aids related

friend: you okay?

me: chess is an extended metaphor for conventional & scholarly masculinity that is revisited several times in both acts 1 & 2 of Falsettos (2016).  Marvin’s intellect is what secures him in his manhood (”i’m not so rich, but hell i’m smart”) and thus establishes him as the patriarch in his relationships, an inherently misogynistic and homophobic position.  Marvin expects several roles to be fulfilled by Whizzer - complimentary to Marvin, but contrasting to one another - the domestic housewife to maintain convention, and the epitome of masculinity that Marvin is undeniably attracted to as a gay man, and thus left his wife for.  Whizzer does not want to perform either of these – he does not want to be intellectually engaged, nor is he willing or able to complete the chores Marvin expects of him because he loves fashion, sex, money, and wants to have fun in a way that is fundamentally immature and self-serving.  this flippancy, as well as his lavicious sex life outside of their relationship, is a point of tension between them, as well as Marvin’s continued attempts at constraining his boyfriend into being things he is not.  the chess game towards the end of act one acts as a counterpart to “this had better come to a stop” wherein Whizzer’s ‘wifely’ duties were addressed (“check their hairlines, make the dinner and love me!”), and in this reprise of sorts (“clip the coupons, make the dinner and love it!”) Whizzer’s lack of conventional masculine traits is fixated upon - he is expected to play chess, but not beat Marvin lest he loses the submissiveness that Marvin wants him to perform. when Whizzer makes a ‘good first move’ on his own, Marvin hesitates because there is the chance of Whizzer beating him at his own game, one he thought was an easy win.  once Whizzer says ‘let me win’ and Marvin agrees, it is assumed that Marvin would just ‘go easy’ on him, letting Whizzer play (maintaining scholarly masculinity) and still losing to Marvin (maintaining conventional standards of heteronormativity and misogyny). however, Whizzer immediately acts like he is playing checkers and runs over the board while Marvin attempts to maintain some sense of order, highlighting their juxtaposed personalities. Whizzer wants to be thrilled, to be admired, to have fun where Marvin is weary and wants security, stability, a tight-knit family.  in act two, Jason leaves the king on Whizzer’s grave, indicating that despite not being a conventional man (being flirty, lustful, and indulgent in fashion where he “should” be sexually aggressive and uncaring about his appearance) he demonstrates the real values of masculinity, the ability to grow, the capacity to love, and courage in the face of adversity.

friend: I’ll raise you to racquetball being a major influence on the relationship between Marvin and Whizzer in act two because it is something that Whizzer excels at where Marvin does not.  it is an indication of character development that Marvin can handle defeat easily and, presumably, return to play with Whizzer despite knowing that he won’t win (‘winning is everything to me’).  this is what makes ‘more racquetball’ so heart-wrenching – the one thing Whizzer can do, the shoulders on which his masculinity is seated upon, his athleticism, has been ripped from him, leaving him weak and vulnerable like an exposed nerve.  Marvin rushes to his side, and where act one Marvin may have mocked him or told him to get up, act two Marvin acknowledges his pain and stoops down instead of pulling him up, showing a fundamental understanding of human relationships and demonstrating Marvin’s capacity to love and care for another even when they are not the pinnacle of both masculine charm and banausic femininity.  Marvin’s love for Whizzer comes too late - they appreciate the best of one another and overcome their differences just in time for Whizzer to contract HIV+ and die of an AIDS-related illness.

me: i hate William Finn

friend: me too

okay so !! in you gotta die sometime, whizzer is replacing this nebulous concept of death – something that a man his age hasn’t had to worry about, nevertheless a man of his disposition – with Death, a fellow man, a lover, something that makes sense and that comforts him. whizzer, by all accounts, was never supposed to die in his twenties/thirties; he was a healthy, athletic young man who took care of his body, and so why would he ever have to worry about the sudden disappearance of his health? 

and now, all within a matter of months, he has this IV in his arm and his mind is foggy and his ribs are sharp against his loose hospital gown. his friend, a member of this makeshift family they’ve finally created has to tell him that he’s dying, has to tell his lover that he’s on the edge of that very same bridge.

