Thanks so much to Lisa for inviting me to post.
There is a lot to think about and feel at this moment.
I know and believe in my heart of hearts that integrity, decency, healing everything that we want for ourselves and for each other, comes from communicating in person. In this place we find the insight and strength to understand how to have better lives. We become inspired and enriched by understanding with another person.
Simply looking them in the eye and hearing their voice alters us. And we have to change.
Loving someone doesn’t mean infantilizing them, or allowing them to control or to exploit or to stagnate. Loving someone really means helping them do the hard work of allowing for the change required for peacemaking, regardless of guilt or anxiety. And this means real difficult, uncomfortable conversation.
Hiding behind email is one of the simplest acts of destruction available to us. It dehumanizes, and creates the other as a specter: a non-human on whom we can project all our fears. But apparently it is practice for hiding behind the state.
Now we live in the age of the good queers and the bad. The good ones are HIV negative. Canadian law is in the process of convincing HIV negatives that communicating with their lovers is undesirable, that they are not responsible for having safe sex, and that anxieties/contradictions/misunderstandings are simply intolerable and should be punished. Instead the government is convincing negatives that they have been “criminally wronged” and should denounce their partners to the police for non0disclosure: even if they used a condom, even if no one got infected, even if the negative agreed to unsafe sex.
Now we live in the age of the good queers and the bad. The good queers have families. Even if those families replicate all the problems of straight families, they are better than the queer community of friends. Even if there is psychic pain created by the familial relationships. Even if the children are raised to be dependent and exploitative. Even if the role of mother is still one of guilt and martyrdom. Even if this new family cannot honestly face and deal with problems. Even if this new family creates outsiders as scapegoats, this is still a way of life that is to be praised and encouraged by the state and by the surrounding citizens. For family is the building block of nationalism. Even if it’s queer.
Whenever something doesn’t make sense, it is usually ideological.
The state, by giving some people access to the apparatus, and excluding others, divides the queer community of friends into who can speak and who cannot. Who can punish and who can be punished. Who will be shunned. Who does the shunning. Who will be threatened, who will do the threatening. It’s Lord of the Flies: as soon as one person becomes an insider, a new outsider is created.
So here we are with the new insiders: The HIV negative, those in the new queer family. And here we are with the new abject objects, the new queers: the HIV positive, those not in families.
Instead of having difficult but necessary conversations with each other, we are being encouraged to call on the state to substitute for the relationship. Being upset, angry or anxious is considered intolerable- instead we are told to call the police. They will protect us from having to humanize the person who used to be our lover, used to be our friend, used to be in our community. We are encouraged to demonize them, dehumanize them, instead of picking up the phone.
AIDS Action Now’s campaign against HIV Criminalization is called “Think Twice.” Think Twice before calling the police. The current scapegoating systems are so heightened and severe that hiv positive people are reduced to appealing to each person’s consciousness, asking them to refuse to access the unjust punishment process that they are being offered. To refuse Normalcy. A prize that requires someone else being created as “abnormal.”
This year for Pride, Defy the Dehumanization. Talk.