demás por las mismas
restricciones.
Eric:
Me gustaría estudiar la hipermasculinidad, la masculinidad y lo
macho de los hombres gay. Fue muy
interesante cuando salí del closet, me
hice amigo de estrellas porno o de
hombres que eran verdaderamente
hermosos y fuertes. Lo que en
realidad se decían entre ellos era,
“Dios mío, él me está mirando?
Pienso que él no me miró para nada.”
Jaime:
Eric mencionó que tenía amigos
inseguros que muchos consideraban
que eran bien parecidos. Marvin habló
de bailar, dejar salir las cosas, encontrar
tus caderas, encontrar tu culo y
It really does serve us well as gay men to have this range of performances that we can
tap into. I guess what that reminds me of is a certain cultural flexibility that black folk
have. The way that I talk to the guy at the garage is different from the way I talk to some
dudes at the club, which is different from how I talk to some of my best friends. And all
of that works. All of it has to fall under masculinity to some degree. And that is a
beautiful thing,
Marvin:
There is this black magazine called “Venus.” In it, I read the saddest article I’ve ever read
in my life. It’s about this guy in Harlem who has these art salons. And he was
reminiscing about the past, and how this whole burgeoning hip hop culture has driven
away the queen, and how he just misses being able to tie his shirt at the waist. Being a
queen had currency, because that was what the butch boys wanted. And I remember
those days as well, when it wasn’t about attracting a man as butch as you. There was
capital to being a queen. I don’t know if they equated it to being close to a woman,
therefore, “I’m fucking you, and I’m really not as gay as everybody else.” It was just so
sad he really felt that he couldn’t be that and perform that anymore.
Eric:
To me that is worth looking at. The queen is nothing but resilient. I don’t know the
moment or cultural space that is able to rid itself of the queen. The queen survives, in
different manifestations and in fact, his particular cultural pocket might have maxed out
on it’s queen moment, but you’re talking Harlem right now, there are huge black queen
cultures right now, that are probably younger than he is.
Brown, Cortez, Rofes & White
Cedric:
18
When I think about white men’s culture, in particular, I’m thinking a lot about turning
fifty a year from now, and I’m looking at life, and how I’m still silly. I am a fifty year old
man, and I can still be silly, I can still take bubble baths, I can still go dancing. I mean,
white mainstream middle-class culture in America requires most men and women stop
dancing—as well as stop other social practices—once you get married. My hetero male
peers often think it’s amazing that, as a 50-year old man, I go dancing still. And you
know, white gay guys often dance their lives away.
I think that gay men are able to open up different ways of being a man that really offer
us a huge amount of satisfaction. Even in terms of friendship. I mean, friendship is the
underplayed value of the way gay men organize themselves socially. In straight men’s
culture, especially white men’s culture, you turn forty or fifty, and you don’t really have
Eric:
Mi respuesta está bifurcada. Por una parte, yo soy de los maricones que creció durante
18 años sintiéndose extraterrestre en el espacio de los hombres. Esos eran los espacios
en los que me pegaban, me escupían, me meaban y me decían apodos y me humillaban.
La experiencia marica, la cual cierto número de hombres maricones tienen, podría
guiarnos cuando de repente cumplimos 21 años y entramos a esos bares maricones que
nos recuerdan de los cuartos de desvestidero de los gimnasios que son todos para
hombres. ¿Es alguna sorpresa que nos sintamos tan incómodos y espantados en esos
espacios, porque lo que han significado para nosotros los cuartos para los hombres, ha
sido miedo?
También siento que muchos hombres maricones representan el género en una manera
que nos ha servido muy bien, y lo sabemos. Y hemos podido actuar de diferentes
maneras que crean vidas verdaderamente satisfactorias para nosotros. Así que yo me
muevo del concepto basado en el déficit en el abordaje de los hombres gay y la
masculinidad hacia un espacio en el cual siento que muchos hombres maricones están
empoderados y joden todo el tiempo con la masculinidad, porque sabemos cómo lograr
del género lo que queremos. Podemos actuar masculinos o más o menos masculinos
para lograr ciertas cosas, podemos ser totalmente unas locas en otros instantes, podemos
hacer cosas diferentes con nuestros amigos, cosas diferentes detrás de puertas cerradas,
cosas diferentes en bares diferentes, o en noches diferentes en el mismo bar. Y para mí,
eso no solamente es liberador. Se trata sobre el uso del poder, cómo se articula a través
del género, en una manera que te sirve bien.
Marvin:
Y pienso que el miedo se siente cuando mi actuación no está bien y no estoy logrando
los resultados que pensé que iba a lograr esa noche.
Cedric:
En realidad nos sirve muy bien como hombres gay tener este rango de actuaciones de las
cuales podemos sacar ventaja. Supongo que esto me hace recordar de cierta flexibilidad
cultural que tiene la gente negra. La manera en que hablamos con el hombre en al garaje
es diferente a la forma en que hablamos a los hombres en el club, la cual es diferente a la
Masculinity and HIV Prevention
después abrir tus ojos y sentir que no estabas tan seguro al hacer eso. Una corriente muy
interesante en esas historias es el miedo. Hay una manera en la que los maricones y los
hombres en general, encontramos que la masculinidad es algo en lo que siempre nos
quedamos corto. Quiero hablar sobre el miedo y cómo él hace que uno esté cómodo o
no con respecto a la masculinidad.
19
any friends. If you have
friends, you go to the
ballgame with them, and
that’s it. But if you’re
having troubles with your
marriage, you don’t have
anyone to talk to. I feel like
we have kept friendship,
both with men and women
in really high regard, and
that’s a functional choice
that we’ve made.
Marvin:
One of the most powerful
things tonight has been this
statement about the
resiliency of queens. As
we’re talking about
masculinity, it seems we’re
talking about the demise of
The Queen. And for some
reason, the more masculine
we get, the more the queens
disappear, seem to be
pushed out of spaces. And
it is interesting to hear that
queens don’t die, they
reinvent, they get younger,
they get older, they move
out into other spaces. I
think we need to say that is
Marvin:
Hay una revista para gente negra que se llama “Venus”. En esta revista leí uno de los
artículos más triste que haya leído en toda mi vida. Trata sobre este hombre en Harlem
que tiene unos salones de arte. Y él estaba recordando sobre el pasado, y cómo esta
creciente cultura de hip hop ha alejado a las locas y cómo él extraña el hecho de no poder
amarrarse la camisa en la cintura. Ser una loca tenía su peso porque eso era lo que
querían los masculinos. Yo también recuerdo esos días, cuando no se trataba de atraer a
hombres igual de masculinos que tú. Había cierto capital en ser una loca. No sé si ellos
lo traducían como algo cercano a ser una mujer, por lo tanto, “Yo te cojo a ti, y no soy
tan gay como los demás”. Sencillamente fue triste que él verdaderamente sintiese que ya
no podía ser eso ni actuarlo más.
Eric:
Para mí vale la pena explorar eso. La loca es flexible. Y no sé cuál es el momento o el
espacio cultural en el que la loca se puede desprender de la loca. La loca sobrevive, en
manifestaciones diferentes y de hecho, el particular bolso cultural pudo haberse saturado
en sus momentos de loca, pero, sabes, estás hablando sobre Harlem ahora mismo, donde
existen grandes culturas de locas negras que probablemente son más jóvenes que él.
Cuando yo pienso sobre la cultura de hombres blancos, en particular, estoy pensando
bastante en que en un año voy a cumplir 50 años, y estoy mirando a la vida y cómo
todavía soy tonto. Yo tengo 50 años y todavía puedo seguir siendo tonto, todavía puedo
tomar baños de burbujas, todavía puedo ir a bailar. Digo, la cultura de la clase media
blanca popular en los Estados Unidos requiere que la mayoría de hombres y mujeres
dejen de bailar—y también parar otras practicas sociales—en el momento que te casas.
Mis amigos hombres héteros a menudo piensan que es fantátisco que a mis cincuenta
años todavía salga a bailar. Y tú sabes, los hombres blancos gay a menudo bailan toda su
vida.
Yo pienso que los hombres gay pueden abrir diferentes maneras de ser hombre que en
realidad nos ofrecen una gran satisfacción. Hasta en términos de amistad. Digo, la
amistad es el valor menospreciado en el cual los hombres gay se organizan socialmente.
En la cultura de hombres heterosexuales , especialmente en la cultura de hombres
blancos, al cumplir 40 o 50 años ya no tienes amigos. Si tienes amigos, vas al juego de
Masculinity and HIV Prevention
manera en la que le hablo a mis mejores amigos. Y todo eso funciona. Todo, hasta
cierto grado, debe caber dentro de la masculinidad. Y eso es una cosa muy linda.
21
Brown, Cortez, Rofes & White
one of the messages. Not just how do we make masculine messages, but how do we tell
people who are holding on by gold thread to their identities as queens, that you are still
here, still alive, still viable, still an important part of this gay fabric?
Eric:
That is why certain cultural icons are so important. In the late seventies, early eighties, if
you were a public gay man, you couldn’t be a queen. You had to either de-sex, de-gender
yourself neutral, or be traditionally masculine. Tom Ammiano (San Francisco City
Supervisor) is a hero simply for being an elected official in this city who’s in power and
is still a total queen. He makes a point of moving his hands and gestures in certain ways
as he gets more and more successful. I mean people like RuPaul have played that kind of
role in keeping certain cultural spaces or possibilities open. And I think that what we can
do as activists, is that when people start getting queasy and ashamed that some public gay
is queeny, that is the time to say, “yes, that is exactly why we need him.”
Jaime:
I am also very much in the “God Save the Queen” camp. In Latino bar culture, the
queens are literally the queens, as performers. Even with all the bitchy faggy backbiting,
it is still an honorific place they occupy. And I think that comes out of something that
we know, whether we acknowledge it or not, that the queen is the fiercest and most
fragile part of us. That’s the thing about the queen that is so important and why she’s
not going anywhere. There are moments of queenly retreat, moments of more up front
presence, but it is not going anywhere because it is such an essential part of our selfunderstanding to be able to deal with our queens, and when I say queens, I mean the
queens out in the world, but also the queens here inside.
Cedric:
The inner queen.
Section II:
Mucho Macho Risko & HIV Agency
Eric:
These days, I find myself most riveted when traditional masculinity is punctured. If
there is a heterosexual man puncturing masculinity in interesting ways, that draws me. If
there is a gay man not puncturing masculinities, or critiquing them or playing with them,
that doesn’t interest me.
22
I used to feel this kind of queer loyalty, that queers by nature punctured masculinity.
Now I’ve had enough examples to see that in fact, the problem is masculinity, and to link
Marvin:
Una de las cosas más poderosas de esta noche ha sido lo de la elasticidad de las locas.
Mientras hablamos de masculinidad, parece que hablamos de la muerte de la loca. Y por
alguna razón, entre más masculinos nos volvemos, más desaparecen las locas, parece que
son empujadas fuera de los espacios. Y es interesante escuchar que las locas no mueren
ellas se reinventan, ellas se hacen más jóvenes, ellas envejecen, ellas se mueven a otros
espacios. Yo pienso que hay que decir que ese es uno de los mensajes. No sólo cómo
creamos mensajes masculinos, pero ¿cómo le decimos a la gente que se aferra como al
oro a sus identidades de locas, que todavía siguen aquí, siguen vivas, siguen viables, siguen
siendo una parte importante de esta fábrica gay?
