Thursday, January 12, 2012

Three Hook-Up Stories

I first saw this story on MSNBC about two weeks ago:
A Michigan man has been charged with felony sex offenses after he told police he was HIV-positive and had set out to intentionally infect as many people as he could, police said. Health officials have issued an alert warning that "possibly hundreds of people have been exposed to HIV."

The man, identified as David Dean Smith, 51, of Comstock Park, north of Grand Rapids, was arraigned Wednesday on a second count of "AIDS-sexual penetration with an uninformed partner" after police said they had identified a second possible victim.

Smith was initially charged with one count after he went to Grand Rapids police last week and said he had intentionally had unprotected sex with as many people as he could over the last three years, according to police.

One of the two possible victims police say they have found so far said in an interview with NBC station WOOD-TV of Grand Rapids that she was diagnosed with HIV in October 2008.

The woman, whom authorities and NBC News are not identifying, said she knew immediately that it was Smith — whom she said she met through an ad on the Yahoo! Personals website — who had infected her. She called him "a predator" and "a sociopath."

The woman who spoke to WOOD said she had no doubt that there are many other victims. She said Smith told her that he had had sex with as many as 3,000 people, including men as well as women.

"He hits drifters," she said in the interview. "He hits people who are young. He hits young women, and from what I understand, he hits men, too. Those are his targets."
Report by M. Alex Johnson with contributions by Dani Carlson and Leon Hendrix of NBC station WOOD of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

A second story, recently told to me by my friend Chet:
One of Chet's friends, Mark, is over 60 and has been an out gay man living in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He arrived in the City before anyone knew what AIDS was. But within a few years, he knew it well. A great many of his friends caught the virus, got sick and died. Although Mark had lots of sex with lots of men, he always insisted on using condoms. That insistence paid off and kept him healthy for more than three decades.

Mark's good fortune ran out in 2009. He spent a weekend with friends in Palm Springs where he met a hot guy and they hooked up. Mark bottomed and as soon he felt the guy cum he knew the condom had broken.

To say that Mark was furious is an understatement. He had never had a condom fail so easily and he had certainly never had a guy cum in him if a condom did fail. He demanded that the guy show him the condom. It was in shreds. Mark immediately began to suspect that the guy had torn the condom; he had pulled all the way out and paused to adjust the condom before pounding him in the final round of fucking.

Because he was extremely suspicious of the guy's behavior, Mark was tested as soon as virus detection was possible. After more than 30 years of dodging the virus he tested positive. What's worse is that he has one of the most virulent forms of the virus. Mark was immediately put on several anti-HIV medications. Now, after only two years of infection, Chet says, "He has the look. You can tell by looking at him that he is positive."

Mark is convinced that the guy who fucked him knew he was positive. He's also convinced that the guy intentionally infected him.

A third story, this one from a straight wife, in her own words:
I spent the entire year, from April to November, dealing with my husband's non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Thru SEVEN rounds of chemo I went to every one with him - Three days - 4-5 hour days - every three weeks. Five stays in the hospital for low white blood counts... Then the miraculous statement: the lymphoma was gone!

But the symptoms remained.

They transferred him by ambulance to a University hospital an hour away for further testing. Then the week before Thanksgiving I am told over the phone that he has full blown AIDS. My husband & I just celebrated 20 years of marriage!!!!! How did this happen?

My husband finally admitted it - he'd been finding guys on Craigs List - for quite some time.

I was devastated beyond belief.

How could this even be possible? He said he loved me. I broke my back taking care of him this entire year, literally, feeding him because he was too weak. I freaking changed Depends for weeks!!

Then I learn that he's been cold heartedly cheating on me??? And for who knows how long.

It turns out it was a long time. The clinic says it has been a while for it to have developed into full blown aids.

Cheating, lying, not using protection - and then coming home and letting me think we were a happy couple?!!!!!!

You can't imagine the pain I felt.

The doctors say he has a 50/50 chance of living a long life, AIDS drugs are that good. Well, I've decided I just want him out of my life.

