"Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself. Be a hard master to yourself-and be lenient to everybody else.” ― Henry Ward Beecher
I received several messages from a “sir” and I use this in quotations because just because you refer to yourself AS one doesn’t mean crap. I don’t know who you are, where you are from or what community you belong to. He went on a rant about PrEP and that I need to be recommending that and that I have HIV issues.. YOU bet your ass I have HIV issues. I lost all my freakin friends to the disease. He then went on to judge me and my posts and the fact that I didn’t update the posts to include PrEP.
Well HERE WE GO. I am a FIRM believer in PrEP as a tool in the arsenal against HIV. I HIGHLY recommend it. IF you are having bareback sex you should be on PrEP…PERIOD. Many of you have heard the term Truvada whore, Well I call myself a PrEP pusher. You KNOW you aren’t using condoms EVERY SINGLE TIME. Most gay men don’t and the studies are out there proving they don’t. YOU NEED TO BE ON PrEP..YOU NEED TO BE ON PrEP… IF you are HIV positive you are hopefully adhering to your medication regimen. If you are HIV negative you NEED TO BE ON PrEP. I cant make this any clearer for you.
With that being said, PrEP will NOT however prevent the other 35 Sexually Transmitted Infections. IT ONLY works for HIV, NOTHING ELSE. If you are going to engage in bareback sex you can STILL get one of the other STI’s. There is no cure for Herpes or Genital warts once you get them although there IS a vaccine now THAT YOU SHOULD CONSIDER GETTING for warts. The “sir” who commented on PrEP didn’t even mention ANY other infection you could get. His attention was totally focused on HIV. Since I wanted to write a post answering his concerns, I wanted to give the bigger picture of the other nasties that are out there. Recently there has been a discovery of new strains of HIV in the Caribbean that are not responding to meds very well. I do NOT know what this means if you are on PrEP and are exposed to one of those specific strains. In addition there are now antibiotic resistant strains of Syphilis and Gonorrhea. The “sir” made no mention of this either in his comments. Then he had the balls to tell me that I needed therapy..been there done that…and STILL doing that. I think that he needs some therapy also because to focus on ONE STI out of 36 is foolish! You may prevent your comrades, “sir” from getting HIV BUT you are EXPOSING them with your ignorance by NOT addressing the other 35. TO my brothers out there…BE AWARE, GET INFORMATION, IF you are positive, GET INTO CARE and STICK to treatment. IF you are Negative, GET ON PrEP but be AWARE that you can STILL get ANY OTHER Sexually Transmitted Infections. PrEP is NOT a “Cure” for HIV; its a tool in an ever growing arsenal of ways to prevent you from getting infected. Condoms are NOT foolproof. THEY BREAK. PrEP when taken AS DIRECTED will PREVENT HIV 99% OR MORE of the time but again, IT WILL NOT PREVENT ANY OTHER OF THE 35 Sexually Transmitted Infections. Again; BE INFORMED, READ, ASK QUESTIONS!
IT has been awhile. Several important milestones in my life have taken place. This year (which is almost over) is my 40th year in Leather. I HATE being referred to as an “elder”. I’m NOT a deacon in a church! Then comes the fact that I am BACK in School. I have been accepted as a Doctoral Candidate and am studying for my PH.D in Psychology with a focus in Gender Diversity. THIS takes up A LOT of my time. Third thing. As founder of the Leathertarian Award it has taken me a year but I have accomplished making The Leathertarian Award a Trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
I’ve accomplished quite a bit just in a year. Ive seen more of my friends dying and it reminds me of my own mortality and 40 years in the leather community remind me how fast time has gone by and I’m trying my best to savor and accomplish while enjoying my time here. IF you want information on the award you can go to http://www.theleathertarianaward.com and you can nominate someone to be the recipient of this award which happens every June 21. I am NOT on the panel of 6 who decides the recipients so I have no say nor do I even know who they choose. You will find all the information on there.
I find it annoying sometimes when I am on Facebook (for 10 whole minutes) and guys are telling me how “bored” they are. REALLY? Why dont you try volunteering and get OFF the computer? I dont have time to be bored. I am STILL on the Gay men HIV work-group which works out of Tallahassee for our monthly phone calls on the status of HIV in Broward County. I am STILL a volunteer with the county Health Dept and I am still on the MSM Strategic Planing Committee which meets once per month. How is it that I can find time for all of this and STILL have a life to do “other” things that give me joy? I just dont understand it at all and I guess I never will because my mind-set is not theirs and thats a good thing. I’ve learned to organize and manage time through trial and error. I had a good SIR who taught me well over those ten years I was with him.
