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Author Topic: Others' reactions to your testing poz: what happened?  (Read 4391 times)

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Offline CalvinC

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Others' reactions to your testing poz: what happened?
« on: June 18, 2006, 10:52:22 PM »

Hi all

You're all so great in responding to my last topic on the first three weeks. (I printed the thread so I can reread them at home...they're very very thoughtful.)

Similar to that topic, I'm interested in how others reacted to your news and how you FELT about it.

My story (yet again): the most important person I told (three weeks ago) was the guy I was dating. His response?  "You're kidding." Then, "You're not serious." (The reason I tested was because there was a skin abrasion while we were having safe sex and he was worried about it. I had assured him I was negative and went for a test to reassure him. So much for that.) My ordeal quickly became his ordeal, and I was doing the comforting. He even called his GP to see about testing right away (which I told him was useless since he wouldn't know for at least two months).

The eventual result was that he, the next day, told me he needed "room" to sort things through. I asked him a number of times, in calm, reassuring, non-threatening ways, if this was meant to mean not seeing me anymore, to which he said, "I don't know" repeatedly. Long story short: I saw him on campus a few days later, he said he'd call...and that was it.

What I feel about this is tearing me apart, less so now than the first couple of weeks. His apparent dumping me is so closely tied to my experience of testing poz that I can't separate the two. I'm angry with hiim for not being more straightforward, angry because I am feeling like a heel because he made the issue seem like his tragedy that I must somehow account for, angry because I can't figure out how I can like someone so much yet be upset with him, angry because I''ve lost him. I wanted to forgive him, but I see now that I need to work through all this anger first.

When I asked a friend of mine how come my ex gets off scot-free, so to speak, and I don't, my friend said, "Because he can...no one is holding him to account for what happened between you, and none of his friends likely really knows why you broke up." (The ex had said that he needed space but not because of the HIV.)

All I'm left with is guessing, inconclusion, and anger. Pray for me that I might move past this with grace and eventual forgiveness.

cal (and I promise I will not repeat this story again!!)

Offline jkinatl2

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Re: Others' reactions to your testing poz: what happened?
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2006, 10:59:33 PM »
Honestly? If he freaked out over safer sex wth a skin abrasion to the point where you got tested, he likely had/had a severe phobia about HIV, and perhaps OCD.  We get people like that in the "am i infected" forum all the time, and they are FAR from rational where HIV transmission is concerned. Please believe me. It wasn't you. It wasn't even HIV, really. It was him.

"Many people, especially in the gay community, turn to oral sex as a safer alternative in the age of AIDS. And with HIV rates rising, people need to remember that oral sex is safer sex. It's a reasonable alternative."

-Kimberly Page-Shafer, PhD, MPH

Welcome Thread

Offline CalvinC

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Re: Others' reactions to your testing poz: what happened?
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2006, 11:06:20 PM »

You're right jk. I know it's him, not me. But I'm still left to do his emotional work, or at least the stuff that got dumped on me.

But I do like your way of putting things!! I need to hear these things more often. Otherwise, I might remain stuck.

Many thanks,

cal

Offline allopathicholistic

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Re: Others' reactions to your testing poz: what happened?
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2006, 11:08:26 PM »
Long story short: I saw him on campus a few days later, he said he'd call...and that was it.

You'll move past this with grace and growth. As far as him saying he'd call and then not - Well, what's he gonna say? "You won't receive any further calls from me. Good luck to you." ???  ??? You'll be fine.

Offline Sdgirl

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Re: Others' reactions to your testing poz: what happened?
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2006, 11:15:23 PM »
Calvin,

It has become very apparent to me that I must now start taking care of myself.  I can not be consumed by other peoples reaction to my status.  This disease will separate the men from the boys BIG TIME.

I no longer worry about what people think because now, for the first time in my life, it is all about taking care of me first before all others.  Once you get over the heartache and hurt, you will be better able to focus on what is important...........YOU.

Lisa
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves.."Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, who are you not to be?"

