It's funny, how much we live in little bubbles, without having any idea just how isolated we are from the world. There's been lots of writing and podcasting lately about that in relation to Donald Trump, and how their election came as a surprise. (I, for one, was so confident about Hillary Clinton's success I was already celebrating the diversity they might bring...). We do the 'bubble' thing around a lot - especially around politics and opinion.
I got whacked out of my bubble again recently, when I bumped into someone from outside my normal world. They wound up accusing me of all sorts of things, because I believe that HIV is a real thing. I'll tell you about it below, but first, some recent (real) news about HIV.
I'm old enough that I had two people within my network die from HIV, back in the early 90's. Then, another two friends became HIV-positive, which we all assumed was a death-sentence... But the drugs and treatments just got better, and better, and they went from sick, to surviving, to surprisingly well. I've lost contact with one of those friends, but the other is alive and changing the world in the best of ways. They're a sex-positive pioneer.
And things have just gotten better and better; recent drugs are starting to get incredibly close to stopping transmissibility, and others are close to using the word 'cure' (at least, under certain lab circumstances). The World Health Organisation predicts that Australia will have achieved "effective eradication" by around 2030, with more challenging geo-political areas to follow five or ten years later. These numbers are based on the drugs currently completing their human-trials, and the likely time it will take for pricing to allow for a global trickle-down.
I am just amazed; these developments are going to have a profound impact on a significant portion of the human population.
I bumped into someone around six years ago, at a festival. We got into a conversation, where they revealed they thought HIV was a hoax.
Sometimes the tantra community - especially the older guard - are accused of having poor ethics and practice around safer-sex; at its worst, young adherents are told not to use condoms and other strategies in sex, but rather, to "surround yourself with pure, clear energy, give yourself fully to the moment, and the strength of our combined spirit will keep us pure" or something like that. I knew that to be the case, but it was still fucking weird coming up against a real life representative of that perspective.
I was kind of gobsmacked for a little while, but eventually I stated that I thought this person's views were not just wrong, but deeply dangerous, and that I didn't want them to leave the conversation thinking that my silence could be assumed to be support.
What else can you do? I wandered back into the festival and my usual bubble.
Fast forward to the present tense, when someone made some inquiries about coming along to Curiosity (the rather progressive sex-positive play-party I run once a month). They had a slightly unusual name, and on a hunch, I remembered the HIV-hoax conversation and thought it couldn't hurt to ask if it was them...
Me (as part of a broader, polite conversation in response to their original question):
"Also, unless your views on HIV as a hoax have changed, if I’m being honest, I don’t think this is the right event for you."
I'd expect a more professional un-emotive attitude from someone who claims to be a sexuality teacher.
There is a huge amount of scientific evidence (just as there in the vaccine scam industry) that these supposed modern diseases and supposed cures are figments of imagination for corrupt and arrogant corporate and political gangsters, hell bent on inventing new diseases and supposed cures to keep us all as sick as possible.
If you don't do some research on these important subjects (checkout youtube for starters), I'd suggest you stop advertising yourself as a sexuality teacher since in my opinion, your just another stupid ignoramus following the party line.
God gave you a brain. Use it.
Yes, people get sick. Yes, people die of illnesses. People generally die because our immune system is incapable of overcoming the causes of our illness.
A lot of modern illnesses are cause by drugs. I hope you're not one those who take recreational drugs, because if you do, you are placing yourself in danger of compromising your immune system.
So called 'HIV/AIDS' arrived from the gay community in San Francisco in the 70's who were taking sexually enhancing drugs for sexual recreation.
Wake up and smell the roses buddy.
When I saw you [at a public daytime event] you looked pretty fucked up to me.
At this point, the temptation is to scream.
In part, I want to scream at the personal attack, and how it seems to be such an apparently integral part of being a sexuality / gender / relationships / kink advocate. Fortunately, in this case, it's pretty hard to take it too seriously, because it's so crude.
In part, I want to scream on behalf of the attitude in the background of this person's thinking - that if you've got HIV, it's because you're bad and / or not looking after yourself. This line of thinking is disgusting to me.
And in part, I want to scream about people's inability to intelligently apply skepticism. There's actually some well-intentioned stuff in this person's response; the criticisms about big-pharma are not too far from the truth of some different situations - just not this one.
The thing with this, as a conspiracy theory, is that there must be tens of thousands of science-minded people actively engaged in HIV research or treatment, and to think that it's possible to get each and every one of them to act in collusion and rally behind a lie is beyond what humans are capable of. It's hard to get a small number of people on the same team to keep a secret, let alone tens of thousands of very different people.
This thinking (or lack thereof) is what makes me want to scream; it's in the way of our progress on so many fronts, and it keeps us from coming out of our insular little thought bubbles and exposing ourselves to new and different information.
