I still remember that day as if it were yesterday. The day I wanted to turn back time. The day I would have wanted to vanish. The day everything changed. It burned itself into my brain.
We knew each other for quite some time and we felt so connected to each other. One day we were sitting in a bar with friends. The mood was nice due to many glasses of wine we had. We chatted, we laughed and enjoyed a nice time. We started to just talk to each other ignoring all the others. You told me about your past. The person you loved before me and what he did and how he lied to you. You trusted him, but he was never fully open to you and much later you found out that he is HIV-positive. The fear struck you of being infected by him until you finally had your test results that showed “negative”.
Then you eyes looked up to me. I saw the sparkle shimmer in your eyes. You looked like a puppy at that moment. Your eyebrows went up and I could see your expression of hope and insecurity and in that moment you asked: “… but you, Basti, you’re not like that, right? Please tell me you are not HIV-positive.” I was sweating. Out of all the moments it had to happen now? Suddenly the taste of wine in my mouth was as bitter as poison. I couldn’t lie and stumbled a shaky and quiet: “Unfortunately, I am” out of my mouth. It happened shortly before I wanted myself to fully open to you and tell you what I feel is “my dark secret”, the big burden of my body or let’s just say … a curse.
I got diagnosed with HIV in 2013. I still remember that moment. I think you will never forget that moment. It wa stough. Not just for me, but also my boyfriend back then. It was difficult in the beginning, but life turned normal. I got my therapy as soon as possible and spreading the virus is practically impossible for me. Yet I would not risk anything to the ones close to me. My HIV status always maintained a probem in the relationship. It was never a problem if I would infect him. No. That never happened. It was rather about my past. What I did. What I had done.
What happened after the bar felt like an emotional hard time. All of a sudden you distanced yourself. Kisses were spare and I felt like an unwanted present. We tried a relationship, but your touches were as close as a coworker would touch me. Even muttering an “I love you” to me was impossible for you and I was looking forward to seeing you every time, but due to your behavior I always went home more sad. I never really felt what I was for you. I was in a state of floating with no real ground to stand on. How does that feel? Horrible. It makes you desperate.
Yet when I try to take on things differently, the results do not change. How ironic. When I meet people I feel information like HIV-status, identity, weight or whatever should not matter. If you put that information on Grindr it’s your choice., but honestly, people lie so easily. You can’t really trust any information there, not even pictures. So when I be open about it on the first meeting, people tend to fall back, are afraid or scared. The result can be the same and you’re left with the same feeling again. Distance. And it just confuses you. What is it that I’m doing wrong? What is the “right” approach? Whatever you try it feels like it ends the same way.
It makes you feel like you have been cursed for doing a mistake. Many carry the virus within their body and are not even responsible for it. Yet still feel some kind of “discrimination” among their peers, among the same community they belong to when it comes to dating. It seems trust has become an issue. People tend to always be skeptical, but people also like to turn every information to their own favor to gain whatever they want: money, gifts, men…
Yet there are the ones that treasure your honesty. I’m thankful for them. It’s a trait that could make life more enjoyable for everyone. I know that truth can be hard sometimes though.
For those out there who are in the same position like me. Don’t hide, don’t be afraid and don’t think of a best way to open yourself to someone, because there is none. Don’t follow the path of thinking what they WANT to hear. Instead focus on the matter that should be said and when you feel is the most suitable time. You can do a lot and increase another person’s view on topics like these and do a small step to changing the mindset to a better way. The information available right now still seems to not be enough to educate everyone.
This is the first time I’ve been this open with my status. Open about it to the whole world, but I feel like I’m more okay with myself now than I’ve ever been. We don’t want to spread the virus, but we do want to spread more positivity to the whole world.