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HOW YOU DISTANCING?

So, here we are, almost two weeks into the Covid 19 shut down, and never in a million years did I think it would’ve gotten this bad. I can remember making jokes about the virus just over a month ago, assuming that people were over-reacting, and that this would boil over before it even started. Boy— were we wrong.  

As I write this post from my kitchen table, it has been exactly one week since my office, in Times Square, closed for business, and we were made to work from home. Two weeks was the initial time-line we all looked forward to. Just two weeks— if we all stay inside and practice social distancing, all would be back to normal. As I’m glued to the news, and I’m certain that you are too, the time-line seems to be nowhere in sight. With the unemployment rate seeing heights that have never been seen, and the number of people infected constantly increasing, I am officially worried.  

For as long as I can remember, any hardship that I ever faced, was with a grain of salt. I’ve been laid-off before and fired from quite a few jobs (because of my mouth). But my saving grace was that, I lived with my family and I always knew that I could find another job. When I got the email from my company that they were cutting our salaries in half, until further notice— Shit Got Real! I work in fashion, and my company’s survival depends on the public’s ability to buy. If over half of the population is out of work, because businesses can’t open, I could be out of a job; and that cushion that I once relied on disappears.  

I could make this a post all about my sad position, “Sad girl, who lives with her family, has her salary cut in half,” but here’s my silver lining. I have a roof over my head, food in my refrigerator, and money in my savings account. For what it’s worth, I’ll be ok. I turn my focus to others that don’t have those safety nets. I consider the household, who just lost their sole bread-winner. I think of the children whose safe place was the schools they attended. I think of the family in poverty that may run out of food, if things don’t return to normal soon enough. A $1500 dollar check when rent in NYC for a studio can easily top that, is a band-aid on a wound worthy of stitches. 

Facebook reminded me that last year I was in Vegas, squeezing my thick ass into too tight waist-shapers, drinking with my friends, and living my best life. The farthest thing on my mind was a virus that would come and literally cripple the country. Hell, two weeks ago I was planning to grab oysters and a few cocktails after work. But in the blink of an eye, my half-marathon was cancelled, my writing group was cancelled, my monthly gym memberships have been put on hold, and all the little joys are now huge threats. Even walking outside poses a risk my family, and it’s really tough to think of all the things that I once took for granted.  

Before shit hit the fan, on Mondays I used to go to Barnes & Noble with my boyfriend. He would meet me after work and we would sit there and write until they closed. It offered me the quiet that I needed to focus on my writing and to be with My Love, away from my family. Now, because every place is only to-go and delivery, and it’s too cold to sit outside, I’m lucky if I can find a quiet moment to work in my home. When I freelanced from home, it was the most amazing experience. I would wake up, brush my teeth, wash my face, eat breakfast, then sit down to work. I ate when I wanted, and I worked out when I wanted. A few weeks ago, I joked about how I would love to go back to freelance work, and how much I missed it. However, when that fantasy became a reality-nightmare, I realized that I had no business complaining.  

This past weekend, my friends and I went out for a walk. We hadn’t seen each other since our brunch on New Year’s Day, and we kept saying that we wanted to meet up; then this happened. The few of us that felt well and lived close by arranged to meet up and go for a walk in Central Park. Saturday was a beautiful day; and, I’m certain the number of people would’ve been triple, had it not been for the current state of contagious virus. The shine and warmth of the sun, the chirping of the birds, the ducks in the pond, and the laughter of the children playing, was a total juxtaposition to what was going on in the real world. We walked for a bit to get some fresh air, we made our way to Dunkin’ Donuts, then walked back to the park. I did a little shopping, and when I parted from my friends, my guy and I continued to walk home. I made him a plate for dinner and he stayed for a while as we watched a movie. When it was time for him to go, I told him, “I Love You.” 

As I lay in bed, I wondered when things would get back to normal. I wondered when would be the next time I would see my friends. I wondered when would be the next time I would see My Love. This virus has sent the world, as we know it, into a frenzy. I have friends and family working on the front-lines, in the hospitals. I have friends that work in public transportation, risking exposure every day. I have family that are still required to report to work and deal with customers day in and day out, I have a friend that is sick, and My Love has to report to work in the middle of this pandemic. 

