lucky

July 7, 2011

around the beginning of each month,
i go and get an hiv test.

i’m a gay dude in his 20’s.
it’s only practical.

and even though i should be used to it by now,
it’s a surreal experience every time.

as i sit in the little testing room,
making small talk with the lovely tester,
all i can think about is how very lucky i am.
not just because, so far, i always test nonreactive,
but because there exists a place where i can literally walk in off the street, say i want to get tested, and in thirty minutes or less, i walk out with an answer.

anonymously.

free of charge.

i grew up in the era when aids decimated the gay population in america, but i was really too young to be aware of what that would mean for me now.

it destroyed a way of life,
a connection to history,
the chance for the children of today know their elders.
all i have are ghosts stories, and the few “lucky” ones who survived.

it changed everything,
and i find myself mourning
as i imagine someone mourns a parent they never knew.

i get really choked up about it sometimes.

and during the twenty minutes i sit there
waiting to see if there’s one line or two,
i never think about my own results.
i only wonder
why the waiting room isn’t full?
why isn’t there a line out the door?
are people really that scared to know?
or are they so naive as to think they couldn’t test positive?
i think about the millions, millions who had to die
so that i can sit here,
pay nothing,
and know.

it’s not like hiv and aids have gone away.
but i don’t hear people talk about it anymore.

i don’t get it.

there’s a lot of things i don’t understand;
i admit to being slightly ignorant about hiv myself.
but what i do know is,
i’m a lucky guy.
not because i’m negative,
but because i know.

i’m just one small voice among the millions of bloggers.
i don’t command much attention.
i definitely don’t have much money.
still. i’d still like to do something.

right now all i can do is give away this skein of handspun.
fiber: 2oz spinning bunny pixie batt = merino, black and/or blue face leicester, tencel, angelina, angora, silk, and bamboo.
if i did my math right,
there’re 315yds of 2ply lace weight.
hand spun by me.

i just ask that you consider making a donation to the pittsburgh aids task force who provide so much more than just free rapid testing. if you don’t have much money, i’d ask that you considering going and getting tested.

either way,
you only need to leave a comment to enter.
but if you do make a donation, i’d love to know.
it’d be pretty cool if we raised a couple hundred bucks.

i’ll pick a winner in a week.

49 Responses to “lucky”

  1. Sally at Rivendale Farms Says:

    Thanks for such a great post, Steven – I also wonder at times where the conversation is on the subject. I was old enough at the time to not only be aware of the decimation you talk about, but to have lost several close friends and a step-brother to the disease. Despite being straight, I got tested several times before getting married because the 80’s were, well, the 80’s. Yes, we’ve come far, but not far enough. I hope you raise a bunch here.

  2. Jan at Cat Crap Hill Says:

    Steven, I too, was a young adult (if being in my 30s qualified me as such) in the 80s. I was also in the theatre and have lost way too many loving friends to this disease. I will always have bad thoughts for Ronald Reagan and his ilk who mocked instead of researched, who laughed instead listened, to the community that was being hit hardest by AIDS. I do think we’ve come quite a ways since then, but I worry for the young people who think THEY don’t have to worry. I am so glad you do this for yourself.

  3. lisabee Says:

    what a great post! i made a donation in your honor, but i don’t need the yarn. i would love to see YOU, of course, before you trek off to the mitten state! <3 l.bee

  4. Cara Vetor Says:

    I’m so very proud of you for not only being responsible enough to go get tested every year, but also for putting this out here for all the world to see. HIV/AIDS is a horrible thing, but if you don’t get tested, you just keep the horribleness going. I pray for a cure for this horrible disease, and I pray that someday EVERYONE will be loved! GOOD JOB!

  5. Adrienne Says:

    When I teach theater history in my intro class, the ’80s are hard to talk about. We lost so many, so many connections were lost, so many were so scared because we didn’t know what was going on at first. Every semester, at least one student comes up and tell me that he or she didn’t realize what it was like Before. Yes, we’ve come a long way. But we’ve left many behind to get here.

