When I was thirteen I went to stay for a couple weeks in the summer with my uncle Renaldo and his “roommate”.
They were successful real estate agents by day and fabulous daddy bear drag queens by night. That summer I learned how beautiful being queer could be and that I wasn’t doomed to a life of pain and loneliness… And that if I waited patiently I could have a life like theirs… full of parties, art, dress up, gourmet cooking… and sequin ball gowns…
They dressed me up in their gorgeous beaded dresses, giant wigs and big gaudy jewelry. They taught me how to use the $25 silver Guerlain liquid eye liner I had saved my lunch money for.
They said I was like “their own personal Barbie Doll” (they’re walls were covered with Barbies still in their boxes) and I beamed with pleasure because if I was their Barbie Doll they were my fairy Godmothers…
One night they took me to Maggie Moo’s for ice cream and when I asked for a lick of my uncles boyfriend’s Rocky Road, I could see them exchanging worried glances.
I thought that perhaps I had made some obscene social faux paux and that maybe white people didn’t share licks of their ice cream cones… their discomfort with my innocent request was clearly visible. But then Renaldo told me quietly in the car that Leo was sick. Oh.
I thought. Perhaps he’d had a cold. I laughed.
“But you know, I never get sick, Renaldo!”
He shook his head somberly and told me then that Leo was positive. Oh.
Even then I knew you couldn’t get HIV from licks of ice cream cones…
Well, that was sixteen years ago and my relationship with HIV has changed… I’m living the big, beautiful queer life that I only dreamed about then. A life full of sex and parties and art and HIV scares.
I guess not that much has changed in the world. And even though I get tested every few months the Red Cross is still playing by their antiquated homophobic rules and they don’t want my healthy and oh-so-valuable, MSM and Ho fucking O+ blood.
Oh well… their loss. I guess.