Yesterday this column discussed the subject of serosorting. Serosorting is the practice of using a person’s HIV status as a basis for choosing relationship and sexual partners.
There is no doubt this idea was born from a virtue to look out for the good of all but as a wise man once said “an idea in theory is different than an idea in practice”. Many gay males are not holding to the selfless act that serosorting was built on and now we have side-effects known as bug-chasers and gift-givers.
In no way was that last statement meant to be an insult. Gift-givers and bug-chasers are real people with real feeling that are suffering the effects of a culture not supporting this act of serosorting properly.
The 80’s and early 90’s was a very frightening time for gay men. The fear of isolation and a quick death caused a surge of anger through those that tested positive for HIV. HIV positive men organically came together during this time of crisis. Serosorting was created around the year 2000 but it changed over time with the increasing numbers of HIV positive gay men.
Here come new generations of gay men which a lot them have already felt the sting of isolation from the ones that love them and now they are looking for a place to fit in by means necessary. Their need is so great for intimacy and belonging that becoming HIV positive is a means to an end. As long as they are accepted they feel complete and those are the feelings of a bug-chaser.
Some bug-chasers have the mentality that they are going to become HIV positive someday so they intentionally become HIV positive to relieve the fear of an impending doom. All you need now is a partner in crime.
If you have someone that intentionally wants to become HIV positive that means there is people intentionally wanting to make someone HIV positive. It was bug-chasers that deemed HIV a gift so those who are willing to perform this act are known as gift-givers.
Gift-givers use this behavior to feel a sense of empowerment and control. For them the gift is not HIV but giving someone else the choice they never had. A lot of these gift-givers still have the anger and resentment from those same frightening years that claimed the lives of so many. The mindset of a gift-giver is if someone wants to become HIV positive it is that person’s choice and not their responsibility to say no. There is no guilt or shame felt from the behavior of creating another HIV statistic.
There are now a few relevant questions that should come to everyone’s mind. Have we lost sight of the goal? Has serosorting created a superpower click which becoming HIV positive is the initiation ritual? Is there a pattern of anger and abuse being taught? Are bug-chasers just gay men looking for acceptance in all the wrong ways? Are gift-givers angry HIV positive men that have not handled their anger and acceptance issues?
However we wish to look at the issue let’s not forget that we are dealing with people here. Labels, fear, circumstances and especially anger are not people. HIV positive people should be treated with dignity and respect.