Yes, I'm gay. I probably was since the day I was born. On my 21st birthday, I sort of had my debut. I came out to my parents. A little drama from mom, and some indifference from dad. An above-average coming out. Almost perfect.

Nine years later, two weeks before my 30th birthday, I found out... I'M HIV POSITIVE.

And so my story begins... I'm BACK IN THE CLOSET.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Rumors & HIV

Years ago, I recall a friend of mine asking for help, because someone – an obsessed fan or a jilted lover – was writing nasty things about him in some online forums. He was called a thief, a sex addict and a liar, even broadcasting his address, his landlord, his number, the company for which he worked, and worst of all, it was being said that he was HIV positive. I knew the guy well enough to know he was a good guy, but I never questioned if the HIV part of it was true or not. I didn’t need to. All I did was report it to the webmaster, who eventually deleted the forums and the profiles being used to spread the rumors.

Eight months into being positive myself, HIV is suddenly a big issue. The ultimate nightmare for anyone with HIV, me included, is to be outed or even just speculated to have HIV. This is primarily because of the stigma attached to it. Hell, the stigma is so bad, that even if it’s not true, it can still be a nightmare.

Now, I don’t know if it’s a Filipino thing, or a universal fact, but there will always be people who will thrive on talking about other people. And I’ve come to realize that the occurrence of HIV rumors has been rising on the net, particularly on guys4men, a gay personals site that has become popular with Filipinos.

I’ve been playing roles in my head, wondering how I’d react if the same things happened to me. And I’ve come to the conclusion that my premise will always be that these are all just rumors. It will always be a question whether the details are true or not. A question which really does not need to be answered. Why? Let’s take come actual examples of stuff I’ve seen online.

Accusations of being HIV positive. Even if it is true, what’s so bad about that? HIV is not the be-all and end-all of a person. HIV is just a single facet in the gem of who we HIV-positives are. I’m HIV-positive, but I’m sorry, that doesn’t make me less of a person. Why haven’t I come out if having HIV is so bad? Well, the reality still remains that there is still stigma attached to it. That’s why I’m trying so hard to show everyone how it is to be HIV positive, so we can all understand it and those living with it better.

Allegations of someone with HIV spreading the virus irresponsibly, because of anger and revenge. Even if it is true, what can we do? Beat him up? Does that make us better people? The fact will always remain that every single person has the ultimate power to keep himself safe. If everyone he partners with opts to play safe, how far will the virus spread? To the condom? Duh. The point is, don’t expect anyone but you to keep yourself safe.

Accusations that someone has HIV and is using two profiles – one for HIV & advocacy, and one for plain sex. Even if it is true, what’s so bad about that? I have HIV, believe I’m an advocate, and I have a guys4men profile. I won’t deny that I have used that profile to find sex ever since I created it five years ago. And the reality is, I still can.

I think I’ve been smart enough not to disappear inexplicably from the site to keep people from wondering why all of a sudden. Nor do I broadcast on my profile that I am HIV positive. Reality check: my disclosure is a privilege, not an obligation. As of now, I don’t actively look as much for sex using it, but I won’t deny that I’d love some. A wake up call to everyone: the HIV positive get horny, too. We’re human! That’s what safe sex is for.

Look at it this way, would it be any better if just one profile is used for both HIV & advocacy and searching for sex? Duh. Is stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV non-existent in the Philippines? Duh again.

These are just examples of some of the stuff that’s online. Heaven knows what others there are. And personally, I don’t have enough time to comb through all the shit that’s out there.

Here’s my take. Rumors are just rumors, and can remain as such. Especially in these cases, where the words come from faceless names hiding behind the anonymity of the internet. Give humanity the benefit of the doubt to be wise enough not to take everything they read at face value.

The burden of proof is in the hands of whoever starts it. And don’t tell me that so and so said this, and so and so said that, because that just reduces accusations to mere hearsay. Do they know that you’re namedropping them in all this mayhem? Why can’t these people speak for themselves? Heaven knows what your motives are.

Contrary to popular belief, rumors, true or not, are not made to be dispelled. Rumors are made to provoke a response from the subject, and any time wasted by him doing that is an automatic victory for he who started the rumors. The more you’re affected, the more fulfilling it is for him. Remember when we were kids? Ang mas pikon, mas masarap alaskahin.

Turn a blind eye and a deaf ear, and he’ll get tired eventually. I remember being bullied as a kid, where I learned some words that were then childish but now surprisingly sensible: Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.

And to whoever is the victim of such rumors, don’t allow yourself to be the victim. Be bigger than the rumors themselves. Focus on what’s important. Work. Family. Love. Friends. Happiness. Life.

A copy of the Optimistic Creed is posted behind me here at work, and I just have to share some of its wisdom. Be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit the pressure of trouble.


yanah said...

there are just people who are really narrow minded..and there are lots of those who makes it a hobby to talk about other's lives...everywhere you'll be able to find those kind of people..
mga taong may tamang inggit sa katawan..dont know what satisfaction they get from that


i still cant help... i told myself that i will not post any comment here but i feel i need to....

the reason why i like reading this thread is it has SENSE....

i cant explain anymore... less words less mistakes and less doubts.

once again i want to tell you BITCH that youre wonderful!

E said... <---comment ko

Julius said...

bravooo...!!! well said BITCH

C - COURAGEOUS, & it gives me

daig pa ang mga official statements ng ABS at GMA over their network war.

ang tanong, sino ang culprit? can you give me the link, para naman may balance. so far, e's side and your's pa lang ang nababasa ko. G4M is block site in Dubai but i can find ways.

i like this line from you: "sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me." but pen is migthier than sword right?, pano na lang kung sa online nagsusulat, mighty pa rin ba? hehehe.....


dubai, uae

Anonymous said...

I need Wango to be my friend or just a simple textmate. Im a male and holding a position in the international public service based in the Middle East. Im not HIV positive but I feel I can be of help in some other ways and am willing to support his projects. I wish he can contact me. My roaming is +639 081220756. Godbless