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Felix Gonzalez-Torres “Untitled” (Portrait of Ross in L.A.) 1991 

“This installation is an allegorical portrait of the artist’s partner, Ross Laycock, who died of an AIDS-related illness in 1991. The 175 pounds of candy can be seen to correspond to Laycock’s ideal body weight. Adult visitors are invited to take a piece of candy; the diminishing pile parallels Laycock’s weight loss prior to his death. The museum can choose to replenish the pile, metaphorically ensuring Laycock perpetual life, or to let the pile disappear over time.”

As a queer artist Felix has inspired me to not be afraid to make queer art, I am grateful to experience one of his many great pieces of art in real life. This piece will always have a special place in my heart.

The Worrying, by Paul Monette

Paul Monette’s husband, Roger Horowitz died of AIDS related complications in in 1985. Monette died of AIDS related complications in 1995. 

ate me alive day and night these land mines
all over like the toy bombs dropped on the
Afghans little Bozo jack-in-the-boxes
that blow your hands off 3 A.M. I’d go
around the house with a rag of ammonia
wiping wiping crazed as a housewife on Let’s 
Make a Deal the deal being PLEASE DON’T MAKE
HIM SICK AGAIN faucets doorknobs the phone
every lethal thing a person grips and leaves
his prints on scrubbed my hands till my fingers
cracked washed apples ten times ten no salad but 
iceberg and shuck the outer two thirds someone
we knew was brain dead from sushi so stick
to meatloaf creamed corn spuds whatever we
could cook to death DO NOT USE THE D WORD 
EVEN IN JEST when you started craving deli
I heaved a sigh because salami was so de-
germed with its lovely nitrates to hell with
cholesterol that’t for people way way over
the hill or up the hill not us in the vale 
of borrowed time yet I was so far more gone
than you nuts in fact ruinous as a supermom
with a kid in a bubble who can’t play and ten 
years later can’t work can’t kiss can’t laugh
but his room’s still clean every cough every
bump would nothing ever be nothing again
cramming you with zinc and Haagen-Dasz so wild
to fatten you up I couldn’t keep track of 
what medicine what old wives’ but see
THERE WAS NO MEDICINE only me and to
circle the wagons and the island the last of our
magic spoon by spoon nap by nap till we
healed you as April heals drinking the sun
I was Prospero of the spell of day-by-day 
and all of this just the house worry peanuts
to what’s out there and you with the dagger at
your jugular struggling back to work jotting
your calendar two months ahead penciling
clients husbanding husbanding inching back
and me agape with the day’s demises who
was swollen who gone mad ringing you on
the hour how are you compared to ten noon
one come home and have blintzes petrified 
you’d step in an elevator with some hacking
CPA the whole world ought to be masked
please I can’t even speak of the hospital  fear
fists bone white the first day of an assault
huddled by your bed like an old crone empty-
eyed in a Greek square black on black the waiting 
for tests the chamber of horrors in my head
my rags and vitamins dumb as leeches how did
the meningitis get in where did I slip up
what didn’t I scour I’d have swathed the city 
in gauze to cushion you no man who hasn’t 
watched his cruelest worry come true in a room
with no door can ever know what doesn’t 
die because they lie who say it’s over
Rog it hasn’t stopped at all are you okay
does it hurt what can I do still still I 
think if I worry enough I’ll keep you near 
the night before Thanksgiving I had this 
panic to buy the plot on either side of us
so we won’t be cramped that yard of extra grass 
would let us breathe THIS IS CRAZY RIGHT but
Thanksgiving morning I went the grave two over 
beside you was six feet deep ready for the next 
murdered dream so see the thread was real
why not worry worry is like the prayer uis like
God if you have none they all forget there’s 
the other side too twelve years and not once 
to fret WHO WILL EVER LOVE ME that was
the heaven at the back of time but we had it 
here now black on black I wander frantic
never done with worrying but it’s mine it’s 
a cure that’s not in the books are you easy
my stolen pal what do you need is it
sleep like sleep you want a pillow a cool 
drink oh my one safe place there must be 
something just say what it is and it’s yours

