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Need a bit more optimism (COMING OUT OF THE CLOSET, 2010)
Apr 13, 2010

Dr Robert , Hi ! I first wanna thank you for all the great work you 're doing here . My question is not so much medical as it is mental . Im 28 , rather romantic , in the closet , living in a homophobic small city in the countryside in the Mediterenean , still living with my folks and looking to face my reality this way or another . As i gay man , I have felt deeply challenged by health issues but often i feel , have gone too worried over nothing . I have done more blood tests that actual sex encounters in my life , and even though i always practise safe sex , i have lost the trust in dating with gay men and in their honestly all together . I just feel too vulnerable and that the sex , even safe , is too rushed . As a result i dont enjoy my self or my sexuality at all . I dont have the means to do psychotherapy . Just tell me your thoughts , if u may , as a friend . I would really appreciate it !

Keep up the amazing work u re doing for the public , All the best John

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

You don't really need a shrink, but rather an escape from the "homophobic small city" and living with Mom and Dad! You're 28, frevinsakes! (I was out of the house at 17, when I left for college.)

Being romantic is wonderful (and very sexy, I might add), but living in the closet is not! You're a grown man. Why are you hiding behind the mohair sweaters in the closet? I certainly realize coming out is not easy; however, being honest with yourself (which you are) and with others (which you are not) is essential to psychological well-being. Sex may seem "rushed," because you have to scurry back to the closet rather than basking in the afterglow or going for a walk hand-in-hand on the beach at sunset. Your sexual orientation and gay sexual encounters are not the problem. Your social situation is. It's reinforcing negative attitudes, which then can lead to completely unwarranted feelings of guilt, shame and hopelessness. This in turn can cause depression and can contribute to irrational fears about HIV. ("If I contracted HIV, then everyone would know I'm gay.") So the next step is to get out of your repressive (toxic) environment. Your Mr. Right and Mr. Happily-Ever-After is waiting for you. But you'll never find him in the closet.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob

Life in Crisis (COMING OUT OF THE CLOSET, 2010) Mar 28, 2010

Hey Doc.

I have come here many times and read some of the posts that were posted by people who fear this disease. I'm like the other people who fear for HIV and I'm scared to death.

Here's why: I found a thrush on the side of my left cheek in my mouth, I panicked to death. That's why I see little white bumps of thrush on my lips.

In 2009, when I was smoking a lot during Super Bowl Sunday, my throat was discomforting. Not sure if it's oral thrush in throat.

Two years earlier, in 2007, I wasn't sure if it was leukoplakia on the side of my tongue but I'm not sure if it's confirmed or not.

To be honest, back in 2000 through 2002, I had oral sexual contact with men three times for a very short time, like five seconds and no longer. I'm not sure if it's premature ejaculation or not but I must've contact it through some sort of a cut that I wasn't aware of. It's true that the risk of contacting HIV through oral sex is very low, I may have hit that mark in some way and I'm scared to death.

I'm afraid of dying Doc. I'm like everyone else who's afraid of the disease that can kill you and I haven't got test yet.

The reason I'm afraid of being tested is because I don't want people to find out that I been hiding my sexuality from everyone and have someone to take me to get tested.

I don't want to die in a early age of 24.

I need help before it gets worse.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

I agree your life is in crisis, but the problem is not HIV. Rather, your problem is that you've "been hiding (your) sexuality from everyone . . . ." Denying or hiding your sexual orientation has resulted in irrational fears of being HIV infected. This may well be exaggerated by your guilt.

Oral sex carries only a very minimal risk for HIV transmission. From your description, you do not have thrush or oral hairy leukoplakia.

My advice is that you seek counseling (psychotherapy) to help you confront and conquer your irrational fears and also to help you come to terms with your sexual orientation.

Check out the archives for other coming out stories. I'll repost below a small sample of what can be found in the archives.

My advice is simple:

Be honest with yourself and others regarding your sexual orientation.

Stop smoking. If you don't, cigarettes will kill you in a very painful and undignified fashion.

