This article previously appeared on Jayce’s own blog here.
Whether it is purely self-preservation or just to avoid ‘that conversation’, I have always mentioned my HIV status on all the sites and numerous apps I use, in the hope that just by chance, Mr. Right or Mr. Perfect would be there!
It has always, to me, been second nature to disclose and I would never change that, but I have noticed something over the last year of being single.
Previous to my diagnosis, I never really had a lot of difficulty finding a guy. That is in no way meant as an arrogant statement, nor am I implying I think I am a stunner lol. I am just pretty average looking and that’s always worked for me. And during some of my time as a singleton I lived in Brighton, where it seems HIV is more accepted. My status was on all my profiles, and the offers of hook ups/one night stands were plentiful - but ‘NSA’ has never really been for me! I had a few offers of dates, but the guys weren’t right for me.
Having moved back to my hometown of Ramsgate in Kent in December, let’s just say that has changed. Where I am from I know of only five people living with HIV and that is only because it was spoken about behind their backs a lot when I lived here before.
It’s generally unheard of here, an alien concept to some.
After using the likes of Grindr, Hornet, Gaydar, Fitlads - I could go on - I was receiving little to no messages and that does wonders for your self-esteem!
The subject of disclosure has been highlighted in my life over the last few weeks – I will reveal more about that soon - but it has really made me question if my self-preservation approach was actually putting people off? Are they seeing just my status and discounting everything else?
With these questions running round my head, a few weeks ago I removed all mention of HIV from all of my profiles, except Hornet – the only one to have a ‘Know your status’ box. What happened next answered my questions. Over the last few weeks, I have been receiving a lot more messages on all the apps I use, going from maybe one or two a week to several a day. Of course, it’s been great for my ego!
After chatting to a few very gorgeous, guys they have gotten to know me before my status and the judgement or fear aspect being removed feels nice, but of course ‘that conversation’ is one that cannot be avoided.
I give the example of one guy - a sweet guy, funny, charming, good looking – where the conversation was going well We swapped numbers and he asked me out. I couldn’t go on the day he asked as I had a TV crew here - will tell you more about that later. Without revealing too much about that, I had to disclose to him and his reaction wasn’t great.
I told him – we had some REALLY awkward texts back and forth and the last message I received was simply “Don’t judge me….” I later realised this was because he had in fact blocked me!
So I tried that approach, and although I had to deal with rejection, at least we had been talking for a few days, and he knew a bit about me before he discounted me because of my status I tried and sugar coaedt it; it still hurt, but I’m undeterred!
After almost a year of ‘pre-disclosing’, I want to discover the other side of it and try the approach a lot of others use, in order to see what works for me. I am under no illusions that rejection won’t hurt a little more but I’m at a point now I need to, myself, see HIV as only a part of me and I think this is a good testament to that.
So for now, I will keep HIV out of my bioss, and try this new approach. Wish me luck
About the author: My name is Jayce. I am 23 years old, and in 2012, I was diagnosed with HIV. Instead of hiding my status, I started a blog to give my friends and family a better understanding of how I was feeling and the mental impact that my diagnosis has had .I suddenly received an overwhelming amount of support from people across the globe, and quickly learned my journey was helping more than just my friends and family. This blog and the support I have been given by everyone got me through being diagnosed and adjusting to life living with HIV. I am not brave. I am not strong. I am not an inspiration. I am Just Jayce.
Award winning #HIV activist, blogger, writer and creator of #HIV, #AIDS & #Stigma awareness training campaign @TrainTheChange - Info @JustJayce.com. Follow on twitter at @Just_Jayce.