Living the Questions
BY Advocate Contributors
July 12 2010 5:35 PM ET
As I celebrated the nation's Independence Day and my 29th birthday, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own independence. Having been single for a complete year, a record in my books, this serial monogamist finds that the the holidays and moments of celebration tend to get me thinking about whether I am single by choice or circumstance. The question that quickly rises to the top of the many reasons I am alone is, of course, my HIV status. I can’t help but wonder the answer to the biggest question I ask of people: “Would you date someone with HIV?”
It’s a loaded question coming from me — my friends, my family, and even people who barely know me are biased in their answers. I have found the most honest responses come when I catch people off guard. I once asked my friend John in a text message, his response first being “Really, this is what you text me?” My friend Lesley has gotten it at dinner, drinks, and while at work. There is my friend Michael, who asked me the question before I could ask him.
Answers have varied, but they generally net out in one place — “Yes, but with caution and care.” At which point I wonder, shouldn’t every relationship be approached with “caution and care?” And “yes,“ while common, doesn’t seem to be the reality I face. A few people, hands down, say “no.” I have experience with the “no” firsthand. I have vivid memories of the poor guy who ran from my apartment when he saw the framed Worlds AIDS Day picture and the red ribbon that sits on my bedside table. I can’t help but recall the countless faces that used to consider a random make-out session, now resigned to whispers or words of support. So despite a world where HIV status is now a check box on social networking profiles, I tend to think that being with someone HIV-positive is still too much for many to handle.