The story of this "house" unfolds by ordered pages. (Best to start at 1.) But the house might not be added onto vertically (numerically) from here.

It will be changing though. Notices regarding changes will sometimes be posted in the comments box of this page. Your feedback (anyone's) is welcome at any point and may be incorporated into the construction of the house via the comments links on this or other pages, or by contacting the caretaker at

Hopefully the discussion rooms will become conversations in time. +

23. What We Would Do Though....

+Positive House would offer storage space and assistance to the board of Positive Pedalers. The house would host fundraising parties for our Pos-Ped clients who are doing the Ride. We would have an AIDS Walk team. We would continue to at least host, and maybe construct, Quilt panels if there is interest in that tradition. (We can have a sewing room with quilting-stuff--and sit in our rockers).

And we could create and coordinate a positive children’s book program called "Small Voice" through which clients could have the opportunity to assist positive children around the world from a distance in making little books about what the children want to tell each other or wish for each other, and that way if they don’t live long enough to grow up to fulfill their destinies--or if they do live long enough but will be disabled in some way from living the life they want--they will at least know whenever it is that they die, that a little published book exists and circulates to others around the world because they wrote it, and it’s read, and that maybe it is understood or will become helpful to someone in some way they didn't intend.

And once a week except Thursdays till noon (Women’s Clinic), we would send a team of volunteers over to the waiting room of Ward 86 at San Francisco General Hospital to offer free chair massage and serve coffee and bagels and fruit, and no one (men) would be made to sit in the hall till we’re done. +

22. Refrain

But that’s not what we do. But we’re free to go to the Venting group [see comments there (page 11)], or to write about it on the walls.

21. Out

If anyone has ever heard of a support group for straight positive people anywhere in the Bay Area, could someone please let the California AIDS Hotline know about it, 1-800-FORAIDS. And if you are a volunteer for the hotline [the executive director of
+Positive House was once too] and someone calls and identifies as HIV+ and says, “Please don’t refer me to a women’s group, I’m looking for a straight group,” please don’t refer her to women’s groups anyway. There is much to love and learn from many women, but heterosexuality is not solely a woman’s issue. Not even a sole HIV+ woman’s issue. And please don’t say, “I’m sorry there aren’t more groups for women (there are several), but I just don’t think you’re going to find anything for just straight women,” [rage]; or hand the phone over to a woman without relevance to sexual orientation at all; or refer her to "women-and-children." (Children's services are a very, very, very good thing for children and for positive women who have them and for fathers who care. If a caller hasn't mentioned children, don't refer her to children without at least asking her first if she has any. "Women and children" is not one word--how does "men-and-children" sound? Consider, just for a moment, how it would make you feel over and over again to be refered to children's services if you didn't have children and wanted them very badly? How would that make you feel if you didn't have children, and didn't have them very much on purpose--but would have if you didn't have the responsbilities--no my using the word "responsibilities" is not a quip at women who assume many more responsibilities than I can handle--of dealing with so many other problems that you, by yourself negotioate and want help and positive male company with? It's not true that all positive women neglect their own wellbeing because they've put care for dependents first. That doesn't mean that we aren't part of culture or don't deserve sensitivity.) And if someone calls the hotline and says, "Please don't refer me to a women's group. I'm looking for a straight group," please don't (however well-intentioned, and however worthwhile the service) refer her to Narcotics Anonymous if she’s never had a IVD-addiction, and tell her to go anyway; or assume that it must be some kind of straight prank call and refer her to places that don’t exist. Just say, I’m sorry but there is nothing in the database for California under “straight” or “heterosexual,” and there never has been.

20. Contradiction Building

+Positive House could violate our policies further by pushing also for one well-facilitated two-day workshop to be offered twice a year (once on a weekend, once during the week) on HIV+ relationship issues for straight (and “straight”) people addressing particular difficulties of sero-sorting without means of finding each other than the Internet (and +Positive House) due to not having a naturally enclosing, high HIV-incidence community like gay men. The workshop should address the particular problems of exploitation of intrinsic power disparities in heterosexual online dating that might be exacerbated by vulnerabilities related to being HIV+. The workshop should also address particular disclosure difficulties of trying to date HIV- straight people, some of whom have never heard of a T-cell. The workshop should be informed by studies on the unspoken impact homophobia and closeting can have on those of us who are not gay, and the effects both homophobia and internalized AIDS-phobia can have on straight positive sexual identity…. +Positive House will be sincerely happy to show already-due recognition somehow to UCSF AIDS Health Project, and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation just as soon as that one support group and two two-day workshops exist, anywhere in the bay area.