I just finished this book. It is a biography of Lou Sullivan, a gay trans activist who laid the groundwork for the ftm community that we have today. This is a truly important work. Despite the fact that gays and lesbians have worked hard to uncover and reclaim their history, we as trans people are still largely disconnected from our past and ignorant of the trailblazers who have made so much of what we have today possible. Lou died of AIDS related complications when I was only a year old, and yet I see echoes of his life’s work here on Tumblr, on YouTube, and in the trans magazines and publications. Reading this was incredibly emotional for me and I feel that this is a very important book and would strongly recommend it. This is our history, and I think it is a powerful thing to learn about it.

STIGMA
by Diamanda Galas

In 1992, when I wrote “we are all HIV positive” on my hand with a tattoo artist from Brooklyn, I said several things: One was that you may not separate the uninfected from the infected as so many so-called liberal doctors wanted to do, by putting the infected on Plum island outside of New York City. You cannot separate the uninfected from the infected by denying them access to your country. You cannot separate the uninfected from the infected by putting the infected on a separate floor that has red danger contagion signs and giving them crap to eat and instructing Catholic nurses not to administer painkillers to the guilty and allowing Catholic priests to visit them and inform them of their future in Hell if they do not confess that their entire life has been a crime. You cannot separate the infected from the uninfected by saying I do not have AIDS, I have syphillis, but most assuredly nothing to do with HIV, and then allow them to die an early death because they would rather die of the disease than the stigma, as so many did, and do, including my best friend– in 1996–who would be living today if he had not been petrified of the stigma and intentionally saw a doctor whose research was based on the option and the opinion that HIV did not cause AIDS. A second opinion, or better yet,my friend’s own research with other researchers would have been smarter. He knew better, but he told me when we first met in 1989 that he would kill himself if he were diagnosed with HIV. No matter what I said to him he continued to visit the one practitioner who would condone this denial for six years until it was too late, and the following year protease inhibitors hit the market—the year after he died. No, you cannot separate the uninfected from the infected by saying “I do not suffer from this virus: I have been spared.” Because one day, in one city, in one moment, you will learn that you suffer from some virus, some pathogen, something poisonous that will not exit from your body; and you will realize that you do not mourn the dead, you mourn the suffering of the living while they are still alive. No one can escape death, and worse than that, no one can escape the life of anything and everything that smells your blood and lives because of it.

_______________________________________________.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres
Untitled, 1991


Billboard; dimensions vary with installation.

“Between February 20 and March 18, Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s “Untitled” (1991) peppered the New York skyline, on six billboards throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. With locations ranging from 10th Avenue near the Javits Center to the far corners of Brighton Beach, the work reached diverse populations and altered the associated media landscapes. The provocative yet ambiguous image on each—an enlarged black-and-white photograph of the artist’s recently shared double bed—stood out amid the text-heavy advertising signage that dominates the city. Devoid of the text, logos, or captions typically associated with billboards, this work summoned a second look or even a momentary pause, the introspective quality of the image bringing a perceptible stillness to the surrounding bustle of the city.

…Throughout his work, Gonzalez-Torres (American, born Cuba. 1957–1996) questioned the notion of the unique art object, making series of works based on identical pairs (two clocks ticking side-by-side, two mirrors embedded in a wall) or finding inspiration in the possibilities of endless reproducibility (stacks of sheets as give-aways for visitors, piles of candy to be continually replenished). He wanted his work to be disseminated, to exist in multiple places at the same time, and to be realized completely only through the participation of the viewer, which he described as “one enormous collaboration with the public,” in which the “pieces just disperse themselves like a virus that goes to many different places—homes, studios, shops, bathrooms, whatever.” Reproducibility, collaboration, and circulation—sound familiar? His particular approach, which has been enormously influential for contemporary artistic practice, also made Gonzalez-Torres an essential presence…

