FEELINGS | FALL ’20
WORDS by ANTHONY WASH ROSADO
COVER PHOTO by TIMOTHY ROSADO + SELF PORTRAIT
Literature is the only part of my life that Miss Rona hasn’t quaked; until now. How can anyone know the actual truth when capitalism sinks its fangs into every media frenzy that blinds and brainwashes U.S. citizens? Has history not taught us that she repeats herself? If we look back to 1918, in celebration of the war’s end, impatient people around the world cancelled their quarantine early. They immediately returned to business as usual, as if a virus was not plaguing the globe. Those who did not heed warnings against social interactions were killed by the Spanish Flu’s second wave, which killed four times more people than were murdered in World War I. Does this not advise us that social distancing for the entirety of 2020 is the way to avoid Darwinism’s inevitable filtering? Isn’t it enough of a sign that people walk NYC’s overpopulated streets with masks under their chins and gloves strewn across sidewalks before quarantine’s end? How can we envision a future, when so many people are trying to return to a “normal” that no longer and will not ever again exist?
Excuse me if my passion is aggressive. I am here with nothing but affection. I am babbling. However this rant is a deep sigh outward, releasing tension from my upper back and trapeziums. Hear me, my loves: “God is change.” Shape God to your needs. Adapt in and with this epoch. Trust the process. Find purpose and pursue it relentlessly. Persist. Persevere.
Know the facts. Refrain from large group gatherings and anonymous sex. Intimacy, from hugs to casual sex, is natural. Physical affection is requisite to maintain a happy and healthy livelihood. Inspirit your Self and Body with unconditional love and respect. It’s hard for me to sacrifice receiving pleasure as often as I need, but it is worth it to choose my sustenance over a casual fling. As a positive man I know firsthand all the revolutionary mentors we lost due to HIV/AIDS stigmas. We who are immuno-deficient, healthy, clean, and thriving; it is up to us to educate our community upon the many ways to interact with the world while keeping our Self and Body safe. It is time to engage in the risk communication that our ancestors lacked during the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This will minimize transmission. As quarantine-fatigue amplifies with the rise in temperatures, how do we safely conjure the liberation that comes with community interaction? How can social distancing be utilized when dating? Let your heart grow fonder.
Didn’t you notice that the local and federal governments moved with urgency until they realized COVID-19 has been impacting Black and Brown people at a higher rate than whites? Nurses are exposing the genocide of Black and Brown patients in NYC hospitals at the hands of racist medical care professionals. This is the world we live in.
So speak its name with your voice: CoronaVirus. This shit is not Voldemort. COVID-19. How do you feel when you say it aloud? Uttering “HIV” used to terrify me. For the longest time I only referred to myself as “Positive.” In an effort to assist my sisters in understanding that I am as healthy as a negative individual, I told them that my HIV is a cute and sleeping Gizmo. I reminded them what happens when you don’t follow the rules, gremlins multiply from Gizmo and wreak havoc. I assured them that consistency with my antivirals, vitamins, water, diet, and exercise ensure my Gizmo stays sound asleep for the rest of my long life.
I have used this story to inform many people, yet this analogy was useless while touring Brazil between 2017 and 2020. “Positivo” is not the Brazilian-Portuguese translation when referencing someone living with HIV. The word is “Portador” or carrier. Upon getting tested in February 2020, the nurse asked me if I am a “Portador.” I exclaimed, “No! I am Positive. I am not a carrier.” It is logical, but also heart-wrenchingly demonizing. Shaming is futile and will only drive people into underground means of socialization, perpetuating risky behavior. The wild thing is, the shame-inducing digital environments of Grindr and Jack’d have seemingly been unaffected by Miss Rona. “No fats, no femmes, drug and disease free” is still used in countless profile biographies. Members are still willing to meet before divulging one another’s status, let alone what their quarantine procedures have been.
Do you now understand why so many gay men are DTF before there is a mutual sharing of either party’s status? How does the saying go, ignorance is bliss? If Black and Brown gay men in our communities have a general idea of HIV yet are still disproportionately infected by it, then how do we ward off COVID-19 misinformation (or lack thereof)? This is why HIV knowledge is foreign to many gay men from New York City to Salvador, Bahia, in 2020. Since two years young, each of us started to move toward our desires and far away from our fears. So how can we be more transparent about our recent sexual history? True, touch is essential to human survival. It is crucial. I challenge you: Is steady growth between two or more individuals possible in the virtual world? Can you use digital spheres to expand how you give and receive pleasure? Can you touch yourself in a new way? Can a Zoom date direct you to touch yourself? Would you prefer directing? Or are you down for all the shenanigans?
If you are like me and social distancing is incomprehensible for the entirety of 2020, who can you share a bubble with? Sharing our bubbles all at once will cause a catastrophe, but just like with any skilled top, the slower the start the more ravenous we can be later on. In this case, “later on” is Spring/Summer 2021. Let’s be real and put it all out on the table. This is a brilliant and tiny virus that has yet to show signs of whether it can mutate again. It seems as though it’s a hybrid between HIV, Herpes, and the Flu. People can be symptomatic (they are positive, contagious, and show signs of infection) or asymptomatic (they are positive, contagious, and show no signs of infection). As a person positive with Herpes Type-2 who has had the flu in his life, I adamantly urge you to consider the fact that Miss Rona walks the fiercest runways during the winter; and we have only seen her in one look. We don’t know if she will sport other guises during her Winter/Spring 2021 reprise. She might though. The cold season is literally her stomping grounds. Pun intended. What we do know is she isn’t going anywhere this summer. I believe low-risk socialization like outdoor recreation with a small group of people is possible.
On the realest of reals: What do you know? Are you going to trust in the system that fashions dollar bills and white picket fences from your labor? Trust me instead. I love you. They could care less if you are secure. I need you to be safe. They don’t wanna see you shine! I do. I vision a future where we are happy and healthy. Clip any thought of large, IRL socializing until 2021 and focus on your survival. Do you know how to make a fire? Or hoist a bear bag? Are you able to get your bearings in order using a physical map and compass? Do you know how to defend yourself? Can you grow your own food? Have you compiled a list of natural antiviral alternatives? Knowledge is the most valuable tool to share. I am here to help. Reach out to me if you have any questions or needs.