James - London, United Kingdom
Sexual intimacy—unapologetic sexual intimacy—is an integral part of many human relationships. In the early days of my diagnosis, I was afraid of transmitting the virus to partners. Sex was overshadowed by risk, the body a vessel for fear rather than joy.
I am interested in depicting the body within a fledgling relationship, and what that means, in the context of HIV between the two of us, because David, my partner in these photos, is not positive. The photos I have taken are indicative of my desire to represent my HIV within a broader context of human intimacy, as healthy, erotic, and sensual, as playful and loving, as sacred and nurturing, because I am all of those things.
I have a lot of tattoos across my body. Many of these images gesture toward the love I have been gifted throughout my life. Some of the tattoos allude, metaphorically, to my journey with HIV. A man struck up a conversation with me in the changing room of my gym, asking me why so many of my tattoos reference the spiritual. And it dawned on me that, viewed as a whole, the most common theme written across my body is my divine connection to love. Once upon a time, I believed HIV would prevent me from loving and being loved. These photos capture a brief moment in time when the divine nature of love blossomed between me and David.