This from the feds…
Tomorrow, April 10th, 2013, marks the first National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) – a day to educate the public about the impact of HIV & AIDS on young people, as well as highlight the amazing work of young people in response to the epidemic. Through their efforts, youth and their allies will hold our leaders accountable for their commitment to and investment in realizing an AIDS-free generation.
In the United States, one in four new HIV infections is among youth ages 13 to 24 and every month, 1,000 young people acquire HIV. And in 2010, 60 percent of young people’s HIV infection was undiagnosed. This is a call to action. We need an all-hands-on-deck response from communities, schools, governments, and organizations – as well as the recognition of young people as key partners in the HIV & AIDS movement. Youth involvement is critical to reach an AIDS-free generation.
Smash Street Safe House is a safe place for runaway adolescent boys with HIV who do — or have done, and have stopped doing — sex work. http://le-too.tumblr.com They arrive feeling extremely isolated. We have an intensive art program. Film. Video. Painting. Drawing. Poetry. Dance. Whatever we can use to express ourselves. We are affiliated with Real Stories Gallery Foundation in NYC. Real Stories has a compelling focus on HIV/AIDS. http://www.real-stories-gallery.org. We are also running an International Art Program called Show Me Your Life. Kids from all around the planet participate. http://showmeyourlife.tumblr.com. We are pretty much on the ground in this. I have to tell you, I have real problems with the rahrahrah in AIDS as it is distasteful and depressing to see so much energy going into rhetoric and pompoms. Cheer-leading is simply not germane. Not in AIDS. There is a real need for STUFF in this that transcends public relations. Where are the voices of the young people in the US where sequestration has mandated an axe to further continued funding for AIDSmeds in America. Even your AIDS agencies are too timid to speak up. There are a few things right in these trenches, but there are far, far more challenging things that are WRONG. It is wrong to withhold treatment for people with HIV and put them on a waiting list, it is a moral bankruptcy, and this is only the beginning. We are going backwards, young people. There is no such thing as an AIDS-free generation when supposedly enlightened cultures withhold these medications. I urge you to find your voice that speaks to power. I urge you to not believe everything authority tells you is true. I urge you to ask questions; question everything. Learn to recognize the emptiness of buzz words. I urge you to find ways to ACT. In the past, we said, ACT UP. I am here to say it again.
tim barrus: ma lutte pour survivre
I so fail with them. Their assignment was to write something about how they actually felt about their doing sex work. Total disaster. They loathe writing anything. Minor rebellion. It wasn’t going to happen. As a teacher, I’m shit. I don’t relish being a teacher either.
But they would do video. I relented. When they put me in a corner, I will relent. One of my eyes is going really, really bad again. I want to cut it out. So I do understand feeling like writing is a chore. It is sweat and work for them. In my head, I do connect the ideas of at-risk, who this means, and what it means, that it means, usually something as stretched at the seams as the idea of what language is.
They’re really good at posing.
It is a language, too. It is the language of the street.
The video, ma lutte pour survive.
The last time I saw such staggering it was into the sun. To be dead, he would become his numbness. It’s like dope. It’s an opiate. You need more and more or it’s a sickness. He has fell strangely to this ancient earth. Not unlike a meteorite whose essence has gone black as burn.
My struggle to survive. It is very difficult, and scary to them, to go anywhere on a feeling level. Going to sex work on a feeling level is a bit threatening. Maybe the most threatening thing they could do in this lifetime.
“When someone is inside of me, I feel like I am nothing. I don’t really want it. I need the money. I need to eat. I don’t like living on the street, and I have done that, you know, many times. When they cum in me I shit it out asap. Then, I give myself a wine enema. Maybe it will kill the virus. This whore I trade and share tricks with told me it does.”
He’s one of the younger ones. What continues to amaze me (it shouldn’t) is that people just can’t see them. We see what we want to see. I’m staring at a kid who has been the equivalent of a used but rag.
“So it hurts. Someone you don’t want inside of you hurts, and feeling empty hurts too.”
Eyes to the floor.
If I can get to ONE of them, it’s worth it. Just to look inside himself. There’s no agenda in terms of what he might find.
I have no illusions. They’ll go back to sex work. The kid looking at the floor has to eat. I get it.
“They never want to pay,” he said. “Never.
“No, they don’t,” I told him. “Been there, done that.”
This kid is at-risk for both addiction and suicide. I know these boys. They will overdose. I am sure they have ferreted away stashes. The bus terminal lockers have always worked for them in the past. When you’re homeless, you stash things you do not want to lose or have ripped off.
“I think the video does speak to the hurt,” this boy maintained.
He clenches his jaw.
