As a single man I dread those four little words. They seem to be the standard prefix to the word “but” followed by a reason they can’t/don’t want to date you. I can’t even begin to remember all the various versions I’ve heard. Here are just a few:
- You’re a lovely guy BUT you’re not my type
- You’re a lovely guy BUT we’re in different places
- You’re a lovely guy BUT you live too far away
- You’re a lovely guy BUT I already have a boyfriend
- You’re a lovely guy BUT I’m not looking for anything right now
…and of course…
- You’re a lovely guy BUT you’re HIV+
After a while you start to wonder whether people even mean it when they say “You’re a lovely guy”, or is it just a conversational reflex? A way of trying to cushion the rapidly approaching bad news or perhaps make themselves feel better about the information they’re about to impart? I even found myself about to say it last night – I caught myself just in time but hated myself a little for almost saying it.
It never ceases to amaze me the number of rude/obnoxious/unpleasant guys who’re in relationships (or at the very least getting laid) whilst the more genuine and personable amongst us are left on the scrapheap. Perhaps I’m doing something wrong? Perhaps I should be less “lovely”? Truth be told I’m not sure I can change this far on in life – I’m stuck in lovely mode. Lovely but lonely.
I’ve made no secret of the fact I suffer from depression. In fact I’ve been diagnosed with ‘Severe Clinical Depression’ on 3 separate occasions now, for which I was medicated. This tends to happen sporadically, in between I’m mostly sound as a pound – but now and then I get little dips.
The last week or so has been one of these dips. To start with I tried to chalk it up as January Blues but after a few days I realised it was more than that.
I can identify the signs right from the beginning:
- Lack of energy
- Inability to get out of bed in the morning
- No desire to go and do things
- Becoming withdrawn and quiet
- Feeling lonely
A few years ago I’d knuckle down, get stuck into some big project at work and then come home and cuddle up with the husband to worm my way out of the depression. I don’t really have that option any more. My job is neither interesting nor involved enough to bury myself in, and my luck in love has been beyond awful for the last few years.
I actually started writing this article 30 minutes ago, with the idea of writing how I’ve been working hard not to show my depression to the guy I’ve been dating, as he’s been so sweet and understanding with regards to the whole HIV issue. But only 10 minutes ago I got a text message saying he was breaking up with me because he couldn’t handle the strain on him of dating someone who was HIV+. So I’m kind of lost now.
I just want someone to cuddle up with on the cold nights, chat to about my worries and how I’m feeling. It’s not easy being HIV+, it’s doubly not easy being HIV+ and suffering from depression. I can’t see this cloud clearing in the next week now. Sigh.
Sorry for the miserable blog but sometimes I just need to vent, and seeing as it’s just me here you lot get the raw end of the deal.
An appropriate clip from Sex & The City…
Hello, come on in – take a seat,
So that’s 2012 done with is it? The year of the Olympics (well watching Tom Daley in speedos), the Queen’s Jubilee, crazy weather and the start of my writing (in any meaningful sense). Now we’re carefully stepping into 2013, like walking in fresh snow when you’re not sure how deep it is. *crunch*.
It’s traditional in January for one to come up with a list of resolutions, things we want to change about ourselves or achieve in the coming year. I could write a list as long as my arm quite frankly, but then I’d lose focus, so I’ve decided to concentrate on five resolutions for 2013.
- Get a better job
In these tough economic times I should consider myself lucky to be employed, and I honestly do. That’s not to say that I enjoy it terribly much however. 2013 is the year I drop the mediocre admin job and start doing something fulfilling and worthwhile.
- Find myself a nice guy
I’ve been single for pretty much two years now, ignoring one short lived relationship with an emotionally stunted queen and a couple of mini-flings. I’m officially in my late-twenties now (or mature-twink as I like to call it), and I’d quite like to find someone to join me on this crazy journey. Dating when you’re HIV+ is at best a chore, and down right depressing at it’s worst, so I’d like to get it out the way and find myself someone a bit geeky, who likes walking, travelling and wine. Failing that Greg Rutherford or Jonnie Peacock would do.
