Something happened back then.  Countless thousands died horrible deaths.  Countless thousands lost their families of origin to fear and their chosen families of Gaymen to AIDS.  Countless thousands came out both as having AIDS and being Queer, shocking relatives and loved ones through simultaneous disclosure.  Countless thousands were slaughtered in the genocide against Gaymen by the institutionalized homophobia of the Reagan-Bush administration in the White House back then.  Countless thousands died in our Holocaust.  I was one of those countless thousands who died.  I was one of the relative few who came back from death and who live to tell of those Death Years, those Years Of The Great Plague.  I remember the endless memorial services I facilitated and the funerals I conducted.  I remember my beloved chosen family of seven Gaymen all of whom died and left me behind to tell the story so that we would not forget the Terror.  I am a Tribal Elder, telling our oral history which must be told and passed down to younger generations of Queers.


I began my practice in Spiritual Direction with the forty or so Geymen who came to me for love and support during their spiritual journeys and consequent spiritual crises through illness and death.  I remember holding many of those beautiful youngmen in my arms as they took their last usually excruciatingly painful, final breaths.  But also usually, those breaths were taken in peace and spiritual comfort because of my work.  I remember that those men were initially terrified in their confrontation with the Death Crone, believing that they were, indeed, going to Hell and Eternal Damnation as they were told in their childhoods by their priests, rabbis, and pastors. They had, for the most part, put away those childish things, but when facing their mortality, those childish things became adult horrors and mortal terror.  The demons of internalized homophobia raise their ugly heads when given the least opportunity.
 
Something else happened back then.  Something happened that was grace-filled.  A community of love and support, of compassion and care grew up in the midst of that most horrible community of death.  In the midst of death, there was a community of life.  We cared for the stranger, for the other, thus making the other one of us.  We cleaned up dirty diarrhea- and blood-soaked diapers and we cleaned up vomit.  We changed sheets soiled with urine and feces.  We cooked meals. We carried dying Men to hospital ER\’s when cab drivers refused to pick up the Queermen with the deadly Plague, with purple lesions all over their bodies, and eyes sunken and yellowed with jaundice. We formed organizations that brought meals to the sick.  We founded hospices so that those who were dying could die with dignity when they were thrown out of their apartments by landlords who were terrified that their ill tenants would infect the rest of the tenants in the building with "the plague".  Many who could not get into the hospices often lay dying on park benches, while those of us who were well or, at least, well enough if we, too, were ill, cradled their heads and held them closely while they shivered in the cold, not only of the winter winds and frost of the Chicago streets, but the cold of opportunistic infections ravaging their bodies, wasting them away to shadows of their former selves.  We took care of our own, because no one else would take care of us.  "Our own" also consisted of the medical practices of Gay physicians who were the only physicians who would take care of People With AIDS, because they were caring for their Brothers. "Our own" were also the nurses in AIDS units in hospitals in the major cities of Amerika, such as Unit 371 at Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital in Chicago.  It was a time of grace.  It was a time of courage.  It was a time of love and community in the midst of death and destruction.

Then, the miracle of miracles happened and protease inhibitors appeared along with classes of medications that put the opportunistic infections at bay, and Gaymen began to live instead of die. But, as the body lived, the community of compassion-in-death quickly disappeared. Gaymen separated one from the other, fearing each other as carriers of disease. The community was broken, the fellowship shattered into fragments of fear and separation.

The dissolution of community is still seen today in terrible and oppressive ways in the incessant online cruising where letters like undergraduate and graduate degrees began to appear, and the fear of Queermen for each other took the form of "d/d free, u b 2" or "clean and healthy, u.b.2", the "d/d free" meaning "drug and disease free" which clearly means that if a man is infected with HIV, he is anathema online.  As he desperately tries to make connection with his Brothers for some kind of intimate touch, he is shunned as the leper was shunned during Biblical times and in the Middle Ages, as they were forced to ring bells, walking the streets among the well, having to say "unclean, unclean", announcing a perceived danger that had no basis in reality, much like the perceived danger of HIV/AIDS has no basis in reality.  HIV is very difficult to contract, only by blood to blood or semen to blood.  There is no HIV in saliva, which makes even the deepest, sloppiest kissing perfectly safe and "clean".  There is no HIV in the ancient art of Fisting, unless there is a cut on both the hand of the Top an the rectal wall of the Bottom, and such a scenario would be rare indeed.

