Think about how you reacted the last time a potential date or play partner told you they were HIV positive. What was your reaction? Acceptance, Disgust, Understanding , Sadness? Did you block them? Did you stop chatting with them? Did you ask more questions? Your reaction to someone’s HIV disclosure affects that person. The next time someone discloses their status, be educated to react appropriately. Someone who is poz is still a person. HIV doesn’t define them. Did you even know they were positive before they told you?
When you chat on a social app or website, do you describe yourself as ‘clean?’ There are so many definitions of the word clean: To some it means “no man scents.” Others “drug free.” Others yet “I clean my ass out.” When people use “clean” to mean “Neg,” can you imagine how that might make poz guys feel? Using clean to mean HIV Negative insinuates that our positive friends, family, and friends we don’t know yet…are somehow dirty.
The stigma around HIV is intense. For an HIV positive person, it is an entirely new ‘coming out’ process. People become afraid to disclose because of other people’s reactions to their status. The only way we can have a more open and honest discussion about HIV is to love, support, and understand those who are HIV positive. You may still choose to not play with someone who is positive but the way you choose to decline, may make or break that individual’s day. Most guys don’t let their status define them, we shouldn’t either! Behind that [+], pos, positive, poz, is a person!
In the coming weeks, a new face will be introduced to the Twin Cities, Mr. Friendly. This adorable little face means: “Positive or Negative, I am here for you” and opens the door to acceptance, non-judgment, and understanding. Mr. Friendly envisions a world that is stigma-free of HIV. With a positive sign for a nose and a negative sign for a winking eye, Mr. Friendly encourages us to be stigma free of HIV!
The Mr. Friendly launch party is sponsored and hosted by The Saloon in Minneapolis.