19. Contradiction

+Positive House would not, however, reward any agency in San Francisco that provides specialized support groups and workshops at all until there is at least one support group for straight (or straight and bisexual, or straight and non-ID MSM, or straight and heteroflexible) HIV+ people--hosted by any agency somewhere in the bay area. Oakland would be lovely, (although we're magically allocated to serve San Francisco). And it violates our policies to be isolating any HIV+ group.

18. Prospective A+

If +Positive House had a way of honoring specific programs for comprehensive inclusiveness, The Black Coalition on AIDS's peer-designed "Living Now" Program for positive people of all genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities, and histories would be top of the prospect A+ list. The program includes guest speakers who address different issues about living with this virus. [We will begin evaluation of its ten-week course Wednesday, September 26th.]

"Living Now"
10 Wednesdays, 1:00-3:00, beginning Sept. 26
Black Coalition on AIDS
2800 3rd Street @ 24th
Contact: Alfred, (415) 615-9945

Just Discovered: The Black Coalition on AIDS also offers (to all positive people) a + human relationships program. This is a seven-week weekly series beginning at 10:30 Tuesday, October 3. The structured course begins with subjects of relationships of positive people with their friends and family members and ends with subjects of positve sexual and romantic relationships.

Contact: Ben Hayes or Melinda, (415) 615-9945

Two prospective A+'s from this house to BCA.

17. Temptation

+Positive House could partner with or recognize AIDS Service Organizations in San Francisco that serve HIV+ individuals according to their common and/or unique needs—like AIDS Emergency Fund, Project Inform, Project Open Hand, Immune Enhancement Project, Shanti's LIFE Project, PAWS, Positive Resource Center (for the most part), and Positive Pedalers (in spirit)—not because we think there is anything wrong with specialized exclusive services, but just because that’s our thing.

16. Pet Project

+Positive House created its Outside World project to give retired San Francisco activists things to do to keep them from causing problems to fix. Outside World is now focused in a personal way on encouraging San Francisco's international AIDS organizations (Pangea and A.S.P.I.R.E.) to include New Orleans in their outreach by making the case that if New Orleans (with its devastated healthcare system, high HIV incidence, recent funding cuts, and mistrust of medical help) were in Africa, it would be considered part of their agenda.

+Positive House's Outside World project includes an early spring, week-long pilgrimage to the city of New Orleans where positive pilgrims who can and want to will gut and build houses for anyone. Those who can't or don't want to gut and build houses can tour New Orleans neighborhoods with a mobile respite unit or with Loaves and Fishes. We will rent a little shotgun house with a washer and dryer, and in our spare time we can eat and/or dink at participating Dining Out for Life bars and restaurants and check out the comprehensively diverse support groups (together or separately) of their bennefiting agency, NO/AIDS Task Force.

15. End Of Discussion

Reading groups—reading and discussion on any books HIV+ clients choose about anything, and one group to discuss reactions to HIV related articles and publications.

Forbidden Questions about HIV and HIV-care in San Francisco group--questions,not points. [The facillitator was going to give an example but got scared. We'll wait for feedback on what's already here first.]

Ethical Questions--thoughts on ethical issues regarding HIV or AIDS.

Political Action discussion group--Any political involvement of the agency, or representation by the agency will be limited to those issues in which we can say “We positive people,” as a whole, without listing divisions—not even all of them. But the discussion group itself is free and open to debate any HIV+ political topic from any angle. If this is an especially dynamic group, or not dynamic enough, a brave facilitator can be helpful. Actual tasks of political organizing will have to be done elsewhere if not in keeping with the agency’s embrace. (Human beings for marriage equality and adoption rights for human beings are issues in keeping with agency embrace.)

Housekeeping community forum--suggestions and complaints about the house.

14. More Discussions Upstairs...

Unemployed Relevance workshop--Finding or creating nontraditional ways of participating in and contributing to our world, our city, and our house as an HIV+ person while unemployed for whatever reasons for however long. Identifying ways that we are already contributing that we don't think of as counting. Supporting each other in doing more if we can, when we can.

Creative Ways of Building What Some of Us Need or Want From a Family workshop--Personal social systems are a part of human health. What kind of people and animals would be your perfect family? How can you call their living qualities into your life?