- Eat less take-away food
A quick browse of my hungryhouse order history makes for depressing reading. I can’t believe how many pizzas, chinese and indian takeaways I ate in the second half of last year. That’s the trouble when you only have to tap on the phone app and can pay by card, it’s all too easy. The trouble is its also very expensive and not very good for me, my HIV consultant is always telling me to eat more fruit and veg, and less fatty foods. This year – more home cooking!
- Drink less wine
Yeah, that’s not gonna happen. Why? I’m drinking a glass right now. Want some? Well you can’t have any – it’s mine.
- No more Mr Undercover
This is going to be the year that I finally show you all who Sam really is. I can’t tell you when it’ll be, and it’s not going to be for a while, but it will happen. There are a lot of people in my life that I still want to tell in person, rather than them seeing a blog post, or a tweet about it. But once that’s out of the way there’ll be no stopping me.
What’re your New Year’s Resolutions? Have you stuck to them, or have you already caved in and gone back to your old ways? Share them below in the comments box and forever immortalise your pledge…
All the best,
I know i’ve not posted in a while, sorry about that. Things have been a bit topsy turvy this end.
Firstly I got ill, ended up with a severe bout of the flu which resulted in me collapsing and hospitalisation – it took me a while to recover from that one. Then I was busy preparing for an interview for a “dream job” which I subsequently didn’t get. After that I fell into a bit of a depressive pit, and just as I was starting to come back out of it I found out that a friend from London had died which threw me right back into my hole of despair.
Nearly two weeks later now things are starting to look up again, I’m going to take a week to go visit some friends on the continent and I’ve started the job hunt again. I can’t help but think that all of this would have been so much easier if I’d had someone at my side, to hold my hand and give me cuddles – being single sucks, but hey that’s where I’m at right now.
In the next week or two the latest edition of Attitude Magazine will be out, with my interview of Edo Zollo – an amazing photographer who’s built a project around HIV across the UK, so watch out for that. I’ve also got some interesting collaborations with Gaydar coming up – but I can’t say any more than that.
Sorry it’s a bit of a depressing post, but I always said this blog would show the ups and the downs. Hopefully next time you hear from me it’ll be about something more positive (if you’ll pardon the pun).
Look after yourselves,
Good day to you fine men and women of the internets,
If you follow my blogs and tweets you may recall that last week I ran a interactive poll on my website asking whether you could date someone with a HIV status that was different to yours (i.e. if you’re HIV- could you date someone who was HIV+ and vice versa). Over 600 of you (628 to be precise) took part in the poll and here are the results and my musings there on.
Out of the 429 HIV negative people who voted 51% (232 votes) said that they could not date someone who was HIV positive, as opposed to 49% (227 votes) who said that they could. From the 169 HIV positive people who voted 26% (44 votes) opted to say that they could not date someone who was HIV negative, and 74% (125 votes) said that they could.
Let’s look at the HIV negative voters first. That’s quite an astonishing split, pretty much down the line 50/50. I don’t know about you but I find that more than a little disheartening. What that means to me personally is, if I approach someone I like I’ve got a 50% chance of being rejected based purely on something in my blood. That hardly seems fair. This I assume is based on people’s fear of contracting HIV from their prospective partners, but if said partner is on treatment and condoms are used the risk of infection is infinitesimal. To those people I’d recommend they do some reading (sites such as HIVaware.org.uk are very useful) and gain a decent understanding of the risks.
The majority of the HIV positive voters on the other hand, three quarters essentially, stated that they could date someone who was HIV negative, but a quarter said that they could not. Again, I guess this is people who are worried that they would pass on HIV to their HIV negative partner. As above, with treatment and precautions this risk can effectively be negated. It’s hard enough to find a decent partner in this life without limiting yourself to a pool of approx 100,000 people in the UK (0.16%) out of a population of 62,000,000.
