Friday, April 17, 2015

Are we Invisible?

One day in 2008 I walked into a club in the Montrose area only to receive the “why are you here?” stares. Not giving it a second mind, I proceeded to the bar to get a drink after a long day at work. To make a long story short, I waited a total of twenty minutes to be served by one of the six bartenders who did everything they could to keep from serving me. One could venture to say that I was crazy for even waiting so long for a drink; but I wanted to see for myself how bad relations were between black SGL-BT and the white LGBT community. Some consider my experience fictional, quite rare, and laughable which leads to the usual shrug of the shoulders.

The reality of prejudice within the gay community is constantly swept under a rug and has been given a status of a mythical unicorn. While that is true, there is another reality that we fail to address. A reality in which there are gays and lesbians that are transphobic, display effemiphobia and even display intra-racism. How can we possibly address white vs black prejudices & racism when these fractures within our own community go unaddressed? As a good friend put it, “come be a part of our community, welcome! (GLBT), be yourself, but you must be masculine, not too skinny, no fems and no uglies.” When my friend made this statement, he was really saying he hates that these demands to fit into these boxes exist.

This is one of the main reasons that we are invisible to each other within the gay community. Ask yourself how many trans-men and women do you have friendships with? How many of you have lesbian friends? How many of you have plus sized friends? I could go on and on with questions, however, I would like to get to my point. My point is that we must be all inclusive and remove all of the barriers and stop pretending that our counterparts are invisible! When we achieve true cohesion and community, only then can we address prejudices from the “mainstream” gays and the straight black community.

Friday, April 3, 2015

I Am HIV Positive & I am a WHOLE person

There are many closets to come out of and I have come out of the closet at the age of fifteen and identified as Gay/SGL and I have always known who I was attracted to from an early age. I came out of the closet as an Atheist  and I am UNAPOLOGETIC ABOUT WHO I AM. I respect and accept all of my intersections that make me Ashton P. Woods. I generally do not disclose my HIV status unless I know that I will be sexually active and have always felt that it was no one's business.

I am not coming out of this closet just for me, I am coming out of this closet for everyone who has be ostracized and made to feel nasty. Those of us who have HIV are healthier than most out in the general population, yet we Black gay men die at a higher rate from HIV than those who are in the group where HIV infection is actually the highest. I live UNAPOLOGETIC ABOUT WHO I AM, I accept me for who I am. It is time that you accept you for who you are! We are not nasty people, we are not contagious, we are doctors, lawyers, teachers, students, sons, daughters, mothers and fathers! I am HIV positive and I live a healthy life, I am a person , a whole person and I exist.

I think, as someone who lives with this every day of my life that we need HIV education that is all encompassing and inclusive of all communities. I am HIV positive and I am more than just that, I have stood when no one else would stand. Stand with me for my humanity, stand with me to break stigmas and help to educate our brothers and sisters about truths and break the myths.

My name is Ashton P. Woods and I am HIV positive.