The way I found was actually pretty funny, considering the gravity of what he divulged. I was at the family home in Hampton with Andrea. We had a movie on but were both engrossed in our phones, only pretending to watch whatever documentary I’d picked that night. Small screens trump big screens in the era of Trump.
Denny and I are texting, always texting, maybe if we’d ever talked on the phone I would have realized how much he sucked. 20/20 and hindsight though right? We’d been hooking up in various conference rooms for close to a month – no sex yet. So that night, Denny texts me that he has to tell me something but he’s afraid.
‘Because it would rip what we’ve already built like tissue paper…’ (this is verbatim because it sticks out in my head as one of the gayest things someone’s ever said to me and still makes me queasy)
‘Is this where you tell me you have HIV?’ (joking of course).
You’d think that I’d be horrified. Instead I start laughing and jump on top of Andrea and bury my face in her giant boobs. “Come smoke with me” I get out between giggles.
On the back patio, safety out of earshot from my mother, I hand her my phone. “Read that“. She starts laughing, the one she won an award for in high school, the one she can’t fake.
“You’re not going to keep seeing him are you?” she asks, handing my phone back.
I’d done my research years ago when Shaun forced me to get back at him by sleeping with his HIV positive sponsor. Fucking Shaun, he tied my hands (one time literally, but I couldn’t get into it, control issues). I knew that as long as the person was being treated, and their virus levels were undetectable, that it was safe as long as you were safe. I needed some proof though, so I made him take me to see his doctor, and she ended up putting me on the HIV preventative medication Prep.
The doctor was the only good thing I got out of our relationship, and I still see her today. Part of me hopes she told Denny not to come anymore because she likes me better. I actually still take Prep, since I make poor decisions (obviously).
I told my sponsor, yes the one who liked getting FISTED, about what was going on. He told me he didn’t have any experience in the matter, which I seriously doubted, but that he would connect me with someone who did.
Like I was going to talk to a stranger about such a thing? Get the fuck out of here. Luckily, he never mentioned it again because he was too busy telling me about his own deviant sex life.
After starting the medication, I rarely thought about Denny having HIV. It became just another picture in the background, an ugly one that you stop noticing even though you walk by it everyday.
So would I do it again? Probably not, and probably not for the reasons you’d think.
Denny was just such a little bitch about the whole thing…
When he’d take his pills at night he’d whine that he could feel his brain shutting down. There was also some weird cut off that if he made more than a certain amount of money each year the state would stop paying for his medication. It really annoyed me that my parent’s tax dollars were paying for his poor decisions – I needed that money to pay for my poor decisions. Really the whole thing was just selfish.
One time I dropped a bookcase on Denny’s face. And no, not on purpose, this was when I still liked him. The furniture cut his lip open so I couldn’t kiss him for a week. Towards the end when I admitted to cheating on him, he told me that I was putting his life at risk every time I did. Ok, dramatic. It’s not like I was being unsafe unlike someone I know…
Looking back, I think I liked the fact that his past was more fucked up than mine. I was still living in a sober/trap house when we first started dating. I didn’t feel great about where I was in my life, and the HIV seemed to level the playing field.
Once I regained my footing in the middle class, I would lay awake at night, wondering how I would ever get away from him.