I am confused and kind of upset about something that happened to me recently. First, I want to be clear that I am not ashamed of my HIV status. I have disclosed to all of my friends. And I like to make myself available to anyone who has questions about HIV. So I don’t have a problem with someone bringing up my HIV status with me. Having said that, I was at a pride celebration of a good friend last week. One of his friends, who I had met awhile back, approached me and asked how I was feeling.
I wasn’t sure how to answer that question. Had he heard I was sick? So, I just answered, “I am fine, how are you?”
“I’m okay.” And then: “I know it must not be easy being HIV positive,” he said. “It’s gotta be rough.”
“Actually, it’s not. I do fine,” I answered.
“Well, I just wanted to let you know that I don’t have a problem with your HIV. I would still go out with you.”
Now, mind you, I am a patient person. I understand he was trying to make a connection with me. But man oh man, I sure felt like I was being patronized. I couldn’t help asking myself: Do I suddenly have HIV tattooed on my forehead? And is that all I am to him, a diagnosis?
And then I asked myself a question that really hurt: Does he think going out with me would be an act of charity?
“Thanks,” I responded. “I’ll keep that in mind.” (I almost added, “And I don’t need a pity fuck.”) And then I walked away. Am I overreacting here? What would you tell one of your clients in this situation?
Have you ever had to deal with this?
What are your thoughts on a situation like this?