Dear HIV,

I came across this very inspiring and powerful letter and wanted to share it. The letter is addressed to the person’s HIV virus with a powerful message.  It got me thinking that things happen sometimes, where you at the time seem like its the end of the world, but they actually happen to give you the tools to really excel and move forward on your journey -or maybe to highlight the support you already have in your life and to be grateful for it.  It’s so important for stories like this to be shared, to not only reassure those who are newly infected, but to give example of what it means today to be HIV positive, healthy, and happy with a proud and renewed sense of who you are. Give it a read here.

Beyond Tops and Bottoms

I was speaking to someone the other day about a sexual encounter I had.  After going through some of the sordid details, they asked, “So did you have actual sex?”  I mean I knew what they meant, but I asked anyways, “What is actual sex? I mean we got naked and did stuff together that made our loins quiver and release. I mean it didn’t involve either of us putting our penis in the other’s bum, but I still had sex.”  Sex to me is what you define it as.  It allows us to become more familiar how our bodies work, gives us more power over how we negotiate our boundaries, and allows us to reflect on what’s expected (or not expected) of us.  I don’t really agree with anal penetration with a penis being the only thing defined as “real sex”, because for some people, having anything up their bum other than just a finger, isn’t something they particularly enjoy.  This also creates a pressure for people feeling they HAVE to have some form of the ‘penis in bum’ dance, like it’s some sort of rite of passage.  I then came across this blog about how we only define gay sexual practices as top, bottom and vers.  But what about those who don’t engage in anal sex? So a new term was proposed: Are you top, bottom, vers, or SIDE? Read about it here!

Sexy video fights HIV Stigma!

If you want to know how to fight HIV stigma and be sexually healthy :) Watch the video in this post!

A very cute and sexy video was released by a Non-profit organization named Impulse, that shows gay men everywhere to know their statuses through HIV testing and exercise the proper precautions when engaging in sexual activity.  It also shows beautifully how a person with a HIV positive status and HIV negative status can enjoy sex and love together.

OH and thought I would mention that there is a cute desi guy in the video ;) Enjoy!

Body Beautiful…

I was reading today about how within the gay community, we are overly dissatisfied with how our bodies look.  Everyone wishes they had a flatter stomach, bigger chest, bigger dick, …the list goes on. There was even a study done in the UK that found that 48 percent of gay male respondents would sacrifice a year or more of their lives in exchange for a perfect bod and 10 percent of those guys would agree to die more than 11 years earlier if they could have their ideal body right now (read more about it here)!!!  Many of us take on the pressure to look a certain way and quickly.  We look at pictures of different bodies which are not ours, and lose ourselves while we stress to gym, starve and supplement.   I want to share something that helped me take off that pressure and made my going to the gym and getting in shape a lot more enjoyable..and it was this: To remember that your journey to your fitness goals is unique and your own, so no need to rush or constantly compare yourself to others; you’ll find your results will come a lot quicker because you’ll figure out what works for you. :)

World AIDS Day

Today recognizes a day where people world wide can come together to bring awareness to the fight against HIV/AIDS.  Though here in Canada, having HIV no longer means a death sentence, infections are still happening and there are huge issues around stigma, and it doesn’t help when Canada’s HIV criminalization laws are so archaic. With that being said, I also want to mention the conversations that are happening in order to help fight stigma, such as that around undetectable viral load, or more recently the campaign around “We’re all clean”, which addresses the stigmatizing language in the question “Are you clean?”,  when people inquire about someone’s HIV Status. So for this world AIDS Day, I want you to remember 2 things.

1. Educate yourself! Find out about transmission. What does it mean when someone says undetectable? What are some forms of prevention?

2. We are all in this together! Unfortunately, sometimes when we talk about taking charge of our sexual health, it’s always talked about in a HIV-negative person context.  Just because someone is positive, by no means should they be excluded from the conversation around sexual health. For example, there are STIs that regardless of your status, that anyone can get.  It’s not neg vs poz! Let’s learn how to take care of each other (refer to number 1).

New to Town?

When you are new to a city or country and you come alone, sometimes finding friends can be difficult.  You might find an event or social group where you can meet new guys, and walking into a room where you don’t know anyone can make anyone feel intimidated.   If you’re already a shy person, you may feel anxious when you’re in a room full of strangers, with nothing familiar around you.  I know for me, it can feel really overwhelming if I don’t know anyone, and I also understand when people first come to the Dosti group and how it can feel when you are new.  I want say a couple of things. Using Dosti as an example: 1. when you are new to the group, often times there will be lots of other people who are also new and are probably going through the same thing you are.  2.  If you’re in a group and you feel like you don’t want to talk and listen, that is completely fine! Some people just feel supported in listening, and it takes time for them to talk.  We are all different in how we interact in group settings and they all have a place and they all work.  I want to finish off, but leaving you with this cool article that gives you tips on having confidence when you do socialize! Give it a read here

YOU BELONG!

I came across this feel good article today, that talks about how lots of gay men feeling like they don’t belong.   Its main take home message being that “you belong in the gay community just as you are”.  Read it here.  I want to take it a bit further and widen that scope.  There are also lots of guys who don’t necessarily identify as gay, or who is bi, or not out, but they do like guys and sometimes feel isolated because they aren’t necessarily an out gay person or identify with what comes along with it.  This could be that due to their particular circumstances, they can’t come out, or maybe they don’t want to come out and feel perfectly fine not identifying as anything.  Whatever the case, I’m here to say that with groups such as Dosti, Snehithan, Lassi, it doesn’t matter how you identify! You can be out and gay, you can be bi and discreet, or maybe you just like having sex with men and identify as straight; it doesn’t matter because your identify is valid, you have a community and you belong.

But it says so in the (insert religious text here).

Many of us grew up and were raised with a religions. Be it Islam, Christianity or Hinduism, our faith played (and for some of us – still does)  a huge role, and influenced many areas in our life.   For those of us who were trying to come to terms with liking guys, many of us had a huge conflict with being who we are, and what the religious books says about being gay.  With that being said, I wanted share a video of when a pastor asks a politician why he supports gay marriage, and if he still calls himself a Christian.  His answer makes the pastor speechless. Enjoy!

Check it out here!

Pill Prevention?

You may have heard the word PrEP when talking about HIV prevention methods.  PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis.  It’s a kind of prevention method that HIV negative people can use to protect themselves from the Virus.  According to research, a single pill taken once daily, is highly effective against HIV when taken every day.  PrEP has been approved to be used as such in the US, but in Canada you can only get it from talking to your physician and them prescribing it for you off label.  How does it work? Click here for a short and informative video, and additional information about PrEP!

#startwiththeboys

Seeing this ad almost made me tear up, because it definitely hit close to home. I know for me growing up, there was a constant reminder of “Don’t be like a girl!” or “Boys don’t cry!”  in the hopes that we “toughen up” -  whatever that means. This ad is an example of the long term negative effects of that type of repression.   It’s funny how this same mentality makes it over, when we enter into the gay world of meeting boys and hooking up. We see profiles written up with  “Not into Femmes” or “I’m gay! I’m into men, not women. Be Masculine”.  It’s so important that we acknowledge our internalized femme-fobia, where it comes from, and how damaging it can be when we perpetuate it.