I will try to write more. I have off the next two weeks before starting my next two courses. Dynamics of Family and the Psychology of Women. The last bunch of courses were research and writing oriented and I am pulling a 4.0 index (Straight A’s) so you can teach a middle aged dawg new tricks. Your brain doesnt have to go to mush when you remain active and vital. I dont believe that one has to decay a painful slow downward spiral into the abyss. You can remain sharp edgy and active. For now though I am going to hit the sack and get some sleep.
I posted this on Facebook and I had such a large response that I felt it necessary to place it here for the ENTIRE internet to see.
I often write posts on HIV and safer sex. When HIV began I was in my late 20’s and I was terrified. I stopped having sex when I saw how those men were dying horrific deaths. The media also put out the alarm and showed awful photos of men nearing the end weighing 60 pounds. Those images still haunt me today. I have to say something here. BEFORE HIV began, I did things, and in looking back, are considered reckless now; i.e; hustling (escorting) and porn movies. I LOVED all the attention and sex and I was a damn PIG, PERIOD!! I had a Fraking BLAST. It was one BIG party and I was a STAR!! Point being, I NEVER EVER had safer sex. There was no need to. If I was 22 or 23 years old now and I **DIDN’T** see what I did, I’m not so sure what I would do. YES, I am NOT sure I would always be safer. Does it make me a hypocrite, you tell me! For **ME**, safer sex is easy **BECAUSE** of what I saw and continue to see. However, Guys are going to do what they want to do and if you didn’t see what I did you have no history of how traumatic it was. I suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) because of the war I was in. I give the info and leave the rest up to you WITHOUT judgement. I will CONTINUE to bring you info as best I can but I wont run from you or make ANY judgements if you get infected with HIV or ANYTHING else. YOU can count on me to care about you with integrity and dignity, to help direct you to treatment and to listen to you if you need to talk. NO ONE should have to give up sex out of fear…be it 1985 or 2013; whether you are 25 or 75 and NO ONE should have to deal with stigma…OF ANY KIND for ANY reason!
Just got back from a month up at my farm in North Georgia near Jasper…attended the SE Leather SIR/boy contest in Atlanta and had a great time….then from there I went to Augusta to the Trident Knights annual leather run. Their 19th year as a club. Last year I was awarded their Associate of the year and this year I am representing them at the Mr South East Conference of Clubs (SECC) Leather title In February. Am very much looking forward to it. In October I was asked to be one of the judges for the Mr Ramrod contest held here in FT Lauderdale. The high point of this past year is that I found my boy..dating him almost a year now and after going through all the BS with so called boys who are NOT boys at all….I found a good one….actually met at a leather event in ST Petersburg Florida last November and he will be moving in with me at some point in the next 6 months. I keep saying I will write more but I need more time in the day. I have been disturbed though by the recent deaths of seemingly healthy guys who are abusing steroids and meth…I also know several who died from abusing just steroids.. I don’t think losing my life so others will accept me because I have big muscles is any less stupid than not using a condom just to have bareback sex is to getting HIV and deal with all that goes with it just to be accepted and be part of “the club”. Guys are dying of steroid abuse, of meth and steroid abuse and they are just as sick as those who get HIV in 2012, and guys are STILL dying with HIV. Its all about choices…and as I have said..most choices come with consequences..a few with rewards but the majority with consequences. IT all looks good on paper but there’s no substance…
Several more months have passed. I closed on the land in Georgia and sold my condo here in Wilton Manors. I am writing for a totally different reason today and I hope the jerk who sent me three vile messages with the WRONG email address reads them. This guy Dave sent me 3 comments today…
1. I am bragging and I am rich and that people like me because of it… I am indeed rich with great guys who indeed like me. When I blog here and I talk about whats going on in my life its NOT meant to brag.. I have worked a long time and very hard to get whatever I have. This ASSHOLE who sent me these comments wasn’t even man enough to post his correct email address. When I tried to respond to him the email was bounced back.
2. He wishes I moved back to NYC because Florida would be rid of me…lets see…I work with the Broward county Health dept in their HIV division of prevention. I have attended all the protest workshops held in Miami when it was found out that the Federal poverty level would be reduced throwing off over 1500 Floridians OFF their medication because they would no longer be eligible. I wonder if this ASSHOLE attended those meetings or if hes HIV positive and if he IS then he should have been there to fight them to NOT arbitrarily change the law so that these people would get thrown off meds and the ADAP list. Hey Jerk off..do you even know what the ADAP list is? In addition I am on the Florida State Health Department gay men HIV work group who advocates prevention for those NOT infected with HIV; to prevent those who already are infected to NOT get re infected with the 39 different strains or to get co infected with other STD’s. I am also one of the volunteer coordinators for the Gay and Lesbian Community Center here in Wilton Manors..Hey Dave, what the fuck do YOU do for the community down here other than send comments that I cant respond to?
3. I am an asshole who only cares about myself and no one else… SEE ITEM 2 ABOVE, JERKOFF!!
And in the end….My LAST long time HIV surviving friend Robert “Chandler” Karasik died this morning of AIDS related cancer, July 3, 2010.
