June #188 : Beyond the Pale - by Trenton Straube

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Table of Contents


The Sound of Stigma

Artful Warriors

From the Editor

We Are Family


Letters-June 2013


Out of the Shadows

POZ Planet

Beyond the Pale

Koch vs. Koop

The New 'Normal'

Fountain of Youth

National HIV Coming Out Day?

To Be Continued

In the Beginning



Immigration Status

Care and Treatment

GMHC Treatment Issues June 2013

Generics Save Money but May Come With Risks

TasP Movement Gains Momentum

PIs in First Trimester Linked to Premature Births

Child 'Functionally Cured' of HIV?

Research Notes

Prevention: New Understanding of Old Vaccine

Treatment: CD4 Tests Needed Only Yearly?

Cure: Gene Therapy Has HIV in a Bind

Concerns: Health Threats Outside of AIDS

POZ Survey Says

The Doctor Is In

POZ Heroes


Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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June 2013

Beyond the Pale

by Trenton Straube

John Grant sings of HIV and Ernest Borgnine.

John Grant Fresh off his 2010 solo debut, Queen of Denmark, American singer-songwriter John Grant was shopping for shoes in Berlin when he found out about an exposure to HIV. “I received a text from a guy I’d had unprotected sex with stating, ‘I have some bad news.’ My blood froze,” Grant recalls, “because I knew he could only be talking about one thing.”

The HIV diagnosis did not derail his career or his hard-earned sobriety. His new album, Pale Green Ghosts—the title refers to Russian olive trees along a Colorado highway—is a haunting, quirky fusion of ’70s folk rock and ’80s electronica (think of Joni Mitchell and Dead Can Dance). Grant announced his status on stage, during a concert with Hercules and Love Affair—and he wrote about HIV in the track “Ernest Borgnine,” which he describes as “my personal take on Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo. It’s about the absurdity of avoiding the harsh reality of the diagnosis by escaping into the world of movies and asking myself what one of my favorite actors would do.” Also, he says, “I wanted to write about the anger I felt towards myself because I allowed this to happen.”

Yet Grant, now in his mid-40s, shows plenty of compassion and strength too. “HIV does not diminish your worth as a human being in any way,” he advises anyone dealing with a diagnosis. “Be gentle with yourself.” His lyrics to “Glacier” would also resonate:

This pain it is a glacier moving through you / And carving out deep valleys / And creating spectacular landscapes / And nourishing the ground / With precious minerals and other stuff / So don’t you become paralyzed with fear / When things seem particularly rough.

Search: John Grant, Queen of Denmark, Pale Green Ghosts, folk rock

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