Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thursday on Bilerico: Would you date this guy, or is he a jerk?

You will have to go to The Bilerico Project on Thursday at noon (I've been moved up two hours because they supposedly love me in California!) to see my response to the following:

Hey Fr. Tony,

HIV poz here and looking for a man to share my life. My on-line profiles say 32. Muscular. Gym built. VGL professional (yup, that does mean financially well-off) hung, drug-free, etc. etc. etc. All true except for the part where I say I am HIV NEGATIVE.

I know what you are going to say. No lies, no way, But I want to get to know a man not just fuck. I’m not going to infect anyone. I play safe. My viral load is undetectable and I am very careful about my meds and my health. I’m a better risk than all those druggies and boozer-losers.

I want to find a man I can get to know and love. I have to get my foot in the door. The man I want to meet will pass me by if I say I’m poz. He has already passed me by a hundred times.

For years I went to poz groups and met nobody who was boyfriend material so don’t tell me to do that.
I would never put anybody at risk with unsafe sex. I just want to date a guy for a good long time before I tell him my status. If it’s love, it ought to be strong enough to deal with the news, right? Or am I a shithead who deserves to be alone and assigned to the junkheap? You tell me. I’m just so tired of being alone. I am sick of getting my hopes up over some guy who disappears when I feel comfortable enough to tell him the truth.

Bad news Bear

Update: It's up! Go for it.


bj said...

My answer - none of the above. No, i wouldn't date the guy, for the obvious reason that not only does he lie, but he in fact wants to "trick" a potential boyfriend into liking him first, then he can deal with the mess he's made later.

But I wouldn't call him a jerk, either. I might feel sorry for him that he's come to this point that he thinks this is an OK lie. I guess, in short, my suggestion to him, if he's worried about this fact getting in the way of "getting his foot in the door" - why mention status, then? How 'bout leaving it out, and perhaps attract guys who don't think that fact is that important up front just to meet. My take on HIV status in a dating profile is this: if you state you are NEG, my assumption is that you are looking for the same (and I know that's not always the case, but my ASSumption); if you say you are POZ, I assume that either you are seeking someone else who's poz, or someone who won't have an issue with it.

There are those of us who don't need to know all your personal info up front before even meeting,so give those of us a chance by just telling us about the important stuff - whether its willingness to be monogomous or wanting a parnter for group sex... and some stuff that gives an insight into WHO you are, not your wealth, your HIV status, how many houses you own, (but DO include who you are voting for!)

sorry to take up all this space; i guess i wish guys would be OK being themselves, and not think they have to 'trick' someone into dating them!

Jeremiah Andrews said...

I'm Hiv Poz for 15 years now. If you can't be honest from the get go then why bother.

Oh BTW I'm Poz ...

If you have to hide your status, and you date and have sex, and you don't disclose you are treading thin ice. What happens if you don't tell him, have sex and then disclose? You might freak the guy out and get killed for your dishonesty.

This isn't 1994 any more, and if men can't deal with honest issues about health and well being, then they should crawl under a rock and disappear. I find it sad that even today men would rather hide disclosure than being honest and up front. But that's gay men for you superficial and stupid. I guess it is still hard to hook up being Poz, even today...

What a sad state of life ...

You are only as sick as your secrets.

Jeremy A.

SteveSchalchlin said...

I'm sure it must seem logical to him to try something new since "the old way of dislosure" has led to disappointment. But from the first moment he starts to really connect with someone, the stress level will be sky high. Hell, the stress level of "when to tell" will be sky high anyway.

He thinks it's an easier way, but it won't be.

Paris said...

Couple of options here:
1. Claiming to be negative in an ad when you're not? That's being a jerk.

2. Not disclosing that he is poz in his ad is fine and fair since his goal is a relationship, not a trick. File that information under "getting to know you better".

3. But not disclosing poz status the second it becomes apparent that all involved want to get physical? That's not being a jerk, that's moving into abusive asshole territory. Just because he manages being poz just fine does not mean that his beloved has equally good health, luck and insurance.

Most of us have so insecurities around sex & intimacy, but most of them aren't going to endanger one's sex partner. Being poz is one of the exceptions.

Will said...

This guy thinks that some day when he's deep into a relationship that has included sex he's going to casually drop into the conversation that oh by the way, I haven't mentioned this before but I'm Hiv+--and his partner is supposed to say, OK, that's cool? I don't think I'm all that weird but if that was done to me I'd be packing my things and out the door before the dust had time to settle.

