HIV Here & Now

In honor of National World AIDS Day which was December 1st, 2019, this poem was re-posted by Jessica Paul.

Original poem by: Vernita Hall
Letter from P-town

Dear Gregory,

As Pop would say, I’m as happy as a faggot in Boystown—literally. ‘Cause that’s where I am! You and Richard would love it here. Nearly every passing face looks up and smiles. But they hesitate first, searching for—the welcome, I think. Acceptance. And with each shy, hopeful gaze I remember your funeral, your family’s faces, in that church with Richard—like they’d been sucking lemons and needed to spit.

I wish you had told me. I wish you had told me why in the hospital they let you smoke. I thought your nurse was kind because he was your kind. As if any alphabet infection could have ever changed my affection for you.

I’m trying to enjoy my stay here. Like you always said, you’ll be dead a long time.

Well, the gang’s almost all there now. You, Pop, Richard, Granny, Uncle Charlie. Mom says hi; she’s coming to visit soon. Keep the music hot, the beer cold, a seat warm for me, and the tab running. I’ve got all of you covered.


(Vernita Hall)

To read the original poem along with others from this collection, please visit:

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5 Ways LGBT Youth Can Survive Thanksgiving Dinner With Crazy Uncle Bob
Article by: Klint Kendrick

Reposted by: Jessica Paul

The winter holidays may be the most wonderful time of the year for some people, but many LGBT youth find it’s a season they would rather skip right past. Not only is it cold and dark outside, but LGBT youth are often forced to spend time with family members who are less than supportive. There’s also something about the religious origins of Christmas that seem to make “Crazy Uncle Bob” double down on the anti-gay rhetoric.

Young LGBT people don’t have the same power as Crazy Uncle Bob in these situations, making it important to come up with alternatives for surviving traditions like Thanksgiving Dinner. I’ve gathered these five tips to help LGBT youth cope with the Crazy Uncle Bob in their life.

1. Remember, nobody wins a dinner fight. I have a strong personality, and have reduced two of my sisters-in-law to tears in the past 20 years. After I “won” those fights my relatives told me that I was right, and I was a jerk. I’ve learned that sometimes I have to choose between being right and being happy. If I had it to do over again, I would choose being happy each and every time. Take the high road and be happy — there will be plenty of time to be right later. You don’t want to become the bad guy; let Crazy Uncle Bob keep that title.

2. Assume good intent. Our family members, including Crazy Uncle Bob, are generally good people who want the best for us. These are the people who watched us when we were little, changed our diapers, and kissed our boo-boos. They worry about our future, and they want us to have happy lives. When I get stressed about Crazy Uncle Bob’s anti-gay rants (and yes, even though I’m 40-something, I have a Crazy Uncle Bob), I take a deep breath and remind myself that he thinks he’s helping. While it doesn’t make what he’s saying right, it helps me to listen to what’s behind the words — a desire for me to have a happy and successful life.

3. Become a master of redirection. While Crazy Uncle Bob just can’t help but argue about sex, politics, and religion, most people will roll their eyes and wish that something else was on the agenda. Come ready to talk about a few other topics, like what color your next iPhone should be, a silly cat video, or how horrible it is to drive in the snow.

To read the full article, please visit:

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My Lover Is a Woman

Poem by: Pat Parker

Reposted by: Jessica Paul


my lover is a woman
& when i hold her
feel her warmth
     i feel good
     feel safe

then—i never think of
my family’s voices
never hear my sisters say
bulldaggers, queers, funny
     come see us, but don’t
     bring your friends
          it’s ok with us,
          but don’t tell mama
          it’d break her heart
never feel my father
turn in his grave
never hear my mother cry
Lord, what kind of child is this?


my lover’s hair is blonde
& when it rubs across my face
it feels soft
     feels like a thousand fingers
     touch my skin & hold me
          and i feel good

then—i never think of the little boy
who spat & called me nigger
never think of the policemen
who kicked my body & said crawl
never think of Black bodies
hanging in trees or filled
with bullet holes
never hear my sisters say
white folks hair stinks
don’t trust any of them
never feel my father
turn in his grave
never hear my mother talk
of her backache after scrubbing floors
never hear her cry
Lord, what kind of child is this?


my lover’s eyes are blue
& when she looks at me
i float in a warm lake
     feel my muscles go weak with want
          feel good
          feel safe

then—i never think of the blue
eyes that have glared at me
moved three stools away from me
in a bar
never hear my sisters rage
of syphilitic Black men as
guinea pigs
     rage of sterilized children
          watch them just stop in an
          intersection to scare the old
          white bitch
never feel my father turn
in his grave
never remember my mother
teaching me the yes sirs & ma’ams
to keep me alive
never hear my mother cry
Lord, what kind of child is this?


& when we go to a gay bar
& my people shun me because i crossed
the line
& her people look to see what’s
wrong with her
     what defect
     drove her to me

& when we walk the streets
of this city
     forget and touch
     or hold hands
          & the people
          stare, glare, frown, & taunt
               at those queers

i remember
     every word taught me
     every word said to me
     every deed done to me
          & then i hate
i look at my lover
& for an instant

then—i hold her hand tighter
     & i can hear my mother cry.
     Lord, what kind of child is this?