Offline joemutt

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Re: Others' reactions to your testing poz: what happened?
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2006, 11:27:52 PM »
My mother cried, my sisters and brothers said it hurt them, my best friend gave me a kick in the shins but they all continued to love me, I think the 30 people that matter most to me know and not one negative reaction, most people said something a la "you continue to be the person you were and it will not affect our relationship". My bf went to test (neg) but he ain't my bf anymore, a few years later we kinda drifted apart but never any bad feelings.

Offline Matty the Damned

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Re: Others' reactions to your testing poz: what happened?
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2006, 12:11:33 AM »
The most common reaction I get from people is:

"Really? I'm sorry!"

MtD

Offline Sky

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Re: Others' reactions to your testing poz: what happened?
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2006, 12:42:33 AM »
Me to your grace, I get "Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that." I've even got "How long do you have to live." before too.  People are totally clueless when it come to the subject.
Poz since 2003.

Offline Matty the Damned

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Re: Others' reactions to your testing poz: what happened?
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2006, 12:58:21 AM »
Me to your grace, I get "Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that." I've even got "How long do you have to live." before too.  People are totally clueless when it come to the subject.

Exactly Your Grace.

I often respond:

"Why are you sorry? You didn't give it to me."

And then they get offended. I mean, the absolute nerve of me! To throw their middle class condescending pity back in their smug patronising faces. Who do I think I am?

Some of them even go on to tell me about how they always buy a red ribbon and they even wear it to work! Or about how they have friends who died and how brave they were about it. It was just like Tom Hanks in that movie, Philadelphia!

Yeah well, all my friends who died of AIDS, did so covered in their own shit and screaming for more morphine. Very declasse.

MtD
(Who reckons patronising neggies should get fucked)

Offline cubbybear

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Re: Others' reactions to your testing poz: what happened?
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2006, 01:47:50 AM »
Most people I have told have reacted well.  My closest friends and partner were all supportive and understanding.  One of my friends cried, and I told him to get over it, I'm not dying (not that I am aware of).  But overall everyone has been great.

However, if ever it comes a time to disclose to future partners I am sure that support will quickly change to a see ya round when the hivphobia kicks in.
There's a bear in there!
Positive since 2000
Diagnosed 17/9/2005 CD4 35 VL 293,000
Meds 23/9/2005 Sustiva/Truvada
Currently CD4 232 VL Undetectable

Offline otherplaces

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Re: Others' reactions to your testing poz: what happened?
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2006, 01:59:49 AM »
I guess SHOCK would be the word most of my friends conveyed. A few of my friends knew I'm a man who crossdresses who has experimented sexually with other cd'ers and ts's. But it's not something I advertise. So to many of them I'm a straight male who got HIV. I'm not "high risk" whatever that means. I often don't explain the details. It's not really any of their business. I think it's better for them anyway as anyone who has sex is at risk, and maybe for the first time they believe that. I loathe being the teacher mainly because I've found that noone really listens or wants to really understand. I think most of my friends probably googled 'hiv' read that it was 'chronic' and went about their day, or they're young and too frightened that they have a friend that might die. I can't figure out which. But consequently they've decided that if I call them it's not necessarily important to call me back. Noone has really stepped up to be there for me...and well, it is what it is. It causes me pain, but on I go.

For pretty damn conservative xtians my parents win the red ribbon for valor in the face of news they would never expect to hear. Really, they've been pretty great...sometimes weird...but really great for the most part. I guess what bothers me is that I have nobody to discuss things with. I guess that's why I'm here. But even my parents seem unwilling to fully educate themselves. I still have to explain what my lab results mean over and over again. It's tiring. I can accept my friends not wanting to take the time to understand such a complex disease, but I kind of feel like maybe my parents might step up since they seem to really want to support me.

Overall I get a great sense of fear in discussing HIV with people I know. I can dispassionately discuss the politics or science of the disease, but I look in the other person's face and they're frightened...scared even. Most people would consider me a 'sissy', but geez...who's the sissy???