If you remain worried about your extremely low HIV-acquisition risk, get an HIV-antibody test. Stop worrying about what others may think. Those who matter won't care and those who care don't matter! By the way, both gays and straights get HIV tested!

Get psychotherapy for your irrational fears and sexual orientation issues.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob

reply (COMING OUT OF THE CLOSET, 2009) Dec 29, 2009

in response to http://www.thebody.com/Forums/AIDS/SafeSex/Current/Q205859.html

Well thank you very much for responding to my query with detail and concern, I appreciate it.

I will report back on the three month mark with my results. I am wondering, though, if a sooner test would be reliable, at least to lessen my anxiety.

Bob, it's not guilt, its my area i live, the non-tolerance, the fuck-you-faggot attitude. I have been between Key West to San Fran and loved the people I was around. I, personally am cool with my bisexuality, but my wife uses the "thats gay" joke infinitely daily! My father is in a biker gang, and my mom's new hubby has this thing against the "gay community."

If I am honest, I will lose everyone. Will you be my faux-father?

I understand that keeping it real will do me such a goodness, but keeping it tucked away allows other okay facets of life continuance.

Maybe I can outlive everyone and be true then! I want to be me, but I cannot (at least thats how it looks from where I am.) But then I have the notion to die before everyone else and put my double-identity, my anxiety, my secrets to rest.

I know this goes way beyond your forum of safe-sex and HIV prevention, so I apologize for unloading unto you. It's just reallly fricken hard to deal with it when one has NO support whatsoever.

Im F'd if I do and F'd if I don't. But I must learn protection, protection, protection; talk to my GP, and contemplate...

I shall see you in two months, have a great new year

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

Your story is quite similar to many I receive. The "I can't come out because my situation is so unique" story actually applies to almost every gay person in the universe, except for maybe a few flamers in the rightwing GOP (Larry Craig, Ted Haggard, Mark Foley) and loads of Catholic priests, because no matter what they say, let's face it, everyone knows they are gayer than the Xmas windows at Macy's!

You state if you are honest you'll lose everyone. That includes your "that's gay" joking wife, your biker gang dad and your stepdad who "has this thing against the gay community." Hmm. Now, tell me again why you would consider it a loss if these intolerant creeps no longer considered you one of the gang? It seems to me you can have two families: your "biological" family (sorry, you drew the short straw in this category) and your "logical" family (these would be the folks like the ones you loved to be around in Key West and San Francisco).

As for my being your "faux father," well, I've never played the "daddy" role before, but hell, perhaps being a silver fox would be hot!

OK, now back to you . . . . It seems you realize at least on some level that "keeping it real" would be beneficial for you, but you also state: "Keeping it tucked away allows other okay facets of life continuance." Hmm. Sorry, I don't buy that. Just reread some of your other comments as to how well your current secret life is working out for you: (1) "Maybe I can outlive everyone and be true then." Yeah, there's a brilliant plan that takes delayed gratification to new heights. (2) "I have a notion to die before everyone else and put my double-identity, my anxiety, my secrets to rest." Another brilliant idea! Dude, even if you commit hari-kari, you'll still be gay or bi or whatever and your homophobic scumbag relatives will still be homophobic scumbags. (3) "It's just really frickin' hard to deal with it when one has no support whatsoever." See what I mean about your current plan being unworkable. Your "keeping it tucked" will only lead to increasing anxiety.

Finally, I should answer your question. HIV-antibody tests taken prior to the three-month mark are not considered conclusive. Certainly any negative test would be considered encouraging and might lessen your anxiety, but do keep in mind the results would not be definitive if you test within the window period.

Good luck. The New Year is just around the corner. Hopefully one of your resolutions will be to fight back against the "non-tolerance and fuck-you-faggot attitudes," which currently surround you.

Dr. Bob

Can a Christmas donation get me a response? Dec 28, 2009

Dr. Frascino-

I recently submitted a few questions here without any response. But in reading, I see that donations to your foundation have a larger propensity for being answered. Since I gave a good amounted donation, I have a few!