There are many poz guys who date, and/or have partners in happy relationships having been honest about their status from the getgo. Several gay bloggers fall into that category. Honesty is an essential part of any relationship--it is especially important when one half of the couple is positive. This guy dishonest, manipulative and despicable.

sageweb said...

No, I wouldn't date him...mostly because I am a lesbian.
But if it was another woman...probably not...just cuz I dislike people who brag and lie....but I also wouldn't think it would be important to tell me you have a disease right off the bat. That can wait till the end of the first date.

Anonymous said...

What a player! If he's not looking for a fuck, why does he include the stats he does?
He needs some SERIOUS. THERAPY. NOW. in order to help him to really own who he is and what he wants; that is, some help with being honest with himself.
As it is now, his profile --knowing what I know from the context he provides-- screams LL: Lonely Loser.
I write that not to be mean but only to underscore how pathetic he is.

tornwordo said...

People really want permission to lie from you don't they?

Father Tony of the Farmboyz said...

Dear bj, Jeremiah, Steve, Paris, Will, Sageweb and Anonymous (and what a musical act that would make),
Without tipping my hand before Thursday, I am fascinated by how unanimously you have discarded his desire to cloak info from a prospect and perhaps to lie about it. I give him more rope....

Father Tony of the Farmboyz said...

Dear Torn,
I had not noticed it, but you're right, this and last week's letter both seek license - as if it were mine to grant. Actually, the Confessional was frequently like that. I would try to get folks to understand that it was supposed to be a dialogue between God and sinner; that it wasn't like going to town hall to get a fishing license or a dog license, but very often, that is all they wanted. The green light.
Anyway, next week's letter, already in the queue, is very different

Alan said...

"If it's love it should be strong enough to deal with the news, right?" Heh. Sure. But deal with the lies? Well that's different.

Everyone lies, but that's hardly an excuse to do it. In this case however, it isn't just the lie that's the ethical problem here, it's the fact that the lie effectively removes the ability of someone else to give informed consent. Yes, everyone should assume that everyone else is positive, and yes everyone should assume that anyone who says they're negative is lying, but that doesn't justify knowingly withholding information from someone that they might use to make a decision about their own health, whether you agree with the decision or not.

Not to mention, why would anyone want to become involved with someone only to find out that they're not the type to take such news well? Seems like a waste of energy and time. If he is eventually going to tell someone, trapping them isn't a great strategy.

That said, listing one's status in an online profile is silly (as is expecting others to do so.) Clearly the only actual information that anyone can give is the date of their last negative test. After that, it's a crap shoot.

The Neighbors Will Hear said...

Guys lie about themselves in personal ads all the time. Caveat emptor. It's probably not worth wasting perfectly good moral outrage over, but from a practical standpoint, I can't see that his strategy is likely to meet with much success.

I can't help thinking that this guy would immediately kick to the curb any guy who had lied about any part of his profile: age, job, build, workout habits. This guy's letter just screams, "I'm shallow, but I don't want other guys to be." He wants to trick other men into reexamining their criteria, but I'd have to guess he's not all that interested in reexamining his own. And I don't have a problem with guys who know what they want, but they should expect to be judged in a way similar to the way they judge other guys. If, for example, he thinks it's rational to dismiss out of hand a blue-collar guy, then he should allow other guys to decide what's important to them.

I can't help wondering at what point this guy lets the info out. Let's say he's been dating a guy he really likes for a month, and the other guy happens to mention that he could never date anyone who's HIV+. (This seems a not unlikely occurrence.) Does he now sit on the information indefinitely? I'd guess he does.

Is it really that hard to find a decent guy who's willing to date someone who's HIV+? I think that his not finding anyone who's "boyfriend material" at the poz groups may say more about him than about them.

Java said...

Yeah, I go with shithead.

But NOT because he deserves to be alone or assigned to the junk heap. I sympathize with his intentions, I just disagree with his method. He's lying by commission, saying he is neg when he's really poz. If he omits the information from his profile but engages in honest discourse at the beginning of any possible relationship, that seems less shitheady to me.

The issue of HIV status is too important to lie about. But the attitude of so many who dismiss someone based entirely on HIV status is also wrong.

The solution? I have no idea.

Tater said...

I have found myself nodding to some of the comments here regarding the duplicitous nature of your letter writer. He seems young, and a bit out of touch with cause and effect. The bottom line is that honesty about status is necessary to ensure trust, and without trust, there will be no long term relationship. Period. While the decision to date someone who is positive is scary for many people, there are also those of us out there who are not afraid, and prefer to base our decisions on compatibility and personality, rather than HIV status. Perhaps age is a factor here, because at a younger age, I was more disinclined to date someone I knew to be positive. I suppose the risk was daunting when I still had two thirds of my life in front of me. Age has tempered me in that regard.