OK. I guess that's my 2 cents.

brian



Offline Markmt

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Re: Others' reactions to your testing poz: what happened?
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2006, 04:22:16 AM »
Hi Cal, Luckily the people I chose to tell took it very well and are still very supportive, but I had to follow my gut instincts of who to tell and who not to.  I dint regret my decisions. There was some explaining to do but no one acted tragic...they all had words of comfort and proved their friendships.

hug,

mark.
"Live to love and love to live."

Leo Buscaglia

Offline aztecan

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  • 29 years positive, 57 years a pain in the butt
Re: Others' reactions to your testing poz: what happened?
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2006, 11:37:53 AM »
Well, let's see.

My mom cried - but not in front of me.

My sister and brother-in-law looked stunned and thoughtful.

Most of my friends were fine with it, although a few jaws dropped.

My ex gave me a big French kiss in the middle of Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, asked if I was OK, then took me to lunch.

Pretty much everyone has been supportive. But I chose carefully who I told and when.

I waited until I was more comfortable with my status before I began disclosing to anyone.

Nowadays, I don't think too much about disclosing because all of the important people already know.

One of the benefit of being an old fart who has had the bug for two decades plus.

HUGS,

Mark
« Last Edit: June 19, 2006, 11:40:54 AM by aztecan »
"May your life preach more loudly than your lips."
~ William Ellery Channing (Unitarian Minister)

Offline Trish

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Re: Others' reactions to your testing poz: what happened?
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2006, 12:14:34 PM »
Hi Cal,

Nice topic.

The reaction of my family -- they weren't too surprised since they had already known about my husband, who died of AIDS in Oct. 1989.  We were hoping for a negative result, but weren't shocked when I tested positive.

As for my close friends -- I didn't tell them until nearly 10 or 11 years later when I got very sick.  They knew something was up, but just didn't know what it was exactly.  When I told them I was poz (actually at the time, April 2000, I was diagnosed as having AIDS), their reaction was... "Oh my God!  What can I do?"  They didn't shy away from me, instead they gave me support and love.  And we pretty much didn't talk about it after that... we went on like "everything was everything."  I still got drunk with them trying to have a good time, but that caught up with me in the end...

As for acquaintances along the way, some were taken aback with comments like, "No, not you.  You're the picture of health."  Or, something along the lines of, "But you look so healthy, this can't be."  I would respond with, "What the hell should I look like?  Should I look like death?"  That always gets them thinking. 

I've had other people respond with much negativity, but those are the people I say, "F**K YOU!"  These are people I don't have time for and don't even care to be in the same room with.  These people can rot in hell for all I care.

Those who accept me for who I am, I am grateful for... Those who are indifferent can basically "GO TO HELL."

Take care Cal...

Trish :)
"People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is buit."  Eleanor Roosevelt

Offline jack

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Re: Others' reactions to your testing poz: what happened?
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2006, 01:09:42 PM »
I told my wife the moment I found out. I haven't told anyone else. If I am not having sex with someone,and I am not, why should I tell anyone? Everyone has problems,and some are worse than HIV.

Offline jon

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Re: Others' reactions to your testing poz: what happened?
« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2006, 01:39:59 PM »
My Girlfriend (now my wife) cried for hours.  She tested the next day -Negative.  She handled it very well, I think.

My Brother sat there stunned for about five minutes, then said He had to go, and He left.  He was at My door at 6 AM., the next morning.  He had a bunch of questions, ...How'd Ya get it?..How long have You had it?...  Are You OK?... What are You gonna do now?...Is there any thing I can do?...Do You need anything?... Does Mom Know?  Not yet.  "I'd like to be there when You tell Her."  OK.

He bought Me a weight bench.  I put on 20 pounds of muscle.

Mom cried.  That was the worst part of it for Me.  She hugged Me for what seemed an eternity.  I'm closer with My family now than ever before.

I wish more people were as fortunate as I am.



You'll have to kill Me before I die!!!

