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 08, 2008

Selfish is Good

Disclosure. I seem to be doing it more often than I expected.

Saturday saw me disclosing my HIV status once again to one of my buddies. Yes, sex buddies. But the outcome was a bit different from the usual, and I’ve been left analyzing the situation. I’d appreciate your opinion on this as well. Might being selfish be a good thing?

This guy and I had met online a couple of months ago, and he’d expressed his desire from the start for us to at least become friends. Why not? But keeping wary that something more than friendship might happen, I’d minced his mind that early on his inclinations when it came to sex. He said he was open to anything except unprotected sex. That was a surprising but welcome reply.

Eventually, a day came when we happened to be in the same mall on the same afternoon. Normally these days, I’d do everything in my power not to meet someone new who wasn’t aware of my HIV status, but my courage in this incident came from his declaration of safe sexual practices. Add to that the fact that we technically didn’t plan on having sex. And, as always, I had my safe sex kit handy, as a last resort. And so I agreed to meet. We had some drinks, talked, and went on some errands together. Eventually, he ended up taking me to his place that evening, where we had sex.

I didn’t expect anything further than what happened that fateful day, and since we had safe sex anyway, I didn’t feel the need to tell him I had HIV. But as luck may have it, he enjoyed my company, and he ended up inviting me out to his favorite bar for the following days and couple of weekends. He’d introduce me to his friends, share a couple of beers with me, and even have me give him an occasional blowjob in the restroom. We agreed it was nothing romantic, just a... uhm, a normal friendship.

Although we never really fucked again after that first time, with the days and the weeks passing by, he still didn’t know I was HIV positive. And at that point, I felt it was too late into the odd friendship we’d built to tell. And so I just quit. I couldn’t stand hiding it anymore, but didn’t know how to tell, so I started avoiding him.

Almost every weekend since then, he asked me out, but I just made excuses. Until this last weekend, he invited me out again for a drink, and I ran out of alibis. So I wrote a text message divulging my secret, and just pressing Send made my knees weak. But he made it worth it. His reply was one of the best so far. So what? I still want to see you. I’m your friend. We were safe anyway, right? I honestly couldn’t believe what I was reading.

So I agreed to meet him finally in the afternoon, just for a short talk, before some work he had to do before sundown. But what transpired was just so unexpected. After reassuring me that he was still a friend, that he knew everything about HIV and AIDS having read on it before, and that he was 100% sure he was safe, he suddenly changed his tone, reprimanding me and lecturing me for not telling him from the start.

I was reasoning out that we practically just bumped into each other at the mall at the time, and had no real plans of having sex. Also in the back of my mind, I was thinking, hell, I didn’t know you well enough to disclose to you. But he just kept pointing out that it was my responsibility to tell. He wanted to make sure that next time, I would.

The worst thing he said was that if we had done it unprotected, he’d probably be mad enough to beat me up. I know I felt fear at that point.

I was trying to explain that it wasn’t that easy or simple to tell, but he repeatedly cut me off, saying that life itself isn’t easy or simple. Geez, was it me or were we losing the connection? Seeing that he wasn’t willing to listen, I just stopped talking, but kept smiling like nothing was wrong. He wasn’t ready for the reality of it. I was relieved when he had to go run his errand, and just headed home wondering what just happened.

So what did happen? I do appreciate him expressing his support. But I’ve come to realize, there’s such a huge, huge difference between knowing about HIV, and understanding it. Yeah, he knew about transmission, prevention, and getting tested, but what he failed to see is the humanity involved in all the science of the disease.

It’s such a mystery to me how he could be so firm in saying that I should always tell any new guy I meet. I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s easier said than done. Am I the only one living in this country and this world where there still is discrimination and stigma attached to HIV? Not everyone needs to know. Not everyone deserves to know. Not everyone is ready to know. And not everyone is ready to tell.

I don’t deny that my HIV status is my responsibility. It is, totally. But let’s all not forget each and everyone’s responsibility to take care of themselves. Unless you were forced into the act, or do not to have the ability to make decisions of your own, your body remains primarily your responsibility. I believe it’s at these particular instances of forgetting to take care of one’s self that HIV gets its boost.

I always say it takes two to tango. When it comes to HIV, it’s easy enough for one party to point a finger, and just as easy to beat someone up for exposing you to the risk. Bruises will heal. But the fact will remain that no one can deny responsibility in such a case.

