Love in the Time of HIV – Michael Mancilla and Lisa Troshinsky
The first and biggest hurdle you will encounter when you are HIV positive and dating is how people will react when they find out your HIV status.
Disclosure can play itself out in a variety of ways. You can share your status before you meet your date in person, such as over the Internet, or in a personal ad; after a few preliminary dates when you know you’d like to pursue the relationship further; or the least preferred, after your date finds out on his own and consequently feels deceived and taken advantage of.
The fact that disclosure to a sexual partner is both an ethical and in Florida a legal obligation doesn’t change the reality that for many, disclosing an HIV status is even scarier than asking someone out on a date. People have used different ways to avoid actually saying the words “I am HIV positive” to someone they care about and would like to become intimate with, either emotionally and/or physically. If a committed relationship is what you want, you must get there in your own time. But, committed monogamous relationships are not for everyone, and we need to look at how to negotiate other options.
Every flirtation that could end in emotional or physical intimacy brings a decision point; when to tell or not to tell. The fear of telling has resulted in some people choosing celibacy. Surprisingly, a national study that looked at the prevalence of celibacy among gay men found that 24% of us are living sex-free lives, which is twice the rate of our straight male counterparts.
Some men choose to avoid emotional intimacy and its incumbent risks by having anonymous or casual sex. In many of these places, there’s a “buyer beware” standard that assumes that any individual entering a place for anonymous sex knows the risks involved.
Somewhere between celibacy and anonymous sex with strangers lies a place where you can meet people who can look beyond your HIV status and judge you on your other merits. If we wrote personal ads that listed what we want in a man and a relationship, the only requirement we would all have in common would be to be accepted or rejected on the basis of something other than our HIV status.
As HIV positive people, we are expected to reveal personal information about ourselves very early in a relationship. Without the HIV factor, we were allowed to take our time building trust within our relationships. The revelation of such personal data forces you to make a leap into trust that you may not be completely comfortable with. If disclosing sounds like a prohibitively weighty concept to you, maybe you should think of it as revealing instead, as an act of consideration and respect.
Saying “I’m assuming you’re positive and you should assume that I’m positive too, does that bother you?” challenges your date to meet your standards.
In a dating universe full of lies and head games, honesty is a very attractive quality, maybe not attractive enough to get you into the bedroom, but at least compelling enough to make him respect you.
If you have been repeatedly rejected because of your HIV status, the other option is to socialize in exclusively HIV positive and positive friendly circles.
Sero-sorting vs Sero-discordant
Sero-sorting is where Poz men date only other Poz men and Negative men date only other Negative men.
Sero-discordant is where Poz men and Negative men date each other.
South Florida – Ft Lauderdale – Wilton Manors
At the Wednesday Group, we discussed where you can meet men here in South Florida. The general opinion was; you can meet them anywhere. Ft Lauderdale really is Where the Boys are. The gym, Home Depot, Publix, Dog Parks, The malls, or just walking around. Specific Places people listed:
- Sebastian Beach in Ft Lauderdale
- Haulover Beach in Haulover
- Java Boys, Starbucks and Storks in Wilton Manors
- Pride Center at Equality Park
- Out of the Closet, Poverello Thrift shops
- Porn Theatres
- Gay friendly Churches
- Bath houses
- Sex clubs
- Private Parties
- Clubs and Organizations
- Support Groups
- AA/NA Meetings
- Movie Theatres
- Charity events like the Smart Ride
- Gay Cruises like the annual Poz Cruise
is another way many men meet today. In fact, most people are meeting online today. The advantage of Online sites for Positive Men is that you can list your status up front, without wasting time on people who can’t accept it. Here are some of the sites the guys at the Wednesday group listed and what they said you can expect on some of them;
Manhunt is a pay site, approximately $30 for 3 months. There seems to be a lot of drug usage on Manhunt and code words sometimes disguise what people really want. “Long sessions”, “extended play”, and “get to the Point” are some of those code words. If you don’t understand something, ask. Know what you’re getting into. There is a section to disclose your status as “Positive”, “Negative”, “Ask Me”, “Don’t know” or to just leave it blank. Lying about your status was a big turn-off for the guys in the support group. Having someone who checked the “Negative” box, email them and say they were really positive was reason to end the conversation immediately for many guys. If you’re not comfortable putting “Positive” down, leave it blank or check “Ask Me” which should generate the required conversation.
Adam4Adam is a free site that accepts donations for upgrades. There are only 4 options for HIV status here; “Positive”, “Negative”, “Don’t know” or blank. With a free site, there may be more professionals. This site seemed less intense.
Grindr is the new iPhone technology. Good for traveling. It’s an application which allows you to use your phone to locate other men. Grindr can tell you that there are 5 other men online within 30 feet. You can only upload one photo, and it seems that men only stay online here for 5-10 minutes at a time. There is no status box to check so if you want to reveal your status up front, you have to do it in your profile.
Facebook; The object of facebook is to use your real name so you can connect with past friendships. Therefore, be careful about disclosure. Your relatives, friends, employers and future empoyers may be using this site.
Poz.com, Craig’s List, Daddy Hunt, Silver Daddies, BBRT.com, Bareback.com, DudesNude, OKCupid.com, Match.com, Pozmatch.com, PlentyofFish.com, Big Muscle, Muscle Bear, Recon.com, Bear411.com, HairyDaddy, Gay Romeo, Boyahoy, HIV.net, HIVandSingle.com, hiv-campground-project.org.
These are the online sites listed by the group. We have not checked all these out and endorse none of them.