Are There Really Straight Men Living With HIV?
Last updated: September 2023
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Are there really straight men living with HIV?
Where are they, and why are they in hiding?
These are the questions asked on a continuous basis.
As we prepare for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD)
“This isn’t who we are and tet, it is who we have become”
As a married heterosexual Black man living in the South, I had no reason to even consider I could one day contract this mysterious illness. The media assured me, I had NO need to think I would be affected by this strange illness being labeled The Gay Plague (GRID) that had started to spread everywhere.
The assumption was no one else needed to worry, gay men would all die off and this plague along with them. Little did I know there were just as many straight men contracting this uncontrollable situation. Because it was already known as something affecting only a gay man, every man diagnosed was declared to be gay.
With the stigma that came with being gay and now with having this illness, who would be the first to stand and say he was NOT gay but has the gay Plague? As heterosexual men, we said nothing, we did nothing and so many of us died in silence filled with guilt and shame.
As men we have always been the protectors and providers for our families, we were willing to take the abuse from those who would throw insults at our family so they would not have to endure that pain because we were the head of the house this was expected.
With the start of this virus being labeled a gay man’s disease the thought of saying anything having to do with HIV meant enduring the stigma putting our families out to be embarrassed and subjected to ridicule.
With no longer being acknowledged as a heterosexual man, only being viewed as a gay down low man. No matter how we denied it the gay “downlow” label would be branded on us for life.
So, we said nothing and hid in the dark shadows never to be seen or heard, and watched so many heterosexual men suffer in silence as many took their own lives to prevent families from discovering this secret. Because we said nothing, we have been erased from society.
The statistics and data specifically point to heterosexual women and children along with gay and bisexual men and transgender women that are contracting HIV. While heterosexual men are still here being diagnosed hiding in plain sight, we need to get conversations started to document the struggles of those straight men living with HIV who believed keeping this secret was the only way to protect their family, so they took it to the grave.
We need to show up for those who still think Silence is better than the embarrassment of wearing that Scarlet label.
As we embrace The National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) theme:
“We’re in This Together”.
We Now Know That “Representation Matters”
Because Straight Men remain Silent,
We Do Not have a Seat AT THE TABLE! This Must Change
We stand on the shoulders of the straight men that suffered and died in silence They paid for me and other straight men to cry out and now stand in our truth to demand that we now be counted and acknowledged to be seen and our stories told.
They made it possible for the Bow-tie Movement and S.A.P (Straight and Positive) support group to be created giving heterosexual men living with HIV a voice. On February 7th “National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day” as a couple married for 36 years with us both living with HIV, we ask you to join us as we fight together to spread awareness and stomp out the stigma and end this epidemic that hangs over the Black community.
This has NEVER been just a gay man’s disease.
Kalvin and Eunice Marshall
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