For Gonzalez-Torres, art was an effective means of addressing social concerns—even more so when it could be multiplied. Inhabiting the familiar forms of Minimalism and post-Minimalism with his stacks and floor pieces, the artist embedded subtle but insistent references to current issues, from political violence to gay rights. In billboard projects like “Untitled”, the artist played with the powerful juxtapositions that could be generated between private and public spaces. By choosing this photograph of his bed, the artist exposed this most intimate of spaces, emphasized by the rumpled sheets and the recent impressions of two heads in the pillows. In the early 1990s, with controversies surrounding homosexuality and the AIDS crisis simultaneously wreaking havoc across the gay community, the bed also represented a site of conflict, symbolizing both love and death. That Gonzalez-Torres’s partner, Ross, died of AIDS in 1991 brings an intensely personal note to this work, but does not diminish it of its universal associations with comfort, intimacy, loneliness, or loss.

Every time I passed by my “local” billboard, on Queens Boulevard and Van Dam Street, I stopped to take it in again. It is a commanding work, even capable of overshadowing the roar of the elevated 7 train and the honking cars exiting the Long Island Expressway (not an easy task!). The presentation in Print/Out marks the 20th anniversary of the first realization of “Untitled”, for MoMA’s Projects 34: Felix Gonzalez-Torres, organized by Anne Umland in 1992. Imagining the future reception of this work, Umland presciently wrote in that exhibition’s accompanying brochure, “A photograph promises the possibility of replication, of reemergence in a different time and under different historical circumstances, a moment when this poignant image of ‘a dwelling in the evening air’ may come to mean very different things.” I look forward to seeing the next iteration!”

-Kim Conaty


Debunking the “Fake Dating/Marriages in the Entertainment industry dont Exist!” Myth

In this post  I want to talk about fake dating and marriages in the entertainment industry. I advise everyone, whether you ship or not, to put aside your viewpoints on shipping and take into consideration the points that I will be making in this post. I will not edit any names in this post for this reason, so if you arent interested please just ignore this and dont give me shyt about why I am ‘tagging’ other ship names. *roll eyes* You have a choice on what you do and dont want to read, and this is also why the ‘keep reading’ option has been included.


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Photos from the four weeks I spent working in a hospital in Uganda

1. Paediatric ward - the children were most commonly admitted with malaria, TB, pneumonia, measles and malnutrition. That grey box in the foreground is an oxygen generator, the ward only had two and as a result there were far more serious considerations than where the power cable was trailing…

2. Female ward - many pregnant women were admitted having been in labour for far too long, and after having to travel a long way to the hospital, the outcome was often very sad. There was also a male ward, a common admission there was for urine obstruction secondary to syphilis, but more common were patients with TB and AIDS related illnesses.

3. A patient being transferred to the operating theatre

4. Outpatients department

Contrary to the usual practice in Uganda, at this rural mission hospital, people (who often travelled two days or more to reach it in the first place) were never refused treatment because they didn’t know how they would pay. It was not uncommon in the end for the bill to be settled by payment of two chickens or a sack of groundnuts. The nurses ran the ward and handed out medication but all direct care of the patients, including providing meals, was done by their relatives who also had to stay in the hospital. I learnt so so much during my time here.

@striving-for-balance

VOCALS - The Show Must Go On
Queen
VOCALS - The Show Must Go On

VOCALS - The Show Must Go On - Queen

Written by Brian May, the song shows the effort to Freddie Mercury to continue to write and sing despite the approaching end of his life. The artist was dying of AIDS-related complications. The singer was ill and could barely walk when the band recorded the song in 1990. Brian was unsure whether Mercury was physically able to sing it.

“I said, ‘Fred, I don’t know if this is going to be possible to sing.’ And he went, ‘I’ll fucking do it, darling’ — vodka down — and went in and killed it, completely lacerated that vocal.“

Freddie recorded it in one take, one of the most remarkable vocal interpretations of the artist in his later years.

Hey! Just wanted to post this about the Philadelphia flag! I would really appreciate it if people looked into the historical context of why the flag was made the way it was so that the controversy around changing it would be more understood. Thank you! 