Es por eso que ciertos íconos culturales son importantes. A final de los años setenta,
principio de los ochenta, si tú eras públicamente un hombre gay, tú no podías ser una
loca. Tú tenías que dejar el sexo, dejar tu género neutral, o ser tradicionalmente
masculino. Tom Ammiano (Un supervisor de la ciudad de San Francisco) es un héroe
por el simple hecho de ser un oficial electo en la ciudad que está en el poder y todavía
sigue siendo una loca completa. El se asegura de mover sus manos y de hacer gestos de
cierta manera al mismo tiempo que se vuelve más exitoso. Digo, gente como RuPaul han
hecho ese tipo de roles para mantener ciertos espacios culturales o posibilidades abiertas.
Y yo pienso que lo que podemos hacer como activistas es que cuando la gente empieza a
sentirse incómoda y avergonzada de que algún gay público es una loquita, entonces es
cuando debemos decir, “sí, exactamente por eso es que lo necesitamos”.
Jaime:
Yo también estoy en el campo de “Dios salve a la loca”. En la cultura de los bares
latinos, la loca literalmente es la reina, como actriz. A pesar de todas las perreadas, es un
lugar que se ocupa con honor. Y pienso que eso viene de algo que sabemos, lo
reconozcamos o no, que la loca es la parte más feroz y frágil en nosotros. Esa es la cosa
que es bien importante de la loca, y del porqué ella no vaya para ningún lado. Hay
momentos de retiro de loca, momentos de una presencia mas fuerte, pero no va a
ninguna parte porque es una parte tan esencial de nuestro entendimiento para poder
lidiar con nuestras locas, y cuando digo locas, me refiero a las locas alla afuera en el
Masculinity and HIV Prevention
pelota con ellos, y eso es todo. Pero si estás teniendo problemas en tu matrimonio, no
tienes a nadie con quien hablar. Yo siento que nosotros hemos mantenido a la amistad,
tanto con hombres como con mujeres, en un lugar muy respetable y esa es una opción
muy funcional que hemos tomado.
23
Brown, Cortez, Rofes & White
it to prevention. I actually think that the central unaddressed issue related to HIV, STDs
and queer men’s health is masculinity, gender and patriarchy, and the failure to do really
thoughtful work around that. We’ve worked on the “gay” in “gay man,” but too few
people have worked on the “man” piece of that, and to me that drives a lot of the
dynamics we’re seeing today.
Jaime:
The dykes in my life have turned me out around questions of gender. They have an
incredibly rich and nuanced language around gender. I remember the first time I heard
someone use the term “soft butch.” I thought, “Now that’s really interesting!” Up to that
point, I’d been more accustomed to the gay male’s binaries of butch and fem. But “soft
butch,” was really interesting. That sounded like something I could live with and grow
into.
Marvin:
In the house and ball culture, in the whole scene Jenny Livingston (director of “Paris is
Burning”) documented, there was this category, “butch queen.” “Butch queen” doesn’t
talk to your femininity, but talks to your ability as a gay man to roll with the queens, and
to roll with the more masculine folks, and to identify as gay, but instead of calling
yourself “gay,” you call yourself a “butch queen.” You’re masculine-appearing, but
obviously, you can vogue with the best of them.
Eric:
I feel the message you get from various gay subcultures is still “be a man.” But it’s
different in different gay cultures. Most pertinent to the question of health is that I think
being a man is closely linked to danger and risk, and that the man among us is the one
who takes the risk. And I think that’s very problematic when you have a population of
men coming from different cultures, different racial and class backgrounds, who are often
highly charged around gender issues.
24
I’ve been in various cultural spaces in the last months and I’ve been looking at the spaces
to see who is the perceived “hot” guy. Whether you’re at an API bar like N’Touch, a
Latino queer space, a bear bar, a leather bar or a regular gay bar in the Castro, it’s
interesting to go and see what is constructed as hot and to see the dynamics of who is
the alpha male in the room. I tried to do my sociological deconstruction of what about
someone’s presence is seen as hot, it’s interesting, but it’s smoking. I wonder if doing
things that are socially unacceptable or socially discouraged increases your valence as
more macho or more masculine.
Marvin:
That’s that risk you were referring to.
mundo, y también las locas de aquí adentro.
Cedric:
La loca interna.
Eric:
Estos días me encuentro más remachado cuando la masculinidad tradicional es perforada.
Si hay un hombre heterosexual que perfora la masculinidad, eso me llama la atención. Si
hay un hombre gay que no perfora las masculinidades o que no las critica o no juegan
con ellas, eso no me interesa.
Yo acostumbraba a sentir este tipo de lealtad maricona que los maricones por naturaleza
perforaban la masculinidad. Ahora ya tengo suficientes ejemplos para ver que de hecho,
el problema es la masculinidad y vincularla a la prevención. En realidad pienso que los
temas principal que no se han trabajado en relación a la prevención del VIH, las ETS y la
salud de los hombres maricones son la masculinidad, el género, el patriarcado y la falla de
no hacer un trabajo pensado en torno a esto. Nosotros hemos trabajado lo “gay” en el
“hombre gay”, pero muy pocos han trabajado en la parte del
“hombre” y para mi eso dirije muchas de las dinámicas que
vemos hoy en día.
Jaime:
Las lesbianas en mi vida me han revolucionado en
torno a preguntas de género. Tienen un lenguaje
increíblemente rico y matizado en cuando al
género. Recuerdo la primera vez que escuché a
alguien utilizar el término “varonil suave”.
Pensé, “eso es verdaderamente interesante”.
Hasta ese punto, había estado más
acostumbrado al binario gay de varonil y
femenino. Pero “varonil suave”, fue
verdaderamente interesante, sonaba como algo
a lo que me podía acostumbrar y vivir con
ello.
Marvin:
La cultura de las fiestas de
competencia (House y
ball culture—estilo de
Masculinity and HIV Prevention
SECCION II: Mucho macho riesgo y agencia de VIH
25
Eric:
I’m starting to piece together a link between hot sex and risk taking. And not just like
unprotected or semen up the butt, but I’m a lot into kink
and leather and more edgy kinds of practices. I’m
left wondering if part of the challenge we
face in community health promotion stuff is
that we have not attacked this linkage
between masculinity, privileged
masculinities and risk taking. The men
who get the power.
Brown, Cortez, Rofes & White
26
Well, a risk like that. Then I think about the whole discussion of unprotected sex, and
whether it is seen as in some ways femmy to say “use the condom.” I get this
particularly from men I sleep with who are from working class cultures, and who I try to
negotiate around risk and safety in my sex non-verbally, because they are generally men
who don’t want to verbalize around sex.
Jaime:
Your observations on risk make me
think of the times I go to L.A. and
partake in park sex.
Marvin
Griffith park? I know Griffith
Park.
Jaime:
No, Elysian Park.
I call it the
Champs
Elysees.
I’ll go
there
Eric:
Yo siento que el mensaje que todavía se sigue recibiendo de las diferentes subculturas gay
es de “ser un hombre”. Pero es diferente en diferentes culturas gay. Algo mas pertinente
a la pregunta sobre salud es que yo pienso que ser un hombre está bastante vinculado al
peligro y al riesgo, y que el hombre entre nosotros es el que toma el riesgo. Y yo pienso
que eso es bien problemático cuando tienes diferentes poblaciones de hombres que
vienen de diferentes culturas, diferentes razas y clases sociales, que están cargadas
marcadamente con cuestiones de género.
Yo he estado en varios espacios culturales durante los últimos meses y he estado viendo
en estos espacios quién es percibido como atractivo. Ya sea que estés en el bar API
como el N’Touch, un espacio maricón latino, un bar de osos, un bar de cuero o un bar
regular gay en la calle Castro, es interesante ir y ver lo que se construye como atractivo y
ver las dinámicas de quien es el alfa masculino en el cuarto. Intento hacer mi deconstrucción sociológica de qué es lo que se ve como atractivo en la presencia de alguien;
es interesante, pero es nebuloso, como el humo del cigarrillo. Me pregunto si el hacer
cosas que son inaceptables o desaprobados socialmente incrementa tu balance como
alguien más macho o masculino.
Marvin:
Ese es el riesgo al que te estabas refiriendo.
Eric:
Bueno, un riesgo como ese. Entonces pienso en toda la discusión sobre sexo sin condón
y si esto es visto como algo afeminado, el decir “usa un condón”. Esto lo veo
particularmente en los hombres con los que tengo sexo que son de la cultura de clase
trabajadora, con los que trato de negociar sobre el riesgo y la seguridad en mi sexo no
verbalmente, porque por lo general son hombres que no quieren verbalizar nada sobre el
sexo.
Estoy empezando a vincular piezas entre el sexo ardiente y la toma de riesgo. Y no sólo
en cosas como sexo sin condón o semen en el culo, pero también a mi me gusta eso del
Masculinity and HIV Prevention
fiestas de modelaje y moda) en el ambiente de Jenny Livingston (director de “Paris is
Burning”, documental) había una categoría de “loca varonil”. “Loca varonil” no se
refiere a tu femineidad, sino que se refiere a tu habilidad como hombre gay de juntarte
con las locas, y de juntarte con los tipos más masculinos, y de identificarte como gay,
pero en lugar de llamarte “gay”, te llamas una “loca varonil”. Tu apariencia es masculina,
pero obviamente, puedes bailar al estilo vogue con ellos.
27
Brown, Cortez, Rofes & White
and something very interesting happens. The Mexican men - not Chicanos - the Mexican
men, will be attracted to me. They will see my size and it will read as manly. Big man.
We go to have sex and again and again the setup is for me to fuck them without a
condom. I’m read as the man, and therefore I’m somehow safe for them to take that risk
with. So in this case, the person who has assigned me a masculine role is the risk-taker.
28
Eric:
But how are you assuming that they’re thinking about risk at all? That little piece that
you put in there, that they read you as the man, probably uninfected, because you’re
doing the fucking, of course you only do one, you don’t do both, and so therefore you’re
safe. I used to assume that all men did a mental calculus before having unprotected sex.
I no longer feel that. I don’t feel everyone is doing some kind of negotiated safety.
Jaime:
I feel very unsettled by what you said about not having a calculus for risk in sex. I don’t
like thinking about that one.
Eric:
Why?
Jaime:
As a man, as a queer, I really like my control. That question forces me to confront the
times when my decision-making process was probably not much of a decision-making
process at all. It was a releasing into the sexual opportunity without much consideration
for anything else. That’s really scary. I like my control. Especially my control over myelf.
Cedric:
With the park sex, I think the no-calculus moment happens when one first decides to go
into the park. The risk is, “okay, I’m going into the park.” That’s already a risky
situation, to be in public places, even if it is behind a bush. So perhaps that sets up the
rest of the risk-taking dynamic. “Well, I’m already out here, so...”
Eric:
I don’t think it is about risk. I mean, for lots of people, it’s about the life force, the life
spirit. Why are people so attracted to masses and crowds? Whether we are talking about
the Folsom Street Fair, a circuit party, black pride in Washington, D.C. Many people have
a dance between wanting to be in control, and wanting not to be in control. I think that
in fact we love the control and we love letting go of control, of being moved by cultural
forces greater than us.
cuero y excentricidad
y otras prácticas más
fuertes. Me quedo
pensando si parte del
reto que enfrentamos
en la promoción de
salud comunitaria es
que no hemos
atacado este vínculo
entre la masculinidad,
las masculinidades
privilegiadas y la toma
de riesgo. Los
hombres que toman
el poder.
