3000 gay men per year becoming HIV+ in the UK
In a materialist paradigm HIV is a virus to be defeated
In a spiritual worldview it’s a wake-up call
HEALING IS VITAL
HIV was the catalyst that led to my interest in spirituality: the threat of death led me to search for meaning in life. Given a positive diagnosis in 1990, by ’95 I was becoming symptomatic and was given an AIDS diagnosis. I left my job, got my debts written off by telling the bank I was leaving the world, and turned my mind to the big question – why, I asked for the first time in my life, did I exist in the first place? I had held a firmly rational, atheistic view since the age of 12, but now, at 30, an understandably urgent need for spiritual answers arose in me. I plunged into a study of the worlds’ religions, into pagan magic and new age teachings, soon sensing a mystical core common to all. I began to open my mind and heart to the possibility of something more, to a purpose to our apparently random existence, to the idea of a beneficent divine presence giving rise to existence.
I had expected to be miserable about dying but instead I became fascinated and inspired – writing, drawing, living in dreamtime for long periods, surging with energies I had never encountered before, except perhaps on lsd, meeting an overwhelming, feminine, presence of divine love that I came to realise is everywhere all the time, holding us constantly, but which our mental confusion and emotional baggage prevent us from properly knowing. I took on the notion that I was growing beyond the ego-mind and into the consciousness of the soul, starting to encounter the energy of spirit in all things. Facing death was the trigger for this journey, which has entirely transformed my life, opening me up to a multidimensional reality in which life is a story of souls finding our way back home. That HOME is the internal and eternal place of connection, love and peace that is our divine right as human beings – and facing death, overcoming fear of dying, is the fastest way to get there.
HIV pushed me to the point of asking the most important question there is, and it was a catalyst for a rapid spiritual awakening – for an Accelerated Individual Discovery of Self. By surrendering to the prospect of annihilation I experienced Self beyond the limits of my individuality. This is what Ayahuasca also does for people, taking them to a place beyond their own ego, beyond identification with the little Self, revealing just how much more to our existence there really is. Facing death had that effect for me.
Many positive men went through spiritual transformations during the plague years, but most of them took their discoveries and epiphanies with them to spirit. Only a few people get to experience a journey to the edge of life now thanks to the effectiveness of the medications available, but it does still happen. Attitudes towards becoming positive have changed so much that today you can administer your own HIV test at home, it is no longer regarded as a terrifying death sentence. HIV is ‘normalised’ and positive people are expected to take the tablets and continue to go to work and lead normal lives. But even so HIV is still a huge emotional challenge for anyone becoming positive, it will push many into darkness, fear and depression. As a survivor of that journey I want my voice to be heard… I am here to say that HIV can still be a catalyst to self-discovery, growth and awakening, even without a trip to death’s edge. It is still likely to push us to question our lives, attitudes and behaviours. It might push us into explorations of sexual extremes as we lose the fear of becoming infected, discover the thrill of uninhibited bareback sex. There is a lot of searching going in gay life, but unfortunately little awareness of what we are truly, at the deepest level, searching for.
It took some years before I came across writings that connected gay sexuality with spiritual matters. But when I found out that the queer folk had been shamans and healers in tribes across the planet through human history a piece of the jigsaw fell into place. We have also been deeply involved in all the world’s religions, whatever the scriptures might say. Islam was a much gayer religion until recent times. Christian and Buddhist monasteries were always havens for gay men, and convents for women who loved women. Hinduism is the campest religion on the planet – its colourful deities are known for changing gender and sex was long honoured in Indian tantric temples as a pathway to heavenly experiences (as it had been in the Middle East for millennia until the rise of the patriarchal war god).
What tragedy currently in India that gay men are being persecuted and prosecuted because of laws introduced by the uptight Christian British. There is a long and rich history of connection between same sex erotic love and the sacred around the whole planet going back over 10000 years. The religious folk of today do not know this, and nor do the vast majority of the gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals. Nor do most of us even want to. Hated and abused by religion, the question of spirit struggles to get a look in the busy, glamorous world of the gay. However, high levels of addictions, diseases, mental illness, suicides spoil our beautiful, camp or butch façade. So does the way that queer people are viewed and treated in so much of the world still. What can we in the comfortable, privileged West do about it? We can heal ourselves of the wounds inflicted in centuries of spiritual and physical war on our kind and emerge into our power as the true magicians, priest/priestesses, shamans, healers of the human race. We are coming back into the picture at this time because the world needs us, the planet needs us, to wake up to our power and our purpose. HIV is a wake up call, as are so many other of life’s challenges… a wake up call to know ourselves, to engage life, more deeply, more consciously, more lovingly. That kind of engagement will trigger our own personal evolution, and an evolution for gay life.
Gay liberation has started in the sexual, social and political spheres, but has to go all the way to the spiritual level before lgbtq+ people find their place in the human family. That prospect is furthered by each individual queer who grows out of mindless, selfish, unconscious behaviours, chooses a path of self-discovery, and finds their own way to be of service to creation, in touch with the holiness of life. HIV is, for some of us, the kick to start this transformation.
HIV I propose is a call from the soul to seek healing and understanding of who we are, as spirits waking up in the rat race of a blinkered civilisation… waking up to the discovery and formation of a bigger, brighter, braver, and much more conscious, future for gay people and all people on the Earth. We become positive because nature and the heavens want us to face up to the challenge of facing and knowing ourselves, to wake up to the magnificence and potential of what we really are, to break through the illusions of the materialist world, to break down the walls between death and life, to embrace, that at this point in our lives, HEALING IS VITAL.
HIV comes to ask…
Do you know who you are?
Are you living in the shallows or fulfilling your soul?
Do you have love in your life, are you pursuing a goal?
What is the meaning you give to your life?
Cos you won’t have it forever, get wise.
Are you lost in the mental illusion of lonely isolation?
Healing is Vital, wake up to Creation.
We are not these bodies, we are not our thoughts
We are something eternal, mysterious and bright
The fastest way to wake up to Life
Is to lose the fear of losing your self
Healing is Vital, and Queer is the Way
Don’t get distressed that you are going to die one day
That’s coming to everyone
And life goes on, sings its song
As will you
For it’s to life
That you belong.