I’m Michael. I make queer youtube videos.
A lot of the time they’re funny videos about hot men, buttholes and my weird face. So when I told a lot of my friends at various parties over the past year that my next video was going to be about HIV, you should have seen the reactions on their faces — looks of pure discomfort and confusion.
Discomfort because people don’t usually bring up HIV casually at Flaming Saddles or Hamburger Mary’s. Confusion because I’m a comedian. Why would I even want to make a video about HIV? HIV isn’t funny. I know that, but I am a gay man and it’s a topic we all have to address. So after running the idea by my friend Eric Leonardos and others who are HIV positive, I felt educated enough to make this video. I decided it would mostly feature people’s shook reactions to the subject matter and the dialogue that took place afterward.
Writing and making this video was very stressful. I was so nervous I was going to offend someone in some way, just by the very nature of the topic. But what I learned is that people — including myself — feel uneasy talking about HIV. In fact, we never talk about it unless we’re questioning our partners before sex or happen to find ourselves in an educational setting. Or in my case, the internet.
My intention with this video was to show people you can have a conversation with your friends about HIV, even if you don’t know all the facts, and that those conversations can also include some humor, jabs and smiles. I think this lack of dialogue with our peers makes us not quite as informed on the facts of HIV and AIDS as we should be.
I hope that when people watch this video, they decide to bring up the topic of HIV with their friends and ask them some of the questions I asked mine. And when their friends ask why they’re talking about it, they can respond with a simple “Because!” All the people in this video are my actual friends, people I actually respect, people to whom I owe actual money — and people whom I talked with for hours about HIV.
Now it’s your turn: Talk! Well first, watch. Then talk.