So, today, there are the "unclean", and the ones who do not fir into the letter after the upiquitous screen names.  These letter do not refer to any other sexually transmitted disease or any other illness.  It is clear to me and to all who write such painfully oppressive divisive letters of "better then you", "more moral than you" after those screen names that they are referring to HIV/AIDS, not Syphilis nor Gonorrhea nor Chlamydia nor Herpes.  They are referring to what is still considered to be The Plague.

The odd thing about this division is that while there is a radical split between those who are HIV+ and those who are HIV-, those who are negative make it clear that they are somehow better than those who are positive.  There are those who are negative who not only think the virus, in this world of HAART (highly active anti-retroviral therapy), is nothing to fear anymore, there are also those who purposefully seek it out in order to become part of the new 

So it is that a community of Brothers has formed again, perhaps again in a state of grace.  This is the community of the unclean, the community of those infected who will only have sex with others who are infected, and, as one who is himself infected, I have to say here that I do feel a powerful kinship with my HIV-infected Brothers.  As politically incorrect as it is for me to say, I even engage in what is called "unsafe" sex, condom-less sex, with those of my Brothers who are already infected.  According to Dr. Daniel S. Berger, one of the pioneers in HIV/AIDS treatment protocols, in his article "Sexual Encounters with Undetectable HIV-Positive Men: a controversy about HIV transmission", in the November/December,2008 issue of "Positively Aware", contrary to common viral mythology, there is little more I can do to someone who is already infected, as least as far as super infection may or may not occur.

There is a powerful force between Gaymen.  It is the force that pulls us into the world of condom-less sex because it is, while perhaps killing the body, a force that enlivens the Spirit.  Gaymen have a powerful, innate need to ingest great quantities of semen, either orally or anally, and thus consummate the "marriage", but in the deepest sense it is not the marriage of the Earth that we seek, although that is the common thought, but "marriage" with the Divine.  Queermen have a deep-seated need to "impregnate" and be "impregnated" by other Gaymen by absorbing semen into the rectal capillaries.  There is a deep and generative quality to condom-less sex.  "Generative" comes from the Latin "gene rare", meaning "to beget, "to procreate", and goes even further back etymologically to "genus" meaning "stock" or "race".  To generate offspring we say that we breed, and it is not uncommon to read in online profiles and ads, "breed me" or "breed my ass", or "seed me", or "seed my garden".  Seeding the garden is an evocative, provocative, and most eloquent metaphor.  To bring new life forth from the earth of the rectum and colon is indeed "marvelous in our eyes".  We need to procreate ourselves as a great and ancient Tribe of Gaymen.  We need to increase the "stock" or the "race".  We do this not by procreating new Gay Body, but, rather, new Gay Spirit through condom-less sex.  During the Divine Marriage, latex is a foreign body, unwanted in the flesh to flesh consummation of the relationship between two Gaymen.  This is a holy act indeed, a Mystery of which we know very little, but of which we feel a great deal.  This is a Eucharist in which the Holy Bread is the Kiss, and the Holy Wine that we ingest is the semen.

This "holy act" must be distinguished from "barebacking".  This seems contradictory, but it is not. Barebacking is a profanation of the holy act.  Barebacking is sex for the sake of sex and is an abomination.  Condom-less sex has do to with flesh against flesh, impregnation, Man with God, ingestion of semen for the sake of procreation of Queer Spirit.  Barebacking is merely a sexual act, a game that is risky behavior at best.