Offline Life

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  • Member 2005
Re: Others' reactions to your testing poz: what happened?
« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2006, 01:46:07 PM »
I live in a very unique place.  A very small mountain town and its hard to keep "secrets".  I in fact will go so far as for me "secrets kill".  I told my husband the first day of diagnosis.  I told my sibs 2 days later, and told my Mom and Dad 2 weeks later after I had all the facts.   They have been my support and my cheerleading squad.   Later,  I talked with both my bosses at work and advised them about this.   All very supportive and intrested in keeping me healthy.   In fact sometimes they ask me what I would do in their situation with another friend who is in denial.... bla bla bla..  I do not want a rumor to get started without me starting it.   I am well prepared to face whatever consequences of my personal disclosures.   I am also a 18 year vet with the companies I work for, so that does changes some of these particular dynamics.  

Disclosure is one sure way to insure that my friends understand that HIV/AIDS is alive and well and is in our small town.   I do not look for compassion or sadness.  I do however, love support, when and if I need it...   And I do get it!

Love :D

Offline Mouse

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Re: Others' reactions to your testing poz: what happened?
« Reply #17 on: June 19, 2006, 02:03:08 PM »
I don't think I was unique at all. My best friend hit me - not hard, I mean, it was more like a 'you're such a twit!' kind of hit on the back of my head. And she's the only one that didn't cry or gasp in shock and surprise. And actually I appreciated that more than all of those because she was upfront and honest with how she felt about it. Lesbians are cool like that. :P

She did hug me, though, afterwards. Which I think was smart because I just stared at her in utter confusion after she smacked me.  :D She wasn't disappointed in me or anything, but she did think I was a twit because I knew better. She let me know it, too. Annnnd, then she said she loved me and now she gets mail for me from all my HIV ridden friends from the internet.  :D

I think I told her because she's probably the most down to earth person I know. She's NEVER overly dramatic, she's very blunt and she has a very dry and sometimes morbid sense of humor. She's perfect.  ;D She was the first person I told 'I think I'm gay'. xD. Which was cool cause she had already come out and stuff, too. :P

So, yeah. We should all be blessed with lesbians for friends.  :D

I told a couple other friends, and I wish I hadn't, but I felt like I was kind of just clearing the field by just SAYING it and not having them find out any other way. I also got asked, "So, did they tell you how long you have?" No, but if you keep asking it might be your lifespan that is shortened.  >:(

My dad freaked in every way possible it is to freak, my mom got angry at me and told me she should have expected it since I'm gay.  ::) But they both got over it. My sister was the best. She said, "... okay." And gave me a look. Now we joke about how many diseases I'll contract by the time I'm 20. Bitch.  :P (But SHE doesn't know I know how many guys shes been with.)

Offline DCGuy511

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Re: Others' reactions to your testing poz: what happened?
« Reply #18 on: June 19, 2006, 02:25:56 PM »
I told my best friend.  He was wonderful about it and remains so to this day. I told my then manager, but  nor because she was my boss. I’ve known her longer than anyone else in DC.  I told a few other friends who were all supportive. One of the most supportive people was the man who told me, my doctor. He hugged me, told me that I was going to be OK, and held my hand as I sobbed on his couch. He called me at home that night to check on me.  When I saw him again the next week to go over my first lab results and resistance tests, he spent over three hours with me and my friend explaining the labs, the meds, the research, and the changes in how the disease is handled now compared to pre-HAART. He continues to be supportive.

Here are my regrets. 

1). My mother- She can’t handle the news, can’t handle talking about it. Totally spaces out when I try to mention the subject.  Here is the odd part, she is a retired Public Health Nurse. She was in charge of HIV/AIDS education for a county in California from 92-96. She just can’t cope with her own son having it.  She always accepted that I was gay, but this is different. We've grown apart as a consequence.