Jaime:
Tus observaciones sobre el riesgo me hacen pensar en las veces que voy a Los Angeles y
participo en el sexo en el parque.
Marvin:
¿Griffith Park? Yo conozco el Griffith Park.
Jaime:
No, Elysian Park. Yo lo llamo Los Campos Eliceos. Voy allí y algo muy interesante pasa.
Los hombres mexicanos –no los chicanos—los hombres mexicanos, los atraigo. Ellos ven
mi tamaño y esto se traduce como masculino. Hombre grande. Vamos y tenemos sexo y
siempre pasa lo mismo; el escenario es el mismo, listos para que me los coja sin condón.
A mi me ven como el hombre, y por lo tanto, de alguna manera me ven como seguro para
que ellos puedan tomar ese riesgo conmigo. Así que en este caso, la persona que me ha
asignado un rol masculino es la que está tomando el riesgo.
Eric:
Pero, ¿Cómo supones que ellos están pensando en el riesgo? El pequeño trozo que acabas
de introducir, que ellos te ven como el hombre, probablemente no infectado, porque tú
eres el que los está cogiendo, claro que solo haces una cosa, no haces las dos, y por lo
tanto tu estás seguro. Antes suponía que todos los hombres hacían algún tipo de
calculación mental antes de tener sexo sin condón. Ya no siento eso. No siento que
todos estén haciendo algún tipo de seguridad negociada.
29
I think part of where prevention has gone terribly wrong, and it has been terribly costly,
is that it has assumed that sexual practices emerge primarily out of rational decisionmaking. I think that might be true for academics like me, it might be true for researchers
or geeks, if you will, but I don’t think that for masses of people, of any gender, sex is
primarily a rational choice kind of affair.
FIN
Me siento bien inquieto por lo que dijiste sobre no hacer calculaciones del riesgo en el
sexo. No me gusta pensar sobre eso.
Eric:
¿Por qué?
Jaime:
Como hombre, como maricón, a mi verdaderamente me gusta mi control. La pregunta
me obliga a confrontar las veces cuando mi proceso de tomar decisiones probablemente
no era un proceso de tomar decisiones. Era como la liberación hacia una oportunidad
sexual sin darle mucha consideración a nada. Eso da miedo. Me gusta mi control.
Especialmente el control sobre mí mismo.
Cedric:
Con lo del sexo en el parque, yo pienso que el momento de no calcular pasa cuando uno
inicialmente decide ir al parque. El riesgo es, “bien, voy al parque”. Esa ya es una
situación de riesgo, estar en espacios públicos, aunque sea que estés detrás de matorrales.
Así que quizá eso establece el resto de la dinámica de tomar riesgo. “Bueno, ya estoy aquí,
así que…”
Eric:
No creo que se trata sobre el riesgo. Digo, para bastante gente, se trata de la fuerza de la
vida, el espíritu de la vida. ¿Por qué la gente está atraída a las masas de gente? Ya sea que
hablemos de la feria en la calle Folsom, en una fiesta de “circuit”, un festival de orgullo
negro en Washington, D.C. Bastante gente tiene un baile entre querer estar en control y
no querer estar en control. Yo pienso que de hecho, a nosotros nos encanta el control y
nos encanta dejarlo escapar, de ser movidos por fuerzas culturales más grandiosas que
nosotros.
Yo pienso que en la parte en que la prevención ha fracasado terriblemente y ha sido
costosa, es que suponemos que las practicas sexuales emergen principalmente de
decisiones racionales. Pienso que eso tal vez sea cierto para académicos como yo, puede
ser cierto para los investigadores o estudiosos, digamos, pero no pienso que para las masas
de gente, de cualquier género, el sexo sea principalmente una cuestión de decisión racional.
FIN
Masculinity and HIV Prevention
Jaime:
31
ABOVE: “Young Crip & Young Blood,” 2001, work on paper, 82” x 28”
RIGHT: “Rio por no llorar,” 1988, silscreen on paper, 26” x 39”
BOMBA: An Interview with Artist Alex Donis
JC:
What nations or communities do you claim?
AD:
First and foremost I identify as an American. An artist. A Chicagoan. There’s
something about camp in the queer community that I identify with. Coded language,
irony and humor. It is the same with being Latino. It’s language and codes, intimate
humor and irony that I love. I was being interviewed once and this guy asked me what
it was like to wake up and feel Latino. He was white and said he’d never felt race. I
thought it was racist, because I wake up like he wakes up and never really think of race
when I wake up. I mean, we’ve come a long way. There are many more similarities in
people. I’m starting to see boundaries dissolve and change between
different people. I often see myself as a threesome. American and
Latino and queer.
JC:
Do you find many places where all that gets integrated?
AD:
That’s why I do my art. It’s a clean slate. No boundaries. My
three aspects manifesting. Or they don’t. Depending on the
project, some aspects of me do not interest me because they limit
me.
JC:
You work iconically, often incorporating really loaded images. In
your art I’ve seen gang members, religious images, sexual images.
What is your process of selecting the work’s theme and
determining the incorporation of images?
AD:
Once you decide to work with an icon, you must relinquish all of
your power to its power. Icons have all of this information built
into them. Some artists don’t work iconically, the language is all their own, and I’m a
big fan of that. I haven’t gotten there yet. I work in realistic form. Accessible. It’s
the same way with political cartoonists. They use highly-determined characters to drive
a point. My earliest work dealt with Hollywood icons, because they evoke romance and
worship, but also because they fade, there is a sadness built into that. Like melancholia.
Seeing something that no longer has power.
BOMBA
Jaime Cortez
33
JC:
I call that celebrity descent.
AD:
Yeah, I’m glad too many people haven’t seen that early work. It is too diaristic.
Too much about the self. I see a lot of that autobiographical work in the gay
community. It turns my stomach . . . I’m glad I went through that already and
turned away from it.
JC:
You mentioned queerness impacting your work, has AIDS affected it as well?
The gay community is so struck by HIV and the
progression of AIDS. This whole group is
plagued, but AIDS serves a function. It is organic.
It is not something we can point a finger at like Bin
Laden and say “AHA, there’s evil, there’s the
enemy!” I’m interested in the context and
historical position of AIDS. A lot of things in
nature have time bombs ticking in them. In nature
there are these moments of chaos. Black holes.
Tornados. Earthquakes.
JC:
When your solo show “My Cathederal” showed at
Galería de la Raza in San Francisco, you depicted
iconic same-sex couples kissing. You had Che
mackin’ on Cesar Chavez, the Virgin Mary kissing
the Virgin of Guadalupe and Jesus Christ kissing
Brahma. Someone broke the gallery window and
threw a rock through the art, which was on glass.
Can you talk about your process of choosing such
loaded couplings.
AD:
I chose characters who were saints to me. As I
worked, I realized those characters were all activists
and highly political.
JC:
How did you react when you heard one of the
plexiglass paintings had been destroyed?
Cortez & Donis
AD:
34
LEFT: “Deputy Davis & Smiles,” 2001, oil and enamel on plexi, 28” x 41”
I broke down on the phone with Gloria (executive director of Galería). Then I
told my sister and cried with her. I remember I fell in love with painting when I
did those. I felt it was my best work to date. I remember Gloria wanted to close
it down. They were getting harrased, even got bomb threats. Then a week later
a second piece was destroyed. I agreed that they needed to take the works out of
the windows to protect them and the gallery itself. I was impressed that Galería
was ballsy enough to leave the exhibition up. I had uncorked a lot of anti-gay
hatred festering in the community. The publicity was huge. People came in
droves to see it.
JC:
You participated in a San Francisco community forum about the vandalism
against your art. How was that?
AD:
It was great. I really learned how to talk to different people about my work.
A lot of people came to the forum. A lot of people were upset about the
exhibition and a lot of people were upset about the vandalism. It was exciting to
hear people say “I’m a mother and I don’t like my kids seeing that.” I
thought, “Isn’t that a perfect moment to talk to your kids and educate
them about your thoughts?” A lot of people from the gay community
were there. They talked about being queer in the neighborhood. The
talk attracted artists, the church, neighborhood people. Cesar Chavez’
daughter was there and she said how much she loved the image of Cesar
kissing Che Guevara.
JC:
At the Watts Museum in Los Angeles, you had an
entirely different controversy over your
“War” series, which depicted LAPD
officers dirty dancing with Latino and
African American men dressed in gang styles.
What happened there?
AD:
There was an entirely different experience
for me at the Watts Tower Gallery. At
Galería, the work was vandalized and
the community responded. At Watts,
there was lots of cowardice. The city
RIGHT: “Sergeant Talamante & Trigger,” 2001, oil and enamel on plexi, 28” x 41”
BOMBA
AD:
35
closed down the exhibit under the quote unquote threat of having the work
vandalized, the gallery damaged and the reception threatened. You see, the
exhibition was part of an inaugural exhibition at the gallery and the city had
planned a big event for the inauguration. To me they were saying “we don’t
want any flack, negativity or embarrasment. We don’t want to be reminded of
our history. This doesn’t represent us.” The irony is that the “War” series is
about forgiveness.
36
JC:
How does an image become a threat?
AD:
We each carry in our minds a collection of sacred images. Painting is linked to
that . . . I remember a predominantly black school where I taught art
in the auditorium. There was a mural of Martin Luther King.
The kids had to be quiet in the auditorium because it was Martin
Luther King. It wasn’t a mural painting of Martin Luther King.
It WAS Martin Luther King. The whole vandalism thing
reaffirmed my faith in the power of painting.
JC: Has your family seen the work? What do they think of it?
“Sgt. King & Puppet,” 2001, oil and enamel on plexi, 28” x 41”
Cortez & Donis
There was lots of homophobia. It’s an issue in black communities too . . .
Maybe when you’ve been outsiders for so long, it is hard to embrace other
outsiders.
I’m the first artist in my family. They came from the experience of working to put
food on the table and to keep a roof over your head. The work ethic is glorified.
To paint, or “pencilear” as by dad says - that’s not work. It took a while for my
parents to understand, but they get it. Still, I work with the pressure of my parents
on my shoulders. I remember seeing a lecture by Daniel J. Martinez. He was
taking a picture of the audience, and said it was because he wanted to use the
pictures to show his parents what he does.
I remember a print I did years ago. I had the sketch on my wall. It was a drawing
of Carmen Miranda with a big fruit hat on her head. It was actually almost a self
portrait. I had my mom photograph me as a reference for the print. Anyways, my
father saw that and said that she looked more like she was about to cry, not smile.
He totally scolded me for being shallow. “Why don’t you load the image? Make it
mean something.” So I did. I filled the headpiece with multinational brands and
food products. It has skulls. The watermelon seeds become bombs. There are
grapes too, representing the pesticide use in grapes. At my father’s
recommendation, I named it “Rio por no llorar.”(I laugh to
keep from crying), which was the name of a popular song.
I recently got this very prestigious artist award from Los
Angeles. I wasn’t allowed to invite many people to this big
reception, so I called my mom and invited her to join me,
and told her it was this big award. The first question was
“Will there be food?”
JC:
Imminently sensible question.
AD:
Yeah. They’re proud of me of course, but
they have their priorities.