There is no doubt in my mind that we are indeed a race of people, we Gaymen, and I believe that as such we contain a deep and powerful collective unconscious, a collective unconscious like that written about my Carl Jung, the eminent Austrian psychoanalyst.  Our collective unconscious comes from ages of genocide against us, terrible slaughter in the forms of burning at the stake, impalement and disembowelment with red-hot pokers, hanging, being beaten to death, torture with the rack and foot-crushing boot, being drawn and quartered, and imprisonment with starvation and dehydration being the outcome, and finally the gas chambers of Hitler\’s concentration camps.  The utterly horrifying use of the red-hot poker as an instrument of torture and death is particularly compelling, because it is a complete killing off of the place of procreation, of generative sex with other men.  Such torture was the equivalent of a male hysterectomy without anaesthesia. Murder by impalement is a horrible forn of torture and death indeed, and a powerful statement of fear and hatred on the part of the heterosexist men who committed these ubiquitous crimes against our Tribe.  Much like the Jews, or the Gypsies of Northern Europe and the People of the Flamenco in Southern Spain, the collective unconscious is formed through pain and death, slaughter and outright genocide.  We even have our own form of Cante Hondo, the "deep song" of the Flamenco, wherein the singer goes into trance, into cell memory and sings from a consciousness that is not of this world.

The latest genocide, one that we experienced only a generation ago and one which wiped out practically that entire generation, was the genocide of the 1980\’s and 1990\’s in Amerika.  The power of that in our collective unconscious forces us into the need to "generate", to "breed", to "procreate" anew the Queer Spirit which has kept us alive as a Tribe throughout the ages, but which the then current White House administration and radical Christian Right and White Supremacists wanted desperately to extinguish.  This is true even today with the previous Bush administration and its foundation in the homophobic movement among Evangelical Christians. So it is that the sex that can perhaps kill the Queer Body enlivens the Queer Spirit and vice versa.  Although I have no statistics to support this hypothesis, I would say that Gaymen engage in condom-less sex and swallow semen in far greater numbers than do heterosexuals among themselves.  Gaymen seem to have a deep-seated need to ingest the life-force of other Gaymen in order to survive, and this need is so powerful that we are willing to defy Death in order to do this.

So, there are two communities.  There is the community of the positive and the community of the negative, but both communities engage secretly in the same behavior, and the letters "d/d/free, u b 2: and "clean, u b 2" become meaningless.  Somehow, though, they remain a way of dividing us and making us live in a fear that our behavior would deny.  The community of compassion that existed during the Death Years has shifted to another kind of compassion, one of desperately trying not to save the body, but an equally desperate attempt to save the Spirit.  In the midst of that community of compassion there is also the oppression that exists between the \’clean" and the "unclean".

This is paradox at its most powerful.  This is paradox at its most eloquent.  There is a certain kind of lyricism to this paradox, but it is a lyricism that exists in an environment of violence, both the violence of oppression and the real violence of procreation, for, indeed, procreation, in its power and strength, the power of Creation itself, is a violent act filled with upheaval, yet an act of love by Love itself.  Again we are looking at the paradox of the fear of Faggots fearing other Faggots. But, in that fear, there is a seeking, a passionate yearning from the depths of the Spirit to make that Spirit bigger.  In that fear there is a yearning for Love and connection, a Love that is larger than love, a Love that is Divine.  Paradoxically, we seek that Divine Union through the very thing that could kill the body, "unsafe" or condom-less sex.  In the midst of death there is, indeed, life, no matter how oppressive the world of online sex may be.