Outing group--Exercise. SF SPCA volunteer dog-walking group or free neighborhood walking without dogs tours.

Spirituality—This group can be whatever clients want as they want it. It can be a discussion group on non-supernatural faith in the goodness of people, a reading group, meditation group, prayer, or yoga. (The sunniest room in the house is lit with Victorian stained glass shadows, and you can make shrines in the alcoves throughout the house with whatever, to whatever you want as long as you're careful with candles. The three round rooms are capped by a conical room in the attic for pagans. Gumbo (the calico) is busy running around up there anyway. This group can take a field trip once or twice a year down the street to chant with Krishna Das at the bascilica of Mission Dolores.

13. More Discussions Upstairs...

Sero-Sorting Workshop—ways to find other HIV+ people besides
Positive House. (You can find each other here too, just not in the same workshop. If you’re hooking up here though, you’re going to have to do it in a closet.) If relationship seeking, how to avoid mismatching with another positive person in ways that would be hurtful to us or to someone who is already vulnerable. If looking for a long-term sero-concordant relationship, how to be honest with ourselves about what we’re up for in dealing with someone else’s potential physical challenges along with our own, as well the emotions that come with those. How to gauge and honor affinities, desires, needs and limitations.

Sero-Concordant Relationships support group—facilitator can't speak on this. But it will be here.

Body Image Workshop—accepting and seeing beyond our other-objectifications and self-objectifications, (just like AIDS Health Project's workshop for men regardless of HIV status). Dealing with wasting, lypodystrophy, and other physical effects of HIV and medications, adjusting to changes from aging and ageism. If it’s a problem, accepting what we would not be able to change without surgery and hormones if we aren’t up for that. Accepting that and what comes and goes with it if you are.

12. More Discussions Upstairs...

Joys and Challenges of the Single Life—this workshop was developed by and is offered at UCSF AIDS Health Project and is introduced in its newsletter thus: “People sometimes feel that if they are single, they have failed, that their lives are ‘less than.’… [However] a single person is more likely than someone in a relationship to feel free to do what he wants when he wants, without being limited by the preferences of the other person. He may also feel greater freedom to more fully develop and appreciate meaningful, long-lasting friendships outside of romance…. The free workshop will focus on the joys of being single, and it will explore the pressures people feel--both from others and from themselves to be in a relationship. It will also look at responding to challenges such as loneliness.” +Positive House will ask AIDS Health Project to guest-host its workshop for us, with expansion of the meaning of “people.”

Effects—intentional or not—of language on our abilities to heal and live healthy lives facilitated discussion group—Topics include effects on us of homophobic labels, the racial derogative “DL,” and straight-hate, “breeder.” (To call a 40-year-old, single, childless woman with AIDS a “breeder” and then explain the term to her is hate.) Topics can include the effects of accepted, unneccessarily dehumanizing descriptions of care, such as promotion of services as though they were for everyone affected when they're not.

Description-kind online connecting workshop—How to be discriminating about what we want, without discriminating. (Just like Stop AIDS Project’s workshop at the LGBT Center except this one is for the whole positive rainbow.) Our workshop will also address awareness of different kinds of power disparities so we don’t hurt each other or get hurt when we don't want to.

Disclosure issues facilitated discussion group—This is not prevention directed. This is just a forum to deal with all our feelings about it.

Effects of closeting—as well as effects of the forces that create the need for closeting—on ALL of us facilitated discussion group.

Sex and Sobriety facillitated workshop--Working toward thoroughly living the lives we want with as much presence as we can.

Transmission risk and decision-making--knowing ourselves and circumstances, and taking care of each other (extended each other).

11. More Discussions Upstairs...

Medical Choices discussion group--This group is a forum in which to freely discuss any aspects of complicated and evolving personal decisions regarding medicine and treatment.

Dealing with Medication and Illness discussion and support group facilitated by some kind of medical provider.

Depression and emotional life with HIV support group.

Isolation discussion and support group—dealing with isolation due to concealment or revelation of HIV status, isolation due to physical and emotional challenges of HIV, isolation due to lost time, isolation due to nonacceptance or displacement from family, isolation due to not being fully included by or not fitting into a community, isolation due to prejudice and discrimination, isolation due to our own anger and fear.

Anger Management workshop--a harm reduction approach to creative ways of dealing with intense, negative emotion.