It was as horrific as anything I ever experienced in the 1980’s. I am sad but even more relieved that its over. I am exhausted beyond any words I can convey to you out there.
Last night I was very restless after getting two phone calls from his sister Gloria telling me that the hospice nurse told her that it wasn’t going to be long. I couldn’t sleep and was restless so my roommate Ron and I stayed up and hung out in the backyard and talked. About 3:45AM I felt a finger on my arm in the EXACT spot Chandler had asked me to put his star (Ink tattoo)) after he died. I told Ron he was here and then I said, “hes dead.” I said that for 15 minutes while still feeling that light touch on my right arm..About 4AM I got up and commented that “why is it that they always pick 4AM to die?” I went to bed and at 8:40AM Sat morning, his sister called and said that he wasn’t moving and his eyes were open as was his mouth.. I told her that he was gone. She thought he fell asleep with his mouth open since it was dark and she had the lights out. She explained to me that she heard him gurgling and sounding like he was clearing his throat..she thought he was getting up again but then the sound stopped and she assumed he went back to sleep..what is was is the common term as the death rattle. I asked her if this happened at about 4AM and she said WHAT how did you know to which I explained to her what I just wrote here. I told her that Chandler came to say goodbye to me by pointing on my arm where the star was going to be inked on my arm. He KNEW I would understand that he had left all the pain and disease behind.
I got dressed and went over there with Ron and she was a mess.. I helped her with phone calls the hospice nurse and the funeral home since Chandler had already paid for EVERYTHING. I peeked into the room where he left his AIDS racked body and saw how peaceful he was and his legs were that of a doll and at 5’11” he was only 90 pounds. He was covered with his blanket and was so painfully thin. I went around to the neighbors at Gloria’s request asking if anyone wanted to see him before the funeral home came since his body is being shipped up to New Jersey for the service and burial. Several of the guys came to see him one last time but the wives stayed with Gloria while I helped the hospice nurse and go through papers, making calls and keeping Gloria calm.
The death certificate was signed and the funeral home guys came and by 11:15AM they went into the bedroom, wrapped him gently in the blanket he died in and placed him in a blue cloth zip up bag. I couldn’t watch as they wheeled him out of his home on a stretcher for the last time. Ron stayed with Gloria and watched while I turned away facing the kitchen and cried. MY 20 year time with him was over. He loved his home so much and I just couldn’t watch him leaving it like that. I stayed with Gloria several more hours getting things together for her to take up to New Jersey.
I am now the LAST one left of the entire group of men I grew along with. This will be my last time care-taking anyone with HIV. I am DONE with it..On Monday, I will be getting HIS star inked on my arm and again this is the last star I am adding to it. I realize that AIDS is not going away because men insist on bare-backing and spreading this virus with the God Damn stupid idea that the meds will keep them going forever without ANY consequences or side effects so they can just keep bare-backing regardless of co infections with OTHER STD’s and reinfection with different variants of the HIV virus. You know what the worst part is? You have so many fucked up young gay men who will say, well hey that’s his choice and hes my friend so whatever he wants to do is ok with me…FRIEND? Are you FREAKIN kidding me? JESUS Christ if you are a friend you don’t tell them anything because yer afraid of losing their friendship? Well if they get sick and die you’re going to lose them ANYWAY DUMB-ASS.
The gay society is very ‘well its not me so whatever they want to do doesn’t affect MY life and they are my friend and can do what they want’. This I have heard MANY times. That’s just so FU^KED up I cant even put it into words.. When these A-HOLES watch their friends dying in front of them I wonder what then?
I know 7 guys that died just in June from AIDS related and HIV med induced cancer. You don’t think a NEW wave of death is upon us??
I posted this on Mama Sandy’s Family in Leather and I felt it important enough to re post it on my website here.
It took me some time to be able to write this post since I am going through an extremely difficult time. I am losing my LAST long time close friend with HIV disease to AIDS and the very Meds that were supposed to keep him alive have given him cancer. He is 109 lbs at 5’11” tall. He cant eat drink or swallow anything. Hes on Albuterol for the shortness of breath and morphine for the pain.
After he dies there are no more friends left with long term HIV. I will have outlived ALL of them.
I am writing this post for Rick Weber, Mamas Cyclist who asked about the early days of AIDS. I am FROM NYC and was there with Larry Kramer in Act Up, I knew Keith Haring, Tom Stoddard, Diego Lopez, Vito Russo and others I cant think of right now. I was part of the ORIGINAL GMHC 800 men study and the follow up 500 men study back in the 80’s. Google it..its there.
