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I'm Out of the Herpes Closet!

edited November 2013 in My herpes story
I'm new here, but not new to Herpes. I've had it pretty much my whole life... HSV-1 since a very small child, HSV-2 since late teens. (If I could only get those odds when I bet I'd be rich!)

Last Wednesday, after going through yet another "I had the talk and he did the walk" encounter, I decided to come out of the "Herpes Closet". I long felt that I was in a "closet" around this subject and it was pretty serendipitous that I kept seeing a link for a Ted Talk with Ash Beckham on my FB feed that week. (the link is below). Everything came to a head and I decided that I had to change the Herpes Information Paradigm. The following was what I wrote as my "Coming Out" open letter to my friends and anyone else who may want to read it...

"Today, I am coming out of the closet. Yeah, you read that right. No, not THAT closet though.... as Ash Beckham said in this link http://www.upworthy.com/a-4-year-old-girl-asked-a-lesbian-if-shes-a-boy-she-responded-the-awesomest-way-possible "A closet is just a hard conversation that you need to have".

MY closet is around the stigma associated with having Herpes. Yeah, I said it. And I don't give two shits any more who knows. Because I'm sick and tired of going into a new relationship, keeping my walls up until I feel the person is "safe" enough to take a chance with, but all the while knowing I have to have "the talk" with them at some point. Knowing that there is a really good chance they will walk away, even though I tell them that 80% of the population has Herpes and 80% OF THEM DON'T KNOW THEY HAVE IT. Even though I can take antivirals to reduce their risk. Even though, with the anti-virals, their risk of contracting Herpes from me is the same as their chance of dying in a car accident this year. Even though they have likely kissed/had sex with someone (or even more likely , more than one person) who has Herpes (who may or may not have known). Even though there is a REALLY GOOD CHANCE they have it themselves they walk away. And it hurts. A LOT.

It just happened to me again. I met a guy who seemed to have all the qualities I might like in a partner...at least as far as one can tell so early in a relationship. He was handsome, hard working, soft hearted, took care of himself and was a lot of fun to be with. We had some really "real" conversations right from the start - the kind you don't have with just anyone. And in one of those conversations, came the subject of STD's. And I was honest and told him my status. Silence. Followed by a few questions (when it became apparent that he didn't know much about it except the huge stigma associated with it.) Followed by silence. And a few more questions. To give him credit we DID go out on a few dates but he kept telling me he was afraid he was not the man for me because he "would always be worried about it". *Sigh*. Another one bites the dust.

So I am on a mission. To reduce the social stigma of Herpes and other STD's. To raise honest, REAL awareness of not only the risk factors, but also the real truth about living with them. You see, most of them are really an inconvenience. Only one (HIV) is a real "death sentence" nowadays and even then, with current treatments and medications, the life expectancy is 40+ years. Even with HPV (which pretty much EVERYONE gets at some point in their life) of the 100 strains, only 6 produce cancer...and those cancers are VERY treatable with early detection. And Herpes? Well, short of when you want to have a baby (when you have to take anti-virals and be cautious when giving birth so the baby doesn't get it) it really is just a nuisance... a pain in the ass (or nether regions!) for most of us.

I'm not saying jump out there and get it on as much as you want without precautions. I'm just saying... if you meet someone who you feel you have a real connection with - someone who is worth getting to know on a deeper level - and they mention the "H" word, please... GET INFORMED. This article is actually the most "real" of any article I've seen so far in that it puts it all into perspective: http://markmanson.net/std-guide . One or two of the facts may not be 100% correct (by his own admission) but the point is clear... Herpes and the other STD's are not the plague ... really folks...

And next time you go to your Dr, get THOROUGHLY tested. You see, when you go in, odds are you will only be tested for Syphilis, Gonorrhea, and HIV. You usually have to ask for the others. For herpes, ask for the PCR blood test. Oh, and if you get cold sores, you have Herpes. And YES, it is an STD ... unless you never kiss someone. Because it can get passed on through oral sex as well. So it you get those sores on your lips, welcome to the club! Just make sure you don't kiss/have oral sex in the future if you have any chance of having an outbreak please.

I plan to start a group here on FB and hope to create a web page to help spread more understandable, REAL, common sense information so people can get properly informed about STD's. If you want to join me, support me, ask me questions, or whatever, please let me know! If you think I am a degenerate and you want to unfriend me, by all means, do. I really don't care any more. We are all adults here and it's time that we started having more of these "hard conversations". Hiding in our closets around things like this just adds to the mis-information, the fear, and the pain of dealing with something that, in this case, is sooooo much less of a big deal than people are making it out to be. If nothing else, perhaps we can get everyone to be tested and then the conversation will be about those who don't have it... because the Herpes/STD "club" is much, MUCH bigger than you think...

Peace out...
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Comments

  • omg I love you! lol your awesome & so fearless! congratulations sweetheart :x
  • Thank you.... I have been working on being fully Authentic in my life for some time now... this was one one the last (and probably biggest) of the "lies" I have been living in order to conform with what is deemed "acceptable" in our society. It feels great to have done it and so far I have ONLY had positive responses ...

