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Author Topic: i have finally disclosed to my employer  (Read 4411 times)

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Offline kellyspoppi

  • Member
  • Posts: 153
i have finally disclosed to my employer
« on: June 01, 2007, 10:23:28 PM »
 ;D

that's right. in my quest to follow up on the motto of "our dignity, the positive project" which i participated in at "staying alive" conference 2006, i have taken another step in my quest to put an end to stigma.

i have been an insurance agent for a very large property and casualty company here in the u.s.   during the past 22 years that i have been hiv+, the only employee of the company i ever disclosed to was my immediate supervisor, or what our company would call a district mgr, and there have been a few of them over that 22 year period.

one of the reasons, back in 1986, that i did not want to disclose was because my father was an agent,  and when he was going to retire his book of business was supposed to roll over to my book. obviously with aids being a death sentence back then, to disclose might have meant the company would not have approved that rollover.

several years have passed now and i have remained physically healthy, however mentally,  what has angered me the most has been the stigma surrounding this disease. i have always felt there is something seriously wrong with living with an illness you couldn't feel comfortable talking to others about.  and the longer this feeling has festered, the angrier i have gotten.

so when regan hofmann put that challenge out there at "staying alive" with the motto "fear the virus, not us" i bit that forbidden fruit and went for it. the first thing i did was to participate in "the positive project" submitting to a lengthy taped interview about my life with hiv, which along with interviews of over 50 other plwa's,  will eventually be edited into future aids ads and training & educational dvd's.

soon thereafter, extreme makeover, home edition came to our town to film their season finale. the woman the house was being built for had adopted 2 hiv positive kids and she also volunteered at a camp for positive kids.

a good friend of mine was the point person for the builder and he knew i was hiv positive. therefore he asked me if i could get my company to donate the insurance for the new house. i went to my company with the opportunity and they accepted the challenge.

during the couse of the week i,  as the possible agent, spent the time hoping to raise aids awareness and submitted to a few interviews with the nedia, revealing that the reason i was selected as the insurance rep was because i was positive and had ties to the aids community.

not everything went as smoothly as i wanted but i did get to speak with the woman who was having the house built for her. we have made the connection i was hoping for and in the future i hope to get her positive sons involved in an adolesent aids project here in our state.

today i was contacted by a reporter for my companies monthly newsletter. this is a national publication which goes out to all their customers, employees, management, and board of directors.

since, for reasons i'd rather not get into,  our company did not write the insurance, i hadn't a clue why they wanted to do this story. but i decided to call once i realized there was an opportunity here that this late in my career i might not otherwise get on such a grand scale.

extreme makeover did such a wonderful job on that final show raising aids awreness and trying to put an end to stigma, that i felt it was time for me to step up and do the same. so when the reporters first question was "how did you come to get involved on this project?" my entire lifes history with this virus, and my failure to disclose to my company because of the stigma associated with it,  just began to flow from my mouth to the pages of this reporters pad. i didn't hold anything back, covering all my aids activities, volunteerism, awards, and  found a way to tie it all into how, as a long term agent,  it was important to give back to my community. 

i felt extremely liberated by the end of the interview, and more importantly, i made a huge impression on a young reporter, who had quite a different impression on aids before she started the interview. she said that the young adults she hangs around with do not view aids with the same negativity as those who were around it in the 80's. but after talking to me, she understood that it still exists in the eyes of many, and that reducing stigma is a necessity.

so today i am no longer in hiding with my hiv, as i have torn down that final wall by disclosing to my employer. the issue will be out in their august edition and it will be interesting to see the response. i don't doubt a few heads will turn.

i'll keep you all posted in the future.

scott daly
aka, kellyspoppi         

Offline appleboy

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  • Posts: 344
  • Just me!
Re: i have finally disclosed to my employer
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2007, 10:26:10 PM »
That is awesome Scott!  It feels good to come out of the HIV closet!
If you are walking down the street and your pants drop to your ankles bend over pick them up and keep on walking!
My Blog

Offline Miss Philicia

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  • Posts: 23,904
  • celebrity poster, faker & poser
Re: i have finally disclosed to my employer
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2007, 10:39:10 PM »
That's a really great story.  You must feel good.
"Iíve slept with enough men to know that Iím not gay"

Offline sweetasmeli

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  • Posts: 1,052
  • Love what you are...
Re: i have finally disclosed to my employer
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2007, 05:27:04 AM »
Very very cool. Bravo Scott!