  6. Amy Says:

    One of my earliest memories of AIDS was in junior high, it was 1985ish. I clearly remember this popular boy walking down the hall sharing his vast knowledge on the subject and that it was spread just by kissing. Funny how some moments stick in your memory. I am not in a particularly high risk category, but have an ex husband that warranted some concern. I have been tested several times in recent years and am thankfully negative.

  7. Kate erickson Says:

    I really can’t express how much this post touches me. I have had similar experiences in clinics here on the west coast. I feel such gratitude and respect for these places and those that came before that made them possible. I have never understood why they aten’t overrun like you point out. They provide such a small service with such a large impact. I’m not religious, but I find that public clinics often put me in a similar state of reverence and awe. These small, free services seem like such a basic right now, but they were hard won.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  8. lindaran (on Ravelry) Says:

    Because of your eloquence – because you asked – because you spin beautiful yarn – I donated. What a thought provoking piece. Thanks!

  9. Rachel Lamb Says:

    I don’t comment very often, but that yarn looks yummy! And also, it’s so refreshing to see such honesty and that you’re taking care of yourself.
    Since I’m from Canada, I donate to the united way which allocates its donations to a bunch of different places, but I will donate to this charity as well because universal healthcare isn’t universal and that makes me sad.

  10. Emily Says:

    What an inspiring post. I’m 37 years old, so I remember the AIDS crisis of the 80s pretty well. Sex will kill you was pretty much the message we got in school back then, unfortunately. Since those days I’ve become a passionate straight ally of the gay community, worshiping at the throne of Tony Kushner and marching for equal rights with my closest gay friends. As cloes as l am to them, I realize I don’t know if they get tested regularly. I hope they do, and if they don’t, I hope they read your post when I send them the link and think twice about it.

    As for your yarn, it is gorgeous. I’ve never worked with handspun or with lace, so this would be a special treat to win, and I happen to love blue.

  11. Astrid Says:

    Dude, good on you for getting tested regularly. I lost my dear friend Jerry to AIDS in 1986. He lives on in memory and the potato pancakes I make every Hanukkah — he taught me how to make them.

    Donation sent.

  12. Karen C Says:

    you are a true gem in this world – there should be more like you! off to donate for so many reasons…but, mostly, because they help friends like you! xoxoxo

  13. lorraine Says:

    this is a fantastic post..thank you for it!

  14. lorraine Says:

    this is a fantastic post! thank you for it!


  15. Steven,

    I totally agree with you… why don’t people want to know? I lost two cousins to AIDS, and several good friends before there was any med protocol whatsoever. I have an HIV positive Second Cousin (resulting from my cousin Steve’s attempt to cover his orientation, as well as his wife’s, with a pseudo-marriage that apparently functioned once or twice as an attempt to change orientation as well), and he is still not full blown, 20 years later. There have been breakthroughs.

    I would love to donate, but I am currently fundraising for self-inflicted problems on my blog, and I think I should wait until the raffle ends at the end of the month.. I will not forget.

    I love your videos, and you gave new meaning a couple months ago to “Whack the shit out of my yarn” for me. You make me smile. Thank you.

    Indulgence on Rav

  16. tara Says:

    Great post, Stephen! I get tested every year or two, but I actually have to get a test requisition from my doctor to get it done.

  17. sue Says:

    I think part of the reason people aren’t so worried about contracting HIV these days is that it is no longer the death sentence it used to be. While people still die from it in this country, there are many more who live semi-regular lives thanks to the latest drugs available. That takes away some of the fear and so people become more lax. I also think that part of it is it’s more than 30 years now since the beginning of the pandemic and the kids who were babies when it started have grown up knowing “No glove, no love” and are actually using condoms for protection. I was just reading how teen pregnancy is actually down for the same reason. Just my 2cents worth.

  18. Vivienne Says:

    This is awesome. YOU are awesome.

  19. brooke Says:

    what an amazing post. Can I re-post to my FaceBook? I’d give you full credit. I gave birth to a premie baby in 1981 – the hight of the AIDS epidemic. No blood transfussion required, but I can tell you it was on our minds. I would like to think that there was no line out the door because we have done a good job of education. Sadly, I am probably wrong. Hugs to you, my friend, for being safe, being smart and just being YOU! I remember well the We Are The World tv broadcast to raise funds for AIDS. When Hollywood lost some of their own, the stepped up. Not so much anymore.. how terribly sad. I’ll be donating some funds. Lets educate the masses on AIDS and fill that waitingroom… Oh, and the obvious question: While you wait, what are you knitting?