Before AIDS WAS AIDS and before it was even GRID, it was called “The Saint Disease” because it appeared that anyone who went to the Saint got the disease and no one knew what the hell it was. The Saint was a HUGE disco on the lower East side on East 6th St not far from the ST Marks Bath House. It was decadence at its pinnacle. You could check ALL your clothes down stairs in the basement and dance in a jockstrap or less and have all the sex you wanted with whoever you wanted and the drugs of EVERY kind flowed like water..
My friends brother had slept with Patient Zero from Canada as did everyone in that particular house on the ocean on Fire Island in the Pines. EVERYONE in that house at THAT time is dead. Don’t ask me for the address. I prefer not to disclose that.
It was a dizzying time Rick. Men you didn’t see for several weeks just up and died. When you went out to the Pines there was house after house after freakin house that was listed as an estate sale and you know what happened. Back then the listing was on the front of the house saying “ESTATE SALE”..Guys were afraid to stay in the houses because no one knew how the virus was spread and thought it was in the mattresses, sheets or even in the air.
I remember being told, just go with fat ugly guys. They’re safe because not many want to screw with them. All the hot ones are going to die.
You ended up dating big obese men that you figured were safe. They died too.
Hospitals were a nightmare. Nurses left food on trays, OUTSIDE ON THE FLOOR and refused to go in the rooms. Some doctors REFUSED to treat patients and funeral homes turned away dead men left right and center.
Being who I am Rick, and you KNOW me, I would say, (and excuse my language everyone) FUCK THIS and I would grab the tray without the protective clothing and go in the room and feed my friends.
I cant tell you how many times I would hug guys who were frail and that would bring tears to their eyes because NO ONE would touch them, not even their own parents, lovers..ANYONE. I was a regular at ST Vincents Hospital in Greenwich Village to see friends who were sick..sometimes going to multiple hospitals to make the rounds to several friends at the same time. I was happy when they were all in the same place so I didn’t have to run around all over NYC. From Dec 7 to the 25 one year,
I lost THREE friends.
I lost several good boys who even though I wasn’t afraid they would never let me be intimate with them for fear of infecting me. I stayed because I loved them and it didn’t matter. All of them died in the early 90s. When you would pick up the phone to call friends you knew what had happened when the phone was disconnected. When the pain was so bad you drew straws with other friends to see which one would pull the plug when the doctors and family left the room and your buddy was in a coma FULL of KS lesions all over his swollen body.
This is where I come from Rick..and I can tell you that watching my LAST friend now is NOT ANY different than watching the first one 25 years ago.
Difference is you live longer..but now the issue becomes the medicines
that are supposed to keep you healthy, keep it chronic but sometimes doesn’t. MY friend was HIV poz for only THREE years. He got cancer and died at 42 yrs old.
The issue is guys getting infected by choice..
The issue is guys forgetting there are OTHER non curable diseases like
Hepatitus C which tax the immune system when there’s co infection with HIV and as much as other STD’s are curable like gonorrhea and syphilis they STILL tax the immune system.
Well Rick..there’s part of my story in a nutshell..I recall you requesting some info on the early days in NYC and there you have it.
To ALL of you going to IML.. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make informed and HEALTHFUL choices. HIV is FAR from over and is NOT curable…the meds suppress it, but over the long haul, AT A PRICE!!
Welcome to my blog. I am in St. Petersburg, Florida this weekend for the Tampa Leather Club’s Leather SIR/boy contest which will be taking place in a little over 2 hours. My Leather wolfdog, Spike, gave me the idea to start an interactive weblog. The reason that I decided to begin this new adventure is my personal feeling that there are so many out there who throw around the words “Old Guard” without any of them ever being IN that lifestyle, or from stories they have heard from others who weren’t there either. There was NO Old Guard.
IT was leather. PERIOD.
The term emerged as that first wave of men were dying of AIDS VERY quickly. At First it was called the Saint Disease (taken from the mega disco in NYC) since everyone who got sick and died went there (including myself, though I remain HIV-). Then the name changed to Gay Related Immune Deficiency (GRID) and then to AIDS/HIV. This was the dividing line between what is now known as New Guard (or No Guard, from all I hear out there), and what was.
There seems to be miscommunication, misinformation and downright lies about what it was and wasn’t. Principles have been slanted to reflect personal points of view rather than the realities of what it was. As much as the families had different rules and protocols, there was much that we shared in common. The differences were not stark in comparison to today, where guys make up their own names and labels then claim it was Old Guard or similar to it.
I want this to be an interactive blog. I want it to be about your questions and comments — your ideas and your input. I can only give you my insights and perceptions as to what I have seen and experienced AS a leather boy in NYC in the 70s and 80s. I don’t qualify myself as an expert: just as an observer who WAS there and lived it on a day-to-day basis. I want to add a ton of content, videos and comments, and share this as far as I can reach so that I can affect those coming into this, those who are curious about it and those who are already involved and wish to know more.