HIV And The Case For Men In The Closet

I’ve come across two major thought camps of homophobes, with one being, not surprisingly, anti-everything-that-isn’t-heterosexual-and-or-heteronormative. I wont’t waste time on a multidemensional explanation for such a shallow group of people. The second group, however, manages to be only slightly more interesting, in that they are homophobic at the core, but they’ve somehow designated themselves as diplomats. This group may consist of the people you will hear saying, ” If you’re gay, just be gay! It’s these men on the down low who are causing problems.” More on my issues with this in a minute…

Homophobia in the black community is a deep dark rabbit hole of opinions and miseducation, but for now, I’d like to focus on the subject of closeted gay men in relation to the subject of HIV/AIDS. People of all levels of anti-gayness  will often use the spread of HIV as a justification for their ostracism. But mainstream and even “black” media does an excellent job of demonizing closeted queer men in addition to misrepresenting LGBTQ people (including not respresenting them at all). With total disregard to how openly gay men of color are judged and mistreated in society (and even within the gay community) and no consideration for how still very uneducated even the most educated of black people are on social issues that aren’t viewed as a “black issue”, people are still baffled at the idea that a man would go so far as to marry a woman to cover up his homosexual inclinations. It’s 2016 and people still practice skin bleaching! But I digress…

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently reported that half of all black African-American men will be diagnosed with HIV. I appreciate objective material that presents fact and encourages people to use the information to work toward more education and positive change. But I’m a pessimist (yes, I know..sorry). I am not convinced that the people sharing articles about 50% of gay black men having HIV care about the health status of the gay community. Assuming that folk actually read past the shock jock-y headline, these types of articles will likely be shared to say, “Hey! See? These gay people are at it again.”

Just as poverty in the black community isn’t as simple as “black people are lazy”, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the gay community isn’t just “DL brothers” effing things up.

(Cheating on your spouse or partner ain’t cool no matter who is doing it, but that is a matter of character, not sexual identity.)

Happy New Year!…Oh, So You’re Joining A Gym?

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I’m sure that for the last week, your Facebook and Twitter timelines were full of memes poking fun at people who notoriously make new year’s resolutions and almost never stick to them. The resolutions in question include joining a gym with the hope of getting in shape and maintaining an overall healthier lifestyle.

It’s no secret that the beginning of a new year is when gyms and health clubs get the most new business, but let’s just assume that at least ¾ of all those new members will stick to their commitment to working out regularly. Are there any significant benefits of joining a gym?

I froze in utter shock the first time I heard a person say, “I hate exercising.” As someone who goes to gyms, uses workout DVDs, takes the stairs and refuses to get in a vehicle when a destination is less than a half hour walk, I couldn’t believe such blasphemous words were coming such fit and athletic looking  people! How else do you look like that and not hit the gym twice as much as I do? I’m not bitter. Do I seem bitter? Oh, okay.

But after presenting this topic to more athletes, I learned that keeping active and “working out” doesn’t always have to be the same thing. The first “I hate exercising” I ever heard was followed by, “doing reps for hours is boring. I have more fun just getting out and playing soccer.” That is when I started to realize that it’s more important for me to find a safe form of exercise that I enjoyed rather than pumping and ellipsing away in a gym just that is the unspoken standard and it makes me look cool on Instagram.

So, instead of boring you with another “New Year’s Resolution” post, I’ll give you a list of some of the  pros and cons of joining a gym and using the gym as your main form of getting exercise.

 

Why Gyms Suck

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There are certain people you find at every gym, and then there gym’s that mainly cater to certain people.

1.A bad crowd can throw off your workout. Not all gyms are the same and that’s okay. Dear deadlifters and fitspo models, whether you mean to be or not, you’re intimidating and some of us find it hard to focus around you. But, hey, you were all here at Hollywood-esque Fitness Gym first, so I’m just going to head over to Planet Fitness with all the housewives and fitness newbies. It’s all good. (Shop for gyms like you would a new car. Try not to knock anyone else’s madness while you find yours.)

