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To the editor:
In his February letter to the editor "When it comes to HIV - do ask, do tell," Chuck raises very important issues.
Unfortunately his correspondence is rife with false assumptions and misconceptions. It also seems to reflect a marked lack of compassion and a propensity to blame.
The writer claims to know how most men in our community became infected but cites no evidence. In fact, people become infected in a variety of circumstances that may involve simple lust or be complicated by poor or impaired judgment, dysfunctional relationships, substance use, or other factors. We become infected because we are human.
Of course the goal is for HIV positive persons to disclose their status. A realistic consideration of the difficulties of disclosure, however, should inform others‚ decisions about the risks they take. Those who disclose often experience enhanced rejection and stigmatization piled upon what they already suffer as men who love men. Disclosure may also result in other kinds of discrimination from family, employers, and landlords, to name but a few.
Chuck characterizes his stereotypical HIV negative transmission partners as a "victims," concedes they "fell prey to lust and let their guard down," yet has no compassion whatsoever for their HIV positive partners who did exactly the same. He states the "heat of passion is not an excuse for passing this virus." It takes two individuals to transmit. Applying this to only one partner seems to enforce a double standard for responsibility. Outside of rape, most HIV negative people have it within their power to reduce the chances of infection to nearly zero without forgoing sex.
Not all of us consider ourselves victims, by the way. Most eventually become aware of and accept our own responsibility for being infected - and doing so is often critical to our emotional health. We are not a mindless, monolithic herd. The writer's premise that we all think and act the same is an act of stereotyping that borders on bigotry.
The writer proposes to chastise our community for not insisting HIV positive gay men quit spreading the virus, discourage HIV positive men from having sex, hire internet police to monitor positive people who do not disclose, count on laws that make it a crime to engage in sex with others without disclosing their status.
Sadly, there's no evidence that any of these strategies will reduce HIV transmission.
Our sexual orientation is considered by many to be an offense in itself. We have enough people chastising us without doing it to ourselves. After years of breaking the law whenever we had sex, we defeated those laws. Moving beyond decades of clandestine meetings, we‚ve come to recognize and embrace our sexuality as healthful and "normal." Laws that criminalize exposure are considered by many to be counterproductive and a disincentive to being tested. (If one doesn't know he's HIV positive, one doesn't have to disclose and doesn‚t have to be responsible.) We cannot police sexual activity without putting everyone under constant surveillance, something those who've fought for freedom won't consider.
With all his rhetoric, the writer places the responsibility for the epidemic and for prevention solely on the "others," the HIV positives. This is neither rational nor effective for basic scientific reasons. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that approximately one in five HIV positive persons do not know they are positive. In the weeks just after being infected, persons are more infectious than they will ever be in their lifetime, yet most do not realize it. While the exact proportions are unknown, it is believed both groups are significant sources of new infections.
The correspondent assumes that positive persons who don't list their HIV status openly in online profiles do not disclose to their partners before having sex. He can't possibly know this. For very real social, emotional, and survival reasons, some individuals don‚t wish to broadcast their status. They responsibly disclose later as needed. Others limit actual, in-person sexual interactions to activities with little or no risk. Studies indicate that most men who have sex with men work hard to protect their partners after they are diagnosed. Those who are successfully treated dramatically reduce their potential to transmit the virus.
I dispute Chuck's assertion that we "do not engage smart protection for the gay community." HIV prevention programs have historically urged folks who were engaged in behaviors associated with obvious risk to behave as if all of their partners are positive. That's realistic and simple - but it"s not enough. Today's prevention programs try to reduce transmissions by engaging communities in more nuanced conversations. Significant effort is placed on discussions with those who are already infected, and empowering them to disclose is always a goal.
We are not "more concerned" for HIV positive men than HIV negative men. Our methods are not backwards. They are constantly being improved based on the experience and research of highly dedicated professionals and volunteers.
The answer to our struggle is not pointing fingers, is not segregating the community, is not placing the responsibility on one group's shoulders. The answer is for all of us, HIV negative and positive alike, to assume the shared responsibility for reducing HIV transmission by:
Getting screened and encouraging our friends to get screened regularly for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, according to the risks we take.
Using known methods to reduce the risk of transmission of HIV (AND hepatitis, herpes, syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections.)
Talking to each other frankly about our sexual history and health before we have sex.
Honestly assessing the reliability of these conversations and our own vulnerability in situations that entail risk.