JC:
Thank you, Alex.
AD:
Thank you.
FIN
“Scoob Dog & Officer Morales,” 2001, oil and enamel on plexi, 28” x 41”
BOMBA
AD:
37
Photographs by Derek Jackson, from the series, Thug Life, 2002, C-prints
Ricardo A. Bracho
Ever since Edwin Ramoran, art bakla extraordinaire, told me about the show, DL: The “Down Low” in
Contemporary Art, he was curating at Longwood Art Gallery in the Bronx and asked me to come up with
some text for it, I have been tracking mainstream and alternative press write-ups on the down low. First
there was Jason King’s well done if overly afrocentric piece for the gay pride issue of The Village Voice.
And then the cover story in The New York Times Magazine which, beyond its author’s narcissism,
transcribed the discourse of black pathology from that dreaded figure of social policy and neglect, the
black female head of household, to the urban underclass black male anus. That article, as well as its
attendant and horrified letters to the editor, showed great displeasure that black men might take sexual
and emotional interest in other black people (men and women) and like the majority of people in this
country and world, not practice protected sex.
The alternative press, if free and glossy gay rags can be called such, is as sexually and racially charged.
The dl in its pages, from purposefully cropped or barred photos of masseurs/escorts to personal ads and
adverts for sex parties offered up an illicit utopia wherein all the men are thugged out dick down diesel
dark skinned brothers and looking for same. My favorite, not for its youth exclusivity, but for its
exuberant poetry is the name of a sex party for 18 – 25 year old dl dimes and thugs of the latin
persuasion: Tu culo en mi cara.
Ridin’ sidesaddle thru thug life
Ridin’ sidesaddle thru thug life
39
Bracho
40
But it wasn’t until I came to the gallery and saw Derek Jackson’s series of photos entitled Thug Life that I
saw what I have come to know about the down low. His portraits of a man and a woman in domestic
situations not only recall Carrie Mae Weems’ Kitchen Table Series but also proffered a world I have always
known, if from outside its photographic frame. It reminded me of men in their cars, as they seduced or
abandoned me, showing me pictures of their wives, their girl, they momma and baby momma and child
with pride and trepidation.
In my 20-year career of happy homosexuality, I’ve slept with every straight-identified man I’ve ever
wanted to. The same cannot be said for my track record with gay guys. In fact, the majority of men I
have tricked with over the years have been somebody’s daddy, some girl’s man and somebody’s non-gayidentified child. And I am certainly not alone. This then is not based on something as petty as my
singular experience, but what I know from being part of the collective of gay, queen, bangy cunt boys and
men. For contrary to R. Kelly’s maxim that, “nobody has to know,” from the song, “Keep it on the Down
Low,” which launched the term’s use in the vernacular and its public discourse, me and mine believe what’s
the use in getting the bird if you can’t talk about how it chirped. The following are some of the lessons I
& I have learned while ridin sidesaddle thru thug life. (Note: I almost titled this ridin bitch thru thug life,
but I thought that would overdetermine the gender project.)
1) Patience. If you set your sights on a straight guy, you gotta
wait. Like the Buddha beneath the Bodhi tree. The longest
I’ve waited is three years. However, it is definitely not always
worth the wait.
2) You may initiate sex but never affection.
3) After a particularly lurid sexual encounter, should said straight
guy freak and get down on his knees and clasp hands or palms
open and outstretched, pray to a god or many, let ‘em. Even
if the prayer includes some homophobic curse. You’ll get a
repeat performance of such perversity.
4) Do not meet his homeboys unless you want to deal with their
jealousy, given the homoerotics of straight camaraderie or his
jealousy, given that they will smell your swish and invariably
hit on you.
5) If you plan on meeting his family, know that you will
probably know them far longer than you will him. That’s not
necessarily a bad thing, just be prepared for invitations to
thanksgiving and babysitting duties.
6) Let him tell you he loves you as often as he likes. However,
never say it to him. When leaving you, he will throw that shit
in your face: “I told you not to fall in love with me,” “This
wasn’t about no love connection” and “Blah blah blah
bullshit and etcetera, etcetera.”
7) Should he stop calling or coming by or returning your
page/text message/ phone calls, take the hint.
8) If he tells you you are his first, even if you don’t believe him,
act like you do.
10) Accept all presents graciously (although someone should talk to straight brothers about the
inappropriateness of stuffed animals as presents for anyone over the age of 8), but never give him
things that might blow up his spot (his woman will always think they are from another woman and
either you won’t see him while he pays her extra-special attention or you will be put in the position of
housing him while she cools off).
11) If he’s someone who doesn’t like condoms and you are someone who does and he is a persistent
mofo, you will have to get used to falling asleep after him and waking before he does. Besides
reducing one’s chance of std/hiv (re)infection you will get to see him in a moment of unarmored
beauty. And that is a most beautiful thing.
Ridin’ sidesaddle thru thug life
9) Don’t take him to the club unless you want your friends, well not really your friends but those bitchy
queens you say hi to and know in passing, to throw themselves at him. And if you do decide to take
him out, practice dancing together first. If you don’t he’ll dance with you like you’s a girl or like he’s
out with his fellas, neither of which really works for a boy-boy date.
43
12) Ridin sidesaddle does not preclude being buck wild.
For my all-time old-time crimey
Andy Spieldenner, for taking
the ride with me, and with
thanks to Nicole Fleetwood for
the dialogue on the dl and to
my new friend Edwin
Ramoran for the invitation.
My Funk About Spunk
Javid Syed
Syed
In 2003, the year I turn 33, and after nearly 13 years of doing work on HIV, I find myself looking back to
make sense of how it came to be — that even at the expense of facing the possible revocation of my fag
card, I who love sex must admit — I don’t like cum.
44
It used to not always be this way. There was a time when I was nearly pleasantly indifferent to cum.
While growing up in India, where I had more sex by the time I was in my late teens that I had in my
entire first 4 years in the US, cum marked a point of no return. It was our bodies speaking truths that
our lips and minds didn’t always have the wherewithal to imagine. Cum was the stuff that committed my
partner(s) and me to the irrevocable truth that we had, in fact, violated the conventional morality of our
milieu and had pleasure in doing so! Cum was then the stuff that the graffiti of transgressive sexuality
was written with. Its residue, whether on my school teacher’s desk (thanks to the school clerk) or under
my dinner table (thanks to my Quran teacher), brought a smile to my face. It was another way for me to
know (along with my small posse of queer friends and the entire community of Hijras*) that my perverse
desires were shared by many—that I was part of a community who, like my now invisible cum, was hiding
in the light.
Since I have come to the US, all of that seems to have changed. Somewhere in the last 14 years, cum has
gone from being a marker of another notch on my belt, to being just another splotch on my bed.
Somewhere along the way, I began to dislike cum. The liberation of being able to experience an out
queer community has been muted by the reality of racism and the fickleness of intimacy. Perhaps, it’s
because the feeling that cum marked the creation of a pact has disappeared. Now, in fact, cum brings to
mind things that don’t bring a smile to my lips. So if I ever had to build a defense from being divested of
my fag card in the Gay People’s Court, your Honor I will erect this defense of my distaste of cum:
1) I don’t like the memory of my first American boyfriend’s cum, which, like his undependable
promises, deposited itself with a nearly solid certainty, and then, within a couple of minutes,
trickled off my chest, nearly ashamed of its fickleness.
2) I don’t like the fact that my lover’s cum has told me more about his STI history than he was
able to during the 3 years we were together.
* Hijras are a community of transgender women in India who have a place in South Asian history and culture.
3) I am saddened by how instead of marking an unabashed transgressive moment of pleasure,
more often than not, cum has become a marker of the beginning of awkward chit-chat laced
with unspoken expectations.
So these days I have come to realize that cum, like my time, emotions, and any other resource is precious
to me. Communication (even if it’s non-verbal), celebration of sexuality (even if it’s in the most
depraved places), and caring about my partners (even in the most transient and nasty sexual scenes) is
important for me—so that when I do cum, I feel I am well spent.
My Funk About Spunk
4) In this era when our political and cultural landscape is littered with placards for gays in the
military and gay marriage rights, not to mention Hummers in suburbia and compassionate
conservatism, I can’t abide by the way cum has been de-coupled from its context of pleasure.
Where instead of being a marker and celebration of an orgasm, cum has become
capitalistically fetishized to a point where its amount and velocity is supposed to be a measure
of the orgasming man’s pleasure and also, quite literally, what the money shot is worth.
Anonymous, “Untitled,” 2003, digital photograph, 2200 x 1700 pixels
45
Cum Essay
Robert Vázquez-Pacheco
Vázquez
What does cum mean to me? Look off into the distance. Rub my chin. Frown slightly. Hmmm. What
does cum mean to me? I yell out the question and hear answers echoing off the hard walls of morality,
the daylight peaks of public health, and those sweaty valleys of sexual behavior. Way too many echoes
(and ghosts) for this to be uncomplicated.
Having lived with HIV for over twenty years, I know too many dead men to dismiss the dangers of a
really good unprotected fuck. It’s hard to know which holds more people: the cemetery or my phone
book. As more and more of the loved ones who shaped my past are consumed on the pyre of AIDS, I
find that increasingly, my past resides within me. Ash-filled urns commemorate sexual drive-bys, pig outs
in sex clubs, an evening of romance and love, a plowing in a parking lot, a hazy dawn rosy with chemicals
and horniness, a celebration of love and hot M4M action.
Anonymous, “Untitled,” 2003, digital photograph, 2200 x 1700 pixels
46
The male procreative fluid oozes through cultures and belief systems like a trickster god, good in some
places and evil in others. It explodes into human life when combined with its partner. A sacred fluid, the
sign of sin, creation’s juice, a messy reward for a good time, incriminating spots on dark colors, salty,
sticky goodness. Yeah, yeah. All that stuff and shit even more poetic and political. Even more mystical,
mesmerizing, maddening, and ultimately male.
Exposure to HIV-infected cum can bring disease and death. One can draw happy faces all one wants
around HIV (like in the drug ads filling and paying for our AIDS publications) but the natural progression
of the human immunodeficiency virus is death. Unlike the hypothetical, “the wages of sin are death,”
this shit is real.
What does cum mean to me? Ah, the moment of truth. This is where shit gets confusing. The Catholic
Church tells me I gave up heaven because of cum. I spent years laboring in the fields of AIDS because
of cum. I stopped fucking with negative men because of my cum. I spent five happy years with my love
thang because of our cum. I sat on panels, workshops, task forces, coalitions, collectives, and retreats,
learning, fighting, crying, and growing because of cum and all it has brought me and my brothers.
I am neither carried away into the ether of cosmic homo dick mysticism, nor am I plunged into the
despair of unrelieved suffering and death. It is good stuff and bad stuff all mixed up. In the end, why
should cum be any less complicated, any less contradictory, any less bittersweet than life itself ?
Cum Essay
Why do we love things that are dangerous to us - men who bring us trouble, food that can stop our
hearts, devices or drugs that can kill us? Cum spurts onto the list of things we love that can get us into
serious trouble. I am always surprised by the fact that something so strongly desired can be so
destructive. As if desire were neutral.
47
You
Philip Huang
I lost touch with you the summer after we broke up. When we met again — I forget who called who —
you told me you’d had a testicle removed and that you were doing chemo twice a week.
Funny, I said, you don’t look sick. You don’t look like you have cancer.
