My first disclosure was probably the easiest.
It was just after testing positive to HIV in 1985, when testing begun. It was done anonymously through the Albin St Clinic, and took a nerve-wracking two weeks for results to come in. Despite saying I probably wasn’t positive, my mind was saying otherwise, and the latter proved correct. So, my first disclosure, along with a lot of others guys who were undergoing the same process was at the bar at “The Oxford”, and was to a group of friends, some of who were also HIV+, some HIV-, and some who either didn’t know or didn’t want to know. Disclosure was imnportant at that time, as with a two-year survival period dangling there like a sword of Damocles over ones head, it was important to let everyone know that the supposed death sentence had been passed, then move on. It gave time for it to sink in both with myself and the friends I was closest to. They now knew what to expect – we had already experienced the quick decline of other HIV+ friends, and knew that the future was not something to look forward to. So let’s party! It was, I have to say, easier than I thought it would be to disclose.
The most recent time I disclosed was to a gym buddy and friend when we weree out for dinnerv one night. He asked me what I was doing these days, and I replied that I was doing some freelance writing for a couple of HIV magazines, and had been doing it for some time. That then led on to a conversation about how things had changed and you rarely heard of anyone dying from HIV these days. There was really no reaction from him at all – it was just a friendly chat about what we were up to, and HIV didn’t seem to register as anything devious or insideous in any way whatsoever.
In the interim between the first disclosure and latest, things haven’t quite always been that easy. Generally when cruising the bars for trade, I used to disclose as a way of getting rid of guys who couldn’t handle it, thus getting rid of the dross. It was also a way of picking up other HIV+ guys so that use of condoms could be dropped. We both knew where we stood. Though there was one negative guy who said it wasn’t a problem – at least until we were home and the jeans were down, thankfully at my place. He baulked, started to throw a drama and found the front door being held open to hasten his exit. That is the one and only person I have ever thrown out of my home.
The second problem disclosure – at work – was a big problem. Not for me, not for my staff, not for most of upper management. However, for one area manager it was a big problem and he bullied and harrassed me until I decided it really wasn’t worth the hassle anymore. I gave in notice, but didn’t let him off the hook that easily. I ensured that I gave notice at the most inconvenient place, at the most inconvenient time that would cause him the most hassles and problems. He didn’t speak to me for the two weeks of my notice period, and he didn’t say goodbye. Yeah, I was really upset about that. Not! I still have no regrets about disclosing on that job – I did the right thing by my staff, and if it cost me my position and my job, perhaps I didn’t want to be there anyway.
I have disclosed mid-fuck, as nothing had been said about condoms (we were at his place), and at the moment the evil deed was to be consummated I yelled out at him that I was HIV+ – several times, and it didn’t even cause a glitch in the proceedings. He disclosed nothing, and to this day I have no knowledge of whether he was pos or neg, though I did assume he was positive. It was all a bit too casual and nonchalant for him not to be.
As far as my everyday life goes these days with neighbours and new friends and the ilk I tend not to say anything, nor do I see any need to. Like a lot of people with health issues I
consider it my business, and it’s not as if I look ill or anything. It doesn’t affect my diet, my pill taking is done in private, and I just want life to toddle on without any hassles. As far as my local community goes I am just Joe Blow from next door or over the road, and that’s how I want it to stay.