Melia ;)
/\___/\       /\__/\
(=' . '=)    (=' . '=)
(,,,_ ,,,)/   (,,,_ ,,,)/ Cats rule!

The difference between cats and dogs is that dogs come when called, whereas cats take a message and get back to you.

Yeia kai hara (health and happiness) to everyone!

Offline anniebc

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  • Posts: 5,939
  • AM member since 2003
Re: i have finally disclosed to my employer
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2007, 05:56:05 AM »
Great story Scott...and very proud of you.

(((hugs))))
Jan :-*
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Never knock on deaths door..ring the bell and run..he really hates that.

Offline Nadine

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  • Posts: 1,253
  • Member since: August 2005
Re: i have finally disclosed to my employer
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2007, 06:32:57 AM »
Quote
so today i am no longer in hiding with my hiv, as i have torn down that final wall by disclosing to my employer.
Good for you Scott!

Thanks for posting this.

My hope is that someday the walls can come down for all of us.

Offline aztecan

  • Member
  • Posts: 5,388
  • 29 years positive, 57 years a pain in the butt
Re: i have finally disclosed to my employer
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2007, 09:39:42 AM »
Scott,

You made me feel good just reading about what you have done.

Good show!

HUGS,

Mark
"May your life preach more loudly than your lips."
~ William Ellery Channing (Unitarian Minister)

Offline CaptCarl

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,114
  • Located in the Palinsville subdivision, JesusLand
Re: i have finally disclosed to my employer
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2007, 03:36:47 PM »
Scott,
   It takes balls to do what you did. I've pretty much been "out" on the job about my HIV, but not everyone knows (yet) In  an industry as conservative as insurance, it is great what you've done here. I hope that many good things come of it, both for you personally, as well as for the Poz community i n general. Kep fighting for what's right my friend.

In Respect and Admiration, Capt.Carl
The only thing I can do straight is shoot..

Offline Iamrick

  • Member
  • Posts: 36
    • Daily OM
Re: i have finally disclosed to my employer
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2007, 05:28:22 PM »
Scott,
  You have been a great support to me and I'm sure to many others here at POZ. I'm very proud of you for coming out of the HIV Closet!! 
     Much Love and Many More Blessings,
                                                     Rick
Happiness  keeps You Sweet,

Trials keep You  Strong,

Sorrows keep You  Human,

Failures keep You  Humble,

Success keeps You Glowing, 

But Only God/Goddess keeps You Going!


Have a Blessed Day Everyone!! Rick

Offline kellyspoppi

  • Member
  • Posts: 153
Re: i have finally disclosed to my employer
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2007, 07:47:54 PM »
 ;D

thank you one and all for your kind words. it makes me feel so good inside to know there is so much support on this site for all of us.

i will let you all know in september what type of feedback i receive from the insurance community.

scott
aka kellyspoppi

Offline kellyspoppi

  • Member
  • Posts: 153
Re: i have finally disclosed to my employer-update from KP
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2007, 04:00:52 PM »
to quote a passage from IAMRICK..........

"trials keep you strong
 sorrows keep you human
 failures keep you humble"

i am sorry to report that nationwides' newsletter decided to scrub my story. to quote the reporter who interviewed me for over an hour, while i let it all hang out for others to know......." the real story was nationwide partnering with extreme makeover, and since that didn't pan out, the company decided it was no longer newsworthy."

 >:(

i am soooo angry, but i'm not sure at whom.

is it the reporter for making me believe what i was doing was so courageous that the story was a done deal.

is it my employer, that conservative insurance carrier, for taking my act to out myself in hope of reducing stigma, and making it trivial and deeming it unnewsworthy!

my anger at this decision is beyond measure. i have considered on several occasions over the past 5 years of giving up this business and trying something else i could be more passionate about. early retirement penalties and sacrificing health insurance benefits has been such a deterent for me to consider this move for my positive wife and i.

sacrifice is something we have all had to make at different times in our lives, with or without hiv. working for ungrateful greedy employers is another hardship many of us have had to endure to maintain benefits, food on our tables, clothing on our backs, and shelter to keep us warm and dry.

but most of us have not wanted to disclose to employers for various reasons, least of which was the reason i chose...... to help reduce stigma.

but how can that happen when corporate ceo's deem the appearance of aids in the workplace as a non issue, or not news worthy.  >:(

i have much to ponder over the fall of this year, but for now the anger is too strong. i hope to put this dreadful experience into some type of worthy column someday, but for now the words would be too destructive, to me, and to this forum community.