The question is then, does the procreation of Queer Spirit outweigh the possible death of Queer Body?  I believe it does.  I believe that, for me, generative sex, that is, "unsafe" sex among "unclean" Queerrmen is what I am called to do in order to carry on the race, the "stock", the Tribe of Warrior/Lovers and archetypal Heroes from the line of Achilles and Patroclus, Alexander and Hephaesteon, The Sacred Band of Thebes, Jonathan and David, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, and even the gods Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu.  This is our heritage and our responsibility.  If we do not engage in this holy act of possible bodily death and illness, we court Spiritual death and illness, and I must ask which is the worse.  For me, the answer is clear.  Spiritual Life  and Spiritual Health at all costs is what is needed.  Spiritual Life over the possibility of bodily death is the greater good and will produce greater good in the world by increasing non-violent Queer Spirit, the Spirit that is the bringer of peace in the world, for is not that what Gaymen are…the bringers of peace?  This is our task as a race, as a stock, and I believe that condom-less sex among the "unclean" is generative and procreative.  As Gaymen we cannot procreate other human beings, but we can procreate Queer Spirit in the world, and thus help bring about the Greater Good for a more peaceful world. The Holy Eucharist of condom-less sex, the Living Sacrifice of our bodies, the Bread (Kiss) and the Wine (Semen) is what is needed for the continuation of Gaymen as a race.

3 Comments
  1. sexmajician 12 years ago

     I only advocate unsafe sex between hiv+ individuals.  The statistics on re-infection are that there really isn’t any, and I believe that Queer Sprit is vital to the life of the Queer Tribe.  This can only happen through condom-less sex.  That is NOT barebacking.  Barebacking is a profanation of condom-less sex.  I don’t know if that makes any sense to you or not, but barebacking is a purely sexual act of self-destruction.  Condom-less sex is a purely spiritual act of self-preservation.

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  2. Loki 12 years ago

    SexMajician,  Hold on to your hat because I suspect that this will bring a fire storm of comments!  First before I get sidetracked, let me point out to my buddy X , that you advocate condom-less sex among the already infected not Pos to Neg sex…

    Now as for the reasons behind that, I’ll admit  that I’m still wrapping my head around it! . Mind-blowing to say the least for even I who’s first partner was a Wiccan HP back in the 70s and 80s (before Wicca was “cool” I might add). 🙂

    My Raymond was among the very first so quickly  taken in what I call “The First Wave”…He left us in the spring of 1985 at the age of 32…..The next year, I tested positive. I remember sardonicly thinking ” Oh WHAT a surprise!”

    Jump to the summer of 2008 and my body told me that it was finally time to go on meds. For reasons I will probably never know, whether I carry the elusive “Delta-32” gene or perhaps one side of my family were descendants of the Bubonic plague…I was a slow progresser. I also took good care of my body utilizing a lot of practices that my father had handed down to me as a Naturopathic Physician and Chiropractor (old school).

    I won’t even begin to fill in the years in between. It would take up too much space here and you have already done an eloquent piece of work on that…

    I guess if I’m going anywhere with this it is to say that I reached total emotional and spiritual burnout after losing 99.9% of every friend I have ever known. I hibernated  for at least 14 years… even after meeting my mate in 2000…I am still going through what you  might call a crisis of spirit. I have approached my Christian roots once again, only to be rebuffed my people like my Evangelical sister who has kept those flames fanned for years. Even my mother who is nearly 87 years old has embraced me and my mate with unconditional acceptance. I never imagined that i would live to see that believe me! 

    Therefore , it came to me as a shock and a slap in the face when a member of the tribe posted a blog that begun as a very sweet statement of his Christian faith….but quickly went on to include “sinners to be judged in the end” Included in the list of sinners were drug addicts….and of course, you guessed it….homosexuals….You know, all the “usual suspects” that get rounded up into the proverbial gas chamber of condemnation.

    It amazed me that at this point of my life , that a hurt that had become so dull yet familiar over the years could feel so fresh!  I must add that the person who posted this blog, prefaced it with  (and I paraphrase here) ‘”I fully expect to be banned from the tribe for saying this but…..” If this person didn’t expect these things to be hurtful to some then why preface it with that? It’s similar to other insults I have heard over the years….I’ve learned that when a person begins a blog or a conversation with ” I don’t want to offend anybody BUT…..or I don’t want to p*** anyone off, BUT….or I don’t want to step on anyone’s belief system, BUT….” then you can be assured that what is to follow will accomplish exactly that.