I've packed his things... very painful. ... not sure what to do with them all.

I've started getting our finances in order - things in my name etc.

The next big step is to find a lawyer - and I'm ready. Seriously ready.

Because I lived near San Francisco in the early '80s, I remember the first years of the AIDS crisis extremely well. It really was a crisis. And if you caught the virus it was a death sentence.

Thanks to the development of numerous anti-HIV medications, the dread of AIDS is not nearly as daunting as it once was.

But as these stories show, even one incident of unprotected sex can forever change your life. There are sick people in this world, people who will do whatever it takes to infect you. The only thing you can trust is a condom, and even then, as Mark's story shows, a condom is only as trustworthy as its wearer.

Hook-ups can be a thrill. But every time you have one, you'd better make damn sure you stay 100% protected.

Reading about this is not fun...but it is reality.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

No Longer Keeping Up Appearances

In my last post I wrote about my to-be-ex's desire to "keep up appearances." That has meant hiding both her five-year affair and my homosexuality from our three teenagers (and others). Her goal has been to "protect the family from public humiliation and embarrassment."

Ever since we separated a year ago, I have honored that request. But as I explained in the last post, I've come to realize that continuing the lies is doing more harm than good.

I recently discussed my concerns with my to-be-ex, Gabbie. We talked for about ten minutes, maybe less, before she agreed that the kids need to be told that Charlie is her boyfriend. We're holding off on the gay announcement for now.

I was a little surprised that she agreed so quickly. I asked her, "Why did we wait so long?"

Her answer: "I hadn't really thought about it. Also, I want to be respectful of you."

The irony of that statement made me groan. She thought she was being considerate? And yet I felt imprisoned. I kicked myself for not saying something sooner.

Just moments after we made the decision, we told our oldest, who is about to turn 18. His response? "That's fine. But if Charlie does anything to hurt you mom, he's going to have to deal with me!"

Um, sure. The kid goes to karate for 10 years and now he thinks he's Bruce Lee? Even with his youth, strength and technical training, I doubt he could survive a first punch from Charlie. Whatever. The protective warning aside, he obviously took the news well.

It turned out that we didn't have a good opportunity to tell the other two kids until two days later. The youngest one, our 12 year old daughter, spoke first, and instead of addressing us, she turned to her 14 year old brother John and said, "Now you owe me ten dollars!"

Yes, apparently the two of them had placed a bet on the subject. And THAT was what they wanted to talk about. The big drama for the night was the possibility that tight-wad John might have to pay $10 to his sister.

I decided that the bet was a good opportunity to learn more about their thoughts. I asked, "How long ago did you make that bet?" The answer: "About two weeks."

That was about the same time my daughter started asking me odd questions about her mother and Charlie. It was those questions that brought the issue to my attention.

Knowing that she's only been wondering for two weeks was a relief. It meant that I hadn't been needlessly treading water for months.

As I analyze the situation in retrospect, what I find most interesting isn't that the kids were observant. THEY really weren't. Only my daughter was and even then it took her almost a year. No, what I've taken from this experience is that kids will eventually sniff out the truth. And when they start to ask questions, that's the signal that they're ready to be told. It's as if their brains begin to "see" what's going on as soon as they're ready to emotionally process it. I'm not certain yet, but I may wait for the same phenomenon to repeat itself before I come out.

Overall, I'm very happy with the way we've handled each step of our split. It's felt strangely...natural. Hopefully the news that daddy is dating men will be received in the same way.

Here's a funny story:

About 20 minutes after Gabbie's big announcement my daughter said to me, "Daddy, maybe you should move to Texas."

"Why?"

"Because there are lots of women in Texas. And they wear big hats. You know, sombreros." I gave her a very puzzled look.

"You know. Lots of women, so you can date."

"Ooooh," I said finally getting it. I was confused by the big hats. What was that all about? "I don't plan on moving to Texas. And I'm not really into women that wear sombreros (or women at all, I thought to myself), so that's probably not going to happen."

Clearly the child has a way to go before she perfects her detective skills.