I say all of this to say, now is the time to call your loved ones and see how they’re doing. Virtually reconnect with your friends to keep those bonds established. Stay inside but keep in touch. We don’t know how long this is going to last and how long the impact will have on each and every one of us. It’s time to forgive and move forward. 

We will only get through this together.  

JOHNSON, RICHARD, DICK & BOB

I’m up before the alarm goes off, then hand touches me; it’s been like this for a few weeks now – I wake up just as the sun peeks in. From where I’m lying, I see a mess; clothes are everywhere, there’s an empty pizza box, and it smells a little like a morgue. Or at least I think It does; I’ve actually never been in a morgue, but if I had, I imagine it would smell a lot like this.  

All of a sudden, my eye gets all slippery and I can’t see. This smell of what I’ve come to know as babies, begins to choke me and I can’t breathe. I can hear my friends Richard and Jonson running to help me, but when they arrive it’s too late. They disappear and suddenly, once again, I’m crying; then, I shrink. 

I’m ready to take a nap; then all of a sudden, it smells like spring, and my eye begins to burn. When hand rubs me this time, if feels nice. Mmm I like this. I’ll take spring over babies any day. I start to relax then, abruptly, the wetness stops. It’s cold, then this fuzzy grey monster attacks me. Hey- what happened to fuzzy yellow monster? 

Johnson, Richard and I, pack into Hanes-stripe and we head out. Normally the journey is painful and bumpy, but this time, it’s smooth; and we’re bopping along to the music. We could get used to this! 

**RING & CHATTER** 

Hey Bobby! You going to the party tonight?” It smells like cotton candy. 

“Yea, I’ll be there. You?” 

“Of course! It’s the last party before we graduate.” 

“I know! It’s going to be cool What’s your favorite color Lynn?” 

**RING & Chatter** 

“Red. I gotta go. See you later Bobby!” 

“See you later Lynn”  

It suddenly gets crowded. What the hell is happening? This day has been very weird! 

The ride back to the morgue smelling place was just as smooth as the one to the cotton-candy place; only a bit faster. I could hear music playing in the background and when I peeked, I saw that the pizza box was gone and the room smelled less like a morgue.  

**RING** 

“Alright! I’ll be down in 30.” 

Once again, my eye started to burn, and I’m all wet again. There were bubbles everywhere; I can hear Johnson and Richard were being suffocated by them. I wanted to save them; but luckily, water appeared and rinsed them away. Back in the room we could clearly see that it had been thoroughly cleaned and it smelled like vanilla. Nice! Fuzzy grey monster, from the morning, returned to say hi. 

“Danny, can I use your Axe Body Spray?” 

“Sure. It’s on the dresser.” 

We were just hanging out with Fuzzy, when this Calvin Klein-Red guy came and locked us up. What’d he do that for? Jerk! 

Then we started to suffocate again as some smelly mist attacked us. Cough! cough! 

**HONK HONK** 

“Alright Big B! You clean up well!” 

“Shut up Ken!” 

“Gonna hang out with Lynn at the party?” 

“Of course.” 

Outside the music was loud, and there were so many smells: one that reminded me of when I went swimming, another one that often makes us sleepy, and so many artificial fruity aromas. 

“Bobby!” 

“Hey Lynn!” 

“Come with me now.” It’s getting tight again! 

The music has gotten lower and this Calvin guy is seriously cramping our style. 

**CLICK CLICK** 

An unfamiliar hand touches me and my guys. Who the hell are you; with your long hair? 

She has the same cotton-candy smell from earlier. 

We’re all about to protest; but then she gets rid of Calvin. We’re free! 

Her hand is soft, very soft; she touches her lips to me. What is she doing? I did not consent to this. But- it feels good, very good! 

This pink thing comes out from between her lips and I get scared that she’s going to eat me. The pink think swirls around the tip of my head. This feels lovely! Then it swirls all the way down my body. Ooooh!!! She’s playing with Johnson and Richard and they seem to be unbothered. She brings her pink thing back to my top then she opens her mouth. It was a trap! She wanted to get my defenses down to bite me off and kill me in one swift motion. This is the end! I just know it! Good-bye Johnson! Good-by Richard!  

The light fades as she draws me into her mouth; it’s warm, moist, and smells like peppermint. I feel something I can only describe as a pulse. I’m scared, but this feels amazing. There’s a soft humming then I can see the light again. With a blink of my eye, it’s dark and moist again; this time her pink thing tickles me a little bit too, then it starts to swirl around me, again. It feels amazing! But I brace myself, because I know it’s all an evil plot to kill me. JUST DO IT ALREADY!!! 

