Reading your column off and on over the years (I try to read it as much as I can), I've noticed something that intrigues me.
As you know, next to your column are ads for female and transsexual escorts. Why are the faces of the women blurred out when those of the transwomen aren't? Is this some kind of discrimination against the trans population?
I ask because I've seen some of these trans escorts before in bars (not naming where, of course). I assume that the reason why the women's faces are blocked off is to protect them from overzealous men in everyday life. Why isn't the same courtesy extended to transwomen? I mean, I'm sure transwomen, even escorts, don't want to be bothered when they go to the store or at restaurants or what not.
To blur or not to blur: this is a choice that all escorts make when they ply their wares in public forums. Transwomen are not forced by any publication or website to show their faces. This is a decision they make on their own.
My understanding is that transwomen do this because they want to flaunt as many assets as possible that ensure their passability - a contentious subject in itself. Biological women who do escorting never really have to prove that their face is feminine; they may be asked to prove it is not alarmingly unattractive, but femininity is a generally a given with cisgendered female escorts.
Still, many women are proud to be paid companions yet find that social stigma and legal repercussions make public visibility problematic.
As a side note, my column no longer appears beside escort ads. The Montreal Mirror was the last of my publications where I shared this hallowed space, and two weeks ago, after 27 years in business, it closed its doors. The Mirror was the first weekly that ran my column.
Do you have any suggestions for people with HIV who want to have a normal, healthy sex life (other than telling them to use a condom, the obvious)? I am also hoping you can help bring awareness to this problem. The fear and stigma that exists today leads people to post on dating sites that they are looking for someone "clean," "not dirty," "safe." These terms tend to place a divide between us and them, and the terminology is discriminatory. "Clean" is how my laundry should look, not my status.
In an ideal world, an HIV+ person could disclose his or her status in a risk-free way. In reality, reactions to this disclosure range from outright or more insidious rejection to verbal abuse and violence. What we need, and what most organizations and HIV legal networks are working on, are public service announcements and educational programs that better inform the public of the risks around HIV.
Disclosing one's status is a legal obligation, for now. However, stigma and fear make this almost impossible, and some choose not to disclose. Most straight HIV+ women isolate themselves and live with no intimacy and sex, which, as you know, can be very stressful. The only way to address HIV+ disclosure and the misinformed public is to educate people to become more tolerant and accepting.
It's a problem with societal attitudes, not with the HIV+ person. No one intentionally infects others, except in crazy, sensational stories the media pick up for shock value and to sell news that reinforce the belief that all HIV+ people do this and are highly contagious.
Any advice for disclosing one's status without risking rejection and the possibility that the person given the information will broadcast it to everyone they know?
Can you address some myths about HIV transmission and support the cause, for a decrease in transmission rates and an overall healthier life for those who are HIV+ and society in general. Your audience would gladly listen to your advice. They sure as hell are not listening to ours.
Thank you for letting me vent and reach out to you as a person who can help set the record straight on sex with an HIV+ person.
I feel that what you are asking is, "How does one live with sexual pariah status in a culture that venerates and dismisses sex in equal measures and often at the same time?" As an HIV+ person, you are criminalized both literally and metaphorically.
We simply have to keep fighting. We have to put ourselves out there fearlessly (while considering our comfort levels and safety), proudly and with accurate information. We need to tell our truths without shame.
Is it easy? Fuck, no. Did you ask for your intimate life to be burdened with such an obstacle? No, you did not, but neither did trans people, whose lives have also been criminalized. Neither did queer people, whose lives have also been criminalized. Neither did sex workers, who live with similar stigma. Let's not even get into the sex lives of so many disabled people, who are often identified as having no sexual profile at all.
All of us who live with some obstruction to perceived sexual viability go through comparable things.
My feeling is that you can't rely on other people to embrace ideas that scare them to help find your peace in the world. The only person that controls this is you. Only you can be honest with your partners, careful about your choices of whom you allow in and clear in setting the tone of your life.
People have access to tons of accurate information on HIV risk rates, sex worker rights, queer rights, trans rights and the rights of disabled people. But as Nietzsche said, "Fear is the mother of morality," and as long as everyone is running around scared shitless just to be here, you're first going to have to find some peace and satisfaction being your own champion.
Can I have sex with stripper without a condom? Is it safe if I know she is normal and healthy? She only dances as far as I know.
I like mostly anal sex.
As I was saying to Gracie above, many people live with stigma around their health and social status.
Does the stripper you're about to sleep with know you're a giant idiot? I think you should tell her that before you have sex. In fact, I think you should ask her your question and see how she reacts.
Got a question? Ask Sasha: email@example.com