Just Like Everyone Else
July 01 2010 12:00 AM ET
So this is downtime. Life is good, people are beautiful, my skin is back to normal, and my HIV is in the background. It happens like that sometimes. No little emergency on the horizon, no emotional or spiritual lesson manifesting in physical form, and no interpersonal relationship being fragmented by the dynamics of this disease. Simply put: Things are simple lately. And that's a good thing. A really good thing! As far as the world, my body, and my doctor are concerned, I'm absolutely normal. But I'm not. Not really.
HIV is always there ticking silently in my blood, undeniably marking me as different. My virus is scientifically undetectable, sure. But socially, intimately, and personally, I am still very much defined as 'other': queer, outcast, alien, odd, strange, bizarre, weird, unusual, and heteromorphic. Undetectable my (bad) ass! The truth of the matter is that I always know that at any moment a scarlet letter can be splashed across my chest, labeling me as the one who is separate from the others. So why on earth would I do that to someone else? My difference is in my blood. It's innate to who I am and inextricably bonded to my identity. And whether I am healthy, beautiful, innocent, celibate, or safe, I am judged for it. Get the metaphor?
Lately, I've been bombarded with politics, barraged by religious dogma, and inundated with racial and sexual prejudice; and I wonder what the big deal is. We are all separate and the same, different and similar; oddly normal and perfectly flawed in one way or another -- even if it doesn't show. It just so happens that some people wear their issue on their skin like leprosy or their faith on their brain like some metaphysical disability. Or perhaps they were just born in the wrong place, at the wrong time, like some geographic deformity. But we're all the same'in a different sort of way.
I don't think I get the fear. Over the years I've learned to wear my differences like a beautiful badge that colors my life in a spectrum that bedazzles the eyes. I let race, sexuality, nationality, and biological infection flow freely from my form and brush my personality with things that have made me stronger for it. And luckily, I've come to realize that the motley colored patchwork of other people's stories represents exactly the things that make them beautiful; it's exactly what makes them unique and special and precious. And their difference doesn't threaten my own -- because surely we both can be beautiful. But society has somehow gone astray. Some people are not so lucky. Some of us are ostracized, put aside, quarantined, deported, ignored, and shunned; and through no fault of their own, they are spotted, categorized, and forced to bear the brunt of a judgment that the majority decides is the 'norm.' Until all of a sudden everyone else is telling them what they need to do. I would hate for that to happen to me.
So for the moment, I'm free! As far as the world is concerned my HIV is under control. There is no drama, no doctor appointments, no fears, insecurities, or physical hardships. Once again I'm like everyone else -- because they can't see my HIV. We're just going to pretend that me being poor, black, and gay has nothing to do with it. Because, of course, no one would judge me on those things anyway, right?
Saucier is a writer, blogger, and performance artist based in Los Angeles.