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Dear Christine, Damaded Goods in Dearborn Heights

| October 22, 2018

Dear Christine,

I am a 28-year-old gay man. I came out when I was 18 and since then I’ve enjoyed a healthy, active dating life. I’ve always been comfortable with my sexuality. Three months ago, however, I tested HIV-positive and since then feel like I have to come out all over again. I haven’t been able to start dating yet because I’m afraid of how people will react when I tell them about my situation. And I don’t know what the rules are. What do I tell people? When do I tell people? And, if safe sex really is safe, do I have to tell them at all? And mostly I’m afraid (although I know it sounds crazy) that no one’s ever going to love me again. Damaged Goods in Dearborn Heights

Dear Damaged Goods,

I hear you, coming out all over again, now as HIV + being just as confused and uncertain how to tell others as you were to tell people you were gay 10 years ago. Trust your instincts with people, and tell those who feels safe to you. There may be some rejection from some people, but if they were people you wanted to date or be friends with, they’ve actually done you a favor. They are not the kind of quality person you deserve in your life as a friend or lover.
Keep in mind that in many states it is illegal to not disclose your HIV+ status and put someone else at risk. Honesty really is the best policy, and telling someone right up front, before making a date, will save you investing time and energy into a potential relationship that isn’t going to go anywhere, anyway.
The truth is, you are not damaged goods. You are not your illness. You are a human being, complete with all kinds of love, compassion and feeling, and you have much to offer the world, and the people you date. If someone rejects you because of HIV, know that that is a statement about them, not you. HIV requires you to face your fears and be honest with yourself on a whole new level. Those who are willing to have unsafe sex have little self respect are not are not capable of a healthy relationship. We each have to have with self respect before we can be present to someone else.
When I was researching my PhD dissertation “The Experience of People with HIV+/AIDS with Multiple Losses”, I interviewed a number of people who amazed me by describing how much improved their relationships are since they were diagnosed. The diagnosis cut through a lot of BS, and people who connected with these co-researchers were quality people, who enhanced their lives. In fact, one of my interviewees, Jim, asked himself in front of me if he could do it all over again, would he choose to have HIV or not? I waited, holding my breath, and finally he said “Yes, I would choose to have it again. Through HIV I have met so many wonderful people around Detroit and the US, and I have grown and healed so much spiritually, that I would definitely choose to be HIV again.” He went on to find a committed relationship with a man and was surrounded by a loving community of friends and colleagues.

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Click here to email Christine.

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Category: Featured Column

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