Recently, I got a comment from someone on Instagram. “Why do you always feel the need to show your ass or be shirtless? How is anyone supposed to take you seriously? You are just another pathetic, queen desperate for attention. You write about anonymous sex and being a slut, and then you wonder why you are all alone and sad and depressed. There is a reason why men like you are all alone.”
That is an extreme version of a fairly common criticism I get: “Why are you showing your ass all the time” “Why do you write about sex all the time”, etc.
Trust, me these are questions I ask myself. A lot. I have had friends tell me I “don’t need to show your butt in every post”. I even had a friend tell me I needed to be more “serious”. These are the kinds of thoughts and insecurities that run through my head all the time.
As gay men, we are told our whole lives that there is something inherently wrong with us. As a sexually active, HIV Positive gay man in my 50’s, that sense of inherent wrongness can become poisonous.
Recently, on my Instagram account, leavelljeff, I posted a video of me showing my ass (I post a lot of videos of me showing my ass). I wrote, over the video, “50 Years Old. HIV Pos. Proud.”
A guy I had been chatting with on Instagram (chatting = showing our dicks and butts to each other) wrote to me: “No!” in a comment on my story. I responded: “No?” “This is not possible. I am so devastated. Please, tell me it’s not true.”
I told this guy that it was, actually, very true, and really, way less devastating than he was making it. Not that I am minimalizing my HIV status, but…ok, maybe I am minimalizing it.
When I first found out I was HIV positive the second person I told, after my husband, was my father. What he said to me probably saved my life. He said,
“Ok. I’m sure that’s scary. So be scared. But in the morning wake up and find a doctor and then go to that doctor and get on meds so you can be healthy and go about your life. This will only define you if you let it define you.”
What I wanted to say to that Instagram guy was that, I’m ok. HIV has only defined me as much as I’ve let it define me. I’m in control of that. I might not be in control of much else, but I am in control of that.
So instead of devasting me I allowed it to empower me. Make me stronger. Finding out I was HIV positive, in many ways like deciding to be sober, made me a better man.
“I cannot talk to you anymore. I am sorry. I cannot be with a man with this terrible sickness.”
This dude lives over 7,000 miles away. And I already have a man. We were never going to fuck. I was infuriated. I wanted to yell at him, decimate him. Suddenly, without warning: what he thought of me and my “terrible disease” became what I believed to be true.
And then I remembered what my mother once said to me: “Fuck them. Fuck anyone who tries to tell you that you are wrong or not enough. Fuck them and go live your life even bigger, even better, fuck them and then go be the best Jeff possible.”
So this is what I do. I live my life. Because in the end that’s what it is, right? Mine. No one else’s. And I try my hardest to support everyone around me as they do their best to live their lives.
I say this all the time, and I plan to keep saying it: I am a 50-year-old HIV Positive Gay man who loves to fuck and travel and chat with hot guys and show my ass off and take millions of selfies. I like who I am. I worked fucking hard to like who I am.
And I want every queer person out there who is HIV positive, who doesn’t fit into that perfect queer-gay body mold, every single person over the age of 50, all of us to know: we have nothing to be ashamed of.
Think about it: we are fucking miracles. Do you know how many of our peers died from this disease? There was a time when our own government wouldn’t acknowledge AIDS.
Maybe what I should have said to that Instagram guy is, “Hey Dude, it’s 20-fucking-19. The only person infected with a terrible disease is you. Get educated and stop being a dick.”
Instead what I said was, “Hey, I get how scary HIV can seem. But I’m ok. I’m happy. My life is exactly what I want it to be. If you ever want to talk, or have any questions about HIV, feel free to message me. All the best.”
So when any of us are out there talking shit about another queer person, or judging them for how they live their lives, or their bodies or their age or HIV status, their masculinity or femininity or race: we should remember: We are all fucking miracles. We grew up in a world that believes we are inherently wrong. Diseased. A world that often believes being gay or transgender or gender-fluid is a choice, and not an essential part of our DNA.
We are fucking miracles and we are special. And we should treat each other like miracles.
Because trust me, the rest of the world won’t.
So I’ll keep showing my ass. And talking about sex. And fucking. And loving. And living this life as large and as loud and as proud as I can.
Because if I don’t who will? This is mine and I’m gonna be as true to myself as possible.
So if you wanta take some butt pics or shirtless selfies but feel insecure, hey, send them to me. I love getting ass pics and dick pics and selfies!!!!! I’ll make sure you feel extra sexy!
And go be your queerest, best, self. And live your life as big and as loud and as proud as you can.
And hey, go check out my book, Accidental Warlocks, on Amazon. Support Queer Artists!