Previously published in german on https://www.lvstprinzip.de/
Ok. Don’t get me wrong. Having HIV sucks. It really does.
Not that it affects me tremendously anymore. My viral load is minimal. I can’t infect anyone. My immune system is top notch and I generally feel slightly superhuman and awesome.
But that is now. That is after those long years of therapeutic confrontation. HIV took away a few years of my life. Stuck in depressions, doubts, insecurity and masturbatory loneliness. I was quite the pathetic personification of self-pity.
Of course, future consequences are unknown. And it simply is a constant company – especially when getting to know women (that is another, much funnier story for another day). So to double-down – HIV sucks. Don’t get it. It’s really not worth it. Use condoms. And get tested.
But this is not about HIV. This is about the joys of sex. And how HIV has made sex so different – and so much better.
I’ve always seen sexuality as one of my main sources of joy and happiness. The fun and laughter and giggles and playfulness that accompany those lustful games. I was a womanizer. An artist, charming with poetry and prose. Never wanting to commit, but never misleading either. Honesty about brief encounters was always welcomed. I was curious about women in all shapes and sizes.
All in all they were happy, sweaty and mischievous times, in which erotic entanglements were aplenty.
Until I received the virus. Until HIV charged through my life like a marauding horde of monsters, devastating the core beliefs of my being. Leaving no aspect of my life untouched. Especially sex, my approach to women – and my sexual identity.
Part I – In full retreat
In those first days, weeks and months of being diagnosed, I felt venomous. My blood and my semen were infected with an alien entity. And as I tried adjusting to this new life of mine, the sexual trauma had taken an ugly, monstrous shape in the back of my head.
In the cold and clouded grays of Vienna’s winter, my fear of intimacy reached unknown heights. I had already started taking my medication.
According to medicine, I was safe.
According to medicine, I couldn’t infect anyone.
According to medicine, the viral load was repressed.
According to medicine, I was clean.
According to me, I was poisonous.
What I used to associate with the joys of aimless wandering in the night – a glass of wine here, a glance and a smile there – had become a myth of distant lands. I stood in galleries, in bars and in clubs on my own – disconnected to the surroundings, trapped in my own head – a fearful tension occupied my eyes, my mind and my body language. Orifices and emotions, clenched shut.
All I did was observe from a distance. Staring at those fantastical beasts of beauty and perfection. Those women in their big smiles, with shining, happy eyes – in their elegant strides and delicate movements. They were so close to me – and yet so unbearably far away. It could have been so easy to walk up, to say something, to smile. But it became impossible. My longing for their recognition was painful.
I was carrying my invisible scars in the open. A simple conversation would mean a simple confrontation. What can I tell her? What can I say? That my life is in shambles? That I am used and infected? That I am dirty? That my cock is a poisonous weapon?
…that I could kill her? With sex…? infect her with a deadly poison…? – I was becoming aware of a new darkness that would take hold of my life.
I simply stared, having the imaginary conversation in my mind – Say this, say that, small-talking and superficial. While the panicking drunk in my head was screaming violently “CAN SHE SEE THIS? CAN SHE SEE ME HIDING SOMETHING? CAN SHE SEE I’M NOT TELLING HER SOMETHING?! CAN SHE SEE MY POISON?!”. I remained silent.
At even the slightest chance of an intimate encounter, my mouth flooded with a dry excuse to escape. I didn’t dare talk to her – I made up stories – anything that kept me from having to confront me with the situation of telling her about me. Shielding myself from the horrors of someone’s affection and interest.
I’ve always been a shitty liar – and some scars are simply too deep to hide, to make over or to brush aside as if they weren’t a big deal. And so I retreated.
Even if I was able to sway through a jungle of avoiding phrases and any personal details – even if things would move towards the tiniest bit of intimacy, I had installed the next roadblocks.
An unhealthy overdose of doubt filled my panic-stricken eyes “am I really safe?! Can I trust this?!” and especially – “Who would want this?! Who would want this poisonous, stained slab of used meat?”.
And so, controlled by my fear, my shame and self-loathing, I ran to safety. To build up and improve the only thing that I could at the time – the strength of my right arm.
Dreaming of those days of long ago, where satisfying a woman seemed so easy, I retreated from the joys of life. This was not that usual fear of commitment I had so embraced in my past. For now my association with sex was fear. And danger. The trauma had taken hold. I was afraid of sex.
Part II: Enter the Incel
Loneliness leads to anger leads to hate leads to violence.
I was scared of intimacy. I was feeling ugly, unloved and poisonous. And to escape from that sick state of mind, I started blaming women for it. I blamed them for ignoring me. For not finding me attractive. For my failure to catch their attention. “If they wouldn’t make an effort to get to know me, then fuck them!” I cursed to myself.