Outside again, my eye is glossy, so I can’t see what’s going on. Her hand is holding onto my body, going up and down, up and down. This feels way better than when Other-Hand does it; it’s always too rough and way too fast.  

I’m going in and out of focus, I hear Richard and Johnson screaming. Guys!!!! Then it’s silence. Oh no! She’s eaten them first! How much longer are you going to torture me? I try to yell, but all I can do is cry a little. Then I hear them coughing.  

“Guys? You still there?” 

“Yeah! We’re here. What was that? It was wet and it smelled like peppermint.” 

“I don’t know. I think she’s going to eat us. I just want to say. I love you two and I’ll never fo-…” 

I disappear back into her mouth. Things are going much faster this time. I think this is it. This is the end! Between pink thing, mouth, and hand, they all take turns with me and the guys. It begins to feel too good to fight anymore; then a feeling, that I can only describe as an explosion, happens into peppermint & cotton-candy’s mouth. I’m Dead! 

CHEERS TO THE NEW YEAR (2019 Recap)

Dear 2019, 

I’ll be sad to see you go, but I’ll remember the beautiful times we had. At the stroke of midnight, my family welcomed you with prayers and open arms. We made our traditional “Happy New Year” and “I Love You” calls, drank some champagne, and eventually retired to sleep.  

My first post in 2019, Yay! She’s Back was a story about my vibrator’s love for me. In the summer of 2018, I had made the decision to stop having sex, because I needed to allow my mind and heart to heal from all the heartbreak I had endured in 2018. I needed to re-devote my energy back into myself, and I didn’t want the exchange of negative energy that sex often brings. So, being that the only forms of safe sex are either abstinence and masturbation; writing a story on masturbation seemed quite appropriate. 

Inspired by a member in the support group that I attend; I decided to write and publish my, first ever, post on herpes; The Ex That Never Left. Hitting publish was the hardest thing I did in 2019 and it was the post that would forever shift the tide and purpose of my writing. Being positive for 10 years- ‘it was what it was’ and I operated on a need to know basis. When I started to write my blog, I had no intention to ever discuss herpes. But, I realized that, to be a great writer, meant to be vulnerable and to let people in. I couldn’t continue talking around herpes, I had to call it out and give it a seat on stage; especially if I planned to stand in my truth of sex positivity.  

With herpes out in the open, I was finally able to take bigger steps toward being the writer that I am now. I wrote about my first 3-some experience, in Turn Up while also coming out as bisexual. Because I wanted to experience a woman alone, I went on The Hunt. Unfortunately, I never found a woman or couple that was actually willing to meet up. It became abundantly clear that if I wanted to explore being intimate with women, I would have to step out of my comfort zone and walk into a sex-club.  

In March, after being ‘celibate’ for almost 8 months, I walked into my first sex-club; but it wouldn’t be my last. Being the new honest writer that I was, I wrote all about my experiences in; Corset, Collar, Lingerie 1,2, and 3). In concluding that I was, indeed, bisexual; I also discovered that I deeply enjoyed being an exhibitionist, amongst like-minded individuals.  

It was during this time that I started dating again. However, this time around I was playing by a different set of rules. Over the years of dating, since I was 14; I had experienced my share of heartbreaks. During my time of celibacy, I realized that I had set unrealistic expectations on my partners and they did the same to me. I realized that I dated, like many other people, only for the end game. I missed out on cherishing all the amazing moments because I was only focused on achieving one thing. It was then I realized that, not only was I limiting my capacity and the ability to love; but that I was forcing myself to be someone that I was not. It was then that I decided I would love polyamorously; and in Working The Garden, I dived deeper into my emotions.  

With my mind and emotions finally aligned, I was surprised to see how quickly my sex life got on board. For the first time, in a very long time, I was dating how I wanted, with men whose company I genuinely enjoyed, and the sex was not only good, it was kinky as well. I was finally able to explore sexual acts that I was nervous to explore prior in (Tabooty 1 & 2). 

In June, I discovered an invite-only sex-party; and I slowly became a regular on the scene. I was enjoying my moment of being an ethical herpes-positive individual, and shared it with you in (The Wonders of Coconut Oil 1 & 2). 