2.Getting to the gym can be a chore in itself.  There is no gym where you live and seeing as you live in a major metropolitan area, your morning and evening commute is at least an hour and a half a piece (oh, and you also work from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.). You could join the gym 30 mins  from your job, but it’s bad enough your commute time is cutting into dog-walking, house chores and studying for the LSAT. (Most of what you can do in a gym, you can do in the privacy of your own home. Sports bra, running shoes and a set of free weights.)

3.Gyms can get expensive. This doesn’t need much explanation. Gym membership is like having a Netflix account, taking money out every month. Much time had gone by before I realized I was paying $13 instead of $8 every month.

 

Why Gyms Are Great

1.Great way to meet people. In some very rare cases, a little peer pressure can be a good thing. Knowing that your workout buddy is expecting you is a great motivator. And you’d be surprised how many trainers hang around gyms, scoping out new clients (hopefully in a non-creepy, non-obnoxious way).

2.People take pride in what they pay for. Which would you hate to waste more? A gross $10 meal you bought with a gift certificate, or a $60 gourmet meal that you paid for yourself? You just signed a contract ensuring that x amount of dollars will be taken out of your bank account every month whether you use what you’re paying for or not. At this point you have very little to lose. You’re going to go to that gym and justify the cellulite  out of that $30-$50 a month.negativespace1-20

For those looking to get more fit and active this year, figure what’s comfortable and enjoyable for you, then sit down and make your own list of pros and cons of certain options. If you find yourself following a trend, so what? Your health is for you and no one else. The new year’s gym membership trend wouldn’t be a trend if there weren’t any success stories.

Think Like a Hero : Do you share the same learning styles as your favorite superhero? Possibly!

Based on how this learning style inventory describes these seven different ways of learning, here is how some of your favorite heroes and heroine might be categorized.

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Visual or Spatial (learning with the help of imagery)

Spider-Man – In addition taking pictures for a living, Spidey spends a lot of time people watching from the top of New York’s skyscrapers. That’s a great way to snoop out criminals, locate kittens who may need rescuing…or, learn what Gwen Stacy’s favorite new restaurant is. 

 

Aural (learning with the help of music or sound)Mikeys pizzas

Michaelangelo – As the free-spirited and fun-loving brother of the Ninja Turtle bunch, Mikey’s fluidity and colorful personality meshes well with that of an aural learner. If Drake put out one of those 90s style math hip-hop albums, no question this ninja’s mom is buying it.

 

Verbal (if it’s written or spoken, you get it)

Hermione Granger – Harry and Ron would be completely lost without her. Many consider her twice the magic maker as The Boy Who Lived. Part of what made her such a smart and skilled witch was her genuine love of reading. Spell books, potion recipes, newspapers, you name it. She was always reading ahead, even to some professors irritation. Reading will forever be fundamental.

 

Physical or Kinesthetic (you’re a hands-on learner who probably can’t sit still)

Zack Taylor , the Black Ranger – Before that brief period when Zac Efron was a pop star, there was Zack, the original Black Ranger. He was famous for his saving folks, practicing martials arts with his buddy, Jason, and more importantly, his dance moves. He is what I like to call a “master of movement”. 

 

Solitary (you need some time to think it over…alone)

Batman – Obviously.

 

Social (brinCookg oooon the group work)

Natalie Cook – So what makes this Charlie’s Angel a social learner? She’s smart bubbly and is a real people person. One could bet that she was really into group work in school.

 

 

 

Logical or Mathematical (objective, calculating, by the book)

Blossom – You just wait until the Powerpuff Girls graduate from college, Reed Richards. Blossom might have the smarts to…well, at least intern for you while she’s working on her master’s. She is the “Commander and the Leader” of the trio and is usually the one resolving conflicts between her sisters, kicking butt, strategizing missions and following all the rules. That definitely takes a sharp, logical and objective mind.

