Well, here we are, nearly one month after I raised a series of questions about the authenticity of Lee Thompson’s claims of prosecuting his ex-lover for allegedly infecting him with HIV. And funny, while Thompson, known as “Uncle Poodle” on the reality television series “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” has been silent — the world around him has not been.
Evidence of this can be seen at his official Facebook page. When the original Fenuxe magazine story ran, several of his fans weighed in about how sorry they were that he had HIV. Those messages of support have disappeared from his page. So has any mention of HIV.
Now comes news from TMZ (Thanks to Mark S. King at MyFabulousDisease.com for the hat tip on this TMZ thing) that Thompson is cruising Grindr and passing out the nude shots to bolster his attempts to hook up. No idea if the source for TMZ was told Thompson was HIV-positive — failing to disclose that in Georgia is a felony punishable by up to a decade in prison — but Thompson put the star dazzling action on by announcing in a message to the object of his Grindr.com dreams that he was Honey Boo Boo’s uncle.
I thought Thompson was engaged to be married to Joshua Yarbroughe. Did they call off the engagement? Or is this an open relationship? Personally, I don’t care one way or the other — it’s their relationship.
What I do care about is this is a man who is parlaying his “fame” into an industry of supposedly fighting for LGBT equality and raising HIV awareness. This is a man who, in part of his parlay for fame, claimed to send a man to prison for failing to disclose his HIV-positive status to him and allegedly infecting him; but who refuses to answer even the most simple questions about his claims. This is a man who claims to be engaged yet is cruising Grindr.com, a phone application for hook ups.
OK, so Thompson is hooking up. So what? Well it again puts a bright spotlight onto Thompson’s truthfulness. A recent study just found that half of men who hooked up on Grindr.com did the deed sans condom — you know, bareback. And what does Poodle think of this?
He told us in his Fenuxe interview when he announced he was HIV-positive:
Dino: What is your message to folks having unsafe sex?
Lee: They are damn fools! They are playing Russian roulette; they are playing with their lives and that of their sexual partners
So, “Poodle” where you playing roulette on Grindr? Is that how you got infected and the reason you are not answering all the questions that have been posed about your story? Were you actually complicit in your infection; rather than the innocent victim of a callous ex-lover who selfishly did not disclose to you and infected you?
Thompson, it’s time to own up. Either answer the questions posed a month ago, or admit that you have lied.
I want to be clear here. I don’t care if Poodle is riding raw all over the South. I don’t care if has abandoned condoms — that is his choice and it is a legitimate choice.
I do, however, care about ridiculous hypocrisy. Either things happened the way he claims they did, or they didn’t. But if you want to educate people about HIV, as he claims he does, you have an obligation to be honest. Lying and perpetuating the stigma of “guilty” v. “innocent” people infected with HIV does nothing but increase stigma, harassment and violence against people living with HIV.
And for the record, based on all the evidence we have before us now, I have come to the conclusion that Lee “Uncle Poodle” Thompson has lied. I believe he did so because it was easier than accepting responsibility for his own behaviors and actions. I believe that Thompson lied because his own internalized stigma and fear of HIV left him with the false choice of telling the truth and being demonized for getting infected when “he should have known better,” or creating a perpetrator to blame it on in order to avoid responsibility. It’s a lot easier to place blame on some one else than it is to accept responsibility for yourself and your own actions.
And in the vein, it’s time to hold GLAAD accountable here. The organization which claims to fight for fair representation in the media of LGBT people has nominated the Honey Boo Boo show for an award in their annual awards ceremony. Here’s how the group represents their awards:
The GLAAD Media Awards celebrate outstanding representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and our allies on TV, in film, and in the news. These are the images and stories that bring us closer to equality.
Lying about sending a lover to prison for allegedly infecting you with HIV is not a step towards equality. It is a step backwards. GLAAD needs to call on Thompson to answer the questions and explain what is going on, or withdraw the nomination. No hesitation, period.. Otherwise GLAAD will be complicit in furthering the stigma of people living with HIV. That would violate the group’s mission:
GLAAD amplifies the voice of the LGBT community by empowering real people to share their stories, holding the media accountable for the words and images they present, and helping grassroots organizations communicate effectively. By ensuring that the stories of LGBT people are heard through the media, GLAAD promotes understanding, increases acceptance, and advances equality.
So, it’s time for some accountability. From Fenuxe, who blew the story in the first place; for GLAAD for rewarding this crap; for the mainstream media that has ignored the significant questions of the veracity of Thompson’s claims; and most importantly for Thompson himself.