One way to stay negative is by protecting yourself. Let’s stop blaming, and just this once, be selfish. Let’s all, first and foremost, take care and be responsible for ourselves.


john stanley said...

the fact that you disclosed this information to him, even though after the deed was done, is already being responsible.

getting the hard facts straight right the first time is not easy. and like you said the encounter is not planned. good thing he has protection but do remember always, poz, if he can't be responsible, be sure you are. always bring your rubber.

Julius said...

If this case will happen to me, my initial reaction will be the same. It’s like cheating, dishonesty and above all, the fact that you might give me a burden that I will carry for lifetime. Even your family will do the same, how much more a person whom you had sex with (“kahit na siguro protected pa ito”). I will revenge, I will tell to all that you have HIV/AIDS (at least).

Anyway, it is just my initial reaction. The same feeling you had maybe when you knew that you have the disease. Since, you did not inform him of your situation at the beginning… Abangan na lang natin ang susunod na kabanata….

I think you have to keep it to yourself na lang. Atleast, you did your part by having sex with someone with protection. And if, you really care and dont want to keep it, spare 15 days at least, after you break your secret. Maybe on that range of time, he can think wisely and calm down.

Dubai, UAE

PS: this might be pointless, but want to tell you Mr. Author that you are giving me new prospectives of what hiv/aids is...

PinoyPoz said...

Well, I'm sorry, but I never felt the need to find someone else to blame when I found out I was HIV positive.

I appreciate your honesty with your initial reaction. I think the scary part about this for me is that he was not at a point where he was overwhelmed by the situation. That was just really his opinion.

will said...

Yes, it's really tough to find the courage to tell a stranger of your HIV positive status. But, it is your responsibility. That it wasn't planned is such a poor excuse. Do not tell me that you could not at any point during foreplay stop and do the right thing. Also, keep it mind there is no 100% safe sex. However minute it is, there is that chance of transmission and so it is your responsibility to inform.
You know, there are a lot of relationships between HIV positive and negative couples. The key is to be honest from the get-go. Who knows if that guy or the next would be a good long-term prospect? You blew the chance for any possible relationship by not being forthright in the beginning.
That said, it is the responsibility also of anyone who engages in sex to ask about the status of the partner. Yeah, it's such a mood-killer, but everyone should be mature enough to be informed of the risk he is taking.
I do wish you well. I hope things get easier for you in your future relationships.

big said...

if you do not want to talk to a particular person, or meet him/her,even if they insist you do, just don't.

if your instincts tell you don't. don't

take care always

1of1000sinmanila said...

Damn I'm steamed by some of these comments. But so far think I'm the only one seeing it (and knows it) from the other side!

R is a prick - and I hope he reads this. HOW DARE HE pontificate at you. Did he use a condom? Did he know his status prior to the hook up? Lets assume he was positive then and didn't know it. Does it occur to him that he might have been a risk to others? And I'd lay good money that he still fucks bareback and has this superman/bullet proof attitude. And I'll bet in the last six months he has been fucking around. Prick!

And Julius "if this case would happen to me....." Well if you are stupid enough to fuck bareback (like we were) then you are playing with fire and if you get burned, get angry with yourself, no-one else.

And as for Will. Don't know whether to laugh, cry or just bitch slap him for super stupidity. Fool - anyone you hook up with is a risk. How about you be an adult and assume you don't know your fuck buddies sexual past. And gee... they say they had a test last month and it was negative. What does that mean to you? That they were celibate for six months prior to that and since? That they are telling the truth? I know - lets go for world peace while we are at it. EVERY HOOK UP, ASSUME FROM THE START THAT THAT GUY/GIRL MIGHT BE POS AND PLAY ACCORDINGLY. Clear? And don't you dare ask anyone about their status. That just demonstrates extreme stupidity. Maybe ask them if they know their status, but not what it is. Let me be a bit clearer - if you and I ever fuck and you ask me, I'll tell you I'm neg. I'm pos actually but you don't need to know that. I do play safe though and you would be far safer (because I know) than your last 50 hook ups put together!

I could go on, but I'll wrap up. The outdated (but I do acknowledge) well meaning attitudes really piss me off. PHILIPPINES WAKE UP - IT's 2008, NOT 1988!

HIV is something to be taken very seriously and we do (i know the blogger so when I say we, it's qualified), but until this knee jerk outdated prejudice is stopped, it's going to get worse, not better.

DON'T be afraid of us. We know we have the virus. When we play, we play safe. Very very safe. We protect YOU. Why? because we know.