Huang
You showed me your medical marijuana card, the little tin where you kept your hash. Your picture on the
card looked so happy. We smoked a little, then we went for a walk. We walked a shaded path between
some trees that grew near my house. I wanted to touch you the whole time. I had been in love with you,
I wasn’t near done. The first few months after we broke up, I’d see you all over the house, everywhere,
one or two or three of you, on the bed or in the shower or in the doorway.
That’s what I meant when I said it was funny: to see you again and learn your life had gone on without
me, that you’d gone and had cancer and had had a testicle removed without me.
48
When we came back to the house I helped you out of your clothes as if it had all been arranged. You
had a small scar just above the pubic line. You said that was where they’d gone in with scissors to snip
the testicle in bits. Then they’d gone in through the same incision and fished out the bits with a sort of
hook. Sure enough, the right testicle was gone. But you were hard and juicing a bit. I remembered how
excited I could make you. I took you with my mouth and formed a seal with my lips and sucked my
tongue so you’d feel a wet, insistent tugging. I fingered the scar and the place where the right testicle
should’ve been. I cupped the remaining testicle, gently, gently. Your head fell back and lolled loosely. It
was afternoon. There was still a lot of light left in the day seeping through my curtains. You gasped; you
wanted to warn me that you were ready, you were cumming. But I held you in my mouth, I wouldn’t let
you go.
The only time I’d swallowed semen was by accident and I’d hated it. I kept having to clear my throat the
whole day after. I’d vowed to never swallow anyone willingly again.
But I wanted to do this for you.
You came with a little cry, the cry of a little bride, and spurted a thin clear liquid into my mouth. There
was not a lot of it. Nothing gluey, nothing salty: no sperm. Though they’d left the left testicle, they
must’ve snipped its tributary to the urethra. So all of that was over now. There was only the pure
spermless seminal fluid, simmering in the prostate, sweet and thin as gruel—
You
I swallowed.
And I knew two things immediately:
That I’d never make love to you again. And I’d never swallow for anyone else.
You can know these things. Yes, sometimes you can.
So far, I have been right on both counts.
Anonymous, “Exploring Space,” 2003, digital photograph, 2200 x 1700 pixels
49
HIV-Negative Identity
William I. Johnston
The HIV-Negative Button
Johnston
One day, as I walked to the Boston Public Library, I saw a teenager with a small white button pinned to
his chest. In bold black letters the button proclaimed, “HIV–.” I had never seen such a thing and was
overcome by curiosity and revulsion. I wanted to ask him where he had gotten the button, and at the
same time I wanted to shake him by the shoulders for flaunting his HIV-negative status. “How dare you
wear that button!” I wanted to yell in his face. “Don’t you realize how offensive it is to HIV-positive
people?”
50
Instead, I walked on, puzzled at my reaction. Why was I so disturbed by his button? After all, I had spent
the past few years facilitating a discussion group for HIV-negative gay men. I was beginning to think that
adopting an “HIV-negative identity” might help men remain uninfected. Couldn’t wearing an “HIV–”
button be an aspect of HIV-negative identity? And yet, I bristled at it.
What I was forced to confront when I saw this kid wearing an “HIV–” button was my own ambivalence
about my HIV-negative status and the propriety of disclosing it publicly as an aspect of my identity. To
wear an “HIV–” button seemed like an affront to the HIV-positive. It struck me as boasting, rubbing
one’s own good fortune in the face of those less fortunate. My reaction may have been a form of
survivor guilt: I was reluctant to publicize my HIV-negative status out of deference to the HIV-positive.
I was born in 1963 and grew up on the cusp of the AIDS epidemic, influenced by sexual mores both
before and after the epidemic began. I share with gay men older than myself the ideas that one should
not boast about being HIV-negative because that status is not something one has earned, that my being
uninfected is largely a matter of the whim of fate, and that I have an obligation to recognize an essential
solidarity with infected gay men. And yet I share with the button-wearing youth—and others who have
become sexually active in the era of AIDS—the idea that being HIV-negative more than twenty years into
the epidemic is a kind of achievement, something to be celebrated, encouraged, and prized. So I at once
want to proclaim my HIV-negative status and yet be mute about it. Can I adopt an attitude that embraces
survival if I am ashamed to proclaim being a survivor?
La identidad VIH negativo
William I. Johnston
Un día, cuando caminaba a la biblioteca pública de Boston, miré a un joven con un botón blanco colgado
sobre su pecho. En letras negras en negrilla, el botón proclamaba, “VIH-”. Yo nunca había visto tal cosa y
me invadió la curiosidad y repugnancia. Quería preguntarle a dónde había conseguido el botón, y al mismo
tiempo quería cogerlo de los hombros y sacudirlo por alardear su estatus de VIH negativo. “¡Cómo te atreves
a llevar ese botón!”, quería gritarle en su cara. “¿No te das cuenta que es ofensivo para las personas que son
VIH+?”
En lugar de hacer esto, caminé desconcertado por mi reacción. ¿Por qué me molestó tanto su botón?
Después de todo, durante los últimos años yo he facilitado un grupo de discusión para hombres gay VIH
negativo. Estaba empezando a pensar que el hecho de adoptar una “identidad de VIH negativo” podría
ayudar a que los hombres se mantengan sin infectarse. ¿No será que llevar un botón “VIH negativo” es un
aspecto de la identidad de VIH negativo? Y sin embargo, me eriza verlo.
Lo que yo fui obligado a confrontar cuando miré a este chico con su botón de “VIH negativo” fue mi propia
ambivalencia sobre mi estatus de VIH negativo y la conveniencia de divulgarlo públicamente como parte de
mi identidad. El llevar un botón “VIH-“ parecía un insulto a los que son VIH+. Esto me pareció como
alardear y restregarles en la cara mi buena fortuna a los menos afortunados. Mi reacción pudo ser una forma
de sentimiento de culpa de sobreviviente: mi renuencia a publicar mi estatus de VIH- en consideración de los
que son VIH+.
Yo nací en 1963 y crecí en la cúspide de la epidemia del SIDA, influenciado por las costumbres sexuales, antes
y después que la epidemia empezara. Yo comparto con hombres gay mayores que yo la idea que uno no debe
alardear su estatus de VIH negativo porque ese estatus no es algo que uno se ha ganado, que el hecho que no
esté infectado, es mayormente gracias al capricho del destino y que yo tengo la obligación de reconocer una
solidaridad esencial con los hombres gay infectados. Y al mismo tiempo, comparto con el joven que lleva el
botón –y con otros que se han vuelto sexualmente activos en la era del SIDA—la idea de ser VIH negativo
después de más de veinte años de la epidemia es como un logro, algo que se debe celebrar, alentar y premiar.
Así que de una vez, quiero proclamar mi estatus de VIH negativo y todavía seguir mudo al respecto. ¿Puedo
adoptar una actitud que acoge la sobrevivencia si estoy avergonzado de proclamar que soy un sobreviviente?
Los significados del estatus del VIH
HIV-Negative Identity
El botón de VIH negativo
51
The Meanings of HIV Status
Johnston
HIV testing reveals an objective difference
among gay men: it divides us into those who are
infected and those who are not. This objective
difference, however, is overlaid with many
subjective meanings that heighten the divisions
gay men experience based on HIV status. When I
learned I was HIV-negative, some of these
meanings about HIV positivity and HIV
negativity resurfaced, even though I believed I
had discarded them long before as stereotypical
thinking:
52
HIV-positive
infected
sick
dangerous
unlucky
victim
guilty
punished
marked
dirty
slut
reckless
unsafe
HIV-negative
uninfected
healthy
vulnerable
lucky
survivor
innocent
spared
unmarked
clean
virgin
cautious
safe
As much as I tried to banish these simplistic
polarities from my thinking, they were hard to
repress, and they continue to influence my
attitudes about HIV-positive and HIV-negative
gay men. In the above table of paired terms,
perhaps only the first two pairs are neutral. The
La prueba del VIH revela una diferencia objetiva
entre los hombres gay: Nos divide entre los que
están infectados y los que no lo están. Esta
diferencia objetiva, sin embargo, está cubierta con
bastantes significados subjetivos que resaltan las
divisiones que los hombres gay experimentan
basados en su estatus de VIH. Cuando yo
aprendí sobre mi estatus de VIH negativo,
algunos de estos significados sobre VIH positivo
y VIH negativo resurgieron, aunque yo creía que
ya los había descartado hace mucho tiempo como
una manera de pensar estereotipada:
VIH positivo
infectado
enfermo
peligroso
sin suerte
víctima
culpable
castigado
marcado
sucio
puto
imprudente
inseguro
VIH negativo
no infectado
saludable
vulnerable
con suerte
sobreviviente
inocente
absuelto
sin marca
limpio
virgen
cauteloso
seguro
Sin importar cuánto trate de borrar estas
polaridades simplistas de mi manera de pensar,
son difíciles de suprimir y ellas continúan
influyendo en mis actitudes sobre los hombres
gay VIH positivos y VIH negativos. En el
recuadro anterior con términos pares, quizá
solamente los primeros dos pares son neutrales.
The term “HIV status” itself holds a couple of
competing meanings evident in the above table.
In one sense, the word “status” implies a rigid
social or moral hierarchy, like caste. In the table,
HIV-negative status is portrayed as better than—
rather than merely different from—HIV-positive
status. In another sense, the word “status”
implies a state of being that is mutable, like a
status report. When HIV-negative gay men think
about the possibility of becoming HIV-positive,
they realize their HIV status is something that
could change, something precarious.
Two T-Shirt Designs
Paul, 35, whom I interviewed while writing a
book about HIV-negative gay men’s issues, told
me that when he designed a T-shirt for a gay
pride parade, a friend who saw his preliminary
design suggested that he make two versions. Paul
was repulsed by the idea:
He suggested that I have two
sets of T-shirts made up—one
El resto condena al VIH positivo y elogia a los
VIH negativos. La columna de la izquierda
demoniza a los VIH positivos, los hace peligrosos
y moralmente corruptos, mientras que la columna
de la derecha muestra una imagen del VIH
negativo de vulnerable y moralmente superior.
Esto no es un accidente; revela lo fácil que es
para los que son VIH negativos juzgar
moralmente los que son VIH positivos. De
hecho, el recuadro demuestra cómo la prueba del
VIH—ostensiblemente una prueba científica—
puede convertirse en un substituto para una
evaluación moral.
El término “estatus del VIH” en si mismo tiene
un par de significados que compiten entre si, que
son evidentes en el recuadro anterior. Por una
parte, la palabra “estatus” implica una jerarquía
rígida social o moral, como casta. En el recuadro
anterior, el estatus VIH negativo se presenta
como algo mejor que—en lugar de solo ser una
mera diferencia— el estatus de VIH positivo.
Por otra parte, la palabra “estatus” implica un
estado existencial mutable, como un estatus de un
reporte. Cuando los hombres gay VIH negativo
piensan en la posibilidad de convertirse en VIH
positivo, se dan cuenta que su estatus de VIH es
algo que podría cambiar, algo precario.
Dos diseños de camisetas
Paul, de 35 años, a quien entrevisté mientras yo
escribía un libro sobre los asuntos de los
hombres gay VIH negativo, me dijo que él había
diseñado una camiseta para un desfile del orgullo
HIV-Negative Identity
rest damn the HIV-positive and laud the HIVnegative. The left column demonizes the HIVpositive as dangerous and morally corrupt, while
the right column portrays the HIV-negative as
vulnerable and morally upright. This is no
accident. It reveals how easy it is for the HIVnegative to moralize about the HIV-positive.
