I like to dress up for sex. The 70’s is my favorite era; so I am wearing a well-worn baseball cap, high white cotton socks with three colored stripes (green to match the hat), and a pair of red Adidas tennis shoes. I also have on a clean white jock strap. I used to wear a puka shell necklace like the “surfer boys” in the grainy vintage pornos that I am so fond of, but it’s kind of hard to find puka shells these days—plus they have not fared so well as far as “trendy modern accessories.”
“No self-respecting gay man would be caught dead in a puka shell necklace.”
So instead, I wear a simple silver Tiffany chain with a small heart pendant from their Paloma Picasso collection. It’s simple and feminine (but not too feminine), and flashy (but not too flashy). I once wore a lovely little crucifix from the same collection, but I lost it somewhere a while ago. That was a metaphor. I mean, I did actually have that particular Tiffany necklace (the crucifix), so I guess it is both the literal truth AND a metaphor, but there is no word for that.
The last few months I have been walking through the universe in a pyre of crimson flames: I was burning alive. I know you can’t tell because of how stylishly I do my hair, but a hundred million years ago (technically about fourteen years ago) I was a homeless crystal meth addict. I was living on skid row, addicted to a rabid all-consuming drug, and #DyingOfAIDS. And then I found God…He was sitting in the back of a movie theater eating a big bag of buttery popcorn; and he decided to introduce himself. I have been “clean and sober” ever since (give or take a few details)… But I relapsed in the middle of the last two months and I’m not entirely sure why—that’s a lie—I know exactly why. Because being a goody two-shoes all these years has gained me exactly squat! This is me being a brat. This is me singing “woe is me!” This is me playing the role of the lovely lady martyr.
Cue sad orchestra music.
The real reason I lost myself in the fire—the real reason I thrust myself recklessly into the flame like Joan of Arc, or The Legend of Billie Jean (love that movie!), is that I’ve just been really sad, really frustrated, and unbelievably lonely. All my Christian “picket fence,” “safe sex,” “one partner till marriage” dogma and ideology hasn’t paid off. I should have a husband by now! I should have someone to love me by now! I should have a house on the hill with three little adopted Indonesian children by now! But I don’t. And something in my mind said, “Fine! If I don’t get what I want being good, then let’s be bad for a while.”
Very very bad….
So I am lying on my stomach in my sexy-sex outfit of white socks and white jocks, with my butt rocking proudly from side to side—as we bottoms tend to do. And my gentleman caller is lying beside me on his back (you know why.) And we have just finished…
And we are discussing God, and disclosure, and being authentic inside and outside of the bedroom; and what it means to be fully human and fully sexual and perfectly flawed. And his accent is like high tea in the mid afternoon. And I am saying something about what it means to have a “public persona,” and how that can be dangerous when it comes to self-exploration and managing HIV and still fumblingly trying to find love. And he says something about us only being responsible to ourselves and our own journeys; and that what people take from being a witness to that journey is theirs and theirs alone, and should not be part of your concern.
“Because we are no more perfect than anyone else.”
And I am smiling softly in that after-sex glow, because these are my favorite kinds of conversations. And I realize that because we are both HIV-positive, it is all so easy. You know, all of it. The sex is off the charts—mind blowing-curl your toes-roll your eyes to the back of your head good: verbal, aggressive, tender when it needs to be…and full of laughter. And no fear. This is our second time sharing time in the sheets time. And we are not really dating; it’s more of a “Netflix and chill” situation… but because we share the same status there is absolutely zero tension about transmission, and safety, and risk.
And I must admit, I really like that.
So it’s time for him to leave, because he has an important appointment in a couple of hours. And so he cleans up, puts on his britches, and snaps his pristine white collar back in place. And because I’m having casual sex again for the first time in a long time, I am left wondering if I should get a tattoo of a Poz sign on my arm. So that it can always be this easy. Just a simple cross in red and black ink, to replace the Tiffany one I lost not so long ago. I wonder how many people will interpret it as a cross and how many will read it as a plus sign. How many will define me as HIV-positive, and how many will mark me as Christian. Obviously I am both (or some muddled bit floating in between…) but there is no word for that.
There needs to be a word for that.
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.