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is a face-to-face herpes talk the only option?

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disclosing. the talk of talks. would my HSV status be received with an open-mind or will it be a deal breaker? one never knows until the word has been said... H.E.R.P.E.S.


like many of you, i feel uncomfortable with the name given to this STI. the word originated in the late 14c., from the Latin herpes "a spreading skin eruption," from the Greek herpes, lit. "creeping," from herpein "to creep" (cognate with Latin serpere "to creep").


it sounds downright funky, ugly, unattractive... gee, i feel my whole body twitch every time i have to say it... which is why i prefer disclosing via email (i include a website link where the person can read about it without the clinical apathy). this has been my frequent approach. in the past, i've also disclosed over the phone. i feel like telling the person in person produces a kind of vacuity: you have to hang there for a response, and the other person has to hang there having to give you a response. but nobody wants to be seen as an asshole. how can one fully trust a positive face-to-face reaction.


i dread disclosure. i am a coward.


wouldn't it be cool if could start pronouncing H.E.R.P.E.S. in French? as in Hermès (air-mess)... it would sound less creepy: AIR-PESS. it would actually sound a bit cool; foreign, but cool. the potentially romantic partner would cock his/her head with a smile and say something like: "(air-pess)? Hmm, enlighten me."


Upon enlightenment, the potentially romantic partner would summon the waiter and ask for the dessert menu: "let's share some chocolate cheese cake," he/she would assert; a flirtatious smirk curling the lips.


okey, so i'm trying to dress it up, so sue me. rejection can cut deep. especially when the person you have disclosed to gave you, initially, a down-played, empathetic response: when i told my father i was gay, i was 24 and heart-broken; my then boyfriend had returned to the lover he had before meeting me (after a year of being together!). when i finally said the words "I am gay" to my dad, he said... "well, i'm surprised. but you're my son, this is going to deepen our relationship."


i was elated... or maybe it was the Aguardiente (a kind of Latino vodka from Colombia). upon asking him if i could chat with him, he invited me to sit down, popped a bottle and served two shots. this is what Latin men do with their sons when it's time for a bit of intimacy. two shots evolved into several. the conversation turned weird suddenly... at that point in time i knew that my father was mixing in with bad company and indulging in illicit businesses. he said: "you know what i do to support the family; so you and i are on the wrong side of things, but if we follow a straight path despite our illicit ways, we'll be all right."


i was mum.


one month later, my father kicked me out of the house. during those 30 days i lived in a house were apathy, silence, swallowed anger were abundant. i left home feeling somewhat liberated, but scared... scared to death.


this is where my reasoning comes from! my father's initial reaction was false... and history repeats itself :(


do you think that if i somehow change the way HERPES is pronounced, it will somehow give me the mojo i need to forgive my ignorant father and tell a potentially romantic partner (face-to-face) that i have air-pess?


Please be gentle,


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Hi Carlos: Although this isn’t as devastating as being rejected by a parent I can kind of relate to what you’re saying. My first, and only, disclosure (pre-H-Opp) style seemed to go pretty well. He said it wasn’t a deal breaker. I could tell he really cared about me. As time went by, however, I realized that his fear of contracting herpes was too big a barrier for him to even take the risk of having safer sex. In his defense, he probably would have married me as long as I promised not to take my clothes off below my waist. That experience was pretty humiliating to say the least.


I’ve come a long way since then and that was only 10 months ago. What I've come to realize is that if we want someone else to accept this and be OK with it then we have to be OK with it first. Looking back, I was definitely not OK with it and I probably communicated that in a hundred different ways.


I’ve also come to realize that getting herpes is actually one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Maybe even the best thing. It’s like Adrial says, it’s not just an opportunity to discover who you REALLY are, it’s an incredibly strong incentive to discover who you REALLY are.


Seen through the eyes of the Ego, this herpes thing is a real mess. It’s Bad with a Capital B...disgusting, dirty and shameful... but seen through the eyes of the Soul, it’s Perfection. Our Soul wants us to wake up...to wake up out of the trance of looking for love and happiness in all the wrongs ways and in all the wrong places. The way I see it, we have two choices. We can continue to let our ego run the show and decide for us, who we are going to be... or we can learn to see ourselves through the eyes of love. We can come to know our true beauty; to feel and know our pure heart; our true value and worthiness to be loved that isn’t dependent on outside circumstances or what other people think of us. I continue to find the blessings that herpes has brought into my life. What we look for we usually find.