Knowing your individual learning styles is useful in and out of the classroom. Learn more here.

The Tea: For cold and flu season

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I’ve been on a bit of a blogging hiatus. Halloween night shenanigans left me with a nasty cold and sinus infection. The road to recovery involved a few days of intense tussin and antihistamine treatment, but one concoction that helped a lot  was an extra spicy ginger tea. The hot spicy tea definitely works in clearing things out and soothe a sore throat.

Here’s how to make it yourself..

Ingredients: bag of ginger or lemon ginger tea, tablespoon of honey, salt, dash of cayenne pepper

Directions (very easy):

  • place tea bag in a mug
  • sprinkle table salt in mug
  • pour tablespoon of honey on tea bag
  • add pinch of cayenne pepper
  • add boiling hot water and let tea sit for 2-3 mins

Spice, spice, spice! If you’re like me, your sinus is pitifully weak willed and inflames very easily. Spices helps to clear up gross mucus and ease pressure from sinus headaches. Ginger and cayenne is a natural mucokinetic and it’s tasty (if you’re into spices). Other remedies at work include honey, which is anti-inflammatory, salt water, which clears your throat, and lemon, which strengthens your immune system.

Two to three cups a day worked well for me, but the good thing about tea as opposed to over-the-counter drugs is that you don’t have to worry about drowsiness or “overdoing it”.

Drink up and stay well!

Weekend Pleasures: Faux-rito bowls

I’m not a fan of Taco Bell, and I’ll obviously choose Chipotle over a burger and fries. Aside from pizza (yes, pizza), all my favorite foods are meals that I prepare myself. That little sense of accomplishment and adulthood can add an extra kick to your dish while sometimes helping keep change in your pocket.

My “faux-rito” bowl is a delicious knock-off of burrito bowls found at a number of Mexican-style restaurants. I’m comfortable with calling it “faux” because it’s thrown together and doesn’t completely follow more traditional recipes. But nonetheless, I give myself and ‘A’ for trying.

Here is what I include in my faux-rito bowl:

  • 2 cups of black beans (from a bag or can and thoroughly drained)
  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • 1 can of tomatoes or fresh salsa
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped onion
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 ½ tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • Mexican cheese blend (pre-shredded)

 

fauxritoHere is how I prepare it:

  1. begin boiling 1 cup of rice
  2. begin cooking beans and tomatoes together
  3. after 3-5 mins, lower heat under beans and add chili powder, garlic to beans
  4. sprinkle parsley on rice
  5. put cooked rice and beans in a cereal bowl
  6. take ½ avocado and cut into squares chunks and add to bowl
  7. sprinkle as much cheese as desired (i.e., OODLES because it’s the weekend and we are adults)

And that’s my “faux-rito” bowl! Meat can be added to the dish and it tastes good with natural or pre-processed ingredients. And what makes me happiest about “faux-rito” bowls is, you guessed it, nibbling on leftovers all weekend long. Not to mention, it goes wonderfully well with tortilla chips. Mmm mm!

Happy weekending and you’re welcome!

Realness of Illness #BreastCancerAwarenessMonth

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which means one can expect issues and organizations surrounding the disease to take a front seat in terms of publicity this month. A couple days ago folks celebrated  #NoBraDay, in which I did not participate. A number of people opposed to the campaign/holiday for fairly sensible reasons, however my reason for opting out was simply a matter of physiology.

Today, I would like to call attention to other illnesses that have been more or less making waves as of late. Here are 5 diseases causing as much buzz as breast cancer:

#5 Epilepsy

I heard the term ‘epilepsy’ and ‘epileptic’ before, but I received my crash course on the disorder after my sister suffered a violent seizure in the middle of the night which scared the beans out of me and landed her in the hospital. According to the CDC, less than 2% of Americans suffer from epilepsy, however there are other more common conditions, such as stroke or severe head injury, that can lead to one having the disorder.