Indeed, the table shows how HIV testing—
ostensibly a scientific assay—can become a
surrogate for moral evaluation.
53
Johnston
that had a negative symbol in the
pink triangle and one that had a
positive symbol—so that people
would be able to recognize
immediately whether the person
was positive or negative. I just
had this visceral reaction, “You
can’t do that.”
54
The friend who suggested two designs had
recently learned he was HIV-negative after
fearing for many years that he was HIV-positive.
“He was kind of grandiose about it,” Paul said,
“and it bugged me.” Paul did not think
uninfected gay men should go around wearing
their HIV negativity on their sleeves, so to speak.
“A pink triangle is a symbol of community,” he
said. “If you start differentiating a positive sign
and a negative sign within it, it’s a community
divided, don’t you think?”
When I asked Paul how he felt about HIVpositive gay men advertising their status, he said
gay. Un amigo de él que vio el diseño preliminar
le sugirió que hiciera dos versiones. Paul se
disgustó con la idea:
El sugirió que hiciera un par de
camisetas—una que tuviera un
símbolo negativo dentro del
triángulo rozado y otro que tuviera
el símbolo positivo—para que así
la gente pudiera reconocer
inmediatamente si la persona era
positiva o negativa. Tuve una
reacción visceral: “Tú no puedes
hacer eso”.
El amigo que sugirió los dos diseños
recientemente se había enterado que era VIH
negativo después de que por muchos años había
temido ser VIH positivo. “El se veía como algo
grandioso con todo el asunto”, dijo Paul, “y me
molestó”. Paul pensó que los hombres gay no
infectados no deberían de andar por allí
mostrando su estatus de VIH negativo en sus
mangas, por decirlo de alguna manera. “Un
triángulo rozado es un símbolo de comunidad”,
dijo. “Si empiezas a diferenciar un símbolo
positivo y uno negativo dentro del triángulo, es
una comunidad dividida, ¿no crees?”.
Perhaps the reason for this double standard is
that being HIV-positive is a stigmatized position,
an “outgroup” identity. To claim that being HIVnegative is an “outgroup” identity that deserves
to be acknowledged may seem as bizarre as a
“heterosexual pride” parade or a “white power”
rally. There is no weight to the “stigma” of being
HIV-negative.
Cuando le pregunté a Paul sobre cómo se sentía
cuando los hombres gay VIH positivo
anunciaban su estatus, él dijo que eso parecía
diferente: “Escuchar que alguien hace eso cuando
es positivo, parece que está bien. De alguna
manera, cuando las personas son negativas,
parece que no está bien. No es eso interesante:
es como una doble estándar. Alardear de tu
estatus negativo parece arrogante”.
What Paul pointed out is that expressing an HIVpositive identity is acceptable in gay culture—
perhaps even viewed as courageous—but that
expressing an HIV-negative identity is
unacceptable, perhaps even viewed as insensitive
and divisive. Alan, 31, another interviewee,
elaborated on this idea when he told me that our
Boston HIV-negative discussion group was a
good idea, but that HIV-negative identity was
not:
The issue isn’t that we’re HIVnegative. The issue is that we’re
HIV-negative in the context of
this crisis. The crisis is the
problem. What do you do when
you’re not sick, you haven’t
tested positive, but your
community is in crisis? The
LEFT: Andrew Ortiz, “Leaves of Corn,” 2000, archival giclee print, 37” x 14”
Quizá la razón de este doble estándar es que ser
VIH positivo es una posición estigmatizada, una
identidad “marginada”. Argüir que ser VIH
negativo es una identidad de grupo marginado,
que merece ser reconocida, podría parecer tan
raro como un desfile de “orgullo heterosexual” o
de “poder blanco”. No existe ningún peso sobre
el “estigma” de ser VIH negativo.
Lo que Paul puntualizó es que el expresar una
identidad de VIH positivo es aceptable en la
cultura gay—quizá también se ve como valor—
pero que expresar una identidad de VIH negativo
es inaceptable—quizá hasta puede ser visto como
insensible y divisivo. Alan, de 31 años, otro
entrevistado, elaboró esta idea cuando me dijo
que nuestro grupo de discusión de VIH negativos
HIV-Negative Identity
this seemed different, “To hear about somebody
doing that when they’re positive seems okay.
Somehow, if people do that when they’re
negative, it doesn’t seem right. Isn’t that
interesting: it’s like a double standard. Flaunting
your negative status seems arrogant.”
55
Johnston
support group is a great idea,
because that’s what they deal
with. But HIV negativity is not
the issue, and building an
identity around it outside the
context of the support group, I
see as being very damaging and
not useful. Because outside that
context, it is about alienation,
and it is about division, and it is
about superiority.
The challenge that HIV-negative gay men face is
this: how do we go about valuing our HIVnegative identity without alienating or devaluing
HIV-positive men?
The Development of HIV-Positive Identity
56
Gay men have a history of taking symbols of
oppression and turning them into icons of
identity; just think of how the pink triangle and
the use of the epithet “queer” have been
reclaimed. It did not surprise me, then, that when
HIV-positive gay men found themselves a
stigmatized minority within a minority, they
reacted by claiming “HIV-positive” as an identity
rather than a label.
At a gay and lesbian health conference in
Houston, I saw oversized T-shirts with the slogan
“HIV+” emblazoned across the front in pink
letters almost a foot high. For HIV-positive
people to wear such a T-shirt is to display their
HIV status to the world without shame and to
force passersby to confront their feelings about
en Boston era una buena idea, pero que la
identidad de VIH negativo no lo era:
El asunto no es sobre el hecho
que somos VIH negativos. El
asunto es que nosotros somos
VIH negativos en el contexto de
esta crisis. La crisis es el
problema. ¿Qué haces cuando
no estás enfermo, cuando los
resultados de tus pruebas no son
positivos, pero tu comunidad
está en una crisis? El grupo de
apoyo es una gran idea, porque
eso es lo que tratan. Pero el
tema no es el ser VIH negativo;
construir una comunidad
alrededor de esto, fuera del
contexto del grupo de apoyo,
veo que puede ser más dañino
que útil. Porque fuera de ese
contexto, se trata de alienación, y
se trata de división y se trata de
superioridad”.
El reto que los hombres gay VIH negativo
enfrentan es este: ¿Cómo valoramos nuestra
identidad de VIH negativos sin alienar o
desvalorizar a los hombres VIH positivos?
El desarrollo de una identidad VIH positivo
RIGHT: Andrew Ortiz, “Breathing,” 2000, archival giclee print, 37” x 14”
Even more controversial than T-shirts
proclaiming one’s HIV-positive status is the
practice of tattooing “HIV+” on one’s body.
When a conservative commentator suggested
that HIV-positive drug users be tattooed on the
arm and HIV-positive gay men be tattooed on
the buttocks, his idea was dismissed as
reactionary. That gay men might tattoo themselves is
an act with a very different—and potent—
political meaning. Such tattooing is a deliberate
establishment of identity that marks one’s
difference from others in a visible way. It reveals
the stigmatization that HIV-positive status bears
in our culture, and expresses—in the tattoo’s
permanence—the ineradicability of HIV within
the body.
Los hombres gay tienen una historia de tomar
símbolos de opresión y transformarlos en íconos
de identidad; solo piensa en cómo el triángulo
rosado y la utilización del epíteto “queer
(maricón)” han sido retomados. Así que no me
sorprendió cuando los hombres gay VIH
positivos, que se vieron como una minoría
estigmatizada dentro de una minoría,
reaccionaran retomando lo “VIH positivo” como
una identidad en lugar de una etiqueta.
En una conferencia sobre salud gay y lésbica en
Houston, miré camisetas grandes con el eslogan
“VIH+”, adornados en todo el frente en letras
rosadas que eran casi de un pie de alto. Para las
personas VIH positivas, llevar dichas camisetas es
mostrar al mundo su estatus de VIH sin ninguna
vergüenza y obligar a los transeúntes a confrontar
sus sentimientos sobre las personas con VIH.
Llevar dicha camiseta—como llevar un triángulo
rosado—es una manera de hacer visible lo
invisible, de hacer público algo privado, de hacer
HIV-Negative Identity
people with HIV. Wearing such a T-shirt—like
wearing a pink triangle—is a way of making
visible something invisible, of making public
something private, of turning a stigma into a
symbol of identity.
57
Johnston
In contrast to the permanence of HIV positivity
is the impermanence of HIV negativity. This
impermanence may be the chief reason that it is
difficult to establish an HIV-negative identity. To
put it bluntly, no one would tattoo “HIV-” on his
body, because being HIV-negative is not a fixed
characteristic.
58
Then again, since the “–” symbol can so easily be
turned into a “+” symbol, someone who tattoos
himself as “HIV–” could change it to “HIV+” if
he seroconverts. The apparent permanence of an
“HIV–” tattoo contains an implicit flexibility that
reflects the fragility of HIV-negative status and
the one-way nature of HIV infection. I am
reminded of a similar one-way symbolism seen at
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.
When prisoners of war and those listed as
missing in action are found to have been killed in
action, the cross symbols next to their names are
changed to diamond shapes by carving away
additional stone.
The Fragility of HIV-Negative Identity
“I’m bugged by this HIV-negative identity stuff,”
said Alan. “I think it’s a fucked-up thing to build
an identity around, because it’s variable. It’s not
something that you can say at any given moment
is the truth.” HIV-positive identity, on the other
hand, is much clearer. If you are infected with
HIV, your HIV status is not variable. The
difficulty of establishing HIV-negative identity is
thus partially related to an asymmetry inherent in
el estigma un símbolo de identidad.
Algo más controversial que llevar una camiseta
proclamando el estatus VIH positivo de uno es la
práctica de hacerse un tatuaje “VIH+” en el
cuerpo. Cuando un comentador conservador
sugirió que los usuarios de drogas VIH positivo
fueran tatuados en el brazo y los hombres gay
VIH positivo fueran tatuados en el trasero, sus
ideas se descartaron como si fueran reaccionarias.
Que los hombres gay se hagan tatuajes ellos
mismos es un acto con un significado muy
diferente—y potencialmente—político. Dicha
acción de hacerse un tatuaje es un establecimiento
deliberado de identidad que marca la diferencia
de uno con otros de una manera visible. Revela la
estigmatización que conlleva ser VIH positivo en
nuestra cultura, y expresa—en la permanencia del
tatuaje—la imposible erradicación del VIH dentro
del cuerpo.
En contraste a la permanencia del VIH positivo,
está no-permanencia del VIH negativo. Esta nopermanencia podría ser el motivo principal que
hace difícil el establecimiento de una identidad
VIH negativo. En otras palabras más claras, nadie
se tatuaría “VIH-” en su cuerpo porque ser VIH
negativo no es una característica fija.
Pero también, ya que el símbolo “-” puede
convertirse en un símbolo “+”, alguien que se
haya hecho un tatuaje “VIH-” fácilmente puede
cambiarlo a “VIH+” si es que se seroconvierte.
