Five Fast Facts About HIV

In a recent interview, Charlie Sheen disclosed his HIV+ status. I think it takes a lot of courage to do this because, despite science to the contrary, the disease is still stigmatized, both socially and legally, in ways that it shouldn’t be. However, I have to reprimand the reporter for asking questions such as, “Have you knowingly, or even unknowingly, transmitted the disease? Have you ever had unprotected sex since your diagnosis? Have you told each of your partners about your status before sexual intercourse? What risky behaviors did you pursue? And do you know how you contracted the disease?” These are invasive questions that, to me, are just as bad as asking a trans person about genitals and surgery, or maybe even worse.

So let me just say a fast few things about sex, safety, and HIV.

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Ask Rachel

I don’t watch the news–the news is depressing. It’s one bad story after another, and the points of importance are pushed aside for the next sensational headline.

Instead I follow stories. I try to understand the exposition, the unwritten prologue, the implications of chapter three, the critical reviews of the page-turning epilogue. And lately, I’ve been reading from a new library–rather than merely perusing the shelves of LGBT identity, Jewish / American intersectionality, and the occasional op-ed on immigration, redistricting, and presidential campaigns, lately I’ve been reading about race.

Here I’ve found more stories, maybe, than I bargained for (and as I write this, I’m reminded of some good advice to beware of the danger of a single story): there are tragedies with names like Travon Martin, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice; settings as varied as McKinney and Ferguson and Baltimore; and narratives simple and complex, like Black Lives Matter.

But the story today that’s swimming through my newsfeed is none of these.

The setting is Spokane, and Rachel is her name.

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Elastic Heart: Societal Struggles

I recently saw a news story float across my Facebook feed about Sia’s new music video for Elastic Heart. The article mentioned many fans have criticized the video for its implication of pedophilia, yet Sia replied she had intended “to create some emotional content, not to upset anybody.” The response was succinct, but kind and validating, and her additional comments left me intrigued.

So I watched the video, and here’s what I think.

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Follow Me Home

A few days ago I logged in and saw my blog has over 1,100 followers. I stared at the screen a moment. My eyes stopped blinking. I no longer heard my heart beating. One thousand, one hundred people.

And they’re all following me.

It’s hard to believe last year I had a goal of reaching 500 followers and now I’ve more than doubled that. But now that I’m here, what does it mean? What should I do?

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The Things We See in Mirrors

I grabbed the paper before jumping on the bus this morning and on the front page was an article about how the only thing the school has planned for today is reflection. That is, after last year’s magnanimous tenth-year anniversary commemorations, they had nothing left to do. They shuffled some excuses about planning timelines and the student body president said he wished there were more than just nothing. Wished the school could do more than encourage students to “be reflective” about the day.

As if “being reflective” is insignificant.

Yes, commemorations are important. We commemorate the Holocaust every year. But they aren’t everything–and when it comes down to it, I believe reflection is better any day.

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To Eat or Not To Eat (Mor Chikin)

Maybe we’re going about this the wrong way.

With those eight words I began the most hotly contested and highly criticized post I have ever written. It garnered more comments across Facebook and WordPress than my last three or four posts combined, and almost all of them were negative–against Chick-Fil-A, against the premise of the post, even against me.

Drawn using Paper by 53 on my Apple iPad.

It’s a big price to pay for a hypothetical, isn’t it? “Maybe” was my first word, soon followed by “perhaps,” and I ended the post with both a question asking for perspectives on the issue–to which I got a lot of responses–and a call to spread the word if they agreed with it. I can guess the word wasn’t spread very far, but maybe that was for the best.

Still, though, the question remains–or does it?

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One Big Thing: A Lot of Little Things

The day begins and I’m half-asleep and the half that’s awake would really like to roll over again and just go back to sleep. In the afternoon my feet ache and my throat’s sore from saying the same thing over and over again to a hundred different people–I could do this with my eyes closed, I tell them, and it’s true–and my eyes drift toward my closed iPad, longing for its internal delights–or that it might morph into a pillow for a quick nap.

It’s a little hard to see why these are related.

But once the connection is made, it’s amazing.

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When the Movies Come Alive

Imagine you’re sitting at the premier of the biggest blockbuster hit all summer and suddenly the tear gas and the gunfire that was on the screen a moment ago is now four feet away with the barrel in your face. It sounds horrific, like the fodder of another Hollywood hit, but this morning, it was far too real for the twelve now dead and at least another fifty who were injured in the shooting in Aurora, Colorado.

It’s amazing how a tragedy can transform the country in a matter of hours and have repercussions that echo across the world at the speed of light. A red-carpet Paris premier of the movie was cancelled in the wake of the shooting and both Presidential candidates have put a silencer on their doomsday rhetoric. The country stands again as one–one victim, one survivor, a single body supporting its own flailing limbs–united in a way only death can unite us.

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Guide for the Civilized

Lately I’ve been watching controversial documentaries. I love documentaries. It’s like a miniature lesson on all sorts of topics in a living room turned classroom for ninety minutes. The perspectives, the visuals, the ideas. I ingest them like ice cream, each flavor delicious in its own way, but even better with toppings.

Lately I’ve been watching controversial political documentaries. I like politics. So much I’m adding a minor in political science. So much I’ve considered running for office or working in government at some point. I’ve aspired to teach to change the world, but hey, I’ll say, maybe I can make a bigger difference somewhere else.

In one such documentary, someone commented with distaste how, after 9/11, President Bush told the people to go shopping. Although it seems this statement actually originated from media commentary on his speeches (and therefore, is more likely rumor than fact), when I heard this, I shut my eyes, ruffled my brow, and shook my head. Such a stupid thing to say! I thought, and thinking further, I wondered

What would I have said?

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If I Could Tell the World Just One Thing

Ten years ago I was twelve. It was a Tuesday. We were already up, had gone about the day as usual. We were turning on the TV to watch MacGyver like we did every day. My mom was taking a shower before we had to leave. The only problem was, all the TV channels were interrupted by a live newscast each showing the same thing.

The scene was this: Two towers, a billowing cloud of smoke from the second.

My brother told me to go tell our mom, so I ran down the hall, banged on the bathroom door, and shouted the news to her. I didn’t know what it all meant, though: I was twelve, what did I know of World Trade Centers and terrorist attacks? To me a plane had flown into a building. It was tragic, maybe in those first few moments scary and exciting, but what did it mean to me–a twelve-year-old boy a thousand miles away?

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