1) I take it you don't answer every email that hits your inbox, but do you read everyone? If no, then bunk on you! If you do, and you decide not to respond, does that mean you see no concern for alarm?

2) If I were to have acute HIV, would there be anything to alleviate the signs/symptoms? I was taking a herbal/homeopathic remedy and I wonder if I just hid the symptoms of acute HIV. I had a sore throat for two and half weeks, nothing else (no fever, no rash, no gland swelling-although my glands seem harder than I have read they should). My GP RXd azithromyacin for 5 days and the throat went away, but is now coming back. Would homeopathic or antibacterial interventions mask acute HIV?

3) I see that all of my 'exposures' were on the minimal risk level, but if one is to fellate a couple men and a few TS's, would more than one add to higher chances of oral transmission? I also had rubbing/frottage (w/ 1 TS) and analingus (I rimmed 2 females), does that add up even more? [insertion INSERTION is always safe]

4) What do you say to a patient of yours addicted to sex? Lets say the patient used a portion of his money for a charitable donation and cannot afford at this time counseling and SA (sexaholics anonymous) isnt in his area; combined with the fact that he is a closeted bisexual who is scared to talk to anyone? You can just see judgment in others non-verbal cues, and he needs to hear something reassuring and comforting. I ned to hear that my attractions are okay (i understand that my behaviors might not be so okay though) and that I can get some kind of help for my unquenchable hunger for sexual proclivities.

5) Can I please have some good karma, PLEASE. Its Christmas and Im scared shitless that I will have a really bad day in February (3mos) and the anxiety is killing me. I know I need to change some or all of my behaviors, but can you help me to February 16th-ish.

Being forced to reveal my identity (sexuality) and HIV status could be an all-around save or a devastating blow. Depends how I look at it with the caveat of my marriage and three children.

I could be fucked and I need you to hear me; I have nowhere else to turn, man.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

1. I do indeed read all the questions that are submitted to this forum, but because there is only one of me and gazillions of "yous," I can only respond personally to a small percentage. Donations to The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation do not influence which questions are chosen for a personal response (other than perhaps comments I post thanking someone for their generosity and compassion). See below for a discussion as to why I do or do not respond to questions.

2. Herbal and/or homeopathic remedies do not cover up (or help in any way) symptoms of acute HIV. In fact, herbal/homeopathic remedies don't really do anything at all for any real disease process! (See below.)

Antibiotics, like azithromycin, treat bacterial infections and have no effect on viral infections/symptoms.

3. Each episode of sexual activity carries the same degree of risk. It's like flipping a coin. Each time you flip, you have a 50% chance of coming up with heads, even if the previous 20 flips were all heads as well! Frottage is not considered a risk for HIV transmission. There have been no documented cases of HIV transmission from rimming or getting rimmed (analingus).

4. First off, sexual orientation; be it gay, straight, bi-curious or closeted Mormon Republican; is not a choice (except for that last one in the list). Guilt related to one's sexual orientation is unhealthy. Closets, too are health hazards! As Glenda the Good Witch in the Wizard of Oz sings (and I recommend), ". . . come out, come out wherever you are . . . ." Your fears of "judgement" and "non-verbal cues," etc., are related to your internalized homophobia, guilt, and self-esteem issues. Dude, whether you are straight as a lawn dart or gay enough to bottom for Liberace, you are what you are and it's OK by me. As for those who would be judgmental (Republicans, religious wingnuts, etc.), you'll eventually realize when it comes to your sexual orientation, "those that matter won't care and those that care don't matter!"

I have no way of determining if you are a sex addict (I tend to doubt it) or merely a repressed horned-up dude. I'd suggest you discuss this concern with your general medical doctor. You should have no secrets from him. He will be able to evaluate your concerns and make an appropriate (and affordable) referral if it's needed.