I won’t deny that I’ve often thought it’d be easier to date someone HIV+, but with such a small selection of guys to choose from – especially in rural areas like mine, it seems somewhat self defeating. With treatments for HIV rapidly evolving a person diagnosed HIV+ today can expect a normal life expectancy and who knows what new medical breakthroughs are around the corner? So I ask you this, no matter what your HIV status, base your decision on whether to date someone or not on them as a person, not on what’s in their blood.
Have a wonderful Wednesday,
When I first decided to write a blog post about acceptance I had no idea where to start. Do I do it from a HIV point of view? A gay point of view? Then I thought to myself acceptance shouldn’t labelled or pigeon-holed, acceptance should be universal.
Clearly I can’t cover all aspects of life, love and religion in one post so I’m just going to pick a couple of issues that interest or impact on me.
Everywhere you look these days you’re surrounded by images of perfectly sculpted men and women, you can’t avoid it. Open a magazine and there are scantily clad gods hawking aftershave, turn on the TV seasoned presenters have been replaced by beautiful but clueless models with an earpiece, and have you tried finding decent porn with normal looking people in it? Impossible.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a bit of eye-candy as much as the next person – but it’s not healthy that it’s presented as the only way to be. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve flicked through the glossy magazines only to be left with a heavy heart when I realise I’m never going to look like any of these people.
I’m in my twenties, tall, skinny and a bit hairy, in the grand scheme of things that’s not bad – but I can’t help thinking that if I were buff and shiny I’d be happier. I should be happy with myself the way I am, and that’s something I need to work on more.
HIV & The Gay Community
Acceptance and it’s evil twin discrimination aren’t just about the way we look either. There are a number of medical conditions that have stimga attached to them, such as addiction, mental health problems and the one that affects me most HIV.
I’ve never understood the rationale behind discriminating against those who suffer medically in one way or another. This is something that I’ve paid more attention to in recent months, for obvious reasons, than before. I can’t change the fact that I have HIV, I didn’t ask to contract HIV, you can’t get infected by being my friend – so why view me with a constant air of suspicion and treat me like a second class citizen?
Disturbingly, the group that seem to discriminate most against those with HIV in society are gay men. At a time when 1 in 7 gay men in our capital city are HIV positive why the discrimination? Gay men are already marginalised by society as it is, further marginalising a section of that group seems insane to me. Out of all the people I’ve disclosed my HIV status to, the only people that have had an issue have been gay men.
Come on guys, sort yourselves out.
Sophie Wilson: My Geek Hero
To end my post on a happier note, here’s a bit about my geek hero.
As some of you might already know I’m a huge geek. I work in IT, I live IT, I breathe IT. I grew up using computers from an early age, at three years old I recieved an Acorn Electron and my love affair grew from there. I had PCs at home from five years old but for most of my school life I carried on using Acorn computers.
They were truly amazing bits of kit. They played games, composed music, let me type up my school work – all without breaking a sweat. Acorn Computers collapsed in 2000 but my love affair with them has remained strong. In 1990 Acorn Computers spawned a new company, specialising in processor design, called ‘Advanced RISC Machines’, a company some of you may know as ARM. Today ARM’s processors power 95% of mobile phones, 90% of hard-drives, digital cameras, television sets and much much more.
The person behind the ARM RISC processor was always referred to as ‘Wilson’. I’d always imagined ‘Wilson’ to be a beardy guy with glasses, a Clive Sinclair kinda guy. It was only recently I found out that Wilson was the surname of Roger Wilson. In 1994 Roger Wilson became Sophie Wilson via gender reassignment surgery – and a very handsome woman she is too.
Since then she’s become one of the most highly respected electronic designers in the world. She was ranked 8th of 15 most Important Women in Tech History by Maximum PC in 2011 and has become a fellow at the Computer History Museum in California. She truly inspires me. She has show me that no matter what your past, or what people think of you, you can always do great things and you don’t have to hide who you are in the process.
Thank you Sophie.
