Our contributor Anonymous Bosch is a college student on the west coast. And that’s all he’s prepared to say right now. Except this…
All my life, I have been schooled in the ways of safer sex by everyone from school to PSAs to my mother: If you don’t want to contract a sexually transmitted virus, then always don a condom, always search for blisters of any kind around the genitals (your partner’s and your own), and never have sex with someone you know is infected. And that’s what I’ve always done — in my mind, there was no other way to do it.
So what happens when, after growing tired of the random hookup scene, you finally find that special someone you think you feel a connection with and you discover he lives with HIV?
Last semester, I found myself attracted to a student on campus who exuded an effervescent happiness wherever he went. I couldn’t seem to tear myself away from him. I started by confessing my feelings to a friend who lives far away and knows no one at my school. She told me it was a bad idea: She felt I was pursuing this man “because it’s the penultimate thing a gay man can do.” (Right before getting HIV yourself, I presume.) But to be quite honest, one needs only watch me scamper across the busy street on my block to realize that I’m the last person who needs to “prove” how gay they are. Her diagnosis of my attraction to this man was way off.
So I decided to confide in a close friend on campus. Her reaction was even more startling:
“You can’t like him. He’s HIV+. People won’t allow for it.”
While I was furious to think my new crush would be fodder for the school’s rumor mill, that people might shake their heads in disappointment or judgment as I walked around campus with him, I also sort of understood what my friend was saying. Though she didn’t express it very eloquently, she was scared — and I shared her fears.
HIV/AIDS is a life-threatening infection that would end life as I knew it in the bat of an eyelash. Hidden beneath my friend’s “people won’t allow for it” excuse was a genuine fear for my health. I guess she thought I would pull a Daisy Miller, falling out of society to be with someone else and then dying before the story ended. And for that, I can’t be angry, because I too was afraid of what might happen if I submitted to my desires.
But admitting to these fears, I feel like a total wimp when I think of what this guy must endure on a daily basis. Aside from medical care procedures, that damned stigma haunts him. My undergraduate community pretty much excommunicated the guy who spread the clap last year — imagine what they’d do to this guy if he started dating?
Because that’s the thing: he doesn’t date. He won’t talk about it, so I can only guess at the reasons, but I think “People won’t allow for it” pretty much covers it.
I once heard his friend at dinner ask a mutual friend of theirs if it was “okay to eat one of the green beans off ******’s plate?” Are you kidding me? I was expecting some kind of Mike Huckabee “isolate the carrier” comment to follow. Our campus has a long way to go before my crush can openly date if we haven’t even crossed the green bean barrier yet.
As for me, I’ve since become friends with the object of my affection — and close up, it turns out that he just wasn’t the man of my dreams after all. (Hey, I’m only 19, we all jump too soon every now and again!) But he’s every bit the eligible bachelor that I thought he’d be. I just hope that before he graduates, someone with enough courage to defy the campus gossip will ask him out. Or at least share his beans.