5. Good karma signed, sealed and sent! (I'm quite confident you'll be WOO-HOO-ing shortly after Valentine's Day.)

I just got to the point in your post where you mention the wife and three kids. Take everything I mentioned above about guilt and multiply it exponentially to the nth degree.

It's not that you have nowhere to turn. Rather, you just need to start being honest with yourself and everyone else. Your way out of your misery is simple: merely tell the truth.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob

Response to Q205937.html, H.a.Q. (COMING OUT OF THE CLOSET, 2010) Feb 26, 2010

Doctor "Awesome Smile" Frascino-

I am happy to inform you that I am Here and I'm Queer! Yes, I had a lengthy conversation with my professor who was understanding and very accepting to my new identity as a gay/bi man (he said "you don't need to fully figure that out right now, just embrace who you are and enjoy what you will"). He did, however, allow me to plan a date to converse with my wife (he will be close nearby if needed), which I have yet to have the courage to do so. We are currently talking about my family's knowledge and the best way/when to do so.

I feel one-thousand percent better that I am real with myself and slowly am real with certain friends (told a few classmates, some straight, some gay) who were surprisingly accepting as well. By-and-large, I feel more secure in this group (past[Key West, San Fran] and current) because it feels like the acceptance and security are strong and long-lasting.

Thank you, though, for starting the snowball (wicked snowfall this year) of my release of anxiety, guilt, shame, and anger. When I told him my truth, I near passed out due to the total release of stress held within me. That alone is what I am banking on in helping me discuss this to my wife and family; the release of even more stress is exciting.

Robert Frascino, I love you for what you do for our community and how you have aided in my truthful experience. Thank you...

When I am in San Fran again, I will send you a question here asking where you like to get your favorite beverage, because I am buying you one or more.

Lastly, the impending doom of HIV status brought me here, but it wasnt the final motivator the real concern I held. Therefore, I believe my HIV status is not of concern for anyone. What is of concern is that I am healthy and happy and the fact that the advice you offer is helpful, thorough, and medically educated.

I will say it again- THANK YOU

with Love - Steve

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi Steve,

Gosh, I just helped another closeted guy come out!?! No wonder the rightwing religious-wingnut Republicans hate me so much.

Congratulations Steve. You are already feeling the benefits of being honest with yourself and others. I should warn you, however, that coming out to your wife and family may not be quite as easy as being honest with your professor. Nonetheless, it's absolutely the right thin to do. Remember, honesty is never the wrong choice!

Good luck and welcome to our side of the proverbial fence!

Dr. Bob

Slowly coming out of the closet +donation for some words of advice Nov 17, 2009

Hi, I'm 17 and little by little I've been inching my way out of the closet. It's hard because I have a lot of guilt;my religion. And so, this guilt has turned into fear and the fear is HIV. My grandmother says that HIV is to punish gays. She's obviously VERY ignorant, but in some way it's suck with me.

The other day while shopping, I was looking at some clothes on a rack. While holding a shirt I noticed a few spots on it, that looked like blood. I was holding it with my hand that I had cut very severely the day before. If this was HIV infected blood, and because I rubbed my finger that was severely cut on it, would this be an HIV risk? I also touched my friends ear and face a few times and tapped his butt in a playful way. Now I'm worried about them.....

I will donate $40 (all I have at the moment) but promise to send all my other "in the closet" friends to this site for valuable information. Thanks for doing this. I appreciate people like you, whom I look up to.

Love, Scared and alone.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hey there Closet-Guy,

I'm sure Granny means well, but when it comes to compassion, science or even common sense concerning HIV and being gay, she is obviously suffering from cranio-rectal-inversion. (That means she has her head up her butt.) As for organized religion and the gay issue, they don't even mean well!

Your HIV risk from the possibly blood-spotted shirt is completely nonexistent. HIV doesn't survive very long at all outside the body. Likewise, there is no risk from touching your buddy's face, ear and butt with your day-old cut hand.

As for coming out, it's never easy, but it's always the right thing to do. Do not allow either God or Granny to keep you locked in the closet! Closets are health hazards!

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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