    Sometimes what looks like a lion in the shadows is really just a housecat with a light behind it... :)
  • you are so welcome & I understand completely.

    lol right
  • you are amazing ! wish I was so brave !! well done you xx
  • Another one in the light of day! Yay! I'm proud of you for stepping out. I'm glad to have another positive FORCE OF NATURE added to our blossoming, heartfelt community. Look at you in all your self-love glory! ;) Welcome, welcome, welcome. Thank you for being yet another role model of transparency and self-love. Such a weight lifted, eh?

    And yes, those closets can get quite stuffy. The interesting thing around shame/stigma is that WE are ultimately the ones giving it the power. If we feel stuck in that closet, then we are the ones who are believing this herpes thing is a huge horrible sexy-stealing beast. We are the ones who are believing the hype that herpes is something that will hold us back from sharing our big juicy hearts with the world. (As if!) And we can take aaaaall that power back once we start to accept ourselves, with our flaws and our beauty and everything in between ... each of us accepting ourselves as one big imperfect-yet-beautiful human package. Ironically enough, it's much scarier in the closet than outside of it, isn't it? What a mindfuck. ;)

    I also want to reiterate to all those who feel pressure to come out of the closet that you might want to and you might not. It's up to you what you want to protect and what you want to be open about. It's on your own time schedule and what you feel is most healing for you. Honor yourself in whatever process that you are going through in your healing around shame and vulnerability. That's so, so important. And with more and more of us jumping from out of the closets and into the light, the more and more people will be there to catch you if you do decide to jump in there with us. :)

    P.S. It's awesome to see how much that TED video is circulating. Here are a few mentions in the past few days on these forums:
    http://herpeslife.com/herpes-forum/discussion/1689/closets/p1
    http://herpeslife.com/herpes-forum/discussion/1712/im-coming-out-of-the-herpes-closet-/p1
  • Adrial, you always seem to know what to say its like you read my mind ! how do you do that ? :-)
  • Thanks - I have to admit I have been crying on and off all day. The coming out was easy. I HAD to do it. I couldn't stand it any more. But I am still intensely mad and enraged at the ignorance and crap that is out there that most of the population believes...the crap that scares really good men (and women) away because they go online and see photos of the worst breakout EVER, or they talk to their friends who tell them their junk is going to fall off if they get it, or whatever.

    Yes, the really "good ones" will get over it quickly... but at the same time, I totally get it that there will be a lot of other really good people who will walk away thanks to the stigma and fear-mongering that has been promoted by the media and Big Pharma (this just confirmed what I thought was a likely cause of the stigma http://herpeslife.com/inventing-herpes/). I think if the first thing *I* saw when I went online was some of the photos I've seen I might run too. :(

    So I'm on a mission to change that ... and I'm already making some great contacts. Looks like I'll be part of a Podcast in early December with a Speed Dating organizer. I'm really excited about that. I'll pass on the info as soon as I get it :)
  • Awesome, WCS. :) Let me know how I can help support you!
  • Todays update on FB:

    Day 5 and I am soooo glad I came out of the closet. Its been a roller coaster ride of emotions.........Anger and pain because of the rejection I've received from so many mis-informed men when dating, relief that I no longer have to whisper behind a closed door if I discuss it, joy when I am contacted by someone who is finding some solace and strength in my stance, and sadness that a recent experience brought me to this place.........

    But in the end, the message I received on a Herpes forum from a woman who was so shamed, she didn't have the nerve to put a photo up on her profile (and she's among people who are going what she herself is going through!) really made my morning. She put one foot out of the closet today and put her photo up.... and recently she reveled her status to two close friends who were 100% supportive. She got up the nerve after reading my "coming out" post and a post from another H person. Wow. Just. Wow.

    "A closet is just a hard conversation that needs to be had. At some point we all live in a closet..... a closet is no place for a person to live.....We are so concerned about the reaction of the other person..... if you are going to be real with someone, you have to be ready for real in return.... " Ash Beckham

    Shit's gettin real here folks ... and it's all good shit.....
  • :-) thanks for your support, just look what an impact your having already. I'm so glad you joined this forum. You are truly amazing :-)
  • Wow woman. You really are bad ass. That letter was amazing. You are inspirational on so many levels in that letter. Thanks for sharing this
  • Peachy - Not really bad ass - just sick and tired of the BS associated with H+. Sick and tired of hearing about people who are suicidal because of the stigma that society has put on us. Sick and tired of Doctors who just don't get the full psychological impact of H+ on their clients. And for myself, sick and tired of having a potential BF/partner walk away yet again when I disclose to them that I am H+ because they are so horridly misinformed about what it actually is.

    So now I am "Out". I just got rid of the need for "the talk". Love me as I am or don't bother getting my hopes up. Sorta pre-sorting the men from the boys...LOL ...

