Yes, I'm gay. I probably was since the day I was born. On my 21st birthday, I sort of had my debut. I came out to my parents. A little drama from mom, and some indifference from dad. An above-average coming out. Almost perfect.

Nine years later, two weeks before my 30th birthday, I found out... I'M HIV POSITIVE.

And so my story begins... I'm BACK IN THE CLOSET.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Blame Game

Yoga for Life has been going on for nearly five months already. Every so often, our Yogi Bear and Babe make it a point to survey how the participants feel, both physically and mentally, so in the future an analysis could be done to produce concrete data on how yoga has benefited the participants. Along with that, they ask for feedback. Now while most of the feedback is positive, there has been negative feedback as well. One in particular, that piqued my... uhm... fancy.

During the celebration of one of the monthsaries, amid all the fun and laughter before the yoga practice, someone spoke up. After congratulating the community on the success of the program, this person pointed out that he did have one piece of negative feedback to give. I was a bit surprised actually... and curious. Everyone listened intently.

Apparently, one of his friends - someone HIV-positive - met someone else at one of the Yoga for Life sessions. And apparently they got it on. They had sex. They had unprotected sex. And what made it worse was that the person he had sex with was among the HIV-negatives who were there supporting the community. Oh boy, indeed.

As much as I wanted to speak out - biased as I would be towards Yoga for Life, yes I would defend the program to the death - I didn’t want to be a proponent to any outburst. I kept my mouth shut, but my mind was ranting throughout the yoga session. Relax, surrender and let go? My ass.

Really, the point I wanted to make was... What was the point exactly?!

It just wasn’t clear to me how that was supposed to be feedback on the Yoga for Life program. So they had sex. Fine. But unless they did it at the venue, on their yoga mats, in the middle of a yoga session, then what’s the deal? Is the Yoga for Life team expected to keep an eye on each and everyone each and every minute even outside the confines of the yoga session? It may just me, but I think not.

So certainly, the issue could have been brought up before our Yogi Bear and Babe and maybe the rest of the core group. But to have to subject even first time attendees to something like that was unthinkable... not to mention inconsiderate.

And the way it was made to seem like negative feedback on the program was outrageous. If someone had felt they’d been fouled, would it not have made more sense for that person to speak for himself? But no. A spokesperson ranted on his behalf. So to me, whether it was indeed meant to be negative feedback on the program from the person directly involved was still questionable.

Okay let me make it clear. It’s not that I don’t care that someone was put at risk. But HIV is not and should never be a blame game. But if you want it that way, let’s play.

So HIV-positive got acquainted with HIV negative. Now really, should Yoga for Life have prevented that?

So HIV-positive and HIV-negative got it on and got carried away. That’s their right. But that’s their responsibility as well.

So maybe HIV-negative assumed they were both negative. Never, ever assume. Blame awareness and education, or the lack thereof.

So maybe HIV-positive assumed they were both positive. Still, protection is for everyone, even HIV-positives. And not just to protect their partners. Did HIV-positive forget about superinfection? Did he forget about other sexually transmitted infections? Who’s to blame for that?

So on that note, if HIV-positive really meant to blame Yoga for Life for what happened, on what basis?

As someone who already was and already knew he was HIV-positive, it can be expected that he would know all about HIV. So for me, if there’s anyone to blame, it would be whoever it was who gave this guy HIV counseling, whether it’s his doctor, his nurse, or his peer counselor. He obviously didn’t learn much if he actually thought he could play victim and blame a yoga program for his misfortune.

Actually, from the beginning, I questioned whether this was actually a rant from HIV-positive, or just his spokesperson telling a story adding his own ranting tone and feel. And recently, I confirmed what it was.

I initially didn’t know who HIV-positive was. Until, during a recent yoga session, I unexpectedly happened to hear something. It was a guy, telling his yoga friend, about how he hooked up with someone at yoga after he tested positive, and how that person thankfully still turned out negative after being tested after the hook up. I thought to myself, “So, it was you.”

It was interesting how the guy told his story. A bit cocky, without a tinge of remorse. Sort of proud, even. Hello, he told it loud enough for me to hear, right? Wisely, his yoga friend pointed out how there was still that little complication of the window period and how he shouldn‘t rest on his laurels just yet. That was the last I heard.

Clearly, it seemed HIV-positive didn’t get the full impact of what happened. And as much as I wanted to pull him aside and slap some sense into him, it would be counterproductive to subject him to public humiliation. And I’m sure if I took him on in a blame game, he would’ve lost.