Epilepsy doesn’t get as much publicity as breast cancer and I can’t think at the top of my head of too many celebrities going on Ellen discussing it. Sadly, my last memory of hearing of epilepsy in the media was in the police footage of an infamous arrest that’s also gained some media attention.

#4 MRSA

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Photo by Cristian Baron

I remember there being a big MRSA scare when I was in high school. Made gym class a bit more awkward than it already had been. The slightest of itches warranted the DEEPEST of prayers. Good thing I was in Catholic school [insert comedy drum fill].

It looks like Lamar Odom isn’t the only athlete who’s landed himself in the hospital this week. Daniel Fells, New York Giants tight end, has been in ICU for almost a week and may leave the hospital without a foot due to his diagnosis of the infection. This recent case of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is calling attention to athlete’s vulnerability, but also just how easily anyone person can be infected no matter how clean and careful you may think you are.

#3 Lupus

In my twenties, I’ve been running into more and more women with lupus. This makes sense, since most people with lupus are women of color between the ages of 15 and 44. It was revealed that former Disney queen, Selena Gomez, was diagnosed with lupus after it was rumored that she had gone into chemotherapy.

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PSA, since we’re on the subject, lupus is an autoimmune disease, while cancer is the growth and spread of abnormal tissue. You’re welcome.

Other celebrities with the disease include: Lady Gaga, Toni Braxton and Michael Jackson.

#2 Gun Violence???

According University of Illinois Chicago’s Dr. Gary Slutkin, gun violence is an illness that is preventable. For more than a decade the epidemiologist has been researching and spread the message of a “cure for violence”. Given the constant heated debates surrounding the topic of gun control in the US, I think this interesting perspective on violence and gun use could either act as an objective breath of fresh air or the idea could just recycled be over and over for click-worthy headlines. Hey, I was successfully baited.

Regardless of your politics, I think most can agree that violence in general has surpassed ridiculous levels on the global scale of violent occurrences.

#1 Ebola

Oh, no! I didn’t forget. But I won’t hold it against you if you did. Just at the beginning of the “social activism through hashtagging” exploded into normality, I made the mistake once of posting the status “is Ebola still a thing?” to be fascetious. Bad idea. But I digress.

Just last year, the world, or at least US news outlets, were in a panic for fear of a spread of the Ebola virus. The good news? No new cases have been reported in any of the three countries affected the most by the virus as of last week!

It is still suggested that anyone leaving that area of Africa, particularly Liberia, should get a medical examination and be on the alert for any sign of symptoms. Ebola makes #1 on this list because it’s “still a thing” and if a case is ever reported again in the US, I am convinced that people will just melt. Nope.They are going to melt.

Everyone Has A Cure

These days I don’t take much medicine. Part of why is because I feel that it either doesn’t work or it works a little TOO well. My family members often make fun of me because whether you have a headache, menstrual cramps or an itchy throat, you can count on me making you a cup of ginger tea before I reach for the bottle of Ibuprofen whether you like it not.

Ginger is known to help with a lot of things including nausea and morning sickness, sinus pressure and, wait… it helps arthritis?! Ha! The things you learn..

An old skool stereotype of the South is the swearing by of Crisco vegetable shortening. It probabaly isn’t the healthiest thingfor your diet, but I’ve heard quite a few stories of Crisco being used for a number of things other than frying chicken.Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s a Crisco deep conditioner. A lady always keeps them guessing *wink*.I think back to Eddie Griffin’s character in Date Movie with his spray bottle of hummus. In retrospect, I have to say that I’m in complete solidarity you, Eddie.

Even if your go-to is more of a reassuring placebo than an actual remedy, what’s your cure for everything? Share in a comment below.

In all realness,

Jiell

 

photo by Jakub Kapusnak