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

Although Anthony says that the blog came out of “real frustration,” Anthony’s early posts on his blog deal mostly with his dating escapades. His writing is simple, friendly and easy; a facet of his shy, but endearing, personality shines through his very personal style of writing. The early posts have a commendable mix of entries that include reminiscences about the yoga instructor he fancied, his “walk of shame” from a hotel in Mexico, and scenarios with dates who had issues with his HIV positive status.

But, in an entry from March 2011, Anthony writes an emotional post about the mini breakdowns he has every now and then. An excerpt:

Sometimes, out of the blue, I will be hit with a single thought. I am HIV positive. This thought strikes fast and strikes hard. The reality of living with this disease presses upon my entire being. Everything that I have ever seen or heard about HIV or even worse, AIDS, begins to fester in my mind. Feeling like an outcast in my own community. Feeling like I will never get my Jane Austen happy ending, which I, being a hopeless romantic, am desperately looking for. For me, it is almost like reliving the day that I tested positive.

The blog has offered Anthony a place to talk freely about his life while being HIV positive to a receptive audience. While he did have his friends, Anthony used to be closeted about being HIV positive because they, being HIV negative, couldn’t understand his troubles. But thanks to the blog, he now had a new community to talk to.

In fact, Positively Dating became so popular that, a Canadian website for HIV positive people, picked up the blog and began featuring it on their website and affiliates in July 2011. With the help of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, the blog began to get a larger audience and Anthony was suddenly in a community of “friends,” where he could talk and write about being HIV positive with ease.

“And that’s probably the best thing that has happened with me,” Anthony says. While he enjoys and appreciates the actual writing of the stories and people liking his stories, it is his own self-acceptance, to be able to talk about being HIV positive without cringing every time he thinks about it—“that’s the best,” he says. “It makes me feel very a part of—no, I don’t want to say a part of something. Basically, I am normal. I am just like everyone else.”

Self-acceptance has also made a significant change in the way Anthony told dates about his HIV positive status. He used to be apologetic about his status, telling dates that he would understand if they didn’t want to continue dating. “It was, like, ‘I know there’s something wrong with me, so it’s okay if you don’t want to date me.’ It kind of made me seem a little unworthy.”

But, once he started writing his blog and getting a community of like-minded individuals, Anthony began to change his outlook on himself, and the way he decided to tell people about his status. “I knew this whole group of people who know me from this blog, and it makes me feel very a part of—no, I don’t want to say a part of something. Basically, I am normal. I am just like everyone else.” And from then on, Anthony stopped being apologetic about it.

“I am still understanding about it,” says Anthony. “But to say, I am so sorry I am HIV positive? That’s ridiculous for me to say.” Anthony now has a “here, this is me, take it or leave it, and I am okay with it” attitude and he is happy about the change in the tone of his HIV status disclosure. He also feels that it has helped him in his dating expeditions as well.

“It’s funny,” Anthony says. “I have no idea if there’s a relationship between the two. But ever since I made the switch—and I don’t know if it’s just because I’ve just been meeting the right guys—but, everyone I had dated after that, I haven’t had that many denials because of it. I am not saying there’s a relationship between the two, and I haven’t been dating as much as I was when I started this blog. But, you know…”