Supporting those who test positive, encouraging them to get into care, and expressing our love for them.
For those with a thirst to celebrate, Red Bull Unlocked is the key. In city after city, the most exciting bars, clubs, mixologists, performing artists, and more take over a local landmark building to showcase their signature ambiance while also collaborating for a must-see mashup. And now it's Music City’s turn to seize the spotlight, as the event brings 10 bars together in East Nashville’s Five Points neighborhood.
Fueled by the best of Nashville’s thriving music scene, Red Bull Unlocked has curated an eclectic night of show-stopping entertainment performances including a pop-up Whiskey Jam show, DJ sets, musicians, and more. The full lineup is here:
- Whiskey Jam (feat. Dozzi, Willie Shaw, and Johnny Hayes)
- A.B. Eastwood
- Daisha / Rap Girl
- Boom Bap (DJ Collective feat. DJ-Rate, Case Bloom)
- Whiskey Disco (DJ Collective feat. Coach, Jim O'Shea)
- Old Crow Medicine Show’s Jerry Pentercost (DJ Set)
- DJ Stretch
- DJ Griffin Green
- The Play Mates (Drag Show feat. Sasha, Vanity, Deception, Aura Mayari, Corlis Todd, and Carmin Triple C)
Counting down to the epic celebration, Daisha shares, “I never thought I’d have the opportunity to perform in so many of Nashville’s top spots all in the same night. Fans can expect a lot of bops and high energy. I want people to dance and have a good time.”
Ward Guenther, Whiskey Jam Founder, adds, “Red Bull has been enjoyed at Whiskey Jam since the very first night, so it's only fitting Whiskey Jam is enjoyed at Nashville's first Red Bull Unlocked. Looking forward to this!”
Red Bull Unlocked Istanbul
Photo courtesy of Red Bull
Local favorites including Pearl Diver, Tin Roof, Lipstick Lounge, White Limozeen, and more will join forces for one epic night. Full list of bars and partners below:
- The Dive Motel
- Lipstick Lounge
- Pearl Diver
- Play Dance Bar
- Rosemary & Beauty Queen
- The Stage
- Tin Roof
- Whiskey Jam
- White Limozeen
- Woolworth Theatre – Opening Fall 2022!
- Eleven Eleven - Opening 2023!
Date: August 21, 2022
Time: 6 PM – 11PM CT
Location: 1102 Forrest Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Entrance: Ticked event
Rumble Boxing, the boxing-inspired group fitness studio, opened its doors for the first time in Nashville on June 20 at 609 Overton St, Nashville, TN. The hottest workout on the block is hosting its official grand opening from August 4th-7th with daily classes, membership specials, and prizes from local vendors. The new Rumble Boxing studio is currently offering a buy one class, get one free promotion for the Nashville community.
Rumble Boxing delivers 45-minute, 10-round, strength and conditioning group workouts, crafted around teardrop-style aqua boxing bags and high-intensity strength training circuits. This brings all fitness levels together to experience what Rumble is known for: combining the sweet science of boxing with high energy and positive vibes.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
This boutique fitness brand offers serious benefits like increased stamina and strength, with cardio that’s actually fun. The seasoned trainers at the new studio are thrilled to serve their local community while offering this fun, new modern approach to boxing and welcome members of all fitness levels to the Rumble family.
The new Rumble Boxing studio is owned and operated by Blake Baskin and Antonio Compton. With their background in the fitness industry, this dynamic duo is excited to bring their passion for boxing and group fitness to Nashville. As business and life partners, Blake and Antonio aim to create a strong community within their new Rumble Boxing studio and share their message of non-apologetic inclusivity.
Black and Gay-Owned Business
Rumble Boxing Store with Dolly Parton Mural
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“We own who we are, and this brand aligns with that perfectly,” said Antonio. “This is what we want to create and bring to this community: a fitness class that is designed for anyone and a place for people to be who they are. As a Black and gay-owned business, we want to help lower the division we see in the world right now. Our goal is to bring people together through Rumble, set everything aside, and have fun.”
To echo their message of acceptance and inclusion, Blake and Antonio commissioned a local Nashville artist to paint an 11 X 6-ft. mural of Nashville icon and philanthropist, Dolly Parton. The massive portrait features the country star in Rumble Boxing gear in the lobby of the studio.
