THE IMPORTANCE OF QUEER VISIBILITY: WHY I WRITE ABOUT SEX, BEING HIV POSITIVE, KINK, RELATIONSHIPS AND BEING QUEER AS FUCK

Discerning Daddy

I met Ivan in Berlin a year ago. We had been chatting on Scruff for a few days and finally decided to meet at Populus Cafe on the canal in Kreuzberg.

At the time Ivan was in Berlin studying Political Science for a year, before returning home to Russia.

Ivan was 22 years old. He had come out when he got to Berlin. But he was still careful on social media, didn’t show his face on the apps, never sent out any sex pics with his face in them.

Because he was afraid.

Being gay in Berlin was a lot different than being gay in Russia.

“It would destroy my mother.” He said to me. We were sitting at one of the tables outside. People rode bikes, they walked hand in hand, drinking beers and flat whites, laughing. The City was alive with summer. “My brothers would kill me.”

“When do you go back?”

“Three Weeks. I’ve been looking for a job here, but it isn’t easy. My Visa ends. I’m not an EU Citizen.”

We walked along the canal and made out on one of the many bridges. He held me tight. He ran his hand down my back and grabbed onto my ass.

“I wonder if I’ll ever be able to do this again.”

“Make out with a guy?”

“Like this. Out in the open. Not caring what anyone thinks. Not being afraid.”

We spent the rest of the day at his apartment in Mitte. We fucked and made food and watched bad horror movies and fucked some more.

A week later I returned to Los Angeles. Another city where you can make out and hold hands and love whoever you want.

In May, right around the time of my birthday, Ivan messaged me on Instagram.

“I am in Amsterdam visiting a friend for a few days. I tested HIV Positive. I am afraid. I don’t know what will happen if I go back. I am afraid to go to the doctors. I am afraid to tell my family. I keep reading your stories about being HIV Positive and they give me hope. You make me feel less alone.”

A few weeks ago I was with my boyfriend, Layne, in Hollywood. We were picking up movie tickets on Hollywood and Highland. Swarms of tourists. Families from all over the country taking pictures with Spider Man and Darth Vader and Michael Jackson.

We were holding hands. A father gave us a look of disapproval and he said something to his little boy. The boy laughed. For a moment I thought about pulling my hand away, avoiding any conflict or embarrassment.

Instead I held on tighter. I got on my tippy toes (Layne is six feet to my five five so I have to reach high for kisses!) and kissed him.

Because this is my city. My world. And no one gets to tell me I can’t hold my boyfriend’s hand on the street.

And who the fuck knows? Maybe that little boy will grow up into a big ole queer teenager and he will remember the two guys making out right there, in the middle of the street, not giving a fuck what his dad or anyone else thought.

And that’s the point. That’s why. Every time we hold hands in public. Every time we kiss those we love (or just like or want to fuck) on the street. Every time we say I love you or show intimacy and affection, we are making a statement to the world: That we are here. And you are not alone.

I got an email a while back regarding a story of mine:

“I read your blog piece, “Getting Pissed on Taught me the Secret to Being Free”. You and your partner should be ashamed. I am a gay man. I do not live in liberal California. I believe in Jesus and in restraint and monogamy. It is gay men like you, sexual deviants and predators, who are teaching the straight-normal world that we are all amoral perverts. We will make America Great Again, and there will be no place for men like you.”

He’s absolutely right. I am a sexual deviant and a pervert, and I do not give a fuck what straight, normal, gay, or anyone else thinks about that. This is my life. My sexuality. My relationship. And I live according to my values.

To be kind and loving. To be honest (or as honest as I can be). To be open. To try to grow. To be tolerant. To have compassion for myself and those around me.

And to be visible so those who can’t be will know they aren’t alone.

I write about getting pissed on and group sex and getting fucked in public. I write about falling in love. I write about my struggles with jealousy and fear and intimacy, about getting sober and being HIV Positive. I try to explore all of who I am openly and honestly because I can. Because I will not be jailed, I will not be beaten, my family will not turn their backs on me.

I think those of us living in places like LA and New York, San Francisco and Chicago, have an obligation to be visible. Whether you’re two dads or two moms raising a family, trans or gender fluid, a slut or asexual, open or monogamous, we need to be seen: all of us. The whole spectrum.

Because there are people out there like my friend Ivan who are afraid that they will die if they express their truth.

So for them, I’m gonna keep screaming it as loud and as graphically as I can.

And I’m not gonna back down for anyone.

If you’d like to read more of my writing check out the stories on my blog or my book, Accidental Warlocks, on Amazon.

Your support means everything to me. We are in this together.

There is a War On Queer Bodies: So Go Fuck, Show off Those Sexy Bodies: and Be as Loud And As Queer As Possible

Discerning Daddy

About a month ago Tom Bianchi found himself locked out of his Instagram account. Bianchi is a well known HIV activist and photographic historian of gay culture, most notably for his photos taken in Fire Island in the 80’s. A photo of his had been reposted on Instagram. The photo, “Untitled 457” shows a naked man sitting on a bed, his back to us, looking out a window.

Instagram decided that this photo, with a man’s butt barely revealed, had broken its Community Guidelines.

After a huge amount of pressure and backlash, Instagram re-instated Bianchi’s account.

And while, in my opinion, it never should have been taken down in the first place, it’s great that it is now back up. Tom Bianchi is a Queer hero. He has chronicled LGBTQ history for over 20 years.