And I started seeing fewer and fewer women as attractive. Ugliness took hold. When frustration and unhappiness dominate your days, the worlds color shifts into a shade of ugliness that started covering everything. Women, nature, moods.
I still craved for desire, for sex and for intimacy. But I started separating my corporal needs from the emotional insecurities that were plaguing me.
While I used to want to satisfy a woman, I used to want to lick and pleasure and tickle and play – that wasn’t of any importance anymore.
I was becoming slightly more confident, coming to medical terms and seeking sex again – but I noticed a difference in my approach. The desire for satisfying women fell short. My frustration would reduce sex to that actual silly act of penetration. The simplistic idea of shoving my cock into someone and filling her up with semen.
Passive-aggressive grunts and snorts instead of passionate moaning. White, European and a-rythmic humping.
The delicate romanticism of my past was dissolving in a testosterone driven desperation. Cheap, pornographic fantasies dominated my imagination. No heart, no soul, no sex. Just a desperate “uuugghhh”…and an uninspired splat.
And obviously, my success was limited. So was the rather embarrassing stamina, ranging from a few seconds to a few seconds more, before my un-infectious semen shot out as a pathetic necessity. Of course, none of this could be done sober. Alcohol was always the route to courage.
Fucking for fuckings sake. For the most simplistic reasons of spreading sperm. (with condoms, nonetheless, making the reproductive, mammalian reasons even more futile). My sex became brutal – the only one I wanted to satisfy was myself. I was becoming angry and violent in bed. And I didn’t care. It was the only place I could exercise a little bit of power.
The less success I had, the more aggressive my fantasies got. The more frustration, the more aggression I had towards women who wouldn’t find me attractive. I was entering a downward spiral.
I was bitter. Sad. Angry. My sexuality had been buried in a coffin.
Of all the horrible things this virus had brought out of me, these desperations were the most shameful. They were vital though. Especially in todays debate about #metoo and the creepy fat assholes that take advantage of women and expose themselves to shocked reactions.
Looking back at my bitterness, at my feeling of being poisonous and having no known source of feeling attractive or wanted, I can see how frustration and sadness can lead to such behavior.
Of course, being neither successful, wealthy or in any position of power, I wasn’t really in a position to go down that road in the first place.
But with that in mind, I noticed where the source of my frustration was. What HIV had taken from me. The awareness of my sexuality. Of my own desires and abilities. Of what I can, of what I want and what I love. Sexual awareness is my ultimate freedom. And I decided to seek that again. To overcome the trauma of infection and to confront myself with the joys of sex.
Part III: Rhyming Steps
I met Mona at a trade fair in Barcelona over ten years ago. She was selling shitty plastic dolphins. What followed was a rollercoaster ride. A heartwrenching relationship, challenging emotional and sexual limits – ending in borderline insanity. In our emotional overload so she took the courage to end it before it would get destructive. Yet we had grown together – and over a few trying years, a bond had developed. A familiar feeling of love, trust and friendship that had outgrown any ambitions for relationships or sexual tensions. We were family now. Despite being in different cities, and sometimes even different continents, we would partake in all of our lifes joyous and horrid events. Quoting Leonard Cohen, we always said that “our steps would always rhyme”.
And when she told me she was pregnant, our next verse would start. In instances like these, life unravels too fast to keep track; and after the hesitant decision to keep her child, the uncertain biological-father faced certainty – and ran back to Argentina. Avoiding responsibilities, costs, courage or a spine. I sometimes wonder – how can people with no testicles manage to reproduce?
For me it was obvious what would follow. I had been buried in a hole in Vienna. I needed a change of heart, pace and location. Vienna was oppressing my sexuality in its icy heart. How could I find sexuality in a place so sexless? I’m not even speaking of the HIV-Bonus-Pack I had to carry with me.
And since misery loves company, I packed my things and left. I might have been worthless for my own good at the time, but I knew she could use my support. I knew she needed me.
And so I fled back to the winter in Barcelona, where laughs are loud and charms are accepted. Where I would find a rhythm of living and loving that I was more comfortable with. Where I would start the next adventure – living with my best friend, in her fathers garage.
A makeshift wooden board separated our “rooms”; she slept next to the kitchen, I slept next to the car. Occasional sleeping-on-the-bed battles ensued with the dog; most of the times I would win. The metal blinds of the unheated garage door would crash and shudder loudly with every burst of winter wind.
Warm, sunny days and freezing nights of sharing – one pregnant with a child and a mountain of responsibilities, the other pregnant with a deadly virus he would have to start living with. Both pregnant with thoughts and fears of uncertain futures and plights.