The excitement and buzz around Rumble allowed Blake and Antonio to recruit top-tier trainers to head up the new studio, including Head Trainer Oronde Jones, a well-known celebrity trainer in the Nashville market.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“Compared to other fitness classes, Rumble is a class you can truly get lost in for 45 minutes. With the dark room, you don’t have to worry if anyone is paying attention to you. The music is awesome and inspiring, and the beat drops right when you need it the most. Also, with boxing being a sport you can never truly master, you’re always improving and crafting your skill. On the floor, you’re consistently doing something new, which prevents you from ever hitting a plateau.” Said Oronde Jones about his favorite part of Rumble.
Rumble has massive brand loyalty and widespread appeal, partly thanks to attracting top names like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Jason Derulo, David Beckham, and Kevin Hart to its studios.
About Rumble Boxing
Founded in New York City in 2017, Rumble is a group fitness concept delivering a mix (or combination) of boxing-inspired circuits and the transformative power of resistance training. Pro and amateur fighters glove up together, no matter their fitness level or skill, to reveal their inner fighter. The experience is a 45-minute, 10-round, full-body cardio and strength workout crafted around specially designed water-filled, teardrop-style boxing bags. Rumble was founded by Noah Neiman (former Barry’s Bootcamp Master Trainer, and cast member of Bravo’s Work Out New York), Eugene Remm (Co-Founder of Catch Hospitality Group (Catch Restaurants, CATCH STEAK, Lexington Brass), Andy Stenzler (Co-Founder Cosí, Kidville), and Anthony DiMarco (13-time IRONMAN, former Managing Director, Google).
Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?
For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:
A Gay Cruise
One of the best options to have in mind when all of this passes is a good, nice and long (pun intended) gay cruise. Or cruise in general, for that matter. Bear in mind, social distancing will still be a thing in the post-COVID world. But COVID-19 likely doesn’t mean that cruises will cease to exist. On the contrary, though cruise ships will probably keep the number of passengers smaller than before, it is believed that they will become an even bigger hit in the following period, especially because they are all going to go a lot more environmentally-friendly. On the bright side, is there any better way of celebrating the end of the pandemic than by cruising around some magnificent seas, stopping by at great cities and having romantic dinner nights at nice restaurants?
A getaway in nature
On the other hand, there is always the option of stepping away from the hustle and bustle of large cities, and spending some time in a place that’s not only healthy, but also beautiful. Some of the destinations that plenty of people will look for are the ones that can cater for both peace of mind and amazing things to see or do. One such destination is New Zealand, one of the greenest countries on Earth right now. Not only will you be visiting the magnificent country that gave us the beautiful Shire from Lord of the Rings; this is also a destination that’s excellent for everyone who prefers relaxing to partying. If you’re up for some partying, you will be able to hit Auckland, while if you’re for something calmer, there’s plenty of amazing places that you can see and visit.
Dancing Around at Pride
Pride parades are also events that you want to have in mind for the post-COVID world. Such events have always been quite important, but it seems that they are now more important than ever. The virus has canceled more than 75 Pride parades all around the world, which is one of the reasons why we must support the ones that will see the light of day once the pandemic stops. Truth be told, the upcoming Prides will perhaps be the best Prides ever organized. Give the gays a couple of weeks of quarantine, then let them outside and see what kind of party they are able to throw!
A road trip
If you’re, as well, waiting for the day to wake up and say “long gone are the days when we were not allowed to go wherever we wanted?”, and if staying at one place gave you a lot to think about, then your first post-COVID travel experience should definitely be a nice road trip. You can practically choose which country you want to tour, and you can either take your own car (you have probably missed it so much), or rent one at your destination. Australia is an amazing country for this, though, as it offers the possibility of seeing the Great Ocean Road, which is an amazing thing to see and experience. On the other hand, if you do not want or cannot leave your country, you can also choose to go on a domestic road trip – there are amazing things to see in your vicinity as well.
Holiday for a single guy
If you’re single, or you’re traveling someplace with another single friend, then you should definitely organize a nice vacation for yourself or for you and your single friend, and hit one of the best European cities. Europe has been greatly affected by the virus, which means that now it’s time to pay it back and get it back on its feet by traveling there and seeing all the amazing things it offers. Any city you choose in Europe – you will not make a mistake. Apart from being able to see great landmarks, you will also have the chance to have a drink at great gay clubs and pubs, and join unforgettable gay parties. And if the gay scenery is not your forte, worry not, as Europe indeed has to offer so many different and magnificent things.