When we know who we really are... then others will see who we are. And when we know who we are... we will see who others really are. Others will feel good and safe around us. I can feel through your posts that you are a wonderful, caring, beautiful person with a enormous heart and sense of humor to match. You’re probably way too good for most people. Herpes is a little tiny insignificant word compared to a big, beautiful soul like you. xoxo


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I feel exactly the same way Carlos, about the way herpes is pronounced. Its not even having the discussion that really freaks me out, its just saying the word that is the most cringe-worthy. I feel too, that if it we're just pronounced differently, maybe it would be easier?


I like 'air-pess'. made me smile!


And I do agree completely with JanetD as well. We need to be completely comfortable with it ourselves, before we tell someone, or else they will catch onto to our negative feelings and views regarding this condition. But it is a very scary thing to have to say.


Just be sure that you are at a good place with yourself, in your mind, before you make that step to tell him. It is the best thing I think we can do : )

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I often think of the myriad of reasons why lovers reject each other. I just saw a great (but painful) film that tells the story of two gay men: one is a filmmaker, the other a publisher addicted to crack. There are so many life-threatening influences in this nutty, nutty world. It makes my herpes simplex the least complex factor... I'm a great catch! YOU are a great catch! Every person that's submitted an entry in this forum is a catch!

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we are all awesome! and beautiful!

and totally worthy of getting the best that we deserve!


It is good to stay positive with yourself at these times, because that is how you present yourself to others, and they will see just how amazing a soul you are. And that personality shining through will be whats far more important than what you have



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I don't so much have a problem with the word. I have disclosed 2x.... Besides to the person who gave it to me and I was regected by him and the first person I disclosed to. Then I met a guy and the night he told me he loved me I said will you still love me if I have herpes??? And we were together over 3.5 years and have a two year old. Like I said I dont have a problem with the word.... Only the social stigma behind it! I get angry when it's made to be to be the butt of the joke or the deal breaker in movies or tv shows!

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Carlos, thanks for sharing that story, bro. And it makes perfect sense why you wouldn't trust an initial positive response after a herpes disclosure. I'm sorry your father reacted like that. I'm sorry he didn't see the beauty of your vulnerability with him. I feel sad hearing that he didn't see you for you in that moment. It seems that all he saw were his own negative judgments and selfishness. He saw himself. He didn't see you.


AND I get that this kind of an experience would have you disclose via email and phone. After being seemingly rejected by your own father (I'm sure deep down he loved you, but was just going about showing you in a really backwards way), you don't want that kind of rejection to happen again. When you put yourself out there like that and the person you love doesn't recognize it as a courageous and connecting thing, it's hard to see it that way yourself. But the fact is, regardless of anyone else's reaction, regardless of your father's reaction, you disclosing that you're gay, you disclosing that you have herpes — or air-peth (the gallegan pronunciation, you see) — is vulnerable and an offering to be closer. Sometimes the other person doesn't recognize it for what it is. Instead, they are clouded by their own judgments and stigma. But that doesn't change what it is. Some people don't recognize truth, whether it's because their ignorant of it, they simply don't want to know or they're not ready. And in a way, that has to be okay. I know I have the tendency to shoot my judgment right back at the person judging me ("Well at least I'm not an ignorant little shit like you!"), but that only tends to continue the cycle of disconnection. Instead, I like to practice compassion, especially for the people who reject my vulnerability.


So Carlos, instead of backing away from face-to-face disclosure, what if you went for it anyway? Because disclosure is intimate. It's doing intimacy a disservice to do it over the phone or via email. Being vulnerable means showing yourself. How can you do that behind the curtain of email or phone? I know on some level you know this to be true, but are simply scared of being hurt again. I totally get that. And I honor the fear, bro. I really do. And that's where the growth lies. And that's exactly what you're scared of. That's the irony. Here's a perfect quote for this from Joseph Campbell (one of the pre-eminent scholars of the men's movement): "The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek." Dude, as cliché as it sounds, THIS is the warrior's path. You can choose to turn away or head toward it. Feel me? (And trust me, I'm saying this as much to myself as I am to you, brotha.)


P.S. I have drank of the aguardiente. So good! Especially when done in the customary way of putting it in a pot, lighting it on fire and mixing in sugar. Mmmmm.

Note: This is for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute medical advice or diagnosis.
I'm not a medical professional, so please take this as friendly peer support. 

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