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Partial Disclosure

| 8 Comments
Morgan Molthrop
Photo credit: Brandon Willis

Morgan Molthrop, a former Wall Street executive, had the words "HIV Positive / Bipolar / Recovering Addict" tattooed on chest to disclose his bipolar disorder, addiction and HIV.

He had a portrait made of his tattoos, which he shared with POZ. He then asked us to help him spread the word about his disclosure -- and we agreed.

In his own words:

"As a former Wall Street executive with a law degree who taught Securities and Exchange Commission disclosure at New York University, I know something about disclosing bad news. I was one of the first openly gay people on Wall Street, back in the 1980s, when gay was equated with HIV.

"I didn't acquire HIV until later, during a period of bad judgement caused by drug addiction. It was the addiction that ultimately made it increasingly difficult for me to hide. Disclosing all of this to colleagues, family and friends over the years has been no picnic. I had to find a way to deal with treating the addiction at the same time I was disclosing it, which only compounded the complexity.

"When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it was the toughest fact to disclose and not made much easier even when I understood my addiction was in part a self-medicating effort to 'get ahead of my manic swings.' Mental illness is as, if not more, stigmatizing than many other stigmas. But my doctor said by stopping the drugs and alcohol, we could work on my brain, which he called "Touched With Fire," the title of a book by Kay Jamison about bipolarity and creativity that has had a big influence on me.

"Eventually we stabilized my mood swings with medication and therapy. The fear -- that I would lose my drive and creativity -- was counterbalanced by the fact that my life had fallen apart to such a degree, it was at a point where things could only get better. And it has. This year, I have two books coming out: Artist Spaces (UL Press 2014) and Jackson's Playbook, which will be serialized on Facebook.

"Today, I am honest with all brokers, as they say. I'm a proponent of full disclosure, but in a safe and supervised environment. I hope my story can help others understand that ignorant stigmatization should not derail you from your aspirations."

8 Comments

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Comments on The POZ Staff's blog entry "Partial Disclosure"

Disclosure is always a difficult thing to tackle!

I admire the fact you stated disclose should be done a safe ans supervised environment. Disclose is personal and one must be ready for the good, bad, that will be in the wake of their disclosure.

I am truly inspired by your story. Although I am negative I have a long list of other health problems, including, amputation, a mechanical heart valve , no spleen and the list goes on and on. I was diagnosed with depression. I think most creative people suffer from addictions, unsafe lifysteles, and a myriad of other social disfunctions. My best friend is also creative, had drug addiction,is bi-polar and also positive, so I educated myself quickly so that I could better understand what goes on in his head and be a good friend. Awareness is only the first step, education and understanding has to go along with it. After all, we all got something.

Thank you, Morgan. It helps reading that there is a light at the end of the seemingly endless tunnel. It helps knowing that we are not alone. Again, thank you for your bravery and vulnerability.

Dear William, Teresa, David and Jamie - Thanks for your nice comments. I thought long and hard about how to "move forward." I surely don't recommend my rather "bold" approach to everyone. For me, I'd rather have a frank conversation with people than hide. And when some people know and others don't, things get tricky. I, for one, don't want to have to explain myself to anyone. If someone has a problem, let them say it to my face. Your comments are well appreciated and I thank you for them. I am smiling. MMM

That's powerful and moving. Thank you.

Thank you for your amazing bravery and disclosure! I've spent twenty years as a mental health professional working to help those struggling with co-occurring disorders. Disclosure is like bringing light into the darkness and with a good healthy support system in place can be like giving wings to a bird allowing it to soar to heights it could never go before. I personally have been in your shoes regarding addiction. I'm out in my industry and work closely with others to dispell the stigma of those coping and living daily with these issues. Peace to you sir!!!

I find this whole thing to be a bit beyond personal. The whole idea of tattooing one's HIV status, medical issues and anything else on one's mind on oneself to be almost a scapegoat or illness itself. I doubt doing so would absolve one from any disclosure laws. Unless everything's in a dozen or so languages.
I too toyed with the idea of having GRIDS tattooed on the back of my hand before the state made the choice for me. Doubt any of you remember when there were groups advocating mandatory testing,tattooing and transfer to isolation camps of anyone testing positive. The tattoos were to be in a location not readily covered without being quite obvious. Forehead, back of the neck, along the jawline or under ones' ear were the sites chosen. They weren't to be something easily covered by clothing or made to look like some fashion statement on a hunk. I've yet to see tattoos like this gentleman has on an unattractive individual.
Having inadvertently photograph many living with/dying of the effects of this "queer leprosy" in California my memory is all to clear. Having spent years fighting for every dollar of Ryan White funds and ADAP assistance... I have a insiders perspective few can fathom. (Ironically I was rewarded for my efforts in volunteering by being exposed to TB. Having to spend months in isolation; taking handfuls of meds on top of the meds I was already taking so I didn't give it to any i worked so hard to help.)Even managed to get Workmans Comp legislation passed to cover one's' serostatus. Forcing it to be kept out of any records provided to the insurance carrier unless the claim was filed for the individual being infected on the job.
I'll go toe to toe, scar for scar, drop trow and size up that too with anyone living "thinking" they have some novel insight on all this. I've dealt with and am dealing with mental health issues of life and having AIDS with both myself and manny I loved, self loathing, survivors guilt, loss of my ultra security clearance and as such my livelihood. (Try comparing that with "disclosure issues.} Oh, lest we forget, the law in California that charges a HIV+ individual with a felony if they do not disclose their serostatus to anyone they may have any chance of fluid exchanges with(sex}, safer sex or not. It could be elevated to to a murder charge if the person seroconverts.. . . Likely one should carry a form for sexbuddies to sign indicating they were told. At the very least you should use your cellphone to record your informing them and their agreeing to sex...
Have/had Addiction issues in my life, with so many of those I've known "self medicating" around me to have lost count. Dealing with my backwards views of Christian beliefs about sex and sexuality makes for "fun". I can count the total number of "casual sex" encounters using my two hands, with several fingers left over, feeling some how I've let myself down every time its happened. After the death of my lover of 20+yrs (The man who showed me what love truly was) from HIV exacerbated alcoholism, I am terrified of any involvement of any kind with anyone using alcohol or drugs in any amount. Leaving me in mourning and celibacy over the next decade plus. I'm shocked I'm not much closer to bat-crap-crazy! I've ended my addiction to morphine quite recently, a thousand milligrams every day to mask a nerve injury. Ended up feeling like a thirteen year old again,only one thing on my mind which is a huge problem for gay man who's gone without for over a decade.
Made the long overdue choice to end the time of mourning.... Where the hell does a gay man go to associate with other men that's alcohol and or drug free?
All of this has been compounded by the loss of most HIV/AIDS related services locally. The apathy in both the infected and affected communities, the young men having no memory of the years of walking dead, before much of any meds became available has led back to barebacking. The advent of PrEP seems to give license to the train of thought: safe sex is a thing of the past... (The CLAP was too.)
People thought to be HIV positive are still ostracized in most of the gay community in the bay area/silicon valley. So,drop your drawers; lets go a round or two.
I'll be more than happy to go into this or anything else. If you couldn't tell,I'm very pashonite over my life and the actions having taken place over the last 35yrs. Feel free to drop me a line at: BluEyedRedWolf@gmail.com
I'll answer anyone who can add to or correct me about what I've said. (Or Simply has something they'd like to say. Vic Russell, aka TheRedWolf

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This page contains a single entry by Oriol R. Gutierrez Jr. published on July 9, 2014 4:54 PM.

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