Dating Positively


By Aby Sam Thomas

Searching for love can be difficult. But one HIV-positive gay man explains the 'rules' and 'reactions' of dating openly in the 21st century

A Gettysburg, Pa. native, Anthony is a man of varied interests and talents. He is a performer, looking to get back into the world of arc lights, now undergoing a strict training regimen with a voice coach. The day job chains Anthony to his desk when his law firm assigns him to a particularly difficult litigation trial. Besides being a yoga and gym aficionado, a creative writer and a loving uncle to his young niece and nephew, Anthony is also learning sign language to better communicate with a hearing impaired friend.

Despite such appealing qualities, Anthony is still single. Anthony uses the extremely popular online dating site, OkCupid, to find people to date. Besides being “completely free,” OkCupid, billed by The Boston Globe as “the Google of online dating,” calls itself the fastest growing online dating site, aiming to match people based on their profiles and interests.

Anthony’s profile on the site, while informative, seems to be geared more at showcasing his sense of humor. For instance, under the section “the first thing people usually notice about me,” Anthony writes: My charming personality or maybe my hunchback. It’s a tossup.

On scrolling further down the profile, under “the most private thing I’m willing to admit,” Anthony writes: I was lying about my hunchback!

Although Anthony says he doesn’t have a formula to look up potential dates on the website, he does showcase a few tricks that make him seem a master of sorts at using the website. When he is logged in to the site, he edits his profile a little bit every now and then, which ensures that his profile appears in the “Recent Activity” section of OkCupid users online at that moment. This means his profile gets more visibility and increases his chances of being checked out by a potential date.

Anthony taps slowly on his laptop, checking out different profiles. His small eyes narrowed at the screen, he quickly dismisses profiles that contain pictures of people in states of undress. He also frowns at people who seem full of themselves in their profiles. For his own profile, he has made a conscious attempt to keep it funny, and not too serious.

Anthony realizes that on OkCupid, you need to sell yourself as a kind of prop and while doing that, Anthony prefers to be comical and self-effacing rather than be like people who are vain and boast about their suitability as a potential mate in their profile. “And, I’m like, really?” says Anthony. “If you need to say it, then it’s really not.”

“I’d rather be funny and make someone laugh, because that’s just who I am, that’s what I like to do. And if someone likes that, if someone gets it…” his voice trails, as he points at a section in his profile where he says he should have been a part of Cop Rock, a short-lived American musical police drama TV series in the early '90s, ranked eighth on TV Guide’s list of the 50 Worst TV Shows of All Time list in 2002.

The show “was so bad, that it was absolutely genius,” Anthony says, laughing.  “If someone gets that reference, they’re in!”

However, there is no mention of his HIV positive status on the profile, and Anthony says that he likes to keep it that way. While he admits to having told a few people about his HIV positive status even before meeting them for the first time, Anthony prefers to wait until at least after a few dates before talking about his disease.

“Most of the times now, I wait till after like the third date to make sure that there’s a connection there first,” Anthony says. “Because, if there’s no connection there just as people, then why bother telling them if we’re not going to go further in the relationship, to get to that point where something sexual might happen. Because until then, my HIV positive status doesn’t matter.”