Anytime someone feels the need to lie in order to get someone to like them, or give them a chance, it speaks to an underlying pathology that must be addressed first. This young man is not ready for a long term relationship, as he has too much work to do in accepting, and loving himself. No one is going to be able to fill the void satisfactorily for this guy. I hope he will seek counseling, that he may set the foundation correctly for future happiness and success.

riot said...

This brings to mind the post wherein Father Tony described the beginning of his relationship with C. If I recall correctly, he prevaricated at length about seeing a movie.

Granted, Father Tony's subject of dishonesty was far less critical than Bad News Bear's. I think it demonstrates, however, that successful relationships can begin under a variety of circumstances. We all decide what shoes we're going to wear when putting our dating foot forward. Who hasn't learned something new or unexpected after dating someone for a while?

For the most part I agree with the comments above. HIV is not a subject for dishonesty. I would advise BNB to omit mention of his status, rather than lie. However, given the variety of ways we choose to present ourselves to suitors, I think it's natural for BNB to consider this tack, and I wouldn't call him a jerk for arriving at a different conclusion than I would. I think a strategy of dishonesty is least likely to work in the long run, but I don't think it's beyond the pale of decency for him to try it.

I also feel very strongly that rather than use any negative or derisive language about BNB, he should be commended for seeking advice. I bet many men don't think twice before lying.

I wonder how many of the commenters are poz, single, and looking.

The Milkman said...

"32. Muscular. Gym built. VGL professional (yup, that does mean financially well-off) hung, drug-free, etc. etc. etc"

Based on his self-disclosed dating profile, it doesn't sound like he'd be a particularly nice guy.

The fact that he's poz appears to pale into insignificance when compared with the rest of his profile. Because the profile above has produced sub-optimal results, and because the writer hasn't found "boyfriend material" at social groups for poz men, it seems that the problem has less to do with discrimination against poz guys and more to do with the fact that in his on-line profile the writer appears terribly shallow, judgmental, and self-centered.

He will never find "boyfriend material" until he becomes boyfriend material himself. When he develops a sense of humility, sensitivity to human imperfection, and primary interests beyond the physical and financial, I think the writer will be amazed to discover that to the vast majority of gay men, his HIV status isn't as important as having a kind heart.

David said...

I'm a bit surprised by the commenters who feel that they know who this person is based on a short letter.

His situation seems to be a classic "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation to me.

Sure you can diss him for wanting to lie. But the entire gay male community must also be indicted in the same breath for creating a culture where he feels he has to lie to have even a fighting chance at finding a mate.

Let's take the plank out of our own eyes before we try and remove the splinter from his.

Tater said...

I don't think this is a classic diyd diyd situation. I think there is a healthy way of putting himself out there, and one that is damaging to himself and those who respond to him. I find it funny that David is irked about opinions formed by a single letter. Most of us would and have formed an opinion with much much less information; ie a personal ad, or a person's appearance. I am sure David, as delightful as I found you to be when we met, that even you have formed an opinion with far less material to work with. Expediency, while not always kind or fair, is a means we have all habituated to by some degree. Though he might have a smaller playing field to chose from by being honest, at least he will have an easier time establishing a meaningful friendship with one of the few left standing.

Anonymous said...

He sounds like a closeted republican, even before we get to the whole "secret" keeping, and thus not date material. The fact that he feels the need to point out he's financially well off just makes the bile rise on its own, and the arrogance he exudes is about as off-putting. Ugh.

Father Tony of the Farmboyz said...

Dear coppr3rred, arrogant and off-putting, yes, until you realize that he has probably been driven to compensate for his HIV status by pumping up other aspects of his persona, which still fail him, as he is seriously worried about being "assigned to the junk heap"...I think there are a lot of those kind of men with those kind of fears. He may be one of them. Sad.

poof said...

Hmmm... I'm a little late on this but I think I'll weigh in on it anyway.

I'm 55 (well, that's a lie; I'm almost 55 but I like saying I'm 55 because I'm practicing for when I *am* 55 - I'm one of those weirdos who seem to actually like aging...go figure). I'm HIV-.