Especially:

In the early years of the AIDS epidemic, AIDS activists designed a “Victory over AIDS” flag consisting of the standard six-stripe rainbow flag with a black stripe across the bottom. Leonard Matlovich, himself dying of AIDS-related illness, suggested that upon a cure for AIDS being discovered, the black stripes be removed from the flags and burned.

(ps. I have no problem with the Philadelphia flag, I just want people to know how the original flag was created and how the history of the flag had such an impact so that people understand why the flag changing is such a big deal to some people)

Felix Gonzales-Torres - “Untitled” (Portrait of Ross in L.A.)

An allegorical portrait of the artist’s partner, Ross Laycock, who died of an AIDS-related illness in 1991.

It is comprised of 175 pounds of candy, corresponding to Ross’s ideal body weight. Viewers are encouraged to take a piece of candy, and the diminishing amount parallels Ross’s death.

Gonzalez-Torres stipulated that the pile be continuously replenished, granting perpetual life.

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Remembering Our Dead: AIDS Quilt Panels of Bisexual People who had passed from AIDS. A ceremony of love and remembrance held during the US Bisexual Conference held in June 1990 in San Francisco CA USA.

AIDS had a profound effect on the bisexual movement. Bi men were stigmatized as spreaders of HIV from homosexuals to the “general population.” In the late 1980s, as awareness of AIDS in women increased, bisexual women began be to stigmatized as spreaders of HIV to lesbians.

These developments spurred discussions about the distinction between sexual behavior and sexual identity (for example, many self-identified bisexual women did not have sex with men, while many self-identified lesbians did). Activists and public health officials alike began to emphasize behavior, not identity, as a risk factor for HIV infection. Many men who had been leaders in the bisexual movement became ill or died, and many other bi men and women turned their attention to AIDS-related activism and service work…

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, students and youth became more active in the bisexual movement. College students began to include bisexuals by name in campus gay and lesbian organizations, with over 100 such groups in existence by the end of the decade…

At the same time, a new “queer movement” had begun to take shape. Young activists, many of whom were involved with the AIDS activist group ACT UP, formed Queer Nation in the summer of 1990 … Parts of the new movement emphasize the inclusion of bisexuals, transgender and other sexual minorities under the queer umbrella; other parts are less welcoming to those who are not exclusively homosexual…

In June 1990, BiPOL organized a US National Bisexual Conference in San Francisco, with over 400 attendees. The conference was comprised of over eighty workshops on a broad range of subjects.

~excerpt from pamphlet “A Brief History of the Bisexual Movement” Liz Highleyman with editorial assistance from M Beer, S Berger, D Berry, W Bryant, A Hamilton and R Ochs, originally published by the Bisexual Resource Center late 1990’s last updates in 2001.

Are you a gay trans man or woman who has been able to medically transition without your sexuality getting in the way? You have a trans man to that for that.

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 16, 1951 Lou Graydon Sullivan grew up with a complicated relation with gender and sexuality. Pre-transition in his publication “A Transvestite Answers a Feminist”, he says, “at age 5 I had a Davy Crockett birthday party. The climax was when I appeared. I was Davy Crockett and I can still remember my thrill at the moment”.  At age 17, he had a self-described “feminine” male partner. The two of them played with gender roles and were very attracted to the gay liberation movement. From early in his life he felt an attraction towards effeminate gay men especially.

In 1973 he was identifying as a female transvestite. He immersed himself and was accepted by the Milwaukee gay drag scene. During this time, he began to furiously research historical FtM transsexuals, disparately searching for another gay trans man but continually coming up empty. He would sometimes wonder if he was delusional.

In 1975 he moved to San Francisco. By this point he was recognizing himself as FtM, but felt isolated in the exclusively MtF community. The day he was to start individual therapy, the story of another FtM man broke. Steve Dain had transitioned in the Bay Area and desired to continue to work in the school where he taught, though switching from girls to boy coach. This was Sullivan’s first contact with another FtM individual and he followed the story (the principal reacted phobically, Dain won a series of lawsuits and ultimately was forced to leave his job. He did, however, find success as a chiropractor.). He contacted Dain, making his first contact with another FtM man.