By the time August arrived, I had only discussed my herpes status on my blog and with select friends and family. It wasn’t until I wrote into Whoreible_Decisions, and was chosen to be a guest on their podcast, did I finally decide to go fully public. I first told the remainder of my family, I made all of my social media public, and I waited. I was surprise at how many people reached out to me after the episode dropped and I immediately knew that I had made the right decision. Naturally, because I was nervous, I had missed some key pointers, so being that I did have a platform of my own (even though small) I elaborated on some of the things I wish I had said during the podcast, on the blog post Things Unsaid.  

By the end of the summer, I was fully invested in the poly-love style. I had one primary partner that I loved dearly, whom I met at a sex-party; (I Only Wanted Sex: Then you happened) and I was dating three other men. Eventually one of the men realized that dating multiple women wasn’t for him so he ended things; (Tales of a Polyamorous Heart Break), and I, in true fashion, wished him the best.  

I was finally living my life to the fullest; I was building amazing connections, having great sex, and living and loving my truth; (End of My Hot Girl Summer & You Can Have It All)

Surprisingly polyamory was flowing smoothly. The only difficulty I found was having to explain, over and over, to people that weren’t in the lifestyle that Polyamorous Does Not Mean Sex-Addict). Other than that, I encountered no real roadblocks and/or difficulty dating, even while being herpes positive.  

As I write this, I could never have imagined being where I am now.  

After appearing on the Whoreible_Decisions podcast, I’ve been a guest on multiple other podcasts;  Shit! I’m 30 podcast, Something Positive for Positive People, and during my visit to Philly, to see Elton John, I (with my primary partner) were guests on the UnCumfortable w/ Muva Esh Podcast.  

In addition to publicly speaking about herpes on various podcasts; in the early fall I became a member of HANDS (Herpes Activists Networking to Dismantle Stigma). Almost every day I receive a new message from a person that tells me, hearing my story has helped them in some way. Who ever thought speaking publicly about having herpes would help so many people? It was a big step for me to take, but I’m happy that hearing my journey can help others. I offer tips on how to disclose to potential partners How Do I Tell Them. And I use my years of experience and words to combat bullying within the herpes community If Only It Were That Simple. 

In the year 2020 I foresee major changes in my personal life and career. I’m currently working on a book that hopefully will be out in the Spring of 2020. I’m also in the process of writing my memoir; and the future holds more fantastic ventures for me.  

So, I hope that you have enjoyed my 2019 re-cap and I hope you follow me into 2020.  

Happy New Year!! 

MY MOM FOUND MY PORN-OH NO!

I must’ve been between the ages of 8 and 10 when my mother first caught me masturbating. When she walked in on me rubbing one out, with my wash cloth, the look on her face was pure shame. I remember rushing my clothes back on, apologizing over and over on how I would never again do it, and how I would wait until I was married to have sex. Fast forward to today, I’m 33 years old, I’ve had more sexual encounters than I can count, and I currently have 3 sexually-romantic partners. I guess you can say, I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain.  

My mother found out, from reading my journal, that I was having sex. To say it kindly, she wasn’t pleased; but there was nothing that she could do. Sex was never something I voluntarily abstained from for too long. I was very aware that my mom wished that I would slow down, but I simply really-really liked having sex and I wanted it as often as I could get it. I loved the feeling and I liked knowing that I had the power to control my sexual destiny; and with time, I grew very confident with my sexuality. Unfortunately, I knew my mother wouldn’t see it the same way. Growing up in a patriarchal, society that shames women and our sexual bodies; I knew (long before I had the language) that I had to keep my sexual exploits from my mom and the rest of my family. I got very-very good at the art of omission and lying about where I was going and what I was doing.  

Over time, as I got older, my mom began to see the real-reality. Her daughter, despite having 0 kids, still to this day; was no good-girl. Her daughter liked sex, a lot. And, her daughter wasn’t always the most careful. And one time, her daughter made a porno. 

Now, for the record; it was amateur at best, so it was more of a sex tape. But she was not happy when she found it.  