Peace and Love,
Two blog posts in one week? I know, I’m spoiling you, but read on…
Possibly the single biggest issue for me about being HIV+ isn’t my health, the medication etc, it’s actually the rejection that you can face when you tell someone your status.
One of the first people I ever disclosed my status to was a holiday romance. We’d been hanging out for a couple of days, drinking, swimming, holding hands etc, all very romantic. One afternoon I got a text asking me to spend the night with him at his hotel, I thought it only fair that I tell him my (fairly recently found) HIV status. That was one of the most difficult texts I ever had to send not just from my nervous clammy hands or the heart beating in my mouth.
He replied shortly saying that he was “OK with it”, but at the same time said that we’d have to postpone the night at the hotel because of plans with his friends. That was the last time we ever had a proper conversation. I tried chatting to him a couple of times after that, mostly he just ignored my calls/texts – the final time he answered but pretended to be someone else. I’d been well and truly rejected. Gutted.
Since that day I’ve had a policy of telling people I plan to sleep with/date as soon as possible. If someone messages me on Gaydar/Grindr asking for a fuck I have no problem saying right up front “By the way, I’m HIV+. I hope that’s not an issue?”. But as I found out last night it’s still pretty nerve-wracking telling someone you have feelings for.
Last night I agreed to go on a date with someone I’ve been talking to for a while. He’s very handsome, totally buff and a bit shorter than me. Amazing. Then it dawned on me that I was going to have to tell him. I decided to do it then and there, seeing as we were already chatting.
I said “In the spirit of openness and honesty I need to share something with you. Plus it saves us both heartache if it’s something you feel you can’t handle. Please be honest with me either way. I’m HIV positive”. Cue a ridiculously long wait. Why wasn’t he replying? Was it too much? Fuck, fuckity fuck.
He *eventually* replied “Hey, don’t stress about it. My ex had it, and we were together five years”. Overjoyed. He was absolutely fine with it and thanked me for being so honest. We’ve even planned our date for this Monday night coming.
Disclosing your status isn’t an easy thing to do, no matter how readily we might do it. All that we ask is that the people we tell are honest with us. If you’re uncomfortable being with someone that’s HIV+ then tell us (nicely!), we’d much rather that than being lied to – then ignored.
In my previous post I talked about my use of technology to aid my quest for love. Dating technology has evolved over time; from dating agencies and singles ads in newspapers, onto phone chat lines, texting services and onto dating/hook-up websites (such as gaydar, fitlads, manhunt etc). The latest technology to be adopted for this purpose is the smartphone – there are countless apps promising to help you find love, make friends or just get a little action.
The most popular one of these (amongst the gay community at least) is Grindr. For those of you who are unfamilar with Grindr – you create a profile with your stats, add a photograph and a short welcome message and in return Grindr shows you other guys logged in near your location by use of GPS. You can message the guys, swap pictures etc. All very cool. I’ve been on Grindr since it was launched. I’ve always been at the cutting edge, trying new apps and gadgets as soon as they come out. My profile has remained largely the same, my age has changed with the years and my photograph has been updated a few times.
I started wondering last weekend (25th Feb 2012) what kind of responses someone would get if their profile said that they were HIV+. So I created myself a second profile on Grindr, almost identical to mine in (but different enough to look like a different person), still looking for “Friends, fun and dates” – but this time I mentioned my HIV status in the profile text.
Over the course of the week (25 Feb – 03 Mar) my existing profile received messages from 74 users. On the other hand my (almost identical) profile that mentions my HIV status had 11 people message it. Four of those eleven messaged purely to ask me questions about HIV and one felt it necessary to send me foul mouthed abuse for seemingly no reason. Which leaves me with six people actually showing an interest in me.
Let’s look at that for a second shall we? That’s a 92% reduction in interest purely by mentioning my HIV status. It was this realisation that led to a few miserable tweets on Saturday night, sorry if you had to put up with those. I thought we were really making progress. The more things change eh?