  20. DDancer Says:

    Wow, this piece stunned me.
    And educated me. I had NO idea there was a place here in Pittsburgh you could do this.
    I donated in Honor of S.A.

    I would LOVE to win a bit of your spinning…. you have come so far.

    Miss seeing you around the shop,

  21. InJuneau Says:

    Thank you for your eloquence on this topic. I have friends gone and still here with it, and others whom I hope remember to get tested as you do. When the paycheck arrives next week, I’ll donate there or here, if there’s an equiv. option.

  22. Juliet in Grand Rapids Says:

    I got a bit verklempt thinking through the last 30 years. So sad, such loss, and so long not knowing… and the stupid assumptions.

    Thank you for your thoughtful post.

  23. Katrin Says:

    I really liked reading your opinion, it is so spot on. I live in rural Canada and so far I only once went to get tested for hiv because I wanted to know. I can’t make a donation at the moment but I will also not keep this yarn for myself if I win and rather rak it to a dear friend of mine.

  24. Damaris Says:

    Having lived in Kenya for five years, the AIDS epidemic is something very personal for me. I’ve definitely thought about how if I contracted the disease it would impact my life, but it would not be the death sentence that is for some in the developing world or that it was for most during the ’80s and ’90s. While things have come a long way in the last thirty years or so, one can only think how much more could be done. Because this is a disease that has affected marginalized groups instead of the majority in the developed world, it hasn’t gotten as much attention and research as it should. It shouldn’t be that way. People dying of anything should require the world’s attention.

    Thank you for writing about your experiences and thank you for being safe and getting tested.

  25. meg Says:

    I am old enough to remember the first wave of HIV/AIDS, but young enough to have reaped the rewards of education. I have friends who lost uncles, and the minister from my childhood church lost his partner to this horrible scourge in the early 90s. I worked in contemporary art for ten years, and the stories I heard about the people who were lost – just heartbreaking. So much talent, so many gifts left ungiven. The world is a lesser place because of their absence.

    A donation is on its way.

  26. Babs Says:

    In 2006, I contracted a weird blood disease that required I get over 300 units of plasma. That’s pretty up close and personal with a lot people. A huge thanks to people like you who get tested and stay on top of knowing their status. And a finger wag to the blood center for automatically refusing blood donations from gay men. At least in the Seattle-Tacoma area, that cuts out a lot of good people from being donors. Now I’m going to put on my “Mom” hat and say I hope you’re not taking any unreasonable risks. Just a reminder that getting tested is not prevention and I think I speak for all of us when I say that we want you to stay happy and healthy.

  27. tempestpilot Says:

    I lost a friend in college for asking why he wasn’t going in for the free testing. Not because he hated me for asking, but because I hated him for replying, “pfft, fuck if I want to know THAT.”

  28. tempestpilot Says:

    Ok, I heart you, so I just donated all my coffee money for the week. <3


  29. Your spinning is gorgeous. I don’t need any yarn, so if I randomly win, give it to someone else. And if you find someone who gets really excited about a skein of handspun, I can hook them up with more! Anyway, your post was also beautiful, and because of that and because I made a sales call to them once when I was in the payroll biz, and because they have a super-easy Donate Now button, I went ahead and donated. Its as easy to do that as it is to buy a pattern or yarn online. go ahead and try it everybody!

  30. Faye Says:

    Love this. We ARE so lucky here in the States. I only hope someday that the rest of the world–especially the innocents–can have the kind of opportunities we have to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our future generations. Bravo.


  31. You have stated this so eloquently, it should be required reading for high school and college kids. You are smart and brave to get tested monthly, and it is wonderful to know there are places available to get this done.
    Also, I envy your spinning prowess. :-) That’s some mighty fine laceweight. I can picture it as a Haruni or an Icarus. :-)

  32. Susan Says:

    It would be an honor to make a donation. Thank you for this stunning post.

