This week's Five Star Friday is brought to you by working too hard for too little, a surprising contraction of HIV, missing someone loved, life after divorce, the truth about your opinion, and Beverly Cleary:
— Beverly Cleary
If you were here, I'd tell you that me and that boy went our separate ways and then I'd tell you every last detail about this boy and you'd stare at me with lashes like spider legs and hand me Cosmo, instructing me to do the exact opposite of what they suggested.
It seems ironic that I should suddenly find myself living with HIV when for the past year my life has been consumed around activism to this very cause. I took vows almost a year ago and entered into an order of men known for three decades of AIDS Activism. I began working in the drop in centre at HIV Edmonton supporting community members who were living with HIV. My prevention and harm reduction work (such as our condom communion) was almost a weekly part of my work; walking in the AIDS Walk raising almost $3000 and raising consciousness about this immunodeficiency virus in my community (just days before my diagnosis was revealed). Even the fact that a week previous to my diagnosis I had written an article about going from Barebacking King to Condom Queen and having it widely published — even having lines strike me like "…I was fortunate that I didn't test positive…"
When you stare at your Twitter stream or the fancy websites of your colleagues, your mind plays tricks on you. You confuse the shiny veneer with deep success. I do too. It's an easy mistake to make.
I've tried on other bodies to fill the void in my bed, my heart, my Friday nights. Some thought they fit me, but I disagreed. Some felt like a perfect match to me, but were too expensive, or already taken by the idea of someone else. Some were impossible for reasons that make you want to hate The Way It Is. I'm learning to go naked. It's uncomfortable, healthy. Strengthening. And when I'm too tired to be so strong, I'm learning to go home and ask my mother to read to me like a child.
The problem with "I'm entitled to my opinion" is that, all too often, it's used to shelter beliefs that should have been abandoned. It becomes shorthand for "I can say or think whatever I like" — and by extension, continuing to argue is somehow disrespectful. And this attitude feeds, I suggest, into the false equivalence between experts and non-experts that is an increasingly pernicious feature of our public discourse.
Please come back and share good writing with us over the coming week to be featured on the next Five Star Friday. If you have read a really good piece on someone else's weblog, submit it by Thursday at midnight CST to have it featured on Five Star Friday.
And because you are a fan of finding good new writing on the internet: