Tag Archives: covid-19

Old School New Kid 14

“Flirting With 70”

 Guest Writer: W.D. Foster-Graham          

     Yes, I said it. I haven’t consummated it yet, but I am in the flirting zone with 70.

     That was such an alien concept to my 21-year-old brain in the early 1970s, somewhere in the future far, far away, off in my grandmother’s territory. And to be gay and 70? Did such elders exist? Well, we have met the elders, and now they are us.

     Now and then, I search for Google images of Black male couples at this stage of our lives, and while I’m pleased to see a few, there can be more of them to add to the diversity of SGL (Same-gender loving) brothas. Now that my son is 20, another stage of my life will also appear on the horizon at some point: grandfather status. Though my father was 19 when I was born (it was the era of the Baby Boom), my son wants to wait a while before he has kids. Good for him.

     I’ve learned to go with the flow when I have my “senior moments.” I know there are those of you who have had them, such as going into a room and wondering what you went there for. My brother and I approach them with a sense of humor; that’s one thing that makes the difference in my outlook on life.

     As an author, I have an ongoing issue with thinking faster than I write, causing me to skip words. It’s more apparent now that I am older; the good thing is, I can figure out the word based on the context of the sentence. It’s more important these days to document my notes to reference them and take the kind of supplements that boost my concentration and memory (after I check with my doctor). As much as I love watching my classic movies, reading and writing have helped keep my mind sharp.

Never Give Up, book cover, a black Judge in his black robes, sitting in the court

     This has also inspired and encouraged me to include an older gay couple in my work. Allan Beckley Christopher’s brother, Sammy, was first introduced in Mark My Words. In one of my upcoming M/M romance novels, The Right to Be, you will get to know more about Sammy and his husband as men in their 80s, and his status as the gay elder in the Christopher family.

     Contrary to a stereotype, flirting with 70 doesn’t consign Black LGBT men to a miserable, lonely existence. Being single by choice doesn’t mean being lonely. Also, more of us are out there today who have long-term husbands at this stage, including children and grandchildren. A circle of close friends is a strong source of support. Health and quality of life are at the forefront, which can include a closer spiritual walk and staying active. Being good in bed may have been Number One in the qualities of a husband at one point, but as we grow older it does take a back seat to the qualities of character—the ones that make a man a keeper. The kind that lifetime memories are built upon.

     For me, flirting with 70 involves love and faith. It means acknowledging and honoring my past, plus the wisdom I gained from it. At the same time, I give gratitude for my life today, and the progress made by our LGBT descendants. As for the future, I can only leave that in God’s hands. To my contemporaries out there, let us continue to pay it forward. I realized, at one point, that I became the role model I wished that I had at 18. Somewhere, a young LGBT brotha is watching our lives.

     Believe in dreams and never give up. Stay safe and well.

      © 2020 by W.D. Foster-Graham. All rights reserved.


W.D. Foster-Graham is an independent novelist from Minneapolis, Minnesota.  He received a B.A. in psychology from Luther College, and he was an original member of the multi-Grammy Award-winning ensemble, Sounds of Blackness.  He has also been recognized by the International Society of Poets as one of its “Best Poets of 2003.” 

His tastes in writing run to family sagas and M/M romance, seasoned with his own brand of African-American flavor—at the end of the day, it’s all about the love. He shamelessly admits to a love of romance novels, whodunits and classic movies of old Hollywood.  He was also inspired by the late novelist E. Lynn Harris, who believed that an author should write the books he/she wants to read.

Current works in development are a continuation of his Christopher Family Novel series: Never Give Up, a blend of historical novel/family saga /whodunit, and two M/M romance novels, The Right to Be and To Thine Own Self. 

You may visit W. D. at his online home, wfostergrahamauthor.comand on Twitter, @WDFosterGraham1.  And, email W. D. at  wfostergraham@wfostergrahamauthor.com.

 

Doin’ It On the Regular

     If you’re HIV-poz, what’s essential to achieving viral suppression?

     The answer:  adherence to antiretroviral (ARV) therapy.  This faithfulness and fidelity about taking your HIV meds on the regular put you on the righteous road toward becoming undetectable.  And that, my friends, is the ultimate destination—to NOT transmit the virus to your sexual partners.

     Unfortunately, however, social factors are undermining adherence to ARV therapy among persons living with HIV in the United States.  This results in drug resistance that compromises future treatment options. 

     Some of these significant and sometimes insurmountable societal challenges include unemployment, loss/lack of medical insurance, mental instability (anxiety, depression, destructive behavior, suicide), as well as the “gift that keeps on giving:” racism and racial inequity.   And to make matters even worse, the COVID-19 pandemic–that’s spreading like uncontained wildfires ravaging the world, particularly the U.S.—is a potent accelerant.

     Overall, the proportion of the HIV population on ARVs who adhere to its daily regimen at an optimal rate remains quite low, according to MPR, Monthly Prescribing Reference.  A multispecialty drug information resource for healthcare professionals, MPR offers concise prescribing information, as well as news and features on cutting-edge topics in harmacotherapy.

     According to Poz.com, “Looking to estimate the rates of adherence to ARVs as well as the prevalence of drug resistance among people with HIV, investigators analyzed data from the Integrated Dataverse from the Symphony Health database and the Monogram/Lab Corp Database.  The period they analyzed ran from January 1, 2015, to September 30, 2017.  Published in AIDS and Behavior, this study measured adherence based on the percentage of days within a 12-month period that was covered by prescriptions filled by each individual.

     “On average, 72% of the days in that period were covered by ARVs among the nearly 170,000 people included in the analysis.  Forty-five percent of the study cohort members were considered to have poor adherence because less than 80% of the days in the year were covered by ARVs, while 30% had suboptimal adherence (80% to just under 95% of days were covered) and just 25% had optimal adherence (95% or more days were covered).” 

     The study examined nearly 96,000 samples provided for drug resistance testing and discovered that 31% showed evidence of resistance to ARVs.  “From state to state, the prevalence of drug resistance ranged from 20% to 54%,” according to Poz.com.  “ Out of the five states that had the highest prevalence of drug resistance, three of them had a rate of poor adherence to ARVs greater than 40%.  In Southern states, 50% of the individuals had poor adherence to ARVs.”

     The authors of the study emphasized that social determinants of health should be taken into consideration when selecting an ARV regimen.  They added that efforts must be made to improve adherence–thereby preventing the development of resistance.

     They concluded, “’This study is one of the first in the U.S. to provide a comprehensive understanding of the current status of adherence to ART (antiretroviral therapy), the prevalence of resistance to HIV drugs, social determinants of health that could be associated with poor or suboptimal adherence and ART resistance’.”

     So, adhere to the bottom line:  If you’re HIV-poz, keep poppin’ your ARV meds—and “make sho’ to do it to it on the regular.”  Safeguard your health!  And that of your intimate partners. 

 

 

 

Old School New Kid 12

“Second Home”

 Guest Writer: W.D. Foster-Graham          

      Indeed, COVID-19 has brought about drastic changes in our lives. My state has a shelter-in-place order at this time, and all that goes with it. People overall have been good about compliance here; I must admit it’s weird driving on freeways with hardly any traffic, but I will take it for what it’s worth.

     I remember the saying, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” That has included being creative about staying connected, whether it’s via Zoom meetings or gathering for virtual church services online. I’m sure people are calling each other more to check in, especially with loved ones who are older. Except for the essential errands and a walk, besides prayer and meditation, I get to do more reading and writing, as well as binge-watch my favorite classic TV shows and movies.

     This season has brought good news for me as an author. Earlier this month, I had the honor of being a guest on one of the local radio stations here, where I was interviewed about the impact COVID-19 has had on the LGBT community as well as my literary body of work. Also, my Christopher Family Novel series is now on the shelves of four library systems here in Minnesota. Yaassss!

     For a person whose second home growing up was the library, having my work represented on those shelves is a mark of success for me as an author/novelist. Before the Information Age was deemed as such, there was the public library. Getting my first library card was a license to a whole wide world of books, newspapers, magazines (keep in mind that I was a child of the 1950s and early 1960s).

Never Give Up, book cover, a black Judge in his black robes, sitting in the court

     When I grew older, I would read biographies and autobiographies, but the fiction section tapped into my vivid imagination, particularly novelists who wrote series. To this day, I can visualize myself as a child, all arms and legs, walking home from a trip to the library with books up to my chin. I would then sit in my “reading chair” at home, my pile next to me, and proceed to read every book, each embarking upon a different adventure.

     Indeed, I could stay in a library for hours, and it is still one of the places conducive to my best writing and inspiration. During my childhood and young adulthood, the main library here also had another treat: a planetarium. Field trips to the planetarium shows were part of my school days.  But as an adult, it was a great way to get away for an hour and chill. And then I’d go over to the library and check out books.

     Today, technology is an integral part of our public and school libraries, what with the Internet, computer labs, and the like. Still, there is nothing like having a book in your hands to read; for an author, holding your work in your hands or having a signed copy from your favorite authors.

     Given the restrictions, my interactions with the libraries in my area are currently limited to curbside pickup of my materials—amazing how much we take for granted, given that there was a time in history when it was dangerous for African-Americans to know how to read and write. Seeing these buildings, however, serves as a reminder of another lesson I’ve learned over time—being a good writer means being a good reader.

     Stay safe and well. Believe in dreams and never give up.

© 2020 by W.D. Foster-Graham
All rights reserved.


W.D. Foster-Graham is an independent novelist from Minneapolis, Minnesota.  He received a B.A. in psychology from Luther College, and he was an original member of the multi-Grammy Award-winning ensemble, Sounds of Blackness.  He has also been recognized by the International Society of Poets as one of its “Best Poets of 2003.” 

His tastes in writing run to family sagas and M/M romance, seasoned with his own brand of African-American flavor—at the end of the day, it’s all about the love. He shamelessly admits to a love of romance novels, whodunits and classic movies of old Hollywood.  He was also inspired by the late novelist E. Lynn Harris, who believed that an author should write the books he/she wants to read.

Current works in development are a continuation of his Christopher Family Novel series: Never Give Up, a blend of historical novel/family saga /whodunit, and two M/M romance novels, The Right to Be and To Thine Own Self. 

You may visit W. D. at his online home, wfostergrahamauthor.comand on Twitter, @WDFosterGraham1.  And, email W. D. at  wfostergraham@wfostergrahamauthor.com.