thank you all again for your previous support of my efforts. i only wish i had something more positive to report. :(

scott

aka kellyspoppi

Offline pozniceguy

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,175
  • Niceguy Dallas
Re: i have finally disclosed to my employer
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2007, 04:31:32 PM »
Scott, I can understand your disappointment at the turn of events.....that said ...why are you angry?   If they don't consider your condition as something "newsworthy"  why is that a problem?......Has your condition affected your work?  your customers? your business relationships?   if not then it sounds like they are finally just accepting you as a worker/person /agent , etc  and not an HIV+ person....   I would like to consider that a good thing.....am I wrong???    surely after the article was written some of the "reviewers" understood your position but consider the association with  "extreme makeover" a more compelling business story than your personal health issues.....once  again a positive sign...????   you "came out" and it wasn't a big deal to anyone in the business???   why is that a problem?

Nick
« Last Edit: August 20, 2007, 04:34:18 PM by pozniceguy »
remember the good times...honor the past but don't live there
Le stelle la notte sono grandie luminose, nel cuore profondo del Texas

Offline kellyspoppi

  • Member
  • Posts: 153
Re: i have finally disclosed to my employer
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2007, 04:57:41 PM »
nick,

i certainly understand you're trying to look for the positive here, but in reality, the story wasn't supposed to be about me being a successful agent despite 22 years of being hiv +. it was to be about my giving back to the community, inspite of being positive.

i have been a company "district service award" winner since the year 2000 thru 2006. this award is given to agents who distinguish themselves through their community service. after all, thats how i landed nationwide the opportunity to work with extreme makeover on this project.

i don't wish to bore you with my list of community service accomplishments, but instead just say that this was the basis of the story. the reporter thought it would make a great human interest story within the company on how one of their agents took his last 22 years of living with hiv and did something positive with it.

i hope that clears things up.

KP   

Offline AlanBama

  • Member
  • Posts: 3,604
  • Alabama: the 'other' 3rd World Country!
Re: i have finally disclosed to my employer
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2007, 08:34:26 PM »
Scott,

I think you're great, and I while I totally understand your disappointment, honey as the song says "You Don't Have to be a Star to be in My Show".

Keep on keeping on.

hugs,

Alan
"Remember my sentimental friend that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others." - The Wizard of Oz

Offline sharkdiver

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,350
Re: i have finally disclosed to my employer
« Reply #14 on: August 22, 2007, 10:00:57 AM »
Hello Scott

I wanted to congratulate you on your bravery! I have disclosed my status to a few employers and have had , what do you say ?  mixed results.  Although I've been living with the virus for over 23 years and , for the most part, it's not a big focus in my life. Every once in awhile, though, the fear and ignorance out there hits me like a bomb knocking me back into reality.   I work in early intervention (infants to 3 years old) and kids on the autism spectrum. I have had comments from employers ranging from " you are truly a hero and I admire you so much" to  "let's keep quiet about this" and "Are you wearing gloves when you touch their mouths? Do you need training in Universal Precautions?"  Needless to say I chose not to work for the people with the later comments anymore (and yes that was a school district)

Since I have been working with children with autism and very closely with their families, I have become a little worried about them finding out about my status. Many. many of these little ones with autism have immune systems that would be comparable to AIDS. In fact many of them take the same drugs used for opportunistic infections.(many of the same ones my late partner took)  and oh yes the side effects. I sometimes find myself asking questions about this and that with a response of "how did you know that? do you know someone taking that med?" and then it hits me "oh, am I disclosing too much information?" and "how do I get out of this conversation?"
I guess I am not sure of what boundaries to draw between being a professional and a caring, loving individual?   

But that's where I am right now
thanks,
Eric

Offline Iamrick

  • Member
  • Posts: 36
    • Daily OM
Re: i have finally disclosed to my employer
« Reply #15 on: August 26, 2007, 06:21:53 PM »
Hi Scott,
  Chin up my friend!! No matter how this one turned out, you need to remember the good work you have already done and the positive effects that has had on others. You are a blessed man!!!
   Love, Rick
Happiness  keeps You Sweet,

Trials keep You  Strong,

Sorrows keep You  Human,

Failures keep You  Humble,

Success keeps You Glowing, 

But Only God/Goddess keeps You Going!


Have a Blessed Day Everyone!! Rick

 


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