I've got a little bit of history (when I was single) of dating (or having sex with) men who were HIV+. I didn't seek them out. But it was inevitable, I think. First time (I'm aware of) it was someone I'd have a reasonably long term relationship. Not a committed relationship. Mostly friends, sexual partners and, as it so happened, roommates. When I first met him and had sex with him he did not tell me he was HIV+. I took the news pretty well, I think. I sort of ran through a serious of ideas about whether or not he should have told me but concluded with the fact that I had not asked for his status. I suppose I assumed he would tell me. Obviously not such a good idea to make such an assumption. But what I kept coming back to was that I had not asked him and that whatever his obligations were or not there was no way I could lay all the responsibility on him. So I was all, like, ok, whatever... :)

I actually ended up knowingly having sex with men who were HIV+ a number of times. I decided the best way of coping with this issue was to not do anything with anyone that I wouldn't do with someone who was HIV+. And I worked from a position that everyone was HIV+ whether they said they were or not. I couldn't count the times guys would try to talk me out of the rubber. No, not going to happen. I was of the opinion that they weren't too concerned about the possibility that I was infected. If that was the case, for all I knew they were infected. So I had a policy and I stuck with it.

As I got to know my roommate over the lifespan of the relationship I found myself considering what it meant to be HIV+ and what it meant in terms of forming new relationships. I don't think I could go over all the details now because it's been quite a while. But my point is I'm a reasonably sympathetic person towards someone in such a situation. In fact I found myself in a situation where *I* was the risky person. I met a guy and we went back to his place and we did the deed and lay in bed talking in the dark and I started talking about my relationship with the roommate and the HIV and yada yada yada. Just didn't stop and think oops what will he think abou that! I noticed it was getting kind of quite on this guy's side of the bed so I said "it doesn't bother you that I've had sex with men who are HIV+ does it?" and he said no. I didn't get asked for a second date though. So now something new had risen. The question of whether or not I should tell someone I was risky because I'd done it with HIV+ guys. So it was coming home in a new and different way. For the record I didn't really bother to mention it. Unless history was asked for. Responsibility on both sides. Remember? I was getting tested on a regular basis and not doing anything I considered risky (though I was getting screwed we'd always use a rubber). I have no doubt some people would say I should have always told someone but I think it's too much to expect some people to take all the responsibility and others little or none.

Having said all that... What I got from the letter was the impression he didn't want to date someone who was HIV+. He said he went to support groups and hadn't met boyfriend material but meanwhile hundreds of potential boyfriends had passed him by. Do you hear it? Why would the ones passing him by pass him by? He as much as said because he told them he was HIV+ with the result that they were HIV-. Add that to (as has been mentioned in other comments) that his online profile included information that suggested more than friendship but included sex as a started (the hung part if nothing else).

I think the man has a lot of self-examining to do. Self-loathing doesn't just come in the I'm-not-gay formula. I can very easily imagine how being HIV+ impacts a person's self-esteem. As I said I'm pretty sympathetic but I don't think that lets anyone off the hook. We have obligations to each other. And one is to be as honest as is reasonable and possible. And this guys seems to want to go around the other men who share his HIV status. How would he feel if one of the HIV- men he seems to be desirous of later revealed that he isn't really HIV- but lied about it? Or had herpes, knew it and didn't say anything about it initially?

Do unto others as you would like them to do to you (or however that goes)... I'm not trying to sound judgmental but I *do* try to be practical.

(I'm having trouble commenting. I hope this only goes through once - technology - bah!).

The Milkman said...

I think Tater's on to something here, for sure. We all make assumptions and judgments based on the information we have available. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it's pretty much a necessity in most cases. The only time this process is unfair or unwarranted is when we make those assumptions or judgments based on inadequate or spurious evidence. The evidence shown in his letter suggests to me that the writer may benefit more from developing himself as a person someone would want to hang out with regardless of his HIV status. A smaller playing field isn't always a bad thing.

Anonymous said...

I thought some more about it and realized why my reaction is so strong: He won't let me decide for myself what is right for me. I don't really have a problem with dating a poz guy, anymore than any other guy, as long as he's someone I can respect, and by removing my ability to choose, he has forfeited that right. He can't pretend that sex isn't going to happen pretty fast (I mean he says "hung" and thinks that's a perk so I probably would skip over him, given my own tastes), and so there's a chance he'd not say anything and we'd fuck anyway. I know that I would play safe but for me to respect a guy, I need him to say the thing that is difficult, to really put himself out there; in fact if he did, I'd probably bump him so far up the scale I'd turn a blind eye to some other things. But I expect, and require that I get to choose. I have expectation of "not being harmed", if I let myself be harmed, but damn if I don't deserve the right to think he's an ass for doing it to someone anyway.

I still think that being economical with the truth is the same as lying. Call me Lutheran, but that's just how I see it. I can stretch the truth on lots of things, a la Francaise, but this is beyond me.