Unfortunately, screaming doesn't help. Screaming at humans almost never helps anything. So instead...
"I’m so glad I asked; you would have very much not enjoyed the culture of Curiosity, and the way safer-sex protocols are described and handled. This outcome is better for us both.
Since your response [to me] is a rather personal attack, please don’t get back to me again. I’ll remove you from our mailing list so you’re not bothered by our spam.
Them (this is just one line from an otherwise mostly polite response):
"Talking of personal attacks, for you to ban me from your meetings because of my personal very well researched and scientifically backed knowledge of HIV/AIDS is pure unprofessional ignorant cultish nonsense."
I've laughed and I've cried about this exchange, just in terms of what it says about the human condition (which is normally something I'm pretty positive about).
In the meanwhile, I hope my friend of 25 years - the one with HIV - doesn't have to read this, and instead continues doing what they do in the world unencumbered. I hope the *cliche warning, but it's true* kids in South Africa that get raped (because it's believed their virginity can cure HIV) get let off the hook as soon as possible, as this next wave of medicines trickle down.
I hope we all get out of our comfortable little bubbles, and I hope that Google comes up with a magic 'truth' algorithm (even though I know that's not possible). This might sound weird, but I think the old-guard tantra person I was chatting to has good intentions - I just really wish they would align with good science.
In the meanwhile, I will get back to sharing my take on sex-positivity, which for the moment will continue to be informed by the 'hellish cult of mainstream science'.
Go well, Rog.
The September Curiosity play-space is going to be during the day (4-8pm), since the recent experiment was so successful. This is only for folks who have already done the full Curiosity workshop, the next one of which isn't until Sunday the 8th of October.
Also we've relaunched our Curiosity website and made it sparkly! It's now specially tailored to walking new folk through the Curiosity experience. Recommend it to your friends who are curious but unsure, and check it out yourself at http://curiosity.curiouscreatures.biz/.
Fun Little Sex Games (for all couples) is on September 23.
Kink 101 (for all couples, and male/female identified pairings singles) is on September 24.
Kink 102 (for all couples, and mixed gender pairings singles) is on October 7. It's preferred that you've done Kink 101 but if you have a good grounding in consent (which we'll review) and know you enjoy kink, come along!
Upcoming Sydney workshops - tell your friends!
We'll be in Sydney for the first time ever this September. Exciting stuff, please let your friends and contacts know. We're filling up fast, so encourage them to book in soon.
Fun Little Sex Games (for all couples) is on September 16.
The Forest Ritual (for male/female identified pairings) is on September 16.
Kink 101 (for all couples, and mixed gender pairings singles) is on September 17.
Podcast: Curious Conversations About Sex
In Ep 17: I notice my orgasm potential dropping off over time; what's sex like for aging people? Rog and Dr Linda Kirkman explores sexuality questions especially relevant to those of us who are aging (or planning to do so in the future).
In Ep 18: Is sex a slippery slope of addiction? Does the pursuit of sex inevitably lead to...? We've been taught sexuality is a wild beast waiting to consume us. Rog interviews two people: one interested in football, and the other interested in sex. Find out the amusing results ...
In Ep 19: I have Vaginismus - any advice welcome Anne Hunter, Niyati Evers, and Rog have a special conversation from the personal perspective of three people with direct experience of this condition.
In Ep 20: What do you wish you were told at the start of your sex journey? Dr Linda Kirkman and Rog have a frank discussion about what it was like growing up and navigating sex.
In Ep 21: How do you train a submissive? Aerie, Beejay and Rog discuss consent (for a change!), safety, techniques, and the psychology of the way different people learn.
In Ep 22: Polyamory: Do you believe in tight or loose agreements? ...Strict rules, or relationship anarchy? Dossie Easton, Anne Hunter and Rog get deep into the subtleties of polyamory (and open relationships and non-monogamy in general) and share their combined wisdom of 70+ years of personal experience.
In Ep 23: What's your number one sex move? Cath Carter, Maureen Matthews and Rog reveal their number one sex moves!
In Ep 24: How do I learn to be a dominant (BDSM/kink)? Aerie, Beejay and Rog talk honestly from their wealth of experience about what makes a good dominant, and what power-play is all about.
In Ep 25: Consent is not sexy Dossie Easton, Anne Hunter and Rog discuss consent as a human right. Saying it's sexy confuses the issue.
In Ep 26: The Consent Cards: A primer in great sex and consent! (Part 1 of 3) Aerie and Rog go through the juicy questions on the Curious Creatures consent card, in detail. And they share their personal stories on lessons learned the hard way.
Rog is the driving force behind Curious Creatures. He was brought up white, middle-class, mostly heterosexual, and male. He now identifies as kinky, tantric, polyamorous, queer, and very, very curious.