    Conciously or not, this person (as have many people I have known of different faiths), set themselves up to be marters in the instance that someone might not agree with them.

    I respectfully posted a reply to this persons blog, giving counter-point to many of the beliefs of early New Testament as Judaic Law that no longer applied under New Testament beliefs….I’m sure that you are very familiar with these so I wont go into them here…

    This person then sent me a private message the next day, pointedly attacking homosexuality as ” unnatural and against Gods law”….

    Whereas I believe that everyone has the right to post their beliefs and opinions in an open blog (and I will heartily defend that right)….it  crossed a line with me …I  replied back (in a private message) that I did not become a member of the tribe to waste my mental and spiritual energy in a religious or a political debate, and I suggested politely that it end right then and there.

    So far so good, but I hate to admit that it has brought up an old hurt that I thought had healed a long time ago….I have little communication with my sister these days…We have had periods of pleasant communications before where I had eventually dropped my guard, only to have her ambush me yet again….I can only guess that she is either gearing up for another round, or has finally given up on saving my soul from eternal damnation…Either way, I have finally come to realize that from most of my family….no news is good news!

    My mother on the other hand, has very late in life had overcome her fear of “what people will think”. I understand now thatin reality,this was the larger issue than her concern for my soul… We talk long-distance nearly every day and it is sweet….

    I guess all of this is somehow to say ” Thank You” for putting into words something that many gay men have been struggling with for decades now….

    As I awake from my spiritual and emotional hibernation it shocks and distress me to discover that we are well into “The Second Wave” of  our Holocost here in the US and Europe…It saddens me to see how many of my hetro friends that I have made on the tribe are infected at both very young ages and in middle age as well…..A whole new generation of people have been totally blind-sided by something that they thought couldn’t possibly happen to them…Again, unspeakable sadness that I can’t begin to express in print. I find myself literally crying over all that has been lost ….and what will be lost…I overhear young gay men chat about how” it will be no big deal if they are infected because you know, they have drugs for that now”.  I’ve even heard them talking about how they “want someone to give them ” the gift”….I just don’t understand how someone who isn’t infected could look at it as a good thing…

    Anyway, I wanted mainly to thank you for a beautiful blog. Like I said, I’m still trying to wrap my head around all of this, nearly 25 years after it began for me.

    Last August the dreamer awoke…

    I think you are a huge plus to the tribe and I hope you write more.

    Peace, Love and Laughs,

    Loki

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  3. sexmajician 12 years ago

    Loki…..Thanks for the wonderful comments.  I am glad that someone understands what I am talking about.  Indeed, I am only referring to positive with positive condom-less sex.  Not positive with negative.  I am sorry to hear of the difficulties you have had with your sister.  I have come to a place where, in my spiritual walk, I no longer try to teach Christians anything.  Evangelicals are a closed minded lot at best, and, at worst, outright hate-filled bigots.  I no longer argue Scripture with anyone.  It is a waste of my spiritual, psychic, and physical energy.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that the New Testament took away the Old Testament Levitical Codes.  The Codes themselves say nothing about homosexuality, but about tribal preservation and using the Male body as female, which was absolutely unclean.  I have two Master’s degrees, one of them an M.Div. where I did my theology thesis on Queer Liberation Theology, so I struggled with the original languages of Scripture so that I would know what was really said, and, believe me, there is nothing about homosexuality in the Old Testament, (Hebrew Scripture) and not even in Paul in the New Testament.  I hope we stay connected.  I, too, lost eveyone I knew back then to the Holocaust (what you call The First Wave).  It was genocide against Gaymen, no doubt in my mind.  It’s still happening.  I stopped counting at 250 in 1995 when I was diagnosed with AIDS.  It was all I could do to stay alive.  I didn’t need to keep track any longer of who had died.  I am relatively well now.  Full of life.  I hope you are well.  Peace

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