La aparente permanencia de un tatuaje “VIH-”
It is not uncommon for gay men who get tested
to not believe their negative test results. This
disbelief sometimes indicates that they feel they
do not deserve to be uninfected or that they
believe that becoming infected is inevitable. Even
when men do believe their test results, being
HIV-negative sometimes seems like a provisional
status, something that could be lost at any
moment. It is difficult to build an HIV-negative
identity if we are reluctant to claim it as
something we deserve or something we expect
will continue.
The fragility of HIV-negative identity became
especially clear to me at an HIV-prevention
summit I attended in Dallas. During the
conference, a group of HIV-positive and HIVnegative gay men gathered to discuss whether
AIDS education should address men of different
HIV statuses differently. When these men
introduced themselves and announced their HIV
status, the HIV-positive men invariably said that
they were HIV-positive. Sometimes they
mentioned the date when they were diagnosed
with AIDS. The HIV-negative men, on the other
hand, did not say that they were HIV-negative.
Instead, they said things like, “I tested negative
five years ago” and “I was negative the last time I
was tested,” as if they could never be sure of
their HIV-negative status. I’ll bet that if someone
contiene una flexibilidad implícita que refleja la
fragilidad del estatus de VIH negativo y la
naturaleza unidireccional de la infección por el
VIH. Esto me recuerda a un simbolismo
unidireccional que vi en el Memorial de
Veteranos de Vietnam en Washington. Cuando
se dan cuenta que los prisioneros de guerra y los
que fueron listados como perdidos en acción en
realidad murieron en acción, el símbolo de la
cruz junto a sus nombres se cambia a una forma
de diamante al grabarse en la piedra.
La fragilidad de la identidad VIH negativo
“A mi me molesta esto de la identidad VIH
negativo”, dice Alan. “Creo que es jodido
construir una identidad entorno a esto, pues es
variable. No es algo que puedes decir que en
todo momento es verdad.” La identidad VIH
positivo, por otra parte, es muchísima más clara.
Si tú eres VIH positivo, tu estatus de VIH no es
variable. La dificultad de establecer la identidad
VIH negativo en parte está relacionada a la
asimetría inherente en la prueba del VIH: Los
resultados VIH positivo son considerados como
indicadores confiables del estatus del VIH, pero
los resultados VIH negativo no lo son.
Es común que los hombres gay no crean en sus
resultados negativos cuando los reciben. Esta
incredulidad a veces indica que ellos sienten que
no merecen no estar infectados o que ellos creen
que infectarse es algo inevitable. Aún cuando los
hombres creen en sus resultados de las pruebas,
HIV-Negative Identity
HIV testing: HIV-positive test results are
considered reliable indicators of HIV status, but
HIV-negative test results are not.
59
The Absence of a Condition
Another reason that HIV-negative status seems
an improbable thing to organize an identity
around is that it is defined by the absence of a
medical condition, rather than the presence of
one. Dudley, 42, another participant in the
Boston discussion group, put it this way:
I can’t imagine somebody going
around saying, “I don’t have
breast cancer, isn’t that
fabulous?” ... What would be the
point of going around saying,
“I’m not living with AIDS”? It
doesn’t make a lot of sense. I
don’t identify with the concept
of HIV-negative identity. I’m
just a healthy gay person, and
part of my being healthy is that
I happen to be HIV-negative
and intend to stay that way.
Dudley suggests that an HIV-negative identity is
equivalent to saying that one is “not living with
AIDS.” But as the men I interviewed made clear
throughout our discussions, being HIV-negative is
a form of “living with AIDS.” That HIV-negative
status is defined by the absence of a medical
condition does not mean that HIV-negative gay
men do not have a unique position and an
LEFT: Andrew Ortiz, “Pajaro,” 2002, archival giclee print, 26” x 26”
ser VIH negativo a veces parece como un
estatus provisional, algo que puede perderse en
cualquier momento. Es difícil construir una
identidad VIH negativo si somos renuentes en
reclamarla como algo que merecemos o como
algo que esperamos que continúe.
La fragilidad de la identidad VIH negativo se
me hizo más clara en una cumbre sobre la
prevención del VIH a la cual asistí en Dallas.
Durante la conferencia, un grupo de hombres
gay VIH positivos y negativos se juntaron para
discutir si la educación sobre SIDA debería ser
diferente para hombres con diferente estatus
del VIH. Cuando estos hombres se
presentaron y anunciaron su estatus del VIH,
los hombres VIH positivo invariablemente
dijeron que ellos eran VIH positivo. Algunas
veces mencionaron la fecha en que se les
diagnosticó el SIDA. Los hombres VIH
negativo, por otro lado, no dijeron que eran
VIH negativo. En vez, dijeron cosas como,
“mis resultados fueron negativos hace cinco
años”, y “yo era negativo la ultima vez que me
hice la prueba”, como si nunca podrían estar
seguros de su estatus de VIH negativo. Podría
apostar que si alguien hubiera marcado los
botones o camisetas con el eslogan “VIH
negativo (hasta ahora)”, se hubieran vendido
bien.
La ausencia de una condición
Otra razón por la que parece improbable la
HIV-Negative Identity
marketed buttons or T-shirts with the slogan
“HIV-Negative (So Far)” they would have sold
well.
61
Johnston
identity associated with it. Nor should it dissuade
us from developing an HIV-negative identity and
supporting others with that identity.
62
HIV prevention efforts targeted at gay men need
to acknowledge that the “absence of a condition”
that seems to define HIV-negative gay men is
actually a complex situation—fraught with social
and psychological meanings. In far too many
instances, our efforts have been directed solely
toward HIV-positive gay men, or toward some
undifferentiated body, as if the significance of
HIV-infection were the same to the uninfected
and the infected alike. Presuming that prevention
campaigns can be effective, even though they do
not take into account the very different positions
of the HIV-negative and the HIV-positive, strikes
me as naive.
HIV-Negative Pride
At a steering committee meeting for the Boston
HIV-negative discussion group, one man
suggested that the group march with a banner in
the next gay pride parade. The suggestion raised
in me some discomfort. Much as I support the
idea of HIV-negative identity, the concept of
“HIV-negative pride” struck me as bizarre. The
word “pride” sometimes connotes “feeling
superior,” and that troubled me.
But “gay pride” is really just a synonym for “gay
self-esteem.” There’s nothing wrong with that, so
what could be wrong with the concept of “HIV-
organización de una identidad VIH negativo
es que el estatus VIH negativo se define por
la ausencia de una condición médica en lugar
de la presencia de una. Dudley, de 42 años,
otro participante del grupo de discusión en
Boston, lo dice de esta manera:
Yo no me puedo imaginar que
alguien vaya por allí diciendo,
“Yo no tengo cáncer del seno,
¿no te parece fabuloso?”…
¿Cuál sería el propósito de
andar por allí diciendo, “yo no
vivo con SIDA?” No tiene
mucho sentido. Yo no me
identifico con el concepto de
la identidad VIH negativo. Yo
soy una persona gay saludable,
y parte de estar saludable es
que soy VIH negativo y
pretendo quedarme así.
Dudley sugiere que la identidad VIH
negativo es equivalente a decir que uno no
“vive con SIDA”. Pero como dijeron los
hombres que entrevisté, ser VIH negativo es
una forma de “vivir con SIDA”. El hecho de
que el estatus de VIH negativo es definido
por la ausencia de una condición médica no
quiere decir que los hombres gay VIH
negativo no tengan una posición única y una
identidad asociada con ésta. Esto tampoco
debería disuadirnos de desarrollar una
identidad VIH negativo y apoyar a otros con
If my own conflicting feelings about marching in
a gay pride parade as an HIV-negative gay man
are any indication, though, it is unlikely this will
happen soon. There are too many forces
militating against it: shame about being HIVnegative, reluctance to identify oneself as a
“survivor” in an ongoing epidemic, uncertainty
about being able to maintain one’s HIV-negative
status, unwillingness to promote “apartheid”
based on HIV status, and the simple desire to be
quiet. All these forces conspire to make it
difficult to develop, support, or advertise one’s
HIV-negative identity. As a result, I believe few
HIV-negative gay men will want to make their
presence visible in gay pride parades.
How many HIV-negative readers of Corpus, I
wonder, will hide this essay from view so that
others won’t see what they’re reading?
—
William I. Johnston is a former facilitator of an
HIV-negative discussion group in Boston. The
full text of his book, HIV-Negative: How the
Uninfected Are Affected by AIDS, is available online
at <http://world.std.com/~wij/hivneg/index.html>. He can be reached at
[email protected]
esa identidad.
Los esfuerzo para hacer prevención del VIH
con hombres gay necesitan reconocer que la
“ausencia de una condición” que parece definir
a los hombres gay VIH negativo es en realidad
una situación compleja—cargada con
significados sociales y psicológicos. En
demasiadas ocasiones, nuestros esfuerzos han
sido dirigidos solamente hacia hombres gay
VIH positivo o hacia cuerpos indiferenciables,
como si el significado de la infección por el
VIH fuera lo mismo para el no infectado que
para el infectado. Suponer que las campañas de
prevención pueden ser efectivas aunque no
tomen en consideración las diferentes
posiciones de VIH negativo y VIH positivo, me
parece ingenuo.
Orgullo VIH negativo
En una reunión del comité del grupo de
discusión de VIH negativo en Boston, un
hombre sugirió que el grupo marchara con una
pancarta en el próximo desfile del orgullo gay.
La sugerencia me hizo sentir un poco
incómodo. Aunque apoyo la idea de la
identidad de VIH negativo, el concepto de
“orgullo de VIH negativo” me parece rara. La
palabra “orgullo” a veces tiene la connotación
de “sentirse superior”, y eso me molesta.
Pero “orgullo gay” es realmente sinónimo de
“autoestima gay”. Eso no tiene nada de malo,
así que, ¿qué puede ser tan malo con el
HIV-Negative Identity
negative pride”? The self-esteem of uninfected
gay men is important, and celebrating it might
even help uninfected men stay uninfected.
63
Si mis propios sentimientos en conflicto de marchar en un desfile de orgullo gay como un hombre gay
VIH negativo es alguna indicación, parece que esto no pasará en un futuro cercano. Hay muchas fuerzas
que militan en contra de esto: vergüenza de ser VIH negativo, renuencia de identificarse uno mismo
como “sobreviviente” en una epidemia continua, incertidumbre de mantener el estatus de VIH negativo,
la falta de disposición de promover “apartheid” basado en el estatus del VIH, y el simple deseo de
mantenernos callados. Todos estos factores conspiran para que sea difícil desarrollar, apoyar o anunciar la
identidad de VIH negativo. Como resultado, creo que pocos hombres VIH negativos querrán hacerse
visibles en los desfiles del orgullo gay.
Me pregunto, ¿cuántos lectores de Corpus VIH negativo esconderán este ensayo para que otros no miren
lo que están leyendo?
—
William I. Johnston era facilitador de un grupo de discusión de VIH negativos en Boston. El texto
completo de su libro, HIV-Negativo: How the Uninfected Are Affected by AIDS, está disponibles en línea:
<http://world.std.com/~wij/hiv-neg/index.html>. Su e-mail es: [email protected]
LEFT: Andrew Ortiz, “Corazón Sagrado,” 2003, archival giclee print, 26” x 26”
HIV-Negative Identity
concepto de “orgullo VIH negativo”? La autoestima de los hombres no infectados es importante y
celebrarla puede hasta ayudar a que los hombres no infectados se mantengan sin infectarse.
