Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Yep, I'm HIV-Positive and Happy: Now That I'm Closer to Achieving Everything I Wanted in Life, Is My Story as an HIV-Positive Man Irrelevant?

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Yep, I'm HIV-Positive and Happy: Now That I'm Closer to Achieving Everything I Wanted in Life, Is My Story as an HIV-Positive Man Irrelevant?

Article excerpt

WHEN I FIRST began writing about the HIV-positive experience, my life was filled with a barrage of sex, dating, and controversial conversations around stigma, shame, and disclosure. Whether the topic was related to physical health, love, or self-esteem, the conversation centered on whether or not you could still achieve your dreams as a newly HIV-positive person. But even though I was confident I could, I still wasn't sure I would.

Before my diagnosis, I was 28 years old and trying to get a foothold on my career. I was single, insecure, and a little aimless with a pretty strong affinity toward getting attention from all the wrong guys. I knew I wanted to be a writer and to use my education in some way that would benefit my community, but I couldn't seem to get past the distractions of going to the gym, flirting at pool parties, and ordering one drink too many.

Truth be told, I was a confident mess--but still confident, which seemed like an achievement in its own right for a newly HIV-positive person. It certainly was the reason poz people felt compelled to send me heartfelt messages, asking for ways to improve the seemingly desperate place they were in. I kept my journey an open book so we could figure out how to navigate this so-called life with HIV together.

At 30, all I wanted was a career that I actually gave a damn about, a man who kept my interest after the butterflies died, and a home that was stable--with furniture I didn't need to assemble myself. It doesn't sound like much, but for someone who had moved once or twice a year and was on unemployment at the time, it was a total fantasy. I stayed hopeful, kept writing with confidence, and tried not to dwell on the negative.

For the next few years, I kept my nose down and put in the work. I wrote as I learned and I learned as I wrote, exploring every possible topic an HIV-positive person could encounter when it came to sex and dating.

At some point, I found a boyfriend but tried not to let it obscure my perspective. Eventually, my career took form and I could afford to shop at places like Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn, but I assumed it was a temporary high point and I would fuck it all up soon enough. We bought our first house, but who knew how long that would last. …

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