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In 2011 when someone forcibly disclosed my HIV status online I almost took my own life. The fact that this is happening again in 2015, with Charlie Sheen, is beyond demoralising.

It seems almost every time I read an American paper, or read online news another gay teenager in the US has committed suicide. I sit there and I read the article talking about how they were a “promising student” or a “loving son”, I see the photo of their young face and every time my heart breaks a little more. If only I could have spoken to them, held their hand and told them it’ll be alright and given them a hug. I feel so completely and utterly powerless to help.

All of this comes from culture that is so heavily lead by the conservative and religious right, a culture that promotes the “nuclear family” of a heterosexual couple and two children as the “normal” way to be. Anything else is considered “alternative” (and in some cases immoral) and either marginalised, ignored or actively discriminated against. So is it any wonder these kids feel like outcasts?

So with all this going on you’d think the gay community would be a supportive environment, where no person should feel alone. Sadly you’d be wrong. In society generally, but especially in the gay community, there’s a huge amount of stigma attached to being HIV positive. So much so that I myself almost took my own life only a few months ago.

I’d only known that I was HIV+ for about 5 months at this point and had only disclosed to a couple of close friends. I was still dealing with things. I was having a meal out with friends one evening, and my phone started buzzing. It buzzed again, and again and again. I normally ignore my phone when I’m out but something was up. I checked. Someone had posted my HIV status on Twitter for all to see. They were claiming I was infecting people without telling them. I felt sick, no – wait I was going to be sick.

I watched in horror over the next couple of hours, not saying a word as people debated openly on twitter how “sick” and “twisted” I was for going around “infecting people” – this all from one malicious tweet. Not a scrap of evidence to back it up. Then began the hateful emails, facebook messages, text messages. People telling me that they couldn’t be friends with me any more, that they hoped that the “AIDS kills you”. My life was unravelling in front of me on a 3.5″ screen.

I don’t think I’ve ever cried as much as I did that night. I was shaking with a mixture of fear and anger the entire time. That’s when I decided to end my life. I knew exactly how to do it. I’d jump from the bridge in the city centre into the fast-moving dual-carriageway, certain death. Quick and easy.

I was getting dressed, getting read to go and do it when my friend Ben came in and asked what was wrong. Some how through the tears and the shaking I managed to convey what was going on, and he sat me down and talked to me. He told me that I didn’t need friends like that. He told me that it would get better and that I was being foolish. Ben made me go back to bed. Ben saved my life that night and for that I will be eternally grateful.

Looking back on that day I feel so foolish, foolish for having almost ended my life at 25 based solely on other people’s prejudices. It’s not been an easy journey but it’s a worthwhile one. I get emails every day saying how my blog is helping people accept their new HIV status, and if I’d jumped from that brige I wouldn’t have been able to help them. That’s reason enough to stick around on its own.

Please, if you’re feeling low talk to someone. If there’s no-one else you can always email me: web@ukpositivelad.com

Sam
UKPositiveLad

15 COMMENTS

  1. Take comfort in the fact that not everyone is malicious & narrow minded, even us married heteros with 2 kids 😀 Nothing is worth taking your own precious life. The internet is a wonderful thing but unfortunately the downside is trolling, untruths & a throwaway mentality where people forget they are communicating with real people. Enjoy your day x

  2. It’s amazingly cruel how people can get at times and use priviliged information to be even more so.

  3. Wow, honey, I’m very glad Ben managed to talk you out of it.
    How bloody awful for you to have to read all that crap. I’m proud of you for rising above it.
    You have a great gift – for writing it as it is, and also for supporting others. I hope your strength and compassion enable you to continue to help people. Your voice needs to be heard. From little acorns, as they say.

    Keep it up, love.
    xx

  4. Sam, All that I can say is I’m glad that Ben was there for you that night.
    Youre a great bloke, and if you ever need an ear, a shoulder or just some plain sillyness, you know where I am.

  5. Hi, I know how you must have felt, I too had my status put up in a chatroom. I sat there for two hours watching people I had chatted with say the foulest things about me, how I should be run over, how dare I be in there looking to meet people. I did have a couple of real friends present and they did inform people that I didn’t have to disclose to them unless we were going to sleep together. I am much older than you so it didn’t dawn on me to want to end my life. It hurt, it was scarey but like you I have taken it to be something positive, I got involved in advocating.

    You are doing a great service to reach the people in your age group, I applaud you. I hope you accomplish all that you hope to. Thanks for sharing this story.

  6. I know you posted this ages ago now, but I was looking around your blog and noticed a link to this post. It’s unbelievable how cruel some people can be. You so don’t need people like that who are going to spread lies and hateful things about you. You need more people like your friend Ben in your life! Yay to him.
    Liam x

  7. […] As most of you know by now I’ve been living with HIV for two years at this point and there’s not a single part of that journey I’ve not tweeted, blogged or spoken on TV/radio about. You’ve had front row seats to it all – the ups of getting good blood results, my birthdays, meeting my boyfriend, through to the lows of depression, nasty rumours and attempted suicide. […]

  8. […] As most of you know by now I’ve been living with HIV for two years at this point and there’s not a single part of that journey I’ve not tweeted, blogged or spoken on TV/radio about. You’ve had front row seats to it all – the ups of getting good blood results, my birthdays, meeting my boyfriend, through to the lows of depression, nasty rumours and attempted suicide. […]

  9. Some people in the “gay community” make me feel sick sometimes. It is horrific the way you were treated. Thank goodness it did not lead to tragedy.

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