I was in my house checking my Grindr like I always do, when I received a message from this young guy for whom i made it clear priory that I have no interest in, asking me surprised: Joe? Is it true that you attend orgies and are HIV positive?
His question came expected as it’s common for some gay men not to accept rejection and try desperately to talk bad about you spreading rumors and stuff. However at that time specifically it got me to freeze.
Few months ago I ended my relation. The closure was not on good terms and I was hurt. As a reaction I developed a promiscuous sexual lifestyle, during which many people came out to me as positive since they trust my figure. It was remarkable having this amount of people coming out to me before our sexual intercourse. It felt that HIV was everywhere around me. Everywhere around us. I went into this state of thinking of how unfair it is that these guys are positive and I am not. As a gay person you kind of live with the constant fear of catching it, and while everyone can, it is those people that are carrying its burden and we lucky bastards aren’t.
I was reading an article about a guy who led a promiscuous life and developed feelings for a couple who are positive. At a certain point he gets it, not from them, and he says he was relieved that now he doesn’t have to live with the constant fear of getting it and it feels quite much better that he’s on the same ground as the couple he loved. I related to his story. I was like fuck it why not having it and end with this feeling of guilt and fear.
Back to the Grindr young man, I was in no way gonna deny that I’m positive for such a person, even if not having it. Someone needs to be a jerk sometime with him especially if you come to think that it’s because of people like him that Stigma and Ignorance about HIV are still dominant in the Lebanese gay scene. My answer was, aren’t you the guy who hit on me last time and got rejected?! After that there was silence.
A month later i adjusted my balance and got over my reactions. I had to go test myself like I do every 3 months. I went and did the rapid test. It came positive. The girl testing me couldn’t look me in the eye as she knew me. I calmed her and said it’s ok, I’ve been there with many people and I know it’s not the end of the world. Then I had to do the confirmation test in the hospital. And I waited. I convinced myself that I’m positive. Now I had to do all the procedure of meeting a doctor, doing my viral load and CD4 count tests, in order to get the results and go to the ministry of health to get the year long acceptance for me to receive the free medicine from Karantina. I’m familiar with the procedure as I’ve been there with others in this procedure several times. Still, It was me who was positive now. The fact that I would have to face jerks on gay apps, get to know what some people talk about me, face discrimination and all felt terrifying. Four hours later I receive a call, the tests in the hospital came negative. Rapid tests are 100% negative if negative and 98.5% positive if positive. For a period of time i refused to believe back that I’m negative. Why would I be a lucky one, again! How many people were hoping to test negative in hospitals after they tested positive in clinics! I waited another month till my window period ended. I tested again. I was negative. I am negative.
My friends who were positive were following up with me. They were genuinely happy for me for being negative. Myself, I’m still carrying the guilt of a community that has a long way to stop its ignorance…
Take a stance, fight stigma