Fear Management (same).

Venting group--facillitated complaining. We'll take turns but we won't try to improve anything or help each other. But we won't be mean either.

Contentions group--More formulated complaining (post-venting). What complaining (post-venting) is true and possibly useful? In this group we can give each other feedback on letters we might send.

10. + Discussions Upstairs

For HIV+ people:

Newly Diagnosed facilitated support group—People who are not newly diagnosed can attend and share the ways they dealt with problems the newly diagnosed people raise, but the facilitator will be good at keeping the focus on the needs of the subject group.

Twenty-Year+ facilitated support group—People who were diagnosed more than twenty years ago may have different relationships to their HIV status than people who were diagnosed more recently. The more dire circumstances of that initial hit may have permanently impacted their identities in a way more recently diagnosed people can’t understand. Not all of us are able to declare, “I refuse to let HIV define my life,” like some billboards say. "20+'s" may also may have different relationships than other people to death and dying,loss, living and aging. More recently diagnosed people are welcome to attend the workshop to discuss their issues with chronology—like facing judgmental attitudes that 20+’s are more “innocent victims” than they, "minus-20's", who had information and prevention outreach to “know better.” [The facilitator has never witnessed that prejudice but has a more recently diagnosed friend who’s been confronted with it by HIV- peers.]

A Discussion Group That Will Not Happen—Positive House would love to have a group in which young positive adults who were born with it share what HIV is to them, but some of us are old enough to know that excessive exploitation of young HIV+ people’s life stories, even young adults, and even when—maybe especially—when they’re more than willing--can be problematic in the long run. [But the program directors guess that the “excessive exploitation” part is not so relevant anymore so they're not sure what to think about it.]

9. Downstairs Happenings

Seronegative friends--romantic and caregiving, are invited to attend these groups:

PFPWA--Parents, Families, and Friends of People With AIDS.

Relationships with Family Members counseling or facilitated group—offered intermittently as needed.

Magnetic Relationships workshop—any issues concerning mixed-status relationships relevant to the particular group.

Therapeutic Massage Instruction and Practice workshop for magnetic couples—a reward for HIV- partners’ tolerance of the house’s preferential treatment of their positive others. We can hire massage therapists from the Immune Enhancement Project nearby.

Healthy-Cooking Class and Dinner group--catered to medicine-related dietary restrictions, health concerns, and culinary companionship.

8. Approach in Practice

Which workshops and discussion groups +Positive House will offer at any given time will be determinined by clients' expressions of need or interest. Workshops and discussion groups will be differentiated by topic, not by participant grouping. Participant groupings will happen by individuals’ relationships to the topics. There will be no “special safe space just for_____,” (a particular group) although the need for that option elsewhere is understood. Personal expression of cultural identifications is completely encouraged within all workshops; the distinction from other approaches is simply access: any HIV+ person who needs all or some of what is offered from a group can attend if they want to.

7. More of the House

We will have a community kitchen, with vegetables and herbs from the roof, and a dining room with a dark hardwood dining-room table you can set your coffee mug down on, and some kind of light fixture on the high ceiling of the entrance/reception room that will have Spanish moss and old Czechoslovakian glass Mardi Gras beads hanging from it to remind us of our sister agency in New Orleans.

There will be a working fireplace somewhere in the house that we will use on special season days like Thanksgiving and Winter Solstice holidays. We will honor World AIDS Day, Day of the Dead, and clients’ birthdays or other survival anniversaries upon request. We can make each other’s birthday cakes. The caretaker will be happy to if no one else wants to. We will celebrate weddings of all kinds in the backyard rose garden. We will not participate in Pride as an agency, but we will celebrate Mardi Gras with extended community any way people would like that we can get away with. We'll have King Cakes.

Workshop and discussion rooms will be furnished with cleaned, comfortable, thriftstore armchairs; some rocking chairs. (The floors are wood that needs refinishing but isn’t going to get it). There will be thick, soft, clean rugs, and big fat pillows on the floor. Rooms have varied seating capacity. Three are round rooms in vertical succession with original curved pane windows brushed by trees.

6. The House

Positive House will have a café and backyard tables open to extended community including children and dogs and pets that get along with dogs. The walls of the café will be covered with portraits of people and animals that clients consider to be their family members. It will be called “The Zoo.” We will have pictureframes and parts of old frames and things to make frames out of in a glassed-in sun-porch art room. The cafe will serve beer, wine, and Peet's coffee.

