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Thursday, October 13, 2022

H. I. V. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿฝ‍♂️ GIVE THANKS... ๐Ÿค”

I am always surprised at how much HIV+ allies wants to be thanked doing their jobs or just being human. Let’s talk about gratitude.

As a gay man that’s HIV- of colour, I am intimately familiar with the ways that sexism, homophobia, racism, ableism and normativity work. I do not “fit in”. I am the target for much of the slings and arrows of this society. No one has ever thanked me for being discriminated against.

            So when I hear people who consider themselves “allies” expecting to be thanked for their work, I wonder about their understanding of the world.

How can you some of these allies want to be recognized for remaining HIV-negative; some want to be thanked for doing their jobs. They get paid to work in a field developed based on the need of others. Aren’t HIV-positive persons vulnerable to institutional, social and personal pressures already?

            The HIV movement works best when we center people living with HIV. It is in this spirit that I question people who want to be thanked. We stand together – not because we want recognition – but because it is the right thing to do. HIV is a social justice issue: it reveals the ways that our society actively works against some of us – because of our race, gender, sexuality, disability, poverty, substance use, immigration status and a myriad of other facets. I expect people who care about these issues to take a stand.

            I am thankful that we have an HIV community. I am grateful each time folks get to come together. I understand that our convening requires the efforts of many people – some living with HIV and some who do not. Regardless I believe in the work that happens when persons come together for this cause.

I would caution those who expect to be thanked for doing their job or for being involved in HIV when they do not have it. I would ask them to consider what they’re grateful for. We live in a world that still criminalizes HIV, where many key populations (like sex workers, people of trans experience, people who use drugs, gay and bisexual men, and migrants) are still criminalized around the world, and where there is less political goodwill to address HIV then the 1990s. As people are touting the “End of AIDS”, I hope that we recognize that we are living under the same systems that have marginalized us.

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