As you read this, we are officially in LGBTQ+ Pride Month! Where is 2021 going? I hope that everyone has had a great couple of weeks. A lot has happened; things seem to be becoming more “normal” and bars are opening up with people no longer wearing masks and food orders no longer a requirement to get served adult beverages. Dance floors have opened up and as much as I am excited about that, it makes me nervous knowing that COVID-19 is still out there. Please remember to keep your wits intact when you’re out socializing, dancing and drinking; as humans, our decision-making skills are altered and we tend to become less inhibited when intoxicated, so again, please be cautious and careful.
I want to say that I am proud of all the businesses that have opened in the past few months. The new vibe of Rich’s, Gossip Grill, MO’s, Baja Betty’s, #1 on Fifth and Uptown Tavern (to name a few) is amazing and I am glad to see they are still thriving. However, I have found a new local bar that has become my favorite place to go, have a few drinks, reconnect with old friends and make new friends. It is not right on the strip but the extra blocks to walk there is definitely worth it. So, if you are looking for a new place to call home where you can have some fun and find a little of everything, go check out, The Loft on Fifth and Brookes avenues. Be sure to say hello to the ever so charming Rikke (manager/bartender). I really hope that he is able to bring his “Havana Nights” over to The Loft for a fun Latin night
So, I want to share an experience that I had last week that seems to be very common in our community. As a newly single male, I decided to download Grindr and Scruff. It seems I keep getting asked, “What is your status?”, “Are you clean?”, “What do I need to know about you being HIV-positive?”, “Is it safe to have sex with someone like you?” As much as I try to be tough and “play it off,” this series of questions does get to me. I will be honest and say it does hurt when I get asked these harsh questions. I do step back and remind myself that I can do two things, I can lose my mind and react negatively or I can take the opportunity to educate someone that clearly isn’t educated in the subject. I do not expect people to understand it all and know exactly what everything means. However, I feel that we must do something in order to educate more people to understand the real meaning of being HIV-positive and also undetectable. What truly gets me upset is someone asks me, “Are you clean?” My answer would be “absolutely.” I don’t understand how it became that someone that isn’t HIV-negative is considered dirty? It makes me upset that there is still a huge stigma around those living with HIV. I may be HIV-positive, but I am not dirty. This makes me know that we have a lot of educating to do. I ask myself; how can we get more information out into the community?
Someone who is HIV-positive can be healthy and “clean.” As I have told you guys before, I am HIV-positive undetectable. Being undetectable makes it so that I cannot transmit HIV to whoever I am sexually with if I am on my medicine. It is safe to have sex with someone who is positive and healthy. The choice to be with someone who is POZ is ultimately yours. I am just here to remind you that you don’t have to be scared. Educate yourself, ask questions and talk to your partner about any concerns that you may have. I can tell you from experience that I have taken my ex partners with me to my doctor appointments. Any questions that they may have can be asked there to my doctor. I can tell they leave feeling better about any concerns they went in with. Choose the best decision or route for you and your partner and remember that LOVE comes in many different ways. Do not close your heart, limit your happiness or run away from someone just because you are scared or unsure. Open your heart, listen to it and never quit on someone or something you want. Take the chance and let yourself be loved and love. Acceptance is something that we all have to work on and with one person at a time, we can make this world a better place.
These last couple of weeks have been a time of reflection and growth for me personally. Last week I finished watching the “Dance of the 41” and let me tell you that I was in TEARS! It truly hit home knowing that many years ago, hate crimes like those were happening to our brothers and sisters. As a Mexican man, I understood the rejection and the hush-hush mentality of people knowing something and the subject never mentioned or talked about. There isn’t much Mexican LGBT history that I know. I can imagine that it took some serious digging for this story to be told as accurately as possible. Mexico has never been all that great with keeping proper documentation of events and LGBTQ+ history. The end for me was super painful, to see the tears and the emotions on Ignacio’s face when his wife told him that his lover (Eva) was dead pushed me into tears for about the fifth time in the movie. If you haven’t seen it, please do. I watched it on Netflix and make sure that you have a glass of wine and a box of tissues close by.
Remember to love one another, bring a smile to someone’s face, give someone a hug that needs it, but most importantly, love yourself.