#WEAREALLCLEAN – the power of language

As we approach World AIDS Day I thought it was useful to comment on a new online campaign that seems to be gaining some traction amongst both positive people, gay men and even the heterosexual community around the world.

The #WEAREALLCLEAN campaign was the brainchild of Jack Mackenroth who has teamed up with gay social media app Moovz to raise money for HIV/AIDS organization Housing Works as we head towards World AIDS Day on December 1. The new campaign combats the “Are you clean?” stigma.

“I was inspired by the use of the word ‘clean’, especially common in gay culture, to describe oneself as STI/STD free. Indirectly this implies that HIV-positive people are somehow ‘dirty'”, says Mackenroth. “I thought a PG or PG-13 shower selfie or Vine video would be a fun way that everyone could easily show their support for finding a cure by using social media and by using the hashtag #weareALLclean when they post their photo with the link. They then nominate 3 other people to participate and hopefully donate to the project as well.”

The language of clean vs not clean, has created much discussion in the past couple of years on social media sites amongst both HIV positive and to a lesser extent HIV negative men, who seem to use the word clean with not much regard for its impact.

From a personal perspective we were just talking last week about the HIV negative men out there who insist on getting into dialog about if you are ‘clean’ or not and this campaign is a slap in the face for all of those HIV neg men who have no sensitivity around the impact of such negative words and the rejection, stigmatization and discrimination that happens daily to men with HIV. The notion of sending out a message that we are all CLEAN is a way to reclaim some language that has been turned into a belittling unfair use of this word for all men who are HIV positive and trying to stay sex positive and get on with their lives in the best way they can.

I whole heartedly support this campaign…reclaim the language and stop discriminating…by all means ask if someone is pos or neg and leave the ‘clean’ language behind…lets actively try and think about the language we are using in the community.

Surely we can now be at a time in this epidemic when we can support each other, have some dialogue that works for all of us and support and embrace everyone.  Language has always been a powerful tool, you just need to look at the homophobic language that still exists in the wider community and the destructiveness of words.  Think before you speak, send a text, put an ad on a social media site or respond.  By all means have some dialogue about a persons HIV status but do it in a way that is respectful and treats the other person with some dignity…

We are ALL clean, aren’t we! I know I had a shower this morning…


My contribution to the campaign!

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