I’m still tempted to pull him aside one of these days and engage him in a bit of counseling. But it will have to be done discreetly, as I have no plans of intimidating him, scaring him, or shaming him into oblivion.

My point will simply be... enough with the blame game. Take responsibility for your actions. Sex is a personal thing. So don’t even attempt to have a spokesperson speak up for you.

And a spokesperson too should know his limits. Stop spoon feeding. If someone is old enough to produce sperm, then he should be old enough to take responsibility, too. He’s too old to be playing the blame game. And neither should you take on playing the blame game for him.

This is a lesson that applies to everyone. Take responsibility. It applies even to safe sex. Take responsibility for yourself. Protect yourself. It’s your right. It’s your responsibility.


Ming Meows said...

kakaloka naman ng tsismis na yan.

positHIVe said...

it's a matter of responsibility, they shouldn't blame yoga for life or anyone, plus yoga for life gives out condoms every session. :)

Juan de la Cruz said...

i agree that the feedback given had no connection or anything to do with the yoga for life session because it was meant to be an assessment of the activity.

i agree also that the participants should be responsible for their actions even outside of the yoga sessions and that includes practicing safe sex if they do decide to hook up.

but on hindsight, sex between 2 participants outside of the yoga session was bound to happen sooner or later, especially if they liked each other or just happen to be horny after the session.

what i am afraid of is that the yoga sessions might become a venue to pick up sex partners and i sure hope it doesn't go in that direction. maybe the participants should be told bluntly that whatever they do outside of the yoga sessions should not be blamed on the activity or its organizers and anyone who has the intention of merely using the activity to pick up potential sex partners should stop attending it.

just my sentiments. :)

PinoyPoz said...

In all fairness, despite having no superpowers to peer into one's ulterior motives, I doubt if there is anyone who actually goes to yoga JUST to hook up. There are a lot of other places which present more convenience and more choices out there. But of course, nobody could claim that a hook up is not at all a possibility... the same way that's it's not impossible in church, in a seminary, in a cemetery, or anywhere else, for that matter.

InfinityStrip said...

For someone having such a positive experience with Yoga for Life and the practice of yoga itself, reading about this incident saddens me.

I am not being hypocritical. In all the times that I have attended yoga practice, there have been instances when I got distracted by another participant and the urge to "make the move" will always be there (although it has never been my nature to make the first move).

I agree with most of the comments left on this post. It boils down to responsibility - personal responsibility - of and for both the HIV-positive guy and the HIV-negative guy.

Yoga for Life and its proponents, as well as the other practitioners, should not be blamed.

But we in the community should also be compassionate, isn't that what yoga teaches us?

Let us show compassion to the pozzie who did what was done. Let us show compassion for the "spokesperson". Let us show compassion for the HIV-negative individual.

Let compassion be our trademark.

Anonymous said...

Infinitystrip: Nicely put.

I agree with Pinoypoz's original questions to the spokesperson: "What was the point exactly?!"

Since the spokesperson is giving the story from the viewpoint of his HIV-positive friend... it can be assumed the HIV-postive guy was unhappy with the experience.

Like Pinoypoz stated: "Maybe HIV-positive assumed they were both positive." Well, he made a bad assumption... not the facility's fault.

Also, what dumbass would go to a HIV yoga class being HIV-neg, and not be concerned about unprotected sex with another yoga member??? Truly... a dumbass. It is hard to feel compassion there. Well, maybe compassion for them being idiotic. :)

I can have compassion for the HIV-Pos though. You would think if you are attending an HIV class and someone wants to hook up with you... they would also have HIV; or they would bring up the subject if they weren't.

Going back to what is the point, maybe the spokesperson was referring to the need for awareness. In their unable-to-express-themselves rant, educating others to not make assumptions either could have been the purpose of speaking up.

With that being said, if they are able to open up one person's eyes... then their rant was usefull.

This shouldn't be negative towards the Yoga facility. It is for all HIV groups... do not assume everyone in attendance is HIV positve and therefore you can have unprotected sex. Like mentioned in blog... unprotected sex isn't safe for anyone!

Ashaman Lester said...

I haven't had the chance to try Yoga for Life but I agree that the comment was insensitive and should not have been blurted out like that in the whole group...

Haay.. may mga makikitid lang talaga ang utak minsan.

Alex said...

Edit: I just did a little more research and voila. It's true. GF has resumed funding for HIV/AIDS in the Philippines totalling USD1.9M. Honestly I can't contain my happiness right now. I feel like vomiting. Or is this because of the ARVs? LMAO.


PinoyPoz said...

Wow, thanks Alex! That's really good news!