It’s Black Pride: Testing, Sex, Disclosure, and Having Fun
It’s the most wonderful time to be queer. It’s Memorial Day weekend, which means thousands of Black Queer people will be heading to the nation’s capital of Washington, DC for day parties, night parties, brunch, and fun. It is Black Pride, the biggest celebration of Black Queer existence in the country—and with that come some reminders for all those looking to have fun but who also need to be safe.
HIV testing will be EVERYWHERE. Don’t get nervous. It’s a choice.
Unfortunately, because Black Pride brings the largest congregation of people into one area, it is the perfect time for organizations focused on HIV to get testing done while promoting other services.
Let’s be clear, HIV testing is an important component to helping reduce the transmission of the virus and the leading tool in finding those who are unknowingly HIV-positive. However, it is still stigmatizing to many during events where we are sharing our joy to have to be reminded of HIV also being one of our greatest plights.
Don’t fret. When people approach you about testing and you are with your friends it is okay to say: “I’m okay, but thank you.” If testers are being a little more aggressive, it’s okay to let them know: “I’m here for the sole reason of enjoying pride, but I will take your advice and get tested on my personal time when the environment is more conducive.” If you are willing to get tested, be aware of the process, should the results come back positive.
You will need to go through additional paperwork and be linked to care from that spot—meaning it will take an extra 10-15 minutes from a test that may come back negative. If you test positive and decide to go back with your friends, and they ask why it took so long, it’s okay to tell them that you had additional questions; until you are comfortable sharing your HIV diagnosis.
Black pride is the place to have fun. And with so many beautiful people in one area for the weekend, sex is something that can occur. Just as I would preach with a Jack’d hook-up, or a person you leave the club with, it is still important to have those conversations around sex, no matter how hot and heavy it may be getting.
Disclosure is not something everyone is just going to do. Prior to engaging in sex, both parties should be asking questions. “Are you HIV-positive?” “Do you have any other STIs?” It is about maintaining accountability and taking responsibility prior to giving the consent of having sex. If a person tells you they choose not to answer, or if they decide to tell you that information, then you have a decision to make as to whether or not you want to further engage with them.
Sex is fun and great, but it should also be responsible in terms of having those conversations beforehand. You should never feel compromised or forced to engage in sexual activity that you don’t agree with. Condom usage is also a decision that should be made between both parties and discussed prior to your clothes coming off. I know it may seem like it will kill the mood, but trust that both parties going into sex with clear minds and clear expectations can only lead to a greater experience.
The most important thing about Black Pride is to have fun, whatever fun looks like for you. There will be day parties, night parties, and sex parties. We have no right to shame anyone’s joy or what they decide to do as consenting adults.
It’s okay to have fun and explore and engage in certain things as long as you are making the best decision for YOU. Part of your responsibility and accountability lies in you knowing that you are making conscious decisions and potentially taking risks based on those decisions. Don’t leave those decisions in the hands of others.
Make sure that if you are going out that you are doing so with people who will look out for you. There is typically a lot of drinking -- and I don’t mean water -- so have fun but do it as safely and responsibly as possibly.