I would never list my HIV status on Grindr, or anywhere else. There, I said it. It annoys me enormously, that the check box has been put there in the first place. As if HIV defines a person.
To some extent it is vital information about a person’s medical history. But really, when chatting on a dating or sex app, this is just superficial information that is easy to lie about anyway.
Working with Mr Gay Europe, I have met quite a few HIV positive delegates. The first one that comes to my mind is Walter, Mr Gay Norway 2009. To this day he is also the oldest delegate we have had in the competition, he had passed 50 when he took part in Mr Gay Europe in 2009. In so many was a brave person in the gay scene.
Walter has chosen to be open about his diagnosis, both before and after Mr Gay Europe. In many ways, he opened the path for those who came after him.
In 2013, after the finale of Mr Gay Ireland, one of the delegates took me aside and wanted to tell me “something very important”. I was worried that something serious had happened. After maybe a drink or two, he looked me in the eyes, quite anxious and nervous. “Listen, I have HIV”, he told me. I was bit puzzled, I was waiting for the super serious news.
Of course this was a big deal for Robbie, and HIV is indeed something to take serious. But our “serious” talk ended very quickly, it ended with a big hug. I am happy and proud to tell that today Robbie is an important part of the MGE core team as a delegate liaison and confidant; and one of his tasks is to educate our delegates on a life with HIV and different aspects on living with the virus.
This year, Phillip, the delegate from England is a dedicated and eager HIV advocate who underlines over and over again that HIV is not what defines him. And I am happy to see that he has made information and education regarding HIV his project in life.
During the presentation of his MGE project about being HIV positive, he showed us some of the terrible messages he has gotten on apps like Grindr and the like. Some people can be really nasty. It is all about looks and superficial stuff. When things got interesting and Phillip dropped the bomb, he had to encounter a lot of evil and rude comments.
First of all, it is not the HIV positive guys’ responsibility to protect the rest of us from the virus. That responsibility is solely our own.
Second, no stupid profile status on an app can prevent any of us from the virus. I mean, we lie through our teeth about the size of our dick and how fantastic our bodies are. So why would we not lie about the HIV status? Especially when we know that telling anyone that you are HIV positive will minimize the chance of a shag to non-existing.
I chatted with a seemingly nice and cool guy on Grindr. He was kind of my type and we were communicating in a nice manner. Suddenly he informed me that we had to stop chatting, he would never meet anyone that did not have the balls to publish his HIV status anyway.
Sorry? I do not show my HIV status on my profile, and that made him suspicious. Of what? Of me being HIV positive. And since he was not interested in sex with condoms, HIV positive guys were out of the question.
Okay, I replied, you are really right. I also have this rule. I never have sex with stupid and ignorant idiots!
The text on the profile can be adjusted in anyway we like to make ourselves more interesting. I mean, just look at all the eggplant emojis next to people’s names. Or read all the different pronouns people are making up – just as they can make their HIV status be anything they like.
So, it is my own rebellion against ignorant bigots that think that HIV is everyone else’s problem. That as long as they behave ignorant and reckless, they can use an online profile status and judgmental attitude as their protection against a virus that does not discriminate or ask your Grindr status before it invades your body. And if it ever does, you can’t blame someone’s profile text, HIV status, that the other person did not tell you, or use condoms. The only one you can blame, is yourself.
Pull yourself together, stop writing bullshit in messages and protect yourself – then, and only then, are we going to win the fight against HIV and Aids.