Dear Whoopi and the View: what am I, dirty?

For ten years, this male homo sapien has steered clear of The View the way any male homo in the TV jungle might.

Then Barbara and her bitches made such a big Whoopi about Ms. Goldberg coming to the show, I tuned in just to see how one of my favorite entertainers was going to fare in the co-host merry-go-round.

Guess what? All these months later, I’m a frequent viewer of The View and very grateful for the coffee talk and for the bonding conversations my mom and I have reViewing the show over the telephone.

But I’m especially grateful for today’s episode of The View which featured a subject dear to my heart as well as my bloodstream: HIV/AIDS.

I found out I had acquired the virus the same night Rock Hudson made his AIDS announcement to the world in 1985. I was 23 and a month out of college. I have now been living with HIV over twice as long as The View has been on the air, 23 years and counting.

So you can imagine the Joy (pun intended) of living long enough to witness HIV test kits being offered up as a giveaway on a popular morning talk show.

If someone had told me in the 80s and 90s, “hang on, brother man, someday an audience will applaud receiving an HIV test kit rather than the latest electronic gadget,” that would have made me think that person was literally crazy, but it would have also made me laugh, and given me hope.

“The accepted medical and scientific terms are HIV-negative and HIV-positive.”

That’s what The View does each morning, gives me hope … hope that humans can be humane to one another despite their diverse beliefs in the causes they’re willing to live and die for. So thanks, Whoopi and The View, for helping to expand my personal views of my fellow Americans, and for expanding my fellow Americans’ view of HIV/AIDS … but I gotta bone to pick with Ms. Whoopi.

Ms. Whoopi, you broke my heart and hurt my feelings when you used one of the words that breaks many a heart like mine. The Hot Topic occurred during the New-York-Governor-Caught-in-Prostitute-Sting scandal. The discussion had to do with prostitutes, and in referring to the sexual health of the women, you said something like, “as long as they’re clean.”

Cue the dagger to the heart of a person with HIV/AIDS. Why?

Randy Boyd

In this new century, people have survived the initial AIDS panic and created a whole new lexicon to convey one’s sexual health, a lexicon filled with words like “clean,” “disease-free,” “DDF,” (drug and disease free), and phrases like bug-free, no bugs, super clean, extremely clean, etc., often followed by the suffix that gets right to the point: UB2.

On the information superhighway, one can run into these words and phrases as often as you run into stoplights on the bustling city streets.

Only this stoplight hurts, and here’s why: The accepted medical and scientific terms are HIV-negative and HIV-positive.

Terms like “clean” and “disease-free” reek of judgment and a lack of compassion. If someone who’s HIV-negative is clean and disease-free, is someone who’s HIV-positive dirty and disease-ridden?

In addition, “clean” and “disease-free” are terms that mean different things to different people.

On top of all the challenges the world faces in educating itself about safer sex, people using ambiguous terms like clean only complicate the effort.

Case and point: look at online personals: countless Americans of all sexual persuasions are “hooking up” and having unprotected sex with other Americans because both parties have a brief discussion about sexual health wherein both parties simply say, “I’m clean.”

“Don’t believe me? Ask other people living with HIV/AIDS.”

Talk about a problem! Does clean mean showered, a neat freak, trimmed in all the right places, douched in all the right places, not a dirty person, clean and sober, and so on. Good topic for Family Feud: what do people mean when they say clean?

In addition to living the “clean life,” many of these same Americans have unprotected sex with other “clean people,” falsely believing this is the way to remain bug-free.

Unfortunately, the disease many of these people suffer from is ignorance, ignorance of the fact that the best way to avoid getting HIV and STDs is to have safe sex with everyone, regardless of HIV status, and that having sex any other way puts you at risk.

But the world’s sexual health aside, from the view of a black homo who’s been living with HIV/AIDS more than half his life, hearing those terms hurts. It hurts my feelings. It hurts. And I know I’m not alone. All may not agree, but to many of us dealing with HIV/AIDS, those words are a dagger.

Ryan White AIDS

Don’t believe me? Ask other people living with HIV/AIDS.

Odds are, a smart, intelligent person like Whoopi Goldberg wasn’t aware of the shift in meaning of the aforementioned words. Odds are, if Whoopi ever gets wind of the shift or this letter, she’ll understand my point of view.

And whether she agrees or not, I believe Whoopi Goldberg would respond in kind. She and the women of The View continue to teach me: there are good people in the world capable of communicating and caring about one another across the political and cultural divides.

U go, bitches!

One thought

  1. I’ve been using google to scour the blogs and more traditional news outlets for any mention of what Whoopi said this morning. Yours is one of only two results I’ve found so far, and the other was very poorly written and juvenile. I have to admit I had never really thought about your particular issue, regarding the connotations of words like “clean.” What I have been looking for is any mention of Whoopi’s totally erroneous assertion that you can contract AIDS from donating blood or having diagnostic tests run at hospital. Early in the AIDS epidemic there were a few cases of people contracting HIV from receiving blood transfusions, but it is increibly ignorant to claim that anyone in the US has ever gotten AIDS from the lifesaving act of GIVING blood.


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