Friends

I know that this blog is now not completely anonymous, its linked to my public twitter and I sort of knew people I knew would read it. Recently its made me question whether I want to continue writing openly like I do about my personal life, feelings and the sex that I have. I’ve been wondering if I should delete it, or move the content to an different anonymous name. Then I thought fuck it, writing this helps me and the positive feedback I get from it informing and helping others is all the encouragement I need to carry on.

Anyway to the theme of this post. Recently I told a friend of mine that I need to stop hanging out with gay men as I fear its hurting my love life. However if I stop hanging out with gay man it would severely hurt my social life. Since my split from D I’ve noticed that I have a small amount of friends. I love my friends and my closest ones are my family and what keep me going day to day. However they are also mostly mums and married or attached. I don’t have a female friend locally who is single and no one who is a single mum. I find it hard to find someone to talk to who I can relate to.

The only people who have offered me their friendship since my  divorce are gay men and to those I have become friends with they have given me something I desperately needed, friends who wanted to know me and me alone, which I was never sure of before with my husband. I’m very grateful for them. Through my volunteering work and online I’ve met a lot of people, some who I’ve become friends with but not many. My friendship circle before my ex-husband and I split up was almost exclusively friends we had together, with whom I’m mostly not in touch with anymore. The thing is you know who gay men tend to hang out with, more gay men. The more I expand my social circle the more gay men I meet. I don’t expect every interaction I have to be a way to meet a eligible men, but my opportunities are generally thin on the ground and not getting any thicker!

When I go out and am in LGBT+ friendly spaces I generally feel like an outsider, I went to a queer party recently and felt very un-welcomed by the people around me. When I’m in “straight” spaces I don’t feel I fit in, like I have to hide a big part of me and my interests. Like I’m not gay enough for the gay spaces but not straight enough for the straight. I wish that the two sides of my life could merge a bit more.

This is all creating a bit of unrest within me. Now I’ve made it no secret on here that I’m generally more attracted to Bi men, if I’m in a room full of people more often than not I’ll annoyingly find the only gay man and fancy him and plan our imaginary life together before I realise that he’s gay. I’m starting to think this attraction is more than just a product of circumstances.  I fancy gay men because they are unattainable because if they are unattainable from the start then I can never be properly hurt by them. Sure it sucks pining over someone who will never want you, but that’s easier to deal with than someone not wanting you.

I don’t want to limit myself and not put myself out there to make friends or seek romance because I’m scared of being hurt again. But its hard to know where to begin. Maybe I should join a club of some kind. I work away from home so often now and when I’m not working away, I have my daughter. I feel I need to be more proactive and make better plans, get out of my comfort zone.

You know when people say “I have plans with the girls tonight” I want that, I want lots of fun plans with the girls.

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Ghost Town

“This town (town) is coming like a ghost town….”

The more I reveal my HIV status to people who I’m interested in dating the more isolated I feel.

I’ve talked often in other posts that I haven’t faced any stigma once I’ve revealed my HIV status to someone but the longer I’m single, the more I face. When I look at it realistically I wasn’t open about it at all when I started dating again. I can only talk about online dating as it’s the only kind I do, I never really meet new single people to ask out in any other circumstances. Let me paint you a picture of how it usually goes. We have a few flirty introductions followed by some typical getting to know each other questions. This is when the conversation takes one of three paths 1) it fizzles into nothing as there was not actually any real connection there. 2) They ask me if I want to fuck. 3) We get on and continue to chat and flirt and exchange numbers.

To be honest its right at the start of a spark with someone I start to think about when I might bring up my HIV. I wholeheartedly wish it didn’t play on my mind like that, because I believe that it shouldn’t matter. I believe that it shouldn’t matter when I tell someone about it, I should do it when I’m damn well fucking ready to. But my experience tells me otherwise. Anyway I digress…

Scenario number two I’d have to say is the most common occurrence, followed by number 1 and very rarely number 3. I’ve been trying something new recently, once numbers have been exchanged and we have arranged a date I’ve been steering the conversation towards my status. It’s not that difficult, I usually bring up work or ask what they like to do in their spare time. In both circumstances so far they’ve always then asked me back and I bring up my HIV work or my volunteering. That’s when I usually tell them. In the one message I say my status, that I’m on medication and undetectable and that being undetectable means I cannot pass it on. I say that I’m telling them because I want them to know about my life and not because I feel under any obligation to. I send a link to an article I did which tells my story and that if they have any questions to please ask me.

So far I’ve always been met with silence. We’d have been having a flowing conversation with almost instant replies then nothing. I leave it for a while then later on or the next day I ask them about it. I still haven’t had anyone be openly rude, I’ve had a few passive-aggressive comments such as “well I’ve always been really really careful” but nothing worse. A few have asked questions, a few just avoid the subject all together, but they all have something in common. They all seem to become incredibly busy after finding out my status. No longer do I get instant replies, I get the double blue tick but no response that or a cursory “yeah” or “lol”.

I have been careful to tell this information after we’ve established we’re looking for more than a hook up and have arranged a date, so I know that they’re actually interested. The date never happens. Like I said, they get really busy. I’ve never actually met up with anyone I’ve told about my HIV when it has been in a dating situation. I usually ask if they still want to meet up and they say yes, but they can’t do the original date we planned, and they’ll let me know when they’re free again. I attempt conversation again over the next week or so but it never goes anywhere. A couple have arranged a date then ghosted me on the evening it it was supposed to take place. Like the title of this post suggests, ghosting is what I receive after I tell someone about my status.

I’m well aware that people get ghosted all the time, I’m not the only one it happens to nor do I think my HIV status should offer me some kind of special treatment. But I suppose my little experiment was testing the waters to see what kind of reaction I’d get. I know I don’t have to tell people about my status but I want to, I want to normalise it, I want to have those conversations with people, to quell some fears maybe lessen some stigma. It’s not in me to hide that part of me to a potential partner. But telling people is so isolating a part of me just wants to keep it quiet for longer so at least I’d get to enjoy a date or two before they ghost me. To be honest I don’t know which is worse, all I know that its pretty shit the way I’ve been doing it currently.

Friends and acquaintances  like to offer their opinions of “better off without them” when I talk about this. I know deep down that it is a good filter, to find out who’s decent. But so far no one is, no one I’ve spoken to is willing to see past it. People who once said things like “you’re lovely”, “I can’t wait to meet” and “We’re going to have a lot of fun”. People who have read the articles and researched what U=U is. People who are smart and educated, people who describe themselves as “open-minded” and “liberal” won’t see past my status.

And I still get so angry. Angry because its not ignorance, its a choice. I’m angry because people are choosing to hold onto their stigmas. Choosing to not accept facts. Choosing to not meet me after revealing my status because they believe that by having HIV somehow makes me not worthy of their time anymore and I’m sick of it. Just sick of explaining myself over and over to only to be rejected as a result of being open.

There’s no nice conclusion here. I’ll let you know when I come to one.