As a graduation present, my dad got me a new Apple Desktop computer. Around the same time, I worked at a well-known restaurant in Harlem and I was heavily flirting with one of the servers. He was cute to me, and he had what I could only describe as ‘Swag’; but what I later came to define as BDE (Big Dick Energy). The way he walked with such confidence showed me that he would fuck the shit out of me, if given the chance. We flirted for a few weeks at the job and via text; but I still played hard to get. Then, one day he sent me a picture of his dick with the message “Come get this Cali dick”. My pussy got soaking wet and I knew I had to jump on it.  

I don’t recall the timeline; but I remember inviting him over to my house when I knew my parents were away. Up in my room, I sucked on his large dick until my heart was content. Then, some-how, we ended up naked. The kisses were decent but I knew what I wanted. I was feeling daring so I decided to turn on my computer to record us fucking. Every thrust felt fantastic and since I was much smaller than I am now; my body looked extra sexy. When it was all done, he got dressed and left. I stored the video in a blocked folder on my desktop, powered it down, and things went back to normal. 

Weeks had passed and we even had a party at my house where all of my friends and family came over to celebrate. That night, most of my friends crashed on the couch in the living room. When they all left in the morning, he remained. With my mom and dad, upstairs asleep, he bent me over and fucked me on the living room floor. After our quickie, he left; it couldn’t have been more perfect timing, because my dad came downstairs shortly after.  

The video had all but slipped out of my mind for at least a month. Then I got an enraged call from my mother saying; “OH! So, you’re a porn star now?” Not only had she found the video, but that my dad just so happened to be in my bedroom when she found it. Sure, I was embarrassed; but I was, to say the least, dumbfounded. 

Keep in mind that this is 2011 and my mother was (and still is) as tech savvy, as a snail is fast. Not to mention, this was a Mac, and before then, our house was all PC. So, the fact that she still had major difficulties getting online; but was able to find the video, in the first place; I had to chuck it up to fate. Some sex gods wanted her to find that video.  

Giving her time to cool off, I took my time going home when I got off of work. I couldn’t pull a Shaggy (It wasn’t me), so I had to own up to it. She had known for the better part of a decade that I was sexually active, so the sex wasn’t the issue. What she was pissed about; was that I used the Brand New computer to record myself fucking AND that my dad saw it.  

In the end, she couldn’t really punish me in response to everything; I was 23/24 years old; I had a job and the computer was, obviously, non-refundable. So, after a few weeks of evil stares casted at me; eventually she got over it. But I know in the back of her mind that sometimes she’s still pissed that I made a porno. 

LIKE A COZY SWEATER

Sex (for those that enjoy it) is a wonderful thing. After a long day, sex can often be better than a stiff drink. I love everything that leads up to sex; and it often starts from when he licks on my nipples, to when he buries his face in between my legs and tastes all of my juices. After he delivers me my first orgasm, he gets on top of me and slowly enters me. As I can feel his penis pressing through the tightness of my entrance and once he’s inside; I can only describe it as, amazing. But what does that really feel like, it’s hard to describe. As he proceeds to fuck me, in as many positions as my limited flexibility will allow, I revel in the pleasure of knowing that he too is loving every single moment of being in my body. When he finally reaches his orgasm, I deliver myself an invisible pat on the back and know that I have, once again, satisfied my partner. It’s one thing to know you’re a good fuck, but I’ve never known how good, until my partners started verbalizing it.  

The first time, I remember, a partner attempting to describe how sex with me feels, I was in my late twenties. This particular partner loved to fuck me; the problem is, he never lasted long. I would freshen up to go and see him. We’d kiss, he’d play with my nipples and he’d be hard as a rock. Then once inside, he’d deliver a few good thrusts; and although I could feel him trying to hold out, all the time he would fail. One afternoon I was highly upset, and I called him out on it and his response was, “he missed me”, and my pussy “was too good”. I asked him what he meant; because he made it clear that this only happened with me. So, I needed to understand what he felt. He described sex, with me, as; an ice-cold coke on a hot summer day, when you stopped drinking coke years ago. I guess I understood what he meant, and I was grateful for the accolade; but I had made up my mind that his sex was no longer worth the walk across the street for me.  

At the last swinger-party I attended, my partner and I had an amazing time. After he pleased me, I happily returned the favor, then we proceeded to enjoy the other party-goers. Every once in a while, in between our individual pussy devouring and sex sessions we would circle back around to one another, and reconnect. As the party came to an end and the lights came on; two of the men I had played with during the night couldn’t stop bragging about how good my “punany” (as one guy called it) felt and tasted. They kept calling it; good, amazing, and fantastic. They asked him if he was my man, to which he said yes. Then they proceeded to congratulate him on being able to enjoy me whenever he wanted. I didn’t quite know what to say; but “Thank you” and blush. 

