“God Shaun, we suck.”
A friend in West Hollywood in LA’s entertainment industry was first to tell me about rumoured whisperings that Charlie Sheen was HIV-positive.
This was around two summers ago, after she learned I had publicly disclosed on CBC that in 2005 I was diagnosed HIV-positive.
“Well played,” she texted, once my news trickled down her way. “I hear Charlie Sheen is HIV.”
There was no judgement of Charlie Sheen as our our chin-wag unfolded, but there was lots towards a society still holding 1980’s attitudes and beliefs powerful enough, if rumours were true, that even Charlie Sheen – aka Mr. #Winning, Mr. Tiger Blood, Mr. On Tour, Mr. Didn’t Care What Anyone Thought – apparently felt bound to secrecy, about this, of all the things.
Charlie Sheen disclosed his HIV status, Tuesday on The Today Show, and confirmed he was afraid.
Afraid to the tune of reportedly millions of dollars paid, hush money for people he says he trusted.
What other dis-ease is there where people could blackmail someone over it?
Shame on our society.
We suck. My So-Cal gal pal was right.
Here is what else Charlie Sheen’s HIV disclosure tells us all:
WE MUST STOP LIVING IN THE PAST:
No one wants to become ill with any dis-ease, but where HIV stands we have still, as individuals and collectively, a massive, tight, knot of old negative energy within. It feels unique to HIV; Charlie Sheen shares in his open letter that his diagnosis was a “mule kick” to the soul.
It was such a soul kick, Charlie Sheen then sadly acknowledges further in his public missive, that: “I might have been trying to kill myself” via “profound substance abuse and fathomless drinking.”
Kill himself? Why? Who wants to kill themselves (though Sheen isn’t alone) upon hearing they have a manageable dis-ease? Why, in a time that we all fought so hard to reach – when one can take one pill a day to stay healthy as an HIV-negative person, or a pill a day to stay healthy as an HIV-positive person – are we not celebrating this, rather than reacting like our late brothers and sisters had no choice but to, mired as they were in the death sentence misery of decades past?
Our thinking has not caught up with the world in which we live. We owe it to ourselves and to those long gone who would love to still be among us to guide our individual thoughts to match what is the true nature of HIV today; we must keep up with the miraculous progress that has been made.
WE NEED A NEW GAME THAN SHAME:
Charlie Sheen didn’t tell Today Show host Matt Lauer, “I am here to ‘disclose’ or ‘acknowledge’ or ‘state’ or ‘reveal’ or ‘ share’ that I am HIV-positive.” Instead, he said, “I am here to admit that I am in fact HIV-positive”.
Or, as one media outlet put it: Charlie Sheen gave “a shocking confession.”
Like you do with a priest? Or cops? ‘Admit’ and ‘confession’ are both words more appropriately used to describe someone who has done something wrong, like a criminal or immoral act.
Charlie Sheen did no wrong except be human, and have happen to him what can happen to any human being who engages in the human act we call sex – only the most powerful force of nature going.
Does the person who acquires lung cancer after years of smoking – even though we all know smoking can kill us – “admit” they have lung cancer? “Confess” it? How many lung cancer patients are victims of blackmail because their lung cancer is so “shameful”, or because revealing their lung cancer could destroy their career, or because the smoking of the cigarettes that caused the lung cancer might have caused others who inhaled their second hand smoke to develop lung cancer, too?
Angelina Jolie was able to share her double mastectomy news like a gift, to help people in situations like she faced. Same with Rosie O’Donnell, sharing of the heart attack she had that she didn’t know she had.
But Charlie Sheen? Because of ancient Regan-era stigma that abounds about this particular dis-ease, he likely couldn’t think, “Will this help others?” Instead, he had to disclose to put an end to the brutalization of his finances as his intention, to get ahead of a tabloid cover story.
WE NEED TO LEARN OUR WORDS:
I used to think Raven Symone was vaguely cool (her name is Raven after all), until she joined The View and now I just feel sorry for ravens.
“There’s also different ways to get AIDS, it’s not just through sex, it’s a lot of different ways,” Symone zinged recently while interviewing a former child star who is HIV-positive, even though she had no reason to use the words AIDS in that context, just as the tabloid about should not have used the word AIDS about Charlie Sheen, who is undetectable.
Unaware of the difference between AIDS, HIV and ‘undetectable’, Symone and her ignorance (despite being of the age in which education was aplenty), took me back to July of this year, when thousands sent me hate in response to a misunderstood post about Caitlyn Jenner.
The first piece of hate I read was in the form a tweet, that hoped I would “suck AIDS dick and die.”
Friends, when tabloids to talk show hosts to tweeters can’t send a guy a simple death wish, or interview an HIV-positive former child star, or put out a cover story without using the wrong health term we sadly still have a lot of education to do. (And what in hell is “AIDS dick”?).
WE MUST MAKE SEX SEXY AGAIN:
I almost don’t want to write this part because it’s so damned boring, the notion that sex is bad, wrong, sick, heinous, sending us all to hell blah blah blah.
In an interview I did years ago with Reverend Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Church, Perry put it best:
“We get this notion that because we’re sexual beings, somehow we’re not good enough, or we should be guilty about the feelings we have, that are natural feelings, that are created from God.”
So can we move past this one? We owe it to ourselves – and future generations will benefit mightily if we can pull this off – to ask this: “Which habit of thought do I wish to choose: the one that honours who I am sexually, or the one in which I continue to berate one of the most powerful expressions of that which I am?”
WE MUST STOP BEING HYPOCRITES:
We are hypocrites, because we have sex, love it, but then feel guilty after (bad, wrong, sick, heinous, blah blah blah hell blah).
So then we wag our fingers at each other, we slut shame, we sniff our noses at the notion of “promiscuity”. We do this even though no one person I know of has ever had protected sex 100% of the time, no one I know has lead a life void of a sexual bender or blunder, and not one person I know doesn’t love and enjoy sex.
I love my sex life. I love that I have had sex with vast numbers of men, and I am proud of it. Sheen, myself, anyone who acquired or acquires HIV in the manner he and I seem to have both acquired it, did so only because we are human beings who had human experiences – the end.
In in the shaming of anyone, we only loudly proclaim how very ashamed we are of ourselves.
HIV DOESN’T DISCRIMINATE
Yes, that’s been oft-said, but until now, in this red-hot week, has there ever been a more globally-known straight white man to share that he acquired the HIV virus? Now, finally, the world has proof positive that HIV and AIDS is colour blind, gender blind, and blind to sexual orientation, fame, money, or celebrity. Charlie Sheen’s diagnosis tells us all this, trumpeting more loudly than ever before: HIV does not discriminate.
– Shaun Proulx is the publisher of GGN. He shares himself on social media almost as much as he does in the boudoir, and he does it proudly: Instagram. Twitter. Twitter for The Shaun Proulx Show on SiriusXM. Facebook.