Funny smart guy Michael Henry gets lots of laughs with his insightful short films which often lampoon dating and relationships in the gay community. His latest YouTube video presents the viewer with a “what would you do?” scenario regarding HIV status.
The clip opens on a sunny, fun day in LA with boys being boys at a pool party. Some splashing, some sunning, some getting busy. Jeremy (Adrian Anchondo) is about to exit the party but decides to check in on Michael first, who’s been canoodling with Rex. As he sits down on a lounge chair, Michael is over-the-moon having met Rex, adding that he’s packing up to head to Rex’s place to play “hide the salami.”
Jeremy asks who’s going to do the hiding and Michael realizes flirty banter hadn’t gotten that far. So, Jeremy takes a moment to lean in with a quiet word to let Michael know…”Rex is HIV+.” Michael is visibly stunned.
“Did he tell you to tell me that?,” asks Michael.
Jeremy answers, “No.”
“Then, who do you think you are telling me this,” counters Michael. “Don’t ever reveal his status or anybody else’s status with anybody ever. That is none of your business.”
Jeremy is clearly caught off-guard thinking he had been trying to protect his fried. “I’m confused. If I were in your shoes, I would want to know.”
“Well, that’s you,” replies Michael. “And as you say, you’re confused.”
What follows is a compelling discussion on the where’s and what for’s of disclosing another person’s HIV status. Henry’s main message seems to be that it is on HIV+ folks to inform possible partners about their status at the appropriate time. And it’s the responsibility of those possible partners to side-step any embarrassment about raising the topic of HIV and/or protection before “hiding the salami.”
What would you do?
The commenters on the video’s YouTube page were split on whether it would be inappropriate to share inside info like someone’s else’s HIV status.
On one side of the discussion:
“Profoundly helpful. Thank you for using your talents to deliver such a crucial message. Those of us living with HIV thank you sincerely.”
“Great work and message!!”
“This is top material Michael, and definitely a chance to keep educating ourselves about communication and community at large.”
“This is a much needed message that needs to be heard. Sharing someone else’s health (HIV, STIs, or anything else for that matter) without their consent is tacky and self-serving.”
And on the other:
“There’s a difference in being poz-phobic and being concerned for a friend. People do lie about their statuses, and this is relevant information to have about someone you plan on sleeping with.”
“I was saved from likely getting HIV when I was 21 due to being warned about a guy that was positive who wanted to take me home…I disagree and think people should be warned if it’ll keep them safe.”
“If, in the video, the friend was shaming and judging the HIV+ person, I would understand the message. But the friend didn’t, he just gave a heartfelt warning because he didn’t know how the HIV+ person handled it.”
“It took a lot of courage for the guy to come off the roof to help his friend like that. If it were me, I’d tell my friend ‘thank you’ because I feel he did the right thing.”
Michael Henry is a thoughtful, intuitive talent who time and time again finds a compelling ways to bring up important topics in the gay community. And he’s done it once again.
Speaking to Instinct Magazine, Henry shared, “This video was important for me to make because I don’t think everyone knows how to react in this scenario. And I think a lot of queer people are misinformed when it comes to HIV. I hope this video can help steer someone in a better direction.”
What do YOU think, Instinct readers? Would you quietly share someone’s HIV status with a friend who looks to be on the path to hooking up? Or do you think it’s inappropriate to pass that info on to your friend? Let us know what you think in the comments.