  33. quinn on rav Says:

    Yes.

  34. Anonymous, too Says:

    Young Jedi, PROUD of you the Force is!

    Oddly, I was just thinking of this today. The BBC News website had a feature on a museum exhibition of portraits of Hollywood stars from the 20’s-early 70’s. La Liz was there, of course, but they showed a portrait of a very young Rock Hudson looking very, very pensive. Almost as if he knew what would happen 20-30 odd years after the picture was taken. Sad to think that people are still dying of AIDS nearly 30-odd years after Rock did.

  35. Cath Says:

    Thanks for the reminder. I donated to yours & to my local as well.
    I’ll pass on the wining of yarn. This reminded me that there are very few actors my age that are still working/living

  36. Nicole Parker Says:

    What an excellent post! I always get tested every time the opportunity is offered to me (I usually go to the health fairs and clinic on my college campus, and they give HIV tests for free if you want them, with a result 20 min. later). I’m unfortunately not in a position to donate at the moment, but when I do donate, it’s for causes such as this!

  37. craftink Says:

    This yarn is just lovely! I love the colorway too!
    Your post also is very strong and emotional! My budget is limited (as everyones nowadays) but I generaly support such causes!

  38. Nessa from No. Va Says:

    I sent a donation, and will send another to Whitman-Walker (the local clinic, in DC I try and support as often as I can).
    Good on you for being proactive and getting tested! As a staight-ish woman in her early 30’s I made sure I got tested on a regular before I got married. I have an almost teenager at home and you better believe that we will be preaching safe sex!

  39. globalite76 Says:

    Great post! HIV/AIDS seems to have been forgotten in the US over the past decade. You still hear about African countries decimated by it, but people need to remember that it’s important protect yourself (no matter your orientation) and to KNOW your status.

  40. JWitt Says:

    What an amazing post. I made a donation in my uncle, who fought a good fight in a time where being gay and HIV+ was a death sentence and there were no free clinics to provide him support and care. Your post put into perspective just how far we have come.

  41. Tawnee Isner Says:

    This post is so thought provoking. Everyone only pays attention to aids/HIV in other countries but here it’s like it doesn’t exist. It seems kinda sad to me.

  42. Heather Says:

    Thank you for such a thought provoking post. I am a health care provider in the US and I am surprised daily that sexually active people do not know their HIV status. I do try to get every one to test yearly and recommend it more often for those who lead a more “at risk lifestyle” (gay or straight). The more we talk about HIV in everyday context the higher the awareness, thanks again.


  43. […] a big merci to all the people who commented on my last post and to all those knitters who helped spread the word on twitter. this is my first go at […]

  44. paramolta Says:

    Great post! I know too many people that don’t think about get tested because they believe it will never happen to them.

  45. LB Says:

    Thank you for this post, Steven. I’ve lived in Pittsburgh for 6 years and never knew there was a place where one could be tested for free. I made a small donation. I hope this helps get the word out and inspires people to get tested.

  46. Hope Says:

    You are very wise to take good care of yourself and others. I also think you are brave to face it head on and not hide. Hiding is so much easier.

    This Is a wonderfully written and thought provoking piece.

  47. Rachel Says:

    omg thanks for this post. I really wasn’t aware that places like that existed, and would definitely help out that cause. p.s. love the little pattern board thingy you’ve got your beautiful yarn showcased on!

  48. Nicole Ivey Says:

    Thank you for this post. I am sort of at a loss for words, mainly because you’ve said so much so very eloquently. In the face of paralyzing fear, you’re doing yourself and others a favor by knowing your status, and by making this post, you’re giving a voice to the people and the importance surrounding HIV testing. I don’t even know if that came out the way I’m thinking it-I’m lost in thought over this right now.
    On a side note, the yarn you’ve spun is gorgeous. I can only hope to spin yarn that looks like that. On my way….


  49. […] back in july, i gave away a skein of my handspun to raise money for the pittsburgh aids task force. if memory serves, we raised roughly $500 for them and about $100 for other testing centers. […]


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