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Being reminded of Social Phobias
Jul 22, 2000

First of all I have read your answers to quite a few letters posted in here. I respect your opinion and feel you are much on target even though I am nowhere near your professional education or knowledge. However I feel it might be where you are or even where you stand socially in your career that I wonder if you remember or realize the "phobia" that still exists in our great country? You always suggest that one should join a support group and etc. This does not work for everyone as myself would be devastated in people finding out I have AIDS. I came out once and had to go back in the closet so fast that I got door burns. Sometimes professionals I feel forget that quite a few people out there MIGHT understand someone being 20 yrs old having HIV would be "poor guy" but on the other hand someone being 47 like myself its "ppppffffttttt" you're old enough to know better. Then you got the people who have a phobia in general. In 97 I took my daughter and went to the VA hospital and guess what happened? The doctor had a tiffy fit and refused to treat an "AIDS patient" in front of my daughter and the whole clinic. People might be more compliant in the world but also as many as "understand" there are as many that do not want to or think "fags deserve it" Not my lingo but theirs. I guess what I am trying to come across saying is that I see myself in quite a few of these letters and support groups might be the answer for some but for the most part of us who can not come clean or for safety reasons divulge our Illness, its not the answer for us. even in the world of laws protecting us from employment discrimination and being a foreman know "If you want to fire the greatest employee ever had, You can always find the reason other than his/her hiv status. Thanks for listening and this is just my .02 worth in the "join a support group arena"

Response from Mr. Shernoff

I never claimed that a support group was for every one, just for those people who are complaining about being isolated and lonely and not knowing other people who are in the same boat.

I disagree with you about how anyone needs to return to the closet either as a gay person or as HIV infected. We all make our choices about what feels right or possible for us and then we each have to live with all the consequences. I stand by my personal and professional observations that in the vast majority of cases people who are able to live honestly and with integrity are happier and more self actualized.

Michael Shernoff, MSW



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