I went for a break today at work. I sat in a chair in the dining room and rested my back and head against the wall. I closed my eyes and began to pray, something I rarely get enough time for. As I was thinking of what I wanted to talk to God about, I hear “I don’t want to work with him, I’m afraid I’m gonna get AIDS”

The guys had a good laugh but no one stopped, assuming I couldn’t hear them. They began talking about how I shouldn’t be cooking or breathing on or around the food or them, they might catch the bug. At least I don’t have to worry about them hitting me, they’re all to afraid of my blood.

Just one problem, I don’t have AIDS or HIV, or any disease for that matter. Not that it would matter, the disease is tragic, no doubt, but in American civilization its rarely a death sentence when treated as HIV and when you catch it soon.
I explained to them that I don’t have this disease and that if I did, they certainly couldn’t catch it from my breath from making a salad. This prompted the response “how do you know you don’t have it?”. 

It just went on and on. I figured out after a few minutes that they were all thoroughly convinced that all gay men were disease ridden and that’s that. They are also convinced that we are only attracted to straight men, that we have no restraint and have zero ability to not perform oral sex on an exposed penis. As in, if it gets pulled out were going to skid towards it like a tractor beam and drop to our knees like mindless Hoovers. Then of course we can’t resist them personally.

I get tired of the stigmas of the outgoing generation. Our elders spreading nonsensical garbage to a captive audience. Basically what happened today was a lesson for everyone listening. Two parts to it, one part was how to create a division line between straights and gays and why straights are better then us. Secondly, I get a firsthand lesson in how to grow a thick skin fast.

Let’s be honest, its not feasible to fight over ignorance. We’d never stop. Someone else would always challenge. Today, I stood there and smiled. I tried to chuckle a little, not because it was funny, because it wasn’t. But because it hurt. It hurt and there was nothing to be done about it other then be polite and be the bigger person. And…I did threaten to breathe on all of them…just sayin’. 

When we run into stupidity the best medicine for our feelings is to rely on each other. Smile, be polite and walk away. If I can do it in prison, and I hear this literally every single day, and day after day I walk away smiling, you can do it to. There is zero shame in having HIV/AIDS. However, the assumption and fear associated with it still strong and alive. We all are affected by HIV/AIDS. Wrap it up folks. 

With Love
Jeff Utnage