2). An HIV+ friend that I had met shortly before my diagnosis. I thought that maybe it was a weird karma thing that I happen to meet this “angel” right before I was diagnosed. Silly me. I told him at lunch one day. He said, “Well kids that get this disease today are just stupid. They deserve it. I got this back in '85 before we knew what it was.”  I think he is just bitter and I do not hold it against him.  I had spurned his romantic advances a few weeks before, so maybe he was mad. Who knows?  But I don't focus on those things anymore.

3). My first date with an engineering professor at a local university.  We went up to his place to "see his art collection." His reaction: “Aww, damn.  That sucks. I mean, I’ll fu*k you tonight, but I just can’t deal with anything like that for long term.”  I got up to leave and as I was leaving he said,  "I'm not kicking you out. Its your choice to leave."  That's right bucko, it is my friggin choice to walk away from you.  I deserve more.

4). My friend who gets drunk, cries at the bars when he sees me and always plays "Madonna's Die Another Day in my presence.  However, at least he stopped thinking about himself for 5 minutes.

5) My second date since diagnosis- nice, well-built Italian-American named Tony. His response: "Why did you get that?"  As if I had chose to buy a Betamax instead of a VHS. "Does that mean you want to use condoms?"  Not the sharpest tool in the shed, but at least he's pretty.

The best person I told was my baby brother (now 21).  He is also gay.  When I was on meds, I showed him all of the pills, and the pills to counter the side-affects of HAART.  I described each side-affect as graphically as I could. I told him about the rejection and depression. He did not realize that HIV was so complicated.  It sounds mean, but I sort of wanted to scare him. He is young and acts invincible. I wanted to send the message that this was not easy and definitely not just “a few pills and you are OK.”

Enough babble from me. Sorry for the long post.
 :)
Steve
Infected/Diagnosed Fall 2003
"No Man Is An Island" - J Donne

Offline CalvinC

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Re: Others' reactions to your testing poz: what happened?
« Reply #19 on: June 19, 2006, 05:37:08 PM »

Lisa's right: I gotta take care of me now. Not to say that I haven't in the past. But before, "taking care of myself" meant fulfilling my emotional needs by drinking and going to bathhouses. Now I'm going to meet my emotional needs head on by NOT going out drinking and wandering around bathhouses. I want to see what's out there.

Trish, thanks for the "what the hell should I look like?" comeback. I can't wait to use it! I am seeing all my siblings in about two weeks, and I know they will be looking at me closely for "signs." hahahahaha!

It is difficult that some people, like Brian, aren't getting the support they deserve. That's incredibly sad.

And thanks to DC guy for sharing about dating: these are pitfalls I will now feel much better prepared for. (A friend of mine who is poz calls such events "the big reveal." Some stay, some go.)

Finally, allopath, you're right about the "I'll call you." Ann Landers once responded to a writer who bemoaned the fact that some guys, after a great date, said "I'll call you" and never did, leaving said writer to wonder what happened. Ann said, "Consider 'I'll call you' a polite kiss-off, and move on with your life." She's right. But the thing is, allo, is that this wasn't one date and I gave him tons of opportunity to say "goodbye." He didn't. So I'm trying to deal with what has happened without the comfort of an ending. Some days I imagine he'll call, say he was sorry, it was all a mistake--and so I go on living what Joan Didion calls "the year of magical thinking." I'm angry that I have to figure it all out and do his work. But growth, yes, I will grow. A hard, bitter lesson, to be sure. But I will survive this.

cal

Offline Oceanbeach

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Re: Others' reactions to your testing poz: what happened?
« Reply #20 on: June 19, 2006, 07:03:18 PM »
Hi Cal,

I tested positive in Los Angeles.  In 1994, testing positive was an every day occurance, we talk about it on the streets, in the cafes and in the clubs.  Nothing really happened that week.

However, two years later when returning home from the hospital with an AIDS diagnosis and nearly dying from PCP, the dishes were re-arranged.  The change in the dishes arrangement was to honor my return home from the near-dead.  There was 1 plate, 1 fork, 1 knife, 1 spoon, 1 coffee cup and 1 drinking glass (on a separate shelf).  The reason?  Glad you asked... The openly gay man sharing the house did not want to get AIDS by sharing dishes.