You want a reason to be scared - I'll give you one. It's being tested in the first place - most guys are afraid to know because what if they have "AIDS." In ignorance they think it will destroy their lives so they would rather not know. Oh yes - that's the most likely "status" of your next hook up. Next biggest group don't know where or how to test, that it's free and if ever, treatment is free so they merrily fuck away ... Scared yet?

And until this prejudice changes, nothing else will. HIV is not something to be afraid of anymore. No more than diabetes, but it is something that deserves healthy respect. Did I mention "epidemic" yet? I'm working quietly to get guys tested - so far 1 in 9 is positive. They had no idea ....

And since I'm on a roll I'll pop one more ignorance cherry. Who was it that said we there is a risk (having sex with pos guys)? Yes there is. Incredibly small, but there is. Condoms if used incorrectly can break and you could be exposed. Now, if we don't have to face this prejudice (and I'm remembering that the people that comment here are a) learning and b) supportive) and fear that we are some kind of dangerous monsters, WE know what to do to ensure that you remain virus free and we have 72 hours to get you on track - we know what to do to 'save' you. Do you? Didn't think so - research it then. Now this bit is intended to scare you - if I think your reaction will be typical, will I tell you? or will I assume you are an adult and you take adult risks?

I'm a big boy. 7+", I'm sexually active and ummmm in demand. I'm versa - I flip. But I make sure those condoms are used right every time. if one broke, I would tell you. Can't answer for other guys though.

Want to make a difference. Then start with yourselves. Assume everyone you hook up with has a secret and play accordingly. When you change, you can change others. Don't ask someone if they know their HIV status and assume they will say neg if you ask. Do encourage testing and knowledge, but don't be so dumb as to ask if they are pos or neg. That's as stupid as the US immigration forms asking if you are a terrorist!

And in the real world, even if someone has been tested and is "non reactive" - what's that worth? Lively debate please - lets see if you know or you really are as ignorant as I think you are!

Lastly, for my friend the blogger - hate to say I told you so. Don't tell them - they can't handle it. Not yet anyway. Your project will help and so will mine, but it will take a while before attitudes change and we are defined as people again.

Hugs buddy. Hope to see you Friday at t

PinoyPoz said...

Whoa, let's all cool it. We don't want this to turn into an HIV-positive vs. HIV-negative thing. We're all trying to work together, and believe it or not, We are trying to keep those who are negative negative.

For Will, it's a point well taken. BUT... the attitude you're taking will only work based on the premise that everyone knows their HIV status accurately. And I'm sorry to say that statistics say that up to 80% of HIV carriers in the country do not know their HIV status. Honesty is not the real issue in the macro scheme of things. I'd recommend placing your bets on a condom to keep you safe instead.

PinoyPoz said...

Oh and the guy I was telling you about in this post is different from R in the previous... And no need to say you told me so T, I know the risks and I have no regrets. Let's just say I'm a willing guinea pig.

Anonymous said...

and I love you for it!

PinoyPoz said...

Hehehe... Woohoo!!! I'm loved!!! If only I knew who you are!!! Hehehe.

ethan h said...

Is it still possible to find love if you are positive? Cynics answer no. Hopeless romantics answer yes.

In search of love, I would have kept my positive status secret too, fearing the end of potential long term relationship even before it has started. Is it possible to start a relationship with dating? Postpone the sex until several dates? Reveal your positive status when the time is right? Then find out if he still accepts you? If he does, then the time has come to have sex.

I'm a hopeless romantic.

PinoyPoz said...

Hmm, that's a bit off-topic, but I don't search for love. If it comes, it comes. If not, then fine.

But sex is important to me. Sexual compatibility, that is. So I have nothing against having sex on the first date. :-)

I'm not a hopeless romantic, I guess...

will said...

This is a late response as I just got back to this site. 1of1000s, you prick, you totally missed my point. Talk about stupidity. The question is whether a positive person has the responsibility to disclose of his status. MY answer is yes. As it is every party's responsibility to disclose his status. But even if both are negative or assume they are (through ignorance or whatever), it goes without saying that you always assume the other is positive. Therefore, use protection. Until you're in a long term relationship with someone you really trust, use protection. But even protection is used, if you know you're positive, you DO THE RIGHT THING thing and reveal your status.

PinoyPoz said...

I'm sorry Will, but I think we all missed your point...

What you're saying is that revealing our status is our obligation... It is not. I repeat, IT IS NOT. Not in a world that still has stigma and discrimination attached to HIV. Our only obligation is to play safe.

Disclosure of our status is your privilege. A privilege which must be earned. And sadly, if it's someone with an attitude like yours, I'm sorry, but I'm not telling.