In a room full of pussy, I was semi-surprised that mine garnered such accolades. I’m aware that when there is an emotional connection, the sex can be much more magical. But these were two strangers, and there was nothing but animal lust driving the interaction. I mean- sure, I do my Kegels; but, could sex with me be that different from other women? I had to take their word for it, until it was solidified with this remark.  

I had an amazing sex session with M_Tinder. We hadn’t connected in a while because we were both busy; but he didn’t let distance stop him from sending me enticing pictures and telling me what he planned to do to my body. When I arrived; after chatting with his roommate for a bit, we headed to his bedroom. After kissing, he made his way to my breasts then to my pussy. He used his tongue to deliver me an intense orgasm and long after he drank my juices, he kept on going. He took his time fucking my body in a variety of positions. He fucked my ass while I used my womanizer on my clit and found another, more intense, orgasm. Then, he switched out the condom and finished fucking me doggy style. We passed out, and in the morning, I showered and left for work.  

I was sitting down and eating my breakfast when he messaged me to make sure I had indeed enjoyed our time together. I told him I had a fantastic time and I asked him the same. That’s when he responded “Yes! Your pussy feels so great and comfortable.” At first, I took a moment to process exactly what he meant by it. More often than not, comfortable means just that, but without pizazz or anything special. So, needing better clarification I said, “Like a cozy sweater” and he replied “Exactly!”. Then it all made sense.  

You know the feeling of cold in the winter time. Not just any cold, but the cold that gets under your skin and sits in your bones to where nothing feels warm. Then, you find or buy this nice, fluffy, soft, cozy sweater that warms you up and then you just want to go to sleep… That’s how my pussy feels.  

IF ONLY IT WERE THAT SIMPLE (PART 2)

Joke: If you google random symptoms, all roads will lead to cancer. If you have sex, all roads will lead to herpes; it’s almost inevitable. 

5-Lastly, PEOPLE LOVE SEX! And the general public’s unwillingness to change their sexual habits is the leading reason people continue to get STD/Is. 

Take HIV for example; HIV, unlike herpes (HSV), is a fluid transmissible virus (passed via blood, semen, vaginal fluids, breast milk, and in rare specific* cases saliva). The virus has to enter the person’s blood stream in order to replicate. The most common and effective way to minimize their chances of getting HIV, are to simply use condoms/barriers and test your partners before having sex (before Prep and Pep, etc). Seems simple enough right… WRONG!!!! 

The truth of the matter is; many people don’t use condoms. For whatever reasons people give: they’re too tight, they feel uncomfortable, allergic, or they lose sensations, etc. It all balls (pun intended) down to people don’t want to use them. I’ve had plenty of partners throughout the years (before and after herpes) that will get annoyed with me when I stop and tell them to get a condom. When it comes to the topic of getting tested; I remember asking men and they’re response was “Why?  You think I got something?” or “Don’t worry, I’m clean”; without even being able to tell me when was the last time they actually went to the doctor.  So, when you consider the reality that the use of condoms can minimize the spread of HIV; and people still don’t want to use them; that’s proof that people would much rather live in the moment and worry about the possible consequences later. And, for what it’s worth- there is nothing wrong with that. If you want to live a sexually empowered life, then do it. But, in this era of sex positivity, the conversation of sexual health is often not had.

The above (5) examples play a major role in the spread of herpes. I find it highly imbalanced to only focus on people not disclosing as the main reason this virus spreads.  

Truth Serum: I can tell a man that I have herpes and educate him on all the possible ways of contraction; and that man may decline to be with me (which is totally fine). That same man, will still go out the following night and sleep with the next woman (who may not know she’s positive), and still end up with herpes.  

This little story, is just another one of the many reasons why I can’t get behind the attack of a single individual for not disclosing. Everyone that had consensual sex (myself included) could’ve taken extra steps; but we(I) didn’t. Even if I had taken the extra steps (as I lined out in Part 1), I still may have contracted herpes. But in my case, I looked at my partner, allowed my trust in him and my feelings for him to be all the proof that I needed. The use of my feelings, that allowed me to assume his words and actions, as proof of his sexual health, was in-fact a choice, MY CHOICE. This acceptance of choice is what allowed me to get rid of the anger and find peace with my diagnosis; and that allowed me to heal.  