What did I do?  You are so inquisitive this afternnon Calvin.  That was almost 10 years ago and I don't mind telling you...  I did what ever self-respecting AIDS patient, straight out of the ICU does... I called a Taxi and moved into a house where there was another person living with HIV/AIDS.  I haven't lived in L.A. for over 6 years but that person and I are still good friends.  The guy with the dishes?  Can't remember his name.  Have the best day
Michael

www.Commission-on-AIDS.org
 

Offline lydgate

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Re: Others' reactions to your testing poz: what happened?
« Reply #21 on: June 20, 2006, 12:08:26 AM »
I told my best friend, the lovely and incomparable P -- Grace to my Will, if you will -- on the day I tested positive, provisionally (by PCR). She was sad and stoic and accepting and loving (this was over the phone, in September). Then in January, when the Elisa and Western Blot came back positive, she came over that night, we drank gin, giggled a little, I cried a little, and we watched old episodes of "Sex and the City."

The next day, January 10, I had dinner with my ex -- the lovely and incomparable X -- and "slept" with him. This is a man who, through fear of HIV, has essentially given up sex. He doesn't kiss, forget the other stuff. About the only thing he allows himself is hugging, a little rubbing, watching each other masturbate. One can't reason with him, it's a mild OCD kinda thing. It makes me sad, because he's young and beautiful and vital and feels compelled by fear to give up, almost totally, one of the great parts of life. But he's the best cuddler that ever existed, so I agreed to spend the night in his bed (we do that, every now and then, after a few drinks, no strings etc). I didn't tell him. I'm never going to tell him -- he would be afraid of me sitting on his impeccable couch. He's that afraid.

The next day I told my three best gay friends in Bombay -- a journalist, a lawyer who works for a legal collective representing HIVers, and a law student who hopes to work in human rights. They were incredible. Shocked and sad, but also very supportive. The lawyer spent the night, and we had indifferent sex. The journalist friend was honest: he said to me that, among all the welter of emotions he was experiencing, one of them was anger: How and why did I let this happen to me -- me! who's given safe sex talks to young gay men!

Back in Iowa. I told a couple of girlfriends right away. Tears with one. After a 3 a.m. talk, she came over at 8, with a great breakfast. There's a group of six women here who form a "group" -- I'm the honarary gay male member of the group. I told all of them eventually, but in a bizarre unplanned way. Each time, while we were having drinks at the local writers' bar. Strange, still don't know what to make of that. Eventually told a couple of men as well, again unplanned. It was as if I couldn't utter another syllable without talking about the "H" word which was banging in my head.

As for sex: Always disclosed to partners, except for one guy in Chicago (met him at Sidetrack) who wanted, once we got to his place, nothing more and nothing less than being kicked in the balls. I politely declined, not my thing. But the "always disclosure" thing caught ip with me this weekend: the guy I went home with this Saturday said "he knew" once I initiated the conversation. In his words: "Sweetie, this is a small town, people talk." So there we are.

I wish I could shout out loud about my status. But I'm worried about my immigration status.

Jay
Her finely-touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

George Eliot, Middlemarch, final paragraph

Offline Sky

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Re: Others' reactions to your testing poz: what happened?
« Reply #22 on: June 20, 2006, 02:57:14 AM »
Exactly Your Grace.

I often respond:

"Why are you sorry? You didn't give it to me."

And then they get offended. I mean, the absolute nerve of me! To throw their middle class condescending pity back in their smug patronising faces. Who do I think I am?

Some of them even go on to tell me about how they always buy a red ribbon and they even wear it to work! Or about how they have friends who died and how brave they were about it. It was just like Tom Hanks in that movie, Philadelphia!

Yeah well, all my friends who died of AIDS, did so covered in their own shit and screaming for more morphine. Very declasse.

MtD
(Who reckons patronising neggies should get fucked)
lol Matty I <3 you!  You always bring a smile to my face, thx =)
Poz since 2003.

 


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