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Coming Out Again and Again

| 9 Comments
October 11 is National Coming Out Day. The first person I ever told I was gay was my best friend in high school in 1987. I didn't tell my parents I was gay until 1996. That same friend was the first person I told I was HIV positive in 1992. I didn't tell my parents I had HIV until 2008.

For those of you who may not have seen this before, I shared the details of that journey coming out about being gay and again about having HIV in the October 2008 issue of POZ.

comingoutagain1.jpg
I'm certainly much more comfortable than ever about disclosing I'm gay or that I have HIV, but no matter how "out" I may think I am, there's always someone new I meet who doesn't know. When it comes to this reality, I know that I'm far from alone.

As American society becomes increasingly accepting of LGBT people, it becomes easier every year for LGBT people to come out. Sadly, I do not see the same trend to the same extent for people with HIV/AIDS.

Although countless people with HIV have openly disclosed their status, stigma still rules the day. That said, I believe stigma can be overcome as long as those of us who can disclose we have HIV continue to do so.

On this National Coming Out Day, I do have one more "coming out" story to share with you all: I've been named editor-in-chief of POZ. My friend and colleague Regan Hofmann has started an exciting new chapter in her life as a global health consultant. I wish her all the best.

I look forward to the challenge and privilege of sharing your stories!


Oriol on:

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Comments on Oriol R. Gutierrez Jr.'s blog entry "Coming Out Again and Again"

I completely agree with your statement... I am not completely open with everyone about my status but I am getting more comfortable. I do agree that the stigma can be overcome as long as those of us who can disclose we have HIV continue to do so!

Mark

I agree with your statement. I have faced some backlash because as a black man in a small town in the south, I have revealed my HIV status to people. However, I think that by revealing my status, I am removing some of the stigma associated with AIDS.

While I do agree with your statement, I'm finding more and more discrimination and rejection when disclosing to men I chat with in online dating sites. Just last night I had one guy who was interested in meeting me ask me, "U clean?". Well I was incensed and replied back "Clean? Seriously?"
I further said, "No, I'm Poz and if that's what you meant. "Clean" is an insult. Like I'm "dirty".'

This jerk then had the balls to say, "no, it's not an insult, it's reality".

I should have stopped engaging but like you said in your statement, I do feel like I should attempt to educated and try to enlighten someone like this to try to get them to stop stigmatizing myself and other poz individuals.

So.. I continued saying "Yeah it IS! Get with it. Ask a guy if he's neg or poz.

Then I get this reply from him...

"You're obviously poz because you yourself never made sure you were with someone who was "Clean"

Honestly, that knocked the wind out of me and I thought I couldn't be shocked or surprise any longer by uneducated, mean, hurtful comments.

Since right after delivering that insult he immediately "blocked me" and he never got to read my reply to that which was...
"You're perpetuating the stigma that being poz is somehow dirty".

Needless to say, I've been wrestling with putting my status on my online profiles but still have not because I really don't think it should be public knowledge, conversely I'm sure I would help weed out the schmucks like this little cretin.

I've been single for a little over 4 years after my 30 year relationship ended.(my ex was neg and for 15 out of the 30 years we were together I was poz and i never infected him). While I knew dating again at 58 and being Poz was going to be a challenge, there are truly days when this kind of rejection just totally crushes my spirit and I question even trying to date or connect with anyone.

Why is the word stigma used? Isn´t stigma what would be left after we have gotten rid of outright hate and discrimination/criminalization?

Only a few years ago sodomy was still illegal. The gay community didn´t talk about the stigma of being homosexual.

My 24 year old son was diagnosed as HIV positive about a year ago. While he's very open with others about his status, I tend to council him about being too free with the information. I fear for the responses and ramifications he'll face on the job, socially and in other venues. Despite the fact that the responses are ignorant and the ramifications are unjustified, I can't help but be more concerned for his own well being. My motherly concern kicks in and supersedes his implied social and political obligations. Am I wrong?

I agree with HH-NY. This isn't "stigma". This is outright persecution, and it's not just something that manifests itself online. I think a lot of us need to stop candycoating it with the same terminology that is used to describe whatever we faced before we heard "your test came back positive". For those of us who grew up in the 90s, what we see before us is NOTHING like the watered down "stigma" we thought we faced before. No civilized person is going to tell someone they're "dirty" because they're black or gay. We're not the victims of "stigma". We're f***ing untouchables.

We don't need "disclosure" either. Disclosure is something we're forced to do by an oppressive state that seeks to segregate us. "Disclosure" is a special bedroom conversation we're required to have that alerts other people that they need to run away and be afraid. We need HIV to be a health issue, like every other, not something we "disclose". The fact that divulging an intimate detail of your health even gets a special word is a manifestation of, not a treatment for, the persecution we face.

omg my life's journey has always been one of acknowledge and or perceived dichotomies. your article the response as much as I share the anger that resonance
100% with Andy as much as the heartfelt love karemiah expressed in her response about her fears for her son who is living in and will be affected by the mean outright ostrcization from his own community.

sadly in the darks years there was lots of misguided anger and accusation being pointed at members of our community by members of our community. but as we ourselves as a collective community #1 we stayed together and we helped and learned as much about the disease that was stealing huge numbers of our community mostly us Gay men... But boys don't ever forget we did lose some Lesbian sisters in those dark years. but the beauty of those dark years (if such could be said) is the queer community finally came together and really started working to Fight against our common oppressors ***
the status quo dogmatic patriarchal heterocentric ideology of the USA

sadly often what I have experienced in my life as a sissy girly gay who wore dresses and heels one night, would strap on my boots and leather the next night and know as a HIV/HEP C+ out queer boy is the our male queer community has forgotten those dark years are still buying into the same old hateful dogmatic patriarchal heterocentric ideologies that led us to the dark years... 12 years of silence regarding a virologic pathogen unmet or at least I identified by our medical and scientific communities

To come out or not... I struggled with a lot with this question until the decision to be open about my Poz status became very clear. Years ago after disclosing my Poz status to someone who seemed genuinely interested in me on an online dating site, I was accused of "wasting his time". The hurt from this rejection sent me into a tail spin. It was then that I decided to be open. I adopted a personal policy that called for me to openly post my Poz status as a part of my bio. I also included a statement that I do understand the power of fear and am thankful for the natural weeding out process. (After more than two decades being Poz I see this status as just another fact of my life eyes hazel, hair silver, Poz, etc.) When approached either in live chat or via mail, in my first response I ask a question or two to ensure that the individual has read my bio. This has served me well. There have only been a couple of times when a guy has tried to deny that I have told him that I'm Poz. Because it is a part of the bio and they have responded to my questions it is easy for me to dismiss their claim. This may not have an impact on them but gives me the peace of mind that I have been open, honest and have no reason for shame. (I lose no sleep over the matter)I also am grateful to others who are out about their Poz status because it may just help stop the isolation with which so many of us live.

I have come up with a code phrase when talkin about hiv with a friend "house in vermont."
we will not see this through in my lifetime and i'm 32 years old. acceptance is the key

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This page contains a single entry by Oriol R. Gutierrez Jr. published on October 11, 2012 2:32 PM.

Sharing Stories, Creating Hope was the previous entry in this blog.

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