65
the children
White
Marvin K. White
84
from prospect to lake merritt
from brookhaven to griffith
from lincoln to jackson park
out of bush and branches shame
where our love learned to creep
like vining plant
break open the circle’s jerk
hold on to other limbs
attached to hands and arms
and eyes and souls
unnoose and free yourself
some new strange fruit
unafraid of sun shadowed sex
let the children come
let the sons come
and come father
and father’s fathers
hear their worst fears
your hen pecked voices
cracking with laughter
you their chipped heir loomed china broke
let them hear your
pitch-perfect-ear-ringing-slap-high laugh
avenge mothers’ covered giggle tongues
laugh at the men who won the bread
and beat the sissy
out of boys’ backs
let the sons come
let the snap queens come
let your good girlfriends
and your good good girlfriends
see you snap
snap because the universe needs reminding sometimes
that you are its song
its progeny
your fingers finding place in it
this music
snap to mark where you enter
rub your memories stubby baby fingers
make new noise
snap fathers pleased
snap taught to turn fingers to fists
snap because you have not been the same since
but you vow to be
snap divas
come
Photographs by Patrick “Pato” Hebert, from the series, Yo soy lo prohibido, 1996, C-prints
let the club queens come
let your djs
and your dj’s djs
see you dance
remember where your wings were children
i see you trying to get up
you were flyers
high fliers
buzzin’ round god like favorite fire flies
dance
you cannot close eyes without hearing the dead say
dance
this is sacred ground now
is burial ground now
stomp wild and banshee
this earth deep and thick
like nothin’ but life
wanting breath bad enough
will push through
dance
because every heal kick
raises question and ash about your mortality
dance
roll the million eyes reflected in this disco’s ball
hitch kick
and bitch kick
remind the butch queens
just how high children
high children
come
let the children walk
the nobody ever stepped on your toes walk
the feet unhurt walk
the dance floor is altar walk
walk children walk
loose the bellies
untangle the t-cells tango
in our bloods stream
don’t let this diagnosis be the partner that leads
loose burden
come children come
let the children sing
choke up the screams
you have swallowed
all your lives
spit out every word gospel
every word lullaby
every word aria
fight for the vocal cords tired
from singing at our lovers funerals
fight for this dirt grabbing hold and gravelling voice
there is lullaby yet left
let the children sing
new words
for some colored boys death song
come life
let the children come
let the children come
let the children come
87
the children
Contributors
George Ayala joined APLA in 2002 as the Director of Education. He oversees prevention services,
publications, treatment/health education and research and evaluation. Ayala brings to APLA nearly 14
years of experience in HIV/AIDS prevention, education and research with a focus on Latino and gay
communities. Although he received his graduate education in clinical psychology, Ayala often looks to his
artistic training for perspective, insight and renewed sense of possibility.
Ricardo A. Bracho is a playwright living in New York. He has received commissions from the Latino
Theatre Initiative of the Mark Taper Forum, an NEA/TCG Playwright’s Residency and the Creative Work
Fund Award. His plays include A to B and Querido. Currently he has a residency with Mabou Mines.
88
Cedric Brown is a musician and performer, building on experiences in gospel choirs, a cappella groups, and
musical theater productions. Cedric was vocalist and arranger for the soul band Cleo Blue, and was front
man for the 1150 Trio jazz ensemble. Cedric has performed numerous times in the Afro Solo Festival
and onstage at SF LGBT Pride, sang in Cultural Odyssey’s Underground Jazz Cabaret, and has appeared
in other venues including Brava Theater, ODC Theater, La Peña Cultural Center, Freight and Salvage,
Elbo Room and Café du Nord. His performance in For Colored Boys…at Theatre Rhinoceros received
glowing reviews in the SF Chronicle, the Bay Guardian, and the SF Examiner. Cedric’s written work has
appeared in the Bay Guardian, Arise magazine, and The Road Before Us, an anthology of African American
poets. He is a native of North Carolina. Through the AIRSpace artist-in-residence program at the Jon
Sims Center for the Arts, Cedric developed a musical narrative performance called I Swing Like That,
which debuted in June at the National Queer Arts Festival in San Francisco.
Jaime Cortez is an artist, writer and cultural worker based in Watsonville, CA. He was the editor of the
queer Latino anthology Virgins, Guerrillas & Locas and the founding editor of Corpus magazine. Jaime’s
writing has been included in numerous anthologies including Best Gay Erotica 2001, Besame Mucho, Queer
Papi Porn and the journals Shellac and www.stretcher.com.
Tri D. Do is an HIV/AIDS physician at San Francisco General Hospital and a post-doc at UC San
Francisco. He serves on several non-profit boards and writes advice columns for several others. For
years clamoring to reclaim a liberal arts background upstaged by medical training, Dr. Do now thanks love
for this most recent and vigorous spurt of creativity. His poetry and art have appeared in Ex Libris,
Whorl, and Tapas.
Alex Donis was born in 1964 in Chicago. He received his BFA at Cal State Long Beach and his MFA at
Otis College of Art & Design. He has exhibited his work at the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and
Culture, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, the Geffen Contemporary (MOCA), The Mexican Museum,
Galería de la Raza, the Pretoria Art Museum (South Africa), and Artspace (Sydney). His work was
recently included in the landmark exhibition, Made in California: Art Image and Identity at the LA County
Museum of Art. Alex is the current recipient of the California Community Foundation individual artist
grant, the Durfee Foundation Fellowship Grant and his work will be featured in the two-volume
anthology Contemporary Chicano/a Art (Bilingual Press, 2002). Alex is represented by Frumkin/Duval
Gallery in Santa Monica, CA, 310-453-1850, [email protected] Alex’s website is at
www.alexdonis.com.
Patrick “Pato” Hebert is an artist-educator based in Los Angeles. His art has been featured at Galería de
la Raza in San Francisco, Voz Alta in San Diego, and the Japanese American National Museum in LA.
His work has received support from the California Arts Council, the Creative Work Fund and the Durfee
Foundation. He serves as the Associate Director of Education, Prevention at APLA.
89
Philip Huang is a 27yo Taiwanese-born writer living in Berkeley. His fiction and poems have appeared in
POZ Magazine and the queer anthologies Queer PAPI Porn and TakeOut. His new work will appear in a
number of publications later this year. He is the HIV Program Coordinator at Asian Health Services in
Oakland Chinatown.
Derek Jackson, originally from the Rio Grande Valley, Texas, first began the game of dress up at an early
age. He refined the craft through study at New York University’s Experimental Theater Wing where he
studied acting and visual art. As an artist, his current work explores the dichotomy between desire and
representation, in photographs, paintings, video and performances that blur the line between documentary
and fantasy.
Derek is a recipient of awards from the Djerassi Artist Residency Program, the Brooklyn Arts Council
and Momenta Arts. He is a current participant in the fall AIM Program at the Bronx Museum of the
Arts. Current and upcoming shows include the MIX NYC Gay and Lesbian Experimental Film and Video
Festival, Putting the X Back in X-Mas at Uzi Gallery in New York, and Release at MOCADA in Bedstuy,
Brooklyn.
William I. Johnston, 32, grew up near Boston and graduated from Harvard College in 1985 with a degree
in visual studies. From 1987 to 1993 he worked on the hotline of the AIDS Action Committee of
Massachusetts. Since 1991, he has been a volunteer facilitator of the Boston HIV-Negative Support
Group. He lives in Watertown, Massachusetts, and is a mathematics textbook editor for Houghton Mifflin
Company. HIV-Negative (Insight Books-Plenum Press, 1995) was his first book and his first book design.
Mattilda, a.k.a. Matt Bernstein Sycamore is the editor of Tricks and Treats: Sex Workers Write About Their
Clients (Haworth 2000) and Dangerous Families: Queer Writing on Surviving (Haworth 2003). Pulling Taffy is his
first novel. His writing has been widely published, in places as diverse as Best American Erotica, Best
American Gay Fiction, Women and Performance, and Slingshot. He is an instigator of Gay Shame: the Virus in
the System, the radical queer activist group that celebrates resistance by fighting the monster of
assimilation. He lives in San Francisco, where he is at work on a new anthology, Resisting Assimilation:
Alternatives to the Gay Mainstream, and a second novel.
90
Eddie Milla received his BFA in photography in San Francisco. He works as a commercial photographer
whose clients include Vibe, The Source, Essence, Newsweek, ESPN Magazine, Urban Latino and Anthem. His
artwork has explored various themes including religion and sexuality. He can be reached at
www.eddiemilla.com.
Andrew Ortiz was born in Los Angeles, CA to parents who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico in 1942.
The concept of “green card” permanent residency vs. legal citizenship has set up an extensive source of
questions for Ortiz to explore visually.
In 1992 he received his M.A. in Photography from Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA. From 19921995 he attended graduate school in Rochester, New York. From documentary photography that
presented “found moments” or broad snapshots of urban society, he began to transition into digital
media to begin to explore intensely personal issues about ethnicity and identity.
Moving to Texas in 1997 to begin teaching at the University of Texas at Arlington further fueled his
interest in cultural identity. In a series of digital images begun in 1999 titled Disconnection/ Reconnection, he
visually explores and comments on his feelings of cultural alienation and his attempt to “reconnect” with
his heritage.
He is an assistant professor in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at
Arlington. He can be reached at www.uta.edu/art.
Eric Rofes is a long-time activist and author and currently works as a professor of education at Humboldt
State University. He has been organizing national summits focused on shifting from HIV prevention to
holistic gay men’s health for five years. He commutes between San Francisco and Arcata.
Javid Syed is an immigrant queer of South Asian decent. He came to the U.S. from India to expand his
economic opportunities and to go to university here. Through his activism, academic training, and the
inspiring guidance of fellow community members, he has been able to deepen the values of justice that
his family taught him while growing up as a Muslim in India. Mr. Syed currently works as the National
HIV Prevention Research and Technical Assistance Supervisor at the Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness
Center in San Francisco.
Robert Vázquez-Pacheco is a Nuyorican HIV-positive gay jack-of-all-trades, currently living in NYC.
Marvin K. White, author of the LAMDA Literary Award-nominated collection of poetry, Last Rights
(Alyson Publications, 1999), is a poet, performer, playwright, visual artist, as well as, a community arts
organizer. His poetry has been anthologized in The Road Before Us: 100 Black Gay Poets, My Brothers Keeper,
Gents, Bad Boys and Barbarians: New Gay Writing, Things Shaped in Passing, and Sojourner: Writing in the Age of
AIDS.
He currently holds a fellowship in the national African American poetry organization, Cave Canem. A
former member of the critically acclaimed Pomo-Afro-Homos, he has led numerous creative arts and
writing workshops. He is co-founder of B/GLAM (Black Gay Letters and Arts Movement), an arts
organization whose goal is to preserve, present and incubate black gay artistic expressions. As the former
African American Program Coordinator for the STOPAIDS Project in San Francisco, Marvin created
landmark programming that fused art and culture with the work of intervention.
Marvin mounted his first play, For Colored Boys in San Francisco in 2001 and his second collection of
poems, Nothin’ Ugly Fly, is due out in the spring of 2004.
91
LEFT: Eddie Milla, “Obsession #2, L.A.,” 2003, Fuji crystal archive print, 36” x 60”
RIGHT: Anonymous, “Untitled,” 2003, digital image, 8.375” x 8.375”

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