Clients can make murals or non-hate graffiti (definitely including any symbols of equality, human rights and diversity that speak to them) all over the walls of the whole house however they feel like it. Individuals can write what they feel they’ve lost (or who) or what they wish for the rest of us, or what they wish the rest of us would understand, or what they hope for. They can write their reactions to what’s already written.

Upstairs (or elevator) there will be cat-access to one of the reading rooms via a window fire escape that leads up to the community roof garden. When it’s sunny no one has to wear clothes on the roof if they don’t want to. There will be another reading room on the other side of the house for people who are allergic. Our cat is a Katrina refugee. ("Refugee" in the sense that she is cared for in a place that will never be the same as her home). She is calico. Her name is Gumbo.

There will be a library between the reading rooms stocked with a core set of reference books containing information pertaining to all of us. We will have And the Band Played On and a section of books and videos on our epidemiological history from places around the world that we will ask clients to contribute materials to, especially in different languages. The rest of the library we will stock initially with books and movies we guess might be of interest to clients, who can borrow them as they like, or take what they like and replace with books and movies they would like other people with HIV to read or see for whatever reason. There will be no librarian. There will be a big desk (heavy old, hardwood scratched up desk) for clients to write reviews or recommendations of the books or movies they have borrowed or contributed. They can stick their reviews all over the walls.

5. Testing

If Positive House's magical funding requires that we reserve free, anonymous, confidential HIV testing for only those most at risk, then we will determine that risk by individual behavior assessment, not by demographic profile. No person who walks through our front door, up to our front desk, and says, "I need an HIV test," will be told, "Sorry, that's only for_____," and given a referral, without in the very least, being provided basic personal risk assessment first. If +Positive House does not offer testing, we will provide test counseling with referral for anyone who asks for one, and if for any reason that client woud be more comfortable being tested at an AIDS service organization that is not allocated to test their demographic population than at one that is, then we will counsel them that they have the right to self-identify however they need to to get the medical procedure they require that is offered there. In case there is any problem with that we will provide a peer advocate (of any positive kind) to accompany them to the site to vouch for their signification.

4. Some Policies

As an agency,+Positive House will not exploit symbols or logos of diversity, human rights, or equality in order to keep pressure on ourselves to exhibit those qualities as much as is possible through the availability and results of our services. We are an imperfect, but living house that speaks for itself.

Any agency newsletters or publications produced by +Positive House will use the word “people” to mean people, not majority-group-unless-otherwise-specified. The word “we,” within the framework of our agency’s newsletters or publications, will be used to refer to us as HIV+ positive people.

We will be governed by HIV+ positive individuals and will have a community advisory board of individuals who can help us regardless of their HIV status. +Positive House would like to employ as many positive people as possible, but no rule on that in order to have open opportunity for any who are non-disclosing, as well as to allow wide option space to offer the highest quality care we can for each other. Diversity in administration will be based on diversity of individuals’ abilities and unique experiences. We will inevitably tend toward homogeneity, and we will accept and respond to that tendency by constantly extending real invitation in new ways and places without profiling or targeting.

3. Reason for Being

Positive House is created from the experience that if all services and programs addressing a particular health problem are designed for targeted groups (however those targeted groups may be determined), then it is likely that there will be a portion (however small) of the larger population affected who will be left out of services that pertain to them continually, who may have nothing in common with each other other than being excluded--and that therefore it is ethical to reserve proportionate resources for target services and programs to be made open and available to anyone at all in corresponding need of them.

2. The Dream

I will give a very big, old house with big trees and a yard on Dolores Street for services to and community for HIV+ people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, color, or IVDU history. It will be our positive house. We will not be prevention driven. What we will offer are healing space and services concerning universal quality of life issues of living with HIV in all our different kinds of bodies. By having a Positive House, we wouldn’t in any way be intending to disrespect the many ways our extended HIV- communities are important and necessary to us. But while we understand the intentions and truth of AIDS/LifeCycle’s slogan, "We Are All Living with AIDS," we also understand that there are differences between living with HIV in your own DNA and living with people who do, no matter how intimately, or with how much devotion or dedication, or for how long.

It would not be possible to serve every positive individual's needs, and not everyone would want what +Positive House would have to offer (or would want to be around each other), but everything that the house offers will be available to every HIV+ person.