But the sharing helped.
While I reassured her that she would be able to manage the tasks at hand (and I was right), she reassured me of the reasons she fell in love with me a decade ago (and she was right).
Reluctantly accepting her support, she helped me reopen that box in which I hid all of my attributes – the desires and passions and the sexuality I always saw myself to have – the same qualities I had blamed for my HIV infection in the first place; which is why I locked them away, not to be trusted. A dusty treasure rediscovered.
Next to assisting her with the beaurocratic burdens while her belly became bigger, I used the time to dust off and study that treasure I had found again. To read and write and find inspiration. Biographies of artists and their muses, of literary masterpieces and pulpy junk. And especially of sex. Of tantric practices, endurance methods and my formerly greatest hits; cunnilingus.
And once again, a shift of light occurred – this time revealing beauty. Reading of the strength of the tongue, the abilities a mouth can have over the orgasmic pleasures of women, a desire awoke again. There was a beat again. A slow, but steady beat of the heart. Pumping creative blood through my veins. Spring had arrived.
I started remembering things I had almost forgotten. From a long time ago – before the end of my life, before the virus infected me with doubts and fears – with its miy of toxins more potent than the virus itself.
I remembered the power of passion. Of Love. Of Sex. Of Desire. Not the brutal, violent power, but the real, heartfelt and delicate power of pleasure. I remembered that sex is the most boring part of sex.
Passionately. Delicately. Honestly.
In contrast to the plight that Mona was going through, the abandonment and the challenges she faced – I felt ashamed of my dark and violent episodes. But being the sexual woman that she was, she encouraged me to go out and re-explore the beautiful bars and ladies of Barcelona. And I followed her order.
A new smile took shape. Smacking and salivating with excitement. Unlike before, where all women seemed angry and ugly to me – they all started looking beautiful and happy again. My head couldn’t stop turning with excitement. Instead of the brutish grunts in my eyes when seeing this beauty around me, my eyes would now smile in their direction – sparkling with a curious passion. Ambitious to explore and satisfy again. And with that attitude, their eyes smiled back.
No more aggressive thoughts of “I want to stick it in that bitch!”…but a more confident “let me indulge my lips in between her thighs and dwell in those nether regions ‘til the morrow!”…
Yes, happiness makes thoughts dance in poetry. My smiles turned big and my laughter loud.
Instead of boasting testosterone, I laughed about myself and charmed with travelled anecdotes. Humble, kind, and occasionally funny (not trying too hard, nor too little).
And with the shifting of the light, so did our lives. Mona was feeling more confident, more secure. The dark, steel-guttered garage was being transformed into a bright wooden-floored loft, with functioning kitchen and proper bedroom. And the dog outside, on his own bed. A home for Mona and her incoming arrival was becoming reality. I moved out to give her the last weeks of having time to herself (and relieve her of my thunderous snoring).
And with my moving, and her confidence, the emotional curse of the virus had been broken.
Soon I was spending sober Sunday afternoons under white covers with a lover – sweaty bodies entwined in embraces, laughs, giggles and hours of lip-smacking acrobatics.
“No more drunk fucking!” I vowed. From now on, soberness reigned.
I had lost over two years to anger. To depression. To my venom. To HIV. To the struggle and was trapped in a hideous approach I had to life, to love and to women.
What followed was gratitude, forgiveness and most of all – humility. The beauty of life and its sexual encounters – I used to take all of that for granted. A new appreciation for sex dawned on me. I bowed to life, to friendship, to love and to a new joy of intimacy I feel every time I’m with a woman now.
And I became aware of the changes that had happened. Of my sexuality. Of what I want and what I didn’t want. Of how I wanted to be and how I wanted to be seen. Aware of the choice – will I give in to the fear and anger and hatred? Or grow beyond it?
As did Mona. Once again or lives danced in synchronicity. Seeing her a few hours after she gave birth, looking at that beautiful son of hers, she knew she could manage anything – smiling with peace, tranquility and the ultimate happiness of unconditional love.
This virus has given me a strange superpower and a second chance. Yes, there is the fact that I could decide to harm people. That I carry a deadly poison which I could activate and by my own volition, infect others with. That I could be a depressive victim of circumstances, wallowed in self-pity – or I use it to my own good. And to others good.
HIV has given me an awareness of my partners – of their tact and rhythms, of their movements and strides. I feel them more, I hear them more, I adapt more to the rhymes of our bodies, react to their unspoken yes’s and no’s. So much more pleasurable, funner and sillier.
No more drunk seriousness, no more aggressions or things to prove. But an appreciation for the things I had almost lost forever.
I am free again.
Except when I have to babysit.