Friday, December 3, 2010

Live and Let Live...

Wednesday was World AIDS Day and the bandwagonists were out in their numbers...and all of a sudden everybody has something to say about "get tested" or "know your status". Of course these are important messages since one of the major probems in addressing HIV is that a lot of persons don't know their status. And then there were the red ribbons...the wagonists all ensured that they wore their ribbons. But where are the ribbons today or tomorrow? My point is that if HIV/AIDS does not affect someone directly, awareness is only generated on World AIDS Day.

Last month I went to Carib cinema to watch Tyler Perry's For Colored Girls...Now, usually I don't like going to Carib. For my trinis...going to Carib is like going to Globe cinema in Chaguanas...minus the balcony. There weren't much persons there but of course it attracted mostly women. In the film (spoiler alert), there's a story line where Janet Jackson's character found out that she got HIV from her husband who has sex with men but doesn't consider himself gay. Once it was revealed that the man was sexually attracted to men, the persons in the cinema began shouting at the screen...calling the character a "batty bwoy", indicating that "batty bwoy fi dead" and continued this bashing every time the character was featured. I have never witnessed anything like that...I couldn't understand this reaction. Isn't this the attitude that Perry was trying to bring awareness to? The "down low" phenomenon is real whether we want to accept it or not and contributes to the prevalence of HIV. Why do men feel the need to be on the "down low"? Because of the attitude displayed by the women in Carib cinema. Masculinity continues to be defined as "not gay" and "gay" is associated with femininity so men who do not display any girlish characteristics are not "gay" but could have sex with men and in some cases, unprotected sex. The other point here is that femininity itself is being devalued because it's associated with being "gay" so these women who bash a man because he's gay are not helping their own devalued position.

The bigger message in Perry's film is that marriage does not protect one from HIV so again women need to check themselves...But I am concerned about how can we move forward in addressing HIV/AIDS when homophobia and gender inequality are ignored? The red ribbon symbolizes solidarity of people living with HIV/AIDS but we are afraid to deal with all of the issues that come with this solidarity....

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