    Thank you though - I'm glad that my letter is helping others too ... it just confirms that I did the right thing in coming out :)
  • :D love it! maybe I need to rethink my job and head back to school to become a counselor.
  • :) Thanks! Hows about an STD adviser/counselor for schools?? Lord knows they need better education in the High Schools and even more, in Colleges :p
  • THanks so much, I loved the video and your letter! You are my hero!
  • :) Thanks Sicarox

    One person, one message, one step at a time...we can remove the stigma of Herpes ..
  • So this "coming out" is truly opening up a lot of things for me. I've been asked to talk on a local podcast show this coming Monday by a woman who organizes Speed Dates ... We'll be talking about STD's with an emphasis on HVS and HPV.

    How cool is that???

    I'll post the link when I get it. We are posting links to support groups and information sites and I have given them a bunch of links from here.

    One step. One conversation. One person at at time..... :)
  • well done and good luck xx
  • edited December 2013
    My most recent Facebook post.... and tomorrow I'm recording the Podcast - I'll put the link here when I get it

    I just have to put this out there. Please folks. Get educated about STD's. Even if you are in a committed LTR. Here's why:

    As many of you know I came out about having Herpes on here a few weeks ago. I came out because I was tired of the stigma associated with Herpes - tired of "having the talk and seeing them walk" when I entered a new relationship. Knowing that in all reality they had likely been exposed (likely numerous times for some) to Herpes by people who don't know they have it or who won't tell because they experienced "the walk" too may times. Knowing that there was a good chance in reality that they may well have it themselves because most people have actually never been tested for Herpes. Knowing that 80% of the population has it and 80% of them don't know they have it.

    I have since joined an amazing forum for people with Herpes (http://herpeslife.com/herpes-forum/discussions) where I get support and I can support others who are not nearly as far along as I am (I've had "H" for most of my life having got Oral herpes as a 3 yr old and genital likely thanks to being charmed - as many girls ore - by an older guy into a poor decision as a teen...). And IT KILLS ME to see how much EMOTIONAL pain and suffering they are going through because of the public perception of Herpes and STD's in general.

    People with STD's are often perceived as irresponsible and/or sexually promiscuous. In reality, the majority of people have just made a mistake. An error of judgement. Or as one person put it "embracing the moment doesn't have to equal irresponsibility".

    Sooooo many people on there have had the disease for YEARS and not known it because they got it - often from someone who didn't know they had it - and never never had an outbreak until some stressor allowed the virus to break through. Or they got it from someone - often in LTR's, sometimes in the beginning of a new relationship - who CHOSE to not tell them or outright lied about their status (likely because of past negative experiences). Or they didn't know that the HSV1 (Oral) herpes CAN be transferred to the Genitals so they thought Oral Sex was a "safe" alternative. Or because they actually used a condom but the person has the virus on an area outside of the latex barrier. The list goes on and on.

    These people are GOOD PEOPLE. Many made one "mistake". One error of judgement. Others never were even given the choice by a lying partner. And pretty much every one who comes on the Forum is devastated and feels "dirty", feels that they will never be loved. Many feel their sexual life is over. And IT KILLS ME that they are in so much pain because of the ignorance of the general public.

    So please folks... please... get educated and please. If you are in a new relationship and someone has the integrity and the BRAVERY to disclose to you that they have an STD, please get informed before you decide what path you want to take with the relationship. In the meantime, you have a chance to really get to KNOW the person better. And THAT may help you make a much better informed choice in the long run
  • Thank you for your story!! You're amazing and so strong! You give me hope that one day I can be strong and not get so depressed when I have an outbreak. :x
  • U are truly an amazing person... I often thought about just telling everyone.... Although only recently diagnosed n stressed as hell... I find real comfort in the fact that hopefully many people will get real knowledge about risks n in the hopes of having better deeper connections..:0) love you xoxoxoxo
  • Ya know, it's really not that big of a deal now that everyone knows. I'm glad that I can speak authentically and help to educate people.

    And I am finding that *perhaps* a lot of the stigma is in OUR heads.

    Perhaps it does add an extra hurdle for a relationship, but for our everyday friendships I'm not sure that we are helping ourselves at all by hiding it from everyone.

    Perhaps a few of our friends and/or family would be less than understanding ...

    But I just watched the interview on Oprah with Magic Johnson and he talked about finding out he had HIV AFTER he was married ... how his wife supported him ... how being a voice for those with HIV has helped his healing. And I KNOW I'm doing the right thing :)
  • WCS.. I had no idea you publicly disclosed. You're my hero xx
  • Nic: I got to a point that I felt I had no other option if I wanted to stop the stigma....

    I think it also helps that I'm post-menopausal ... I don't give a crap what people think of me any more - I do my best to be a good member of the human race and if someone wants to un-friend me because of a skin condition, I don't need them in my life ;)
  • You've just inspired me to post a pic on here :)
  • Awwwww - YAY! One step at a time..

    And You are beautiful :)
  • Aren't we all, love ;)
  • Ill play tag your it follow the leader too! Haha. Nice to meet yall :)
  • Yay!!!! Peach!!
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