This is not a bad kid. Anymore than god is an old wise men who lives in the fucking sky. If god is real, he’s a major bitch.
I got an email from someone (I do not keep track of these people because they are not players in any of this) at the CDC today. He constructed a very staunch argument that they help kids.
I did not laugh too hard. Adolescents who are, indeed, at-risk (just my experience because I’ve never met one) do not exist who know what the CDC even is. The what.
They think it’s code like IMAO.
The CDC is suits. Authority. When are people going to understand that living the life is ABOUT avoiding authority, or evading it completely.
Their video, ma lutte pour survivre, is about living the life. The hotels, the street, the prowling, the drugs, the cash. Even the clothes. They’re adolescent boys. Of course, the clothes. Whore drag can be demure as invisible. They look like any other boys.
From that, the artists think, we draw our own conclusions. I doubt that we can. We will fall back on our stereotypes as well. They are not alone in their difficulty at surveillance of that inner life. They want the bad things to go away. Their crushing depressions wear me down.
My bones are dying. In my body. All of them. Many have been replaced. But the rest of them are but rust. It’s a bitch to hurt and tend to them. When I say tend, I mean listen. To the breaking and the boys.
Sometimes I want to turn their depressions off. Like a cell phone.
I speak to their depressive weight. A gravity. I put it in a chair in a very dark motel room. It is a devil with horns and a jagged cock like a dog.
It comes to me and sucks me off as I despise it touching me at all.
I tell it to get out of my life. Sometimes — with their collective depression — it works. Sometimes not. Even when I cut off its head with a Japanese warrior sword. It returns.
Mutual antipathy. My entire life is mutual antipathy. In fact, I do not really care what you, or what anyone thinks. I fail to see where what the mainstream culture thinks is in any way all that important. What you think is Antarctica to me. A freezing. Everything goes white. I gave up on the lot of you years ago when I was doing sex work myself. It’s not in me to focus on you in any way. I cannot do it.
One kid is looking at his life inside out. “Alcohol in your rectum won’t kill the virus,” I tell him.
“Oh. Okay.” Just one more thing he fails at.
“If you’re mixing up different strains of virus, it’s probably really, really bad.”
He makes more money if he agrees to get fucked without a condom. If the CDC thinks it is being effective, why do boys like this acquire HIV four times the rate as any other group. We fail them. When is the CDC going to understand that such poverty is what competes with anything and everything they and I might in our ignorance have to say. If the CDC wants to reach them, find them safe places to grow up. It can’t. It won’t. It would never work. The CDC would create many rules, and the boys would run. They run anyway. If the CDC suits wants to get serious, get rid of the suit, roll up your sleeves, and get ready to clean up, and make better everything from the failure of relationships, to shit, vomit, blood, poverty, hunger, disease and dreams. Get down to the fucking ground, Buba.
AIDS-free generation. Get real, people.
The CDC promoted testing. It put treatment on the back burner. Testing without treatment is a morally bankrupt policy coming from, who else, the suits. The real basis to this tilted stress is economic. No one wants to pay for HIV drugs, there are waiting lists, the waiting lists are getting longer, and so we create the fantasy that testing is a means unto itself. It should just be what it is. And people who are told they are exposed to HIV, should be offered treatment. At the very least. A kid, any kid, deserves to live in a safe space where he can be a kid.
The suits (Bill Gates is one) will say: we don’t actually deal with actual people. We have all the money so we deal with suits like us.
The suits coming down to earth — the CDC, or the Ford Foundation — is a metaphor, okay.
They have no idea whatsoever what these kids deal with on a moment to moment basis.
“I was never very good as a whore.”
“I don’t get how you can feel so empty when there’s a cock in you.”
“I don’t get it either. I just feel more empty than I usually do.”
“So when your dad was fucking you, it made you go numb so you could believe this wasn’t happening.”
Falls to the floor in a ball of sheer giving up. Giving up can be a sickening thing dependent on the process any of us develop. Going numb protected him.
But his dad was not fucking him anymore — this boy was living in a safe house and in a week from now — his father gets out of prison.
He is convinced his dad will find him to punish him for disclosing. For putting the old man in prison.
This boy has done all of this before. Then he vomits.
The kid is on the floor weeping.
The dogs do NOT like this. They run to him immediately.
His face is wet with kisses.
I have hired my dogs. They are professionals. It stuns me they pitch right in. No one has to do or say anything.
Rare as rubies.
So is the stuff these boys cobble together. Their art. I call it art.
I figure we can give them that. Fuck writing. The reality is that they have to go at their own pace in this, and I will take whatever they are ready to give me. Often, it is an undefinable ghost called hope, and just as often, it is the moon.