Brave New World
by Corey Saucier
So I downloaded one of those apps two weeks ago. You know the ones….All the cool kids are saying that staring at faceless torsos with spiffy profile names on sweat covered iPhones is the only way to meet an eligible bachelor. I’m pretty sure this is not true, but I have become increasingly more and more desperate for someone to love me.
It’s been four whole months since someone has called me “pretty.” No one ever tells you that the worst thing about being a “pretty girl” is the need to be constantly told that you are “pretty girl”! So like all the other “pretty girls” in my neighborhood I’ve purchased one of those futuristic man-finding programs; hoping to find someone to hold my hand, pull out my chair, and call me pretty.
Two minutes later and Grumblr/Cluckr/Suckr is on my iPhone; and the entire universe of beautiful gay men is at my finger tips! And suddenly it’s 1993 again.
The first person to pop up on my “feed” was my sixteen-year-old boyfriend from high school. In 1993 we were childish and selfish, and HIV was a story only told in movies. In 1993 there was no chance that two young colored kids from the barrio would ever have to worry about T cells or Kaposi’s sarcoma, because sex in all of its silly forms was fun, frivolous, and fearless. We had found love! He was my high school ROTC sweetheart, and I was his Mean Girl paramour. But he is now thirty-six years-old, “In the military,” and searching for “Hungry Submissive Bottoms” on his cell phone—276 feet away. The shock of this Internet flashback made me scream, drop my phone, press block, and immediately log off!
The next day I took a deep breath, lit a jasmine-scented candle, and took out my phone to try again—because I still need a man.
Now what surprises me most in these Internet communities (beyond the rudeness, mean-spiritedness, negative body images, blatant racism, misogyny, transphobia, rampant drug abuse, ridiculous hyper-masculine posturing, and finding some of my beautiful past ex’es there among the masses) is how many people are still pretending it’s 1993. Or 1983. Or 1973. It’s as if HIV has never happened: As if thirty-nine million people worldwide have not died; as if millions more are not still struggling; and as if one small misstep cannot change your life forever. There are a hundred “Cum Sluts” and “Butt Sluts” and “Slut Pigs” per my four-mile radius, and I’m not sure I understand why. Where are all the profiles shouting “Healthy Happy Relationship Wanted!” or “Loving Monogamous Partner Needed!” Or “Modern Prince Charming Seeking Fem Housewife Husband!!” Why is everyone on Hustlr/Jugglr/Beef’d stuck back in 1993: where Clinton is president, Jurassic Park is still the number-one movie, and gay men are still humping each other like cute adorable jackrabbits?
This is in no way about slut-shaming. But you know how Black people can use the “N” word, and how Trans people can use the “T” word, and how women can use the “C” word, well I was once a no-limits-hardcore-bareback-slut—and while defining myself that way I was the most miserable, most broken, and most disconnected from self that I had ever been. One may have absolutely nothing to do with the other….And everyone who knows anything about the gay community, or queer politics, or human sexual psychology says that there is inherently nothing wrong with being a slut; and that anyone who slut-shames should be shamed and ostracized. So this is in no way about slut shaming. This is about the forward movement of time.
In 1993 I was sixteen and dumb. I was young and beautiful and wild. I was eager and ignorant and trusting. I was black and chunky and insecure. I was HIV-negative and yearning for someone—anyone—EVERYONE to love me, to call me pretty, and to make me feel connected to something greater than myself. And I find that when I am in love. But when I’m on-line—groping through one of those dark anonymous communities crowded with hundreds of beautiful gay torsos “Partying” and “Playing” and “Looking to Have Fun Now,” something in the Cro-Magnon part of my brain opens up like a hot tub time machine, and I am tempted to be a slut again. I am tempted unlock my door, drop my pants, and lay prostrate on my bed waiting for a million strangers to come in and take their turn convincing me that I am a “pretty girl.” I am tempted to act like we are not twenty-five years in the future and HIV positive and fully aware that AIDS is still ravaging our communities, and communities of color, and communities of women, and African communities, and young communities with twenty-six-year-old Armenian basketball players visiting from Chicago whose profiles reads “GiveIt2UNow.”
The allure of time travel calls to me like a siren beckoning me to crash blissful and deadly into the cliffs of oblivion.
And I am terrified.
Corey Saucier is an artist and writer living in Los Angeles. He is a Lambda Literary Fellow in Fiction and Non-Fiction and is currently penning his first novel. His musings and wanderings on Love, Life, and Nonsense can be found at www.justwords.tumblr.com.