#TruthTuesday #HealthInYourHands #DigitalLinCS #LoveIsLove #FamilyIsDiverse #LGBTQPIA #MyLoverIsAWoman #ChosenFamily #InterracialLesbians #Acceptance #ComingOut #StayTrueToYourself #LoveWhoYouAre #Holidays #BeProud #FaceAdversity #YouAreLoved #Poetry #QWOC


Busting the Myths on PrEP for HIV- Fact or Fiction Quiz

  1. Fact or Fiction: I can get HIV by being around people who are HIV positive. 
  2. Fact or Fiction: If both partners are HIV positive, there is no need to use a condom. 
  3. Fact or Fiction: Once you start taking Prep, you can never stop.
  4. Fact or Fiction: PrEP is a new way to prevent HIV. 
  5. Fact or Fiction: You should get tested for HIV immediately before and at least every 3 months while taking PrEP.
  6. Fact or Fiction: PrEP is a pharmaceutical conspiracy to make money from HIV. Fact: | Thank you to health4men for this info! 
  7. Fact or Fiction: I aged out of having to worry about things like HIV. 

Answer Key:

  1. Fiction. Here’s why: HIV isn’t spread through touch, tears, sweat, saliva or urine. You can’t catch it by: breathing the same air, touching a toilet seat or door knob or handle, drinking from a water fountain, hugging, kissing or shaking hands, sharing eating utensils, or using exercise equipment at a gym. HIV is found in blood, semen (cum), pre-seminal fluid (pre-cum), vaginal fluid, rectal fluid and breast milk. HIV spreads when one of these fluids from a person who has HIV enters the body of a person who does not. Some of the ways this can happen are through:Anal, oral, or vaginal sex, needles, syringes, or other injection equipment, pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding and via small amounts of blood spread during deep kissing or oral sex (which is extremely rare).
  2. Fiction. Here’s why: If both partners are positive, there are still a lot of things to consider. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) does not protect against other STDs or unwanted pregnancy. It is also possible for an HIV positive individual to be infected with a second strain of HIV. In other words, there are still some very valid reasons to use a condom.
  3. Fiction. Here’s why: PrEP is a prescription medicine that can help reduce the risk of getting HIV. It is important that you take PrEP daily, but you can stop taking it at anytime if you feel you no longer need it.
  4. Fact. Here’s why: PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. PrEP is a daily pill that can protect you from HIV as long as you take it every day and use condoms. PrEP protects people who are HIV-negative and are: At risk of being exposed to HIV through sex or injection drugs. Ready to take a daily pill. If you are HIV-negative and exposed to HIV, PEP can stop HIV before it infects your body.
  5. Fact. Here’s why: Many HIV tests can miss HIV infection in a person who has recently become infected. If you have flu-like symptoms, you could have recently become infected with HIV. You should tell your healthcare provider if you had a flu-like illness within the last month before starting or at any time while taking PrEP. Symptoms of new HIV-1 infection include tiredness, fever, joint or muscle aches, headache, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, night sweats, and/or enlarged lymph nodes in the neck or groin.
  6. Fiction. Here’s why: PrEP development was driven by activist, community leaders and scientist. Gilead, the company that developed PrEP, was not allowed to participate in the research to prove PrEP works. All research done to prove PrEP works is available to the public if you have any doubts! 
  7. Fiction. Here’s why: Unlike many parts of today’s society, HIV does not discriminate! Gender, race, sexual preference, and yes even age does not stop the risk of contracting HIV. The rates of STDs, like HIV, are on the rise in people over 50 because of this myth. 

Thanks for participating in our Fact or Fiction Quiz on PrEP for HIV treatment. For further information, please visit:

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In recognition of December 1, 2018, which was World AIDS Day,  a group of poems by contemporary poets were gathered that addressed the AIDS epidemic through a personal and social lens. (For more information on how to recognize and honor World AIDS Day, visit the awareness section of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.) Even though World AIDS Day has yet to approach us this year, we can still reflect on the impact that this epidemic has left on the lives of so many. No matter what month it is, we can always spare much humility for awareness on this cause. Here is one of the poems written to reflect a personal account of an ailment that affects our community daily.

What the Living Do

Poem by: Marie Howe
(Re-posted by: Jessica Paul)

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.

And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we spoke of.

It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living-room windows because the heat’s on too high in here and I can’t turn it off.

For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,

I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those

wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.

Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want

whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss—we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,

say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:

I am living. I remember you.

To view the original poem, please visit:

#TruthTuesday #HealthInYourHands #DigitalLinCS #HIVAIDS #Poetry #Humility #AidsAwarenessDayIsApproaching #Transgender #Lesbian #Gay #QWOC #LGBTQIAP #Awareness #Community #WhatTheLivingDo #November