Friday was World AIDS Day, and Gwenn (my wife partner) and I commemorated the event by having a Bed In in the Kenneth Cole window at Grand Central.
The night before we spoke twice in New Jersey, and earlier in the week we went to North Carolina and Texas, answering questions from college students about our relationship as a positoid and negatoid. So putting our relationship on display is nothing new.
Traveling can be exhausting, and so can speaking. Each wears in different ways, so doing both this much can definitely make me buzzed. Still, even though we arrived in NYC after midnight, I asked Gwenn as we had breakfast at 1:30 AM in a diner if she wanted to go see the Kenneth window that we’d be in in about seven hours.
So we hopped in a cab, and it dropped us off across the street. We could see a bed, and as we got closer we noticed the bed sheets had statistics on them... and the pillows had big, bold red letters which spelled out the phrases “HE’S +” and “SHE’S -” and “SAFE SEX”. Upon further inspection, we noticed a man’s set of boats at the foot of the bed, a crumbled up pair of socks and jeans. The nightstand held a newspaper, reading glasses, and an opened condom package.
The only thing missing was Gwenn and I. We went back to our hotel, slept for about three hours, and then returned to the site, where we sat in bed, stood in bed, waved the pillows at walker-byers, talked to customers and staff at the store, and was asked by Kenneth Cole- who came by to chat with us and the media- to make out and simulate sex in bed... yikes.
We respectfully declined, citing numerous reasons, but Kenneth was persistent. We explained that it’d hard enough for us to get invited to college campuses as it is, and that, despite his urgings, the slinkly slip that his publicist brought for Gwenn would just have to remain in its shopping bag. Kenneth smiled in defeat, and Gwenn and I returned to our duties greeting walker-byers in our pajamas from the window.
Of course, without Kenneth’s help no one would have been there, no one would have seen us, and Gwenn and I would have been in a hotel room talking to some guy with a podcast. I was appreciative of his support, as well as amfAR’s. But I wanted the event to be what Gwenn and I imagined- a fun way to show that people with HIV can have lives, a fact that is often overlooked on World AIDS Day.
Would the event have gotten more attention if we’d gotten naked and shagged in the window at Kenneth Cole? Possibly. But I’m not really sure if that would have helped or hurt the perception of people with HIV. Yes, we do have sex, and we talk about it all the time. I even make a joke at colleges from time to time, laying on the floor and announcing that we are about to show them how we have sex.
But to make out in public? “I’m not saying that it’s a terrible idea,” I told Kenneth, realizing that by saying so I was actually telling him his idea blew. “It’s just not for us.”
What is for us is our next bed in, scheduled for this Thursday in our home. It’s going to be a private event, and there’s going to be rental movies, hot chocolate and, if the Positoid Gods are smiling down upon me and my mojo is peaking, yes, there will be making out. And, perhaps when all is said and done, an opened condom wrapper will be laying on the nightstand.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Kenneth Cole is not invited to this Bed In.