But what happens when you aren’t Tom Bianchi, with a huge fan base willing to come out and fight for you? What about young queer and trans artists out there struggling for recognition, chronicling the world around them, whether through photos or videos or writing, who don’t meet the standards of Instagram or Facebook, or Tumblr? Who stands up for them?

I stayed out of this public debate. I decided that I wanted to stand back and wait, to see where things headed: if there would be any real change in how Social Media and the Mainstream Media handled our sexuality and our bodies.

That change never came.

Instead it feels like we keep moving slowly in a direction that is more repressive: restrictions put on our physicality, on our sexuality, on our gender: and how we are allowed or not allowed to express these things.

In 2019 many young artists’ careers live and die because of social media. It is a way for someone relatively unknown to build a following, to create a network of fans, to gain exposure.

It is a way to create visibility for a community often forced into the shadows.

And that is important.

As queer people, our bodies and our sexuality have been used against us for decades. Our gender has become political. Who we love and how we love, who we fuck, is political.

Facebook recently added to their guidelines a ban on all images and writings (including your private chats) that were soliciting sex or graphic in nature. This means that technically you aren’t even allowed to have sexy chat in your private messenger on Facebook between consenting adults.

Tumblr purged all accounts and images with nudity and overly sexual content, often times including shirtless gay men.

For a long time my ex-husband, Alex and I, used Tumblr, as a way to flirt. We created a joint account and we would add pictures of guys we found hot. We would take pics of ourselves: I won’t lie, my ass and dick, pics of me getting fucked, were all over Tumblr. You can have your opinions about this and your feelings and thoughts, but the truth is, we were just having fun. We were flirting, we were venturing out into a larger arena and expressing and exploring our sexuality.

And from the comments, and the amount of followers we had, people seemed to be enjoying our new exhibitionism.

We live in a world where sexuality, especially Queer and Trans Sexuality, are demonized. A world where our bodies are politicized and scrutinized: where a female nipple, the hint of balls, too much exposed ass, is considered “porn” even when the context is art, or just naturalism.

A world where how we fuck and who we fuck: how we love, is judged amoral.

One of the excuses being used by Social Media platforms is that we live in a global community and while they don’t believe in censorship, they also want to be sensitive to other cultures and groups who don’t share the same values. So…we don’t believe in censorship but we are going to censor you because we don’t want to upset a group of people who find your sexuality and your body to be morally wrong. Got it Instagram. Thanks.

I’ve thought a lot about how to respond to all this. I’ve tried to understand that companies like Instagram and Facebook have a right to define the content that is seen on their platforms, but to be honest, fuck them. Enough is enough.

Let’s call it like is: censorship. As queer people we have lived our whole lives being censored. We have been shamed and made to feel unworthy. We have been shoved to the side so as not to upset groups who find our way of life to be amoral.

I’m not arguing for allowing “porn” or graphic sexual images on Facebook on Instagram. But what I am saying is that showing some ass, or women showing their breasts, or shirtless guys, or queer people kissing should not be something we should be afraid of showing for fear of being locked out of our accounts.

It’s hard for me to make sense of this: it goes against everything I believe. It goes against everything I think is logical.

Human beings are sexual creatures. Fucking is fun. It is hot to look at pictures of other people fucking, showing off.

But there’s another component here that isn’t just about sex: our bodies are vast, uncharted, and beautiful territories: they are gorgeous and full of artistic and creative potential. Why can’t we show this off?
Why are we so afraid of allowing people the opportunity to explore their otherness, their gender, their sexuality, their beauty, their humanness?

I think it’s great that we all came out to fight for Tom Bianchi. But we need keep fighting. We need to keep the pressure on.

I show ass all the time on my Instagram account. I talk about being HIV Positive. I try to be as sex positive, and proud of who I am as a 50-year-old-HIV-Positive-Queer-Man as I can be. And I refuse to hide or to back down. I refuse to be made invisible.

I’ve been “shadow banned” (a process where with no warning or notice Instagram removes your ability to be seen on hashtags), I’ve been reported and I’ve been blocked on all my social media accounts. I’ve received threatening and incredibly unkind messages from users who troll the internet looking for people to attack. I’ve been called a slut, told I deserve to die from AIDS, that I am a worthless fag. But I don’t back down.

Because we can’t let them silence us. We are beautiful. Our bodies and our sexuality, our gender, our fluidity.

It is easy to believe that we had a major win last month. Instagram caved. Bianchi is back up. And that is a win. A huge fucking win. But we need to make sure we are still out there, celebrating who we are, and being as loud and as queer as possible.

We are only silenced if we let them silence us. We are only invisible if we let them take away our visibility.

I’m gonna show ass and talk about being Queer and Positive and be who I am, as loud and as visible as possible.

And fuck anyone who tries to tell us we aren’t worthy, who tries to censor us or push us to the side.

So go be as queer and beautiful as you want. Show those bodies. Make out on the streets. And stand up for those of us who might live in places where they are living under oppression.
Because that’s what these platforms don’t get: by allowing people like Bianchi, or someone like me, or any of the other LGBTQ people out there who refuse to back down, to be vocal and visible we are giving a voice to those still living in a world where their voice is being suppressed.

That should be what our community guidelines stand for. Not more censorship.

Check out more of my writing on my blog!

Also, check out my book, Accidental Warlocks, at amazon.com.