I'm going onto my 18th year of being HIV-positive now and I have to say there are some lessons along the way that I have learned the hard way.
For years I tried to conceal my status from would-be suitors. My rationale at many times was, if I get to know them first and then tell them after then maybe they will still like me.
This sort of idea and thinking would get me into all kinds of situations; mostly frustration and much despondency. I tried hiding it and it sort of drove me deeper into secrecy and really started to make me feel devalued. Whether that was actually coming from others or from myself I honestly do not know. I sometimes think of it like being half-Asian; which I am. It is something that is truly a part of me and yet it’s not overtly noticeable in the grand scheme of things. They are both a part of me. Maybe they always haven’t been my favourite parts of me, but there it is. And sometimes in life, you just play the cards you are dealt, whether you want them or not.
When I created a work website for teaching, I thought about addressing my status in how I got into yoga over a decade ago. I didn’t want to disclose but after meditating on it for a few days, the Universe brought me not one but two HIV-positive yoga teachers who needed help and hope and then it was a no-brainer.
Going public about my status was never really about me. Everyone in my family, friends, colleagues, bosses - all already knew. I was afraid about disclosing, but the people who matter to me the most needed to know the struggle I was going through because I couldn’t do it alone. And all I have had is unconditional love and support.
Have there been people who didn’t like the news? Probably. I can’t honestly remember now. If someone is going to judge me for something that is fundamentally a part of my make-up, and beyond my control, then they probably did not like me to begin with. It would be like going up to someone and saying “Oh I’m sorry. I hate you now because you have cancer.” Should the person with cancer feel bad that they don’t like them? No. They should feel glad they now know what an awful person that is.
And so dating is the ultimate form of disclosure. When and how to do it can still be your own choice. But I implore you; put it right in the profile name. Remove all secrecy. Literally come all the way out into the light and just do it.
You will instantly stop having conversations with many men. And that’s kind of the fear i- that no one will talk with you or want to date you anymore. But here’s the catch! These are the kind of men you instantly stop having conversations with:
- Closeted men – and anyone who is experimenting away from their wife or other crazy drama
- “Masculine seeking same” and all other people who rank gay male sexuality on some sort of scale
- “Straight-acting” – again like above, honestly, there is nothing straight-acting about shoving a guy’s dick in your ass no matter how rugged your pick-up truck and beard look
- Racists, bigots, and the like – basically all guys who rank the human heart as some sort of appetizer menu at a restaurant “Extra Black, no White or Spanish, but easy on the Asian, and can I get that with plum sauce to go?”
- People who for whatever reason do not consciously date poz men
I like to them of as people who are undesirable to me for dating weeding themselves out before I ever have to speak to them. Quite frankly I am grateful for that because it frees up my time to chat with and connect with men who are not any of the above.
Now by putting that out there you also start to attract more men. Bet you didn’t think of that? Yes. You do. You will have more conversations with these types of men:
- Other [+] Poz men – guys who are already past a point where they are free and living an open life publiclly. They are rare and wonderful and truly a joy to speak and chat with.
- Closeted Poz men – guys who still hide their status for whatever reason, your [+] will draw them to you and make them feel much more at ease and they will instantly find your confidence to post the [+] attractive
- Guys who have questions about HIV – There are still sooo many people out there who have no idea how HIV is contracted, what happens, what’s safe. Just because part of your whole universe revolves around this topic does not mean other people are the same, so you end up being part educator
- Guys who are newly poz – again you'll be part educator but really moral support. You get to be that really awesome wise person that you perhaps never had when you first found out and get to say those magic few words to someone that helped or you wish you had heard
- Bug chasers – honestly. I never knew they still existed. The best part though is when I explain that I’m undetectable, and have been for over seven years and that the likelihood of them ever catching anything from me is next to nothing and that most studies are showing that long-term poz/neg couples (where the poz person is undetectable and on meds) the neg person is not catching it – so they usually leave me alone
- Guys who know you are poz and want to talk to you – they knew before they even said hi. You may never actually have to have a conversation about your status with them ever. They have already internally acknowledged it and you – sure there may still be questions, but those aren’t things that still need to be resolved in them. Many times it never even comes up in conversation.
I can post dozens of messages with positive messages (pun intended) from men who have thanked me for being so open. The majority of messages never bring it up at all. There are just one or two odd ones that still sneak it in, but ultimately it’s just about living my life and perhaps meeting one guy in the end to continue to grow in intimacy and connection.
One of my favourite messages I’ve received in the past month was from this guy, who only reading my profile, sent me this message that I thought I would screen capture for you all to read (above lright). That was uplifting.
Using [+] is the simplest thing to shift through the quantity of people out there and allow the quality to come through. I call it my anti-douche guy repellent and it seems to be working. I get to chat with awesome guys from around the world. Fun conversations, some flirting, laughs, and a stellar date on occasion (I have a third date tomorrow night with an intelligent, awesome man.)
Mostly though I want to say, for guys that really matter, status does not matter at all.