Many of the toxic people I describe, and often debate with, hold onto that anger; and when someone even hints at not disclosing they go into attack mode; because (I believe) they’re still very angry. Some people choose to sit in the anger and dish it out rather than do the self-reflection and acknowledge the choices they made that landed them where they are. In the end it’s not about blame, it’s about choice. A choice that we had and made; a choice that, had we not contracted herpes as a result of it, we’d be proud to have made. Just because the end result was one that was not desired, that does not make the entire act any less of a choice. When we agreed to have sex, we all signed an invisible contract, without acknowledging the fine print.

So, getting on an invisible pedestal to degrade another person, just because their choices don’t align with yours, does not make you any better. At the end of the day; it takes two to tango, and each individual should be responsible for their own sexual health. We all should want to know our partner’s status; not just think and or assume it; but many people don’t ask. We all should get tested regularly, and be able to happily exchange results with our partners before we have sex; but many people don’t.  

The reality is, many people would rather not spoil the mood or miss the opportunity. Most people won’t even talk about sexual health before they have sex. And, many people would be very happy not knowing the truth. People want to continue living and loving as if nothing has changed; hoping for the best. 

It’s ok to encourage people to disclose by sharing your experiences. But to attack them, only puts people on defense and often times, they’ve already checked out of the conversation. Navigating this virus isn’t easy; we don’t have to make it any more difficult than it already is. 

It’s time to change the conversation on herpes and start being proactive about our sexual health. 

IF ONLY IT WERE THAT SIMPLE (Part 1)

With a constant rise in new cases of herpes diagnoses, more and more people are seeking support. When I was diagnosed, in 2009, there was only the internet. The internet at that time offered only information, and no support for someone that was newly diagnosed. Thankfully, I had family and random friends for support to get me through.  

Almost a decade later, there are now dating apps (Positive Sines), podcasts (Something Positive for Positive People), activists and the HANDS organization (Herpes Activists Networking to Dismantle Stigma), books (Asking for a Friend), in person support groups (Love Profound); and lastly, a whole host of Facebook & Reddit Subgroups. Many are filled with support and positive energy; and for a person struggling with the virus, these options will offer you the most peace of mind. 

When I was diagnosed, sites like Facebook and Reddit weren’t as popular, as they are now. Now, there are plenty of great support groups on Facebook and Reddit, but the problem with these groups (and the problem with the internet period) is that, more often than not, they are filled with toxic people. I joined to hear the stories and offer advice. I felt that my journey of dating while being herpes positive, would be able to help others. I was shocked to find that there was so much stigma, shame, and degrading of others within these, so called, support groups. So much so that, I sometimes look back and think… Thank God! I was diagnosed when I was! Because there is no guarantee my journey would’ve been so positive had the “support” been as negative as what I see in some of these groups now. 

There are many studies that show groups that are often degraded will, in an attempt to reclaim their power, degrade those within the same group. The act of putting others down, to elevate the other’s position is rife within the herpes community. No topic garners more hateful, degrading, shaming, and stigmatizing speech than the issue of disclosing. 

Now, before I jump into things let me make it very clear. If you know that you have an incurable virus that may forever impact the life of another human being, you should disclose (tell them). Full consent does require their full knowledge of the risks involved. There! It’s done! The spread of herpes will now be forever halted- Right… Not Even Close! 

In a perfect world, disclosing only works for those that know they have the virus, in the first place. If we walk away from Fantasy World, and get back to the real world; we’ll realize that there are many more factors that contribute to the spread and contraction of herpes. The herpes virus is a HUMAN virus. Sure, there may be strains that live in the animal kingdom; but we are talking about humans, humans that process the cognitive ability to think, process, and then act. I will not touch on acts of rape and/or assault, as the entire event was not a choice. I am specifically talking about two consenting individuals making the choice to have sexual relations. 

No matter how old you are, we all had some form of sexual education. I, for example, went to catholic school; so, the information I received was more abstinence based. But the message that sex could lead to disease and un-planned pregnancy was evident. Don’t have sex or this or that will happen. So, even if it wasn’t the most fully informed education, we all knew that sex carried some risks. When we chose to have sex; engaging in the act, was signing an invisible contract that assumed whatever risk may come our way.  

