Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Why All This Blogging? ran a little squib about being HIV+ and open about your status on the 'Net. It was actually pretty much just a link to a larger article that ran in that was about HIV+ bloggers and vloggers and the various ways we are using social networks and digital communication.

But I found myself compelled to respond in the comments at Queerty about my own reasons for blogging, and why I ultimately decided to be open about my identity:

"I started blogging right after my HIV diagnosis 7 years ago. It was a way for me to document what I was going through and most certainly it was cathartic. At the time, I felt that I had no one else to talk to and poured my heart out in the blog. As time went on it became much more therapeutic in general and I was able to recognize that I needed to make some major changes in my life. 3 years ago I finally got sober.

I wasn't always completely open about my identity, until another "blogger" and horrible soul decided to post my HIV status and name without my consent. It was then I decided to go ahead and start being completely open about being Positive, and I have since encountered many instances where there is still quite a bit of stigma, even from other gay men. That just makes me more determined to live out loud and in the open. My goal is to see the time when HIV+ people are treated just as you would anyone else with a chronic and survivable illness. No different."

It's always a crapshoot what kind of a response you will get when you post in these open forums. But I actually only got one response:

I wish I didn't have to ask this, but I hope that when you write about your experiences as a HIV+ person, you also take the time to remind your readers to do everything in their power to avoid ending up in your place.

Now on the surface, I suppose it was an innocuous enough comment. But something about it- the tone of it- I found instantly a little irritating:

"I'm not sure how I feel about your characterization that I have "ended up" anywhere. While I certainly don't advocate becoming HIV+ or engaging in reckless behavior, my life has become richer and more fulfilling in the last few years than it has been for decades. Far from ending, I feel my horizons have expanded and my options are limited only by my desire and ambition to continue to grow.
And like it or not, as Dennis said above, while I try not to limit my writing to HIV or HIV+ issues only, my first concern is to try and help myself and others to navigate a difficult, but by no means tragic, road. If negative men get a prevention message out of that, that's fine too."

And actually, I am sure how I felt about that characterization. That is exactly the kind of attitude many HIV+ people encounter, both from straight people who don't know any better and gay people who should. As if the HIV diagnosis is the end. The end of the story, the end of planning for a future, the end of your sex life, the end of your dreams.

Almost as if I no longer have a right, or an expectation, to any of it.

Which would only be true -if I let it be.

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