When Sullivan attempted to start physical transition, he was routinely denied on the basis of his sexual orientation. At the time, heterosexuality was a prerequisite for transition. He  campaigned for, and was eventually successful in, removing homosexuality as something that barred a person from transition. He was able to obtain hormones and top surgery. However, when seeking a phalloplasty, the gender clinics still denied him even though he had happily been living as a gay man for years. He eventually went to a doctor and in 1986 obtained what the doctor called a “ganitalplasty”. It was after this surgey he was diagnosed with Aids and given ten months to live.

Upon his diagnosis, he wrote, “I took a certain pleasure in informing the gender clinic that even though their program told me I could not live as a Gay man, it looks like I’m going to die like one.” He ultimately died on March 2, 1991 at 39 from AIDS-related complications. He left an organization, now known as FTMI, or Female to Male International and a series of books and pamphlets he wrote for FtM individuals that are still used to this day. He was identified as the first trans man to die from AIDS.

He is largely the reason we see sexuality and gender as separate entities. Lou Sullivan is a trans man who left the world better for being in it. I, as a gay trans man, owe him a debt for being able to live as I do.

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On September 5th, 1991, I put a giant condom over Jesse Helms’ house.

Why? Because, as the condom said, “Helms is deadlier than a virus.” Senator Jesse Helms was one of the chief architects of AIDS-related stigma in the U.S. He fought against any federal spending on HIV research, treatment or prevention. He once said, referring to homosexuals, “it’s their deliberate, disgusting, revolting conduct that is responsible for the disease.” Here’s another choice one: “There is not one single case of AIDS in this country that cannot be traced in origin to sodomy.”

-Peter Staley

A government-supported public discussion broadened and deepened in the period between the 1985 conference and a second held in the city of Karl-Marx-Stadt in 1988.


Hillhouse concluded in her 1990 article that “The new openness concerning homosexuality was evident not only in literature and scientific publications, but also in print and broadcast media. In 1984 the popular monthly health magazine, Deine Gesundheit (Your Health), began printing a series of readers’ letters on homosexuality; soon after, several other major publications published substantial articles on sexual orientation.”


More than 200 articles on homosexuality were printed in the GDR during the 1980s, she continued, mostly about gay males. (Slavic Review, Winter 1990)


Articles about same-sex love appeared in the press and were incorporated into some state radio and television station programming. Much of this information was aimed at youth–an audience with many questions about sexuality.


When public media focused on AIDS education, same-sex relations were not portrayed as a central feature. And it is important to recall that everyone in the GDR enjoyed free medical care.


The television health program “Visite” broadcast a report in September 1987 “that described homosexuality as an entirely natural variation of human sexuality.” (Hillhouse)


The following year, the state film company DEFA, working with gay and lesbian activists, produced East Germany’s first documentary about “the satisfactions and problems” facing same-sex couples, called “Die andere Liebe” (The Other Love).


In 1989 DEFA also released “Coming Out,” a feature film about a gay teacher.


The same year, literature with gay themes was published, including a book about the life histories of several gay men in the GDR, compiled and written by a gay man.


“Important social institutions also began to implement reforms with great speed,” Parsons continued.


“For example, the Commission on Marriage and the Family, which is responsible for running a system of counseling centers, passed a resolution asserting that the national network of sexuality and family counseling centers should aid in dismantling prejudices regarding homosexuality and foster the integration of gay men and lesbians into society.”


Same-sex love was significantly included in a new sex education curriculum for the public school system.


A chapter on lesbian and gay identity in the 1984 edition of the standard sex-education textbook presented homosexuality as a natural variation of sexual identity. Lesbianism was part and parcel of this chapter. The book included among its sexually frank and romantic photos two men together and two women lying naked in each other’s arms.


And most significantly, the book acknowledged that the main problems faced by homosexuals result from persecution and isolation, which themselves stem from social discrimination and homophobia.

—  Leslie Feinberg, Lesbian, gay, bi and trans pride series part 22, Workers World newspaper (Dec. 9, 2004)
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Hillary Clinton reminiscing about visiting the AIDS Memorial Quilt in a speech at the 2012 International AIDS Conference.