When I was diagnosed after being in a committed relationship, I was furious. I was hurt, shocked, heart-broken, and briefly depressed. For a moment I wanted to scour the internet to find him and call him out. However, I had to take a step back and realize the role I played in this. Sure, I asked him and he said he was “clean” and we used a condom. But there were other tools at my disposal that I negated to use. I could’ve asked to see his test; but I didn’t. I could’ve postponed having sex until we both got tested, and exchanged results; but I didn’t. Even if I had, there’s no guarantee that his test would’ve included herpes (as most don’t); and because of that; I would’ve seen his results, that were absent of herpes (assumed he was negative), still made the choice to have sex, and ended up with herpes.  

A lot more goes into minimizing the spread of herpes than just disclosing one has herpes. So, I can’t get behind this moral compass of blaming someone else for the choices that we all knew, on some level, carried some risk. They aren’t called Sexually Transmitted Diseases because you get them sharing a hug. You get them when engaging in an act of sex.  

Now, there are many individuals that have herpes passed to them from a family member via an act of affection, and not sex (almost always a kiss). More often than not, this is classified as cold sores (oral herpes), most often Type1. But these cold sores (oral herpes), that most people forget they even get, have the ability to be passed to another person’s mouth or genitals, and they will then have (Genital Herpes Type 1_GHSV1), adding to the number of newly diagnosed genital herpes cases. 

There are many reasons why this virus continues to spread, and here are the ones that should be getting the attention, instead of attacking one person at a time, for not disclosing.  

1-The CDC does not require testing for Herpes 1&2. So, many times when you go and ask for “everything” you are not getting tested for herpes (HSV) or HPV. The medical community, outside of the CDC, are resistant to giving the test, when specifically asked by patients to be tested. Doctors are also constantly misinforming patients on what they should do after being diagnosed.  

  • Doctors have told patients as long as they take meds and use condoms, and refrain from sex during an outbreak, that they don’t have to disclose. (Completely forgetting that both Type1 & Type2 are capable of being passed with no symptoms present (Asymptomatic Shedding) 
  • Doctors have told patients with herpes antibodies that, because they have no visible outbreak or symptoms that they were only “exposed” to the virus, but don’t in fact “have” the virus; leaving them to believe that they pose no threat to sexual partners. 

2-Access to testing & education, play a major role in the spread of herpes, in the youth community and those communities that lack financial infrastructure.  

  • If education was mandated to talk about the herpes virus from a medical stand point; young kids would know that cold sores are herpes and have the ability to be contagious.  
  • If access to testing was affordable, many people would know their status. The reason why HSV is not often included is because it’s more expensive, so many people already have it, and the risk of a false-positive diagnosis.  
  • In addition, a person that’s never had a sore or bump isn’t thinking to ask for testing. People often assume NO SYMPTOMS = NEGATIVE, when that’s not always the case. 

3-Public Perception: Commercials have done such a great job at marketing cold sores as something you just put a little cream on, and you’ll be fine.  

  • Marketing doesn’t tell you that your cold sore is actually ORAL HERPES (most often, but not exclusively HSV1) 
  • Marketing also doesn’t tell you that your cold sore, can shed when you’re not having an outbreak; and if you happen to perform oral sex on your partner, you can then pass them Genital Herpes Type1 

4-This virus is tricky AS FUCK!  

  • When it comes to herpes, condoms don’t always work to protect a partner (if it did, I wouldn’t be GHSV2+). So, even if you use condoms and a partner is asymptomatically shedding; they can transmit the virus.  
  • Add to that, If you ask a partner to get tested, there’s often a 3-6 month window where the virus may be setting up shop before it’s visible on a test. The fact remains that even if you make your partner get tested and exchange results, there is still a risk that someone could have herpes. So, after you’ve had the conversations, waited to have sex, got the tests, then proceeded, and months later – still contract herpes!!!! What could you have done any differently? What do you do now? 

With this, I push you to stop looking at this virus as something that’s more than sexual, IT’S HUMAN. The most recent data says 1in3 have HSV1 and 1in8 have HSV2. So, it’s very likely you may have already been with a herpes positive individual, and not have known it. 

CONTINUED IN PART 2