Advertisement
The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Download Our App
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol
HIV/AIDS Blog Central

Facebook Put My Life Together Again

By Mark S. King

September 9, 2011

This article originally appeared on Mark's live blog at www.MyFabulousDisease.com.

"Dirty Facebook Logo" design by Hawk Style Design.

Today I accepted the Facebook friend request of someone I knew in high school. We haven't spoken in more than thirty years. She is married with a load of kids, and God knows why she wants to befriend the scandalous queer who wore knee-high platform boots to the junior dance in our home town of Bossier City, Louisiana.

I did what I always do. I accepted her request and included a link to My Fabulous Disease, labeled as a blog chronicling my life "as an HIV positive gay man in recovery from drug addiction." Based on past experience, I'm unlikely to hear from her again, and that's okay.

For most of my life, I've kept my social circles far away from one another. The family section never mixed with the gay contingent. These segments were then dissected into those who knew my HIV status and those who did not, which were then divided by whether or not they knew I did comedy drag, and then finally separated into those who knew I did (a lot of) drugs, and those who did not.

When I finally put a stop to my exhausting existence of lies and fakery that accompanied my drug addiction, I knew that in order to live a life of integrity I would need to be the same Mark for every person in my life. No more masks or crafting my personality to suit the audience.

Facebook Put My Life Together Again

Then I joined Facebook, which allowed me to invite all of these segments into one pool of friendship. My nephew would see my posting about my HIV treatments. My AIDS work colleagues would be treated to videos of me in drag. My friends in recovery would post encouraging words about our shared disease of addiction, and all of this would happily exist on my profile page alongside my nephew's picture of his baby boy.

Facebook has allowed me to tell the truth again. It has shown me how to be authentic and the same person to everyone in the various corners of my life. Becoming a whole person again cannot be understated. After many years of deceit and hiding out from one group or another, Facebook presented an exercise in transparency that has saved me from the counterfeit personas I relied upon for most of my adult life.

With all the excitement and hype about Google+, I know it's a format I will never embrace, because it promotes a feature that allows you to separate the people in your life into "circles." They trumpet this as a real innovation, but it would be a huge step back in my personal development.

I need all the positive structure I can get. Overcoming my addictive nature is still a work in progress, and sometimes my insecurities can still find their way into my Facebook life.

I scan every posted update from hundreds of friends, "liking" with consistent generosity. Anyone who wants to be my friend makes the cut, except for the Eastern bloc hoochie mammas that sometimes come calling. Do they knock on your Facebook door, too? They show far too much boob in their photo and love older men and "hanging out."

Men on Facebook who show too much boob, well, they mostly get a pass. But beware of those who are always shirtless, and their friends are always shirtless, and so on. We're not talking "at the beach" pictures, but holding-the-iPhone-aloft-in-front-of-the-bathroom-mirror type pictures. If you can't ask a friend to take a shirtless picture of you, I figure you must be up to no good.

My OCD still sneaks out, and it adores Facebook. Someone might post a picture and I look at it and then I start browsing their other pictures and one of them has some interesting guy I don't know and so I click on his profile and check out his pictures and stare at his many friends whom I do not know and carefully scan their photo album of a very nice dinner at a restaurant I have never heard of in a city I've never visited, and then notice some fabulous pictures of a birthday party for an adorable complete stranger and decide to look at the pictures of each and every birthday party guest and then I look up and it's one o'clock in the fucking morning.

These behaviors are sometimes slow to change. I'm working on it. In the meantime, you can always friend me. What you see is exactly who I am.



prison bars


PLUS ...

A little sanity may finally be entering the arena of laws and prosecution of people living with HIV for not disclosing their HIV status to partners (even though, in many cases in which people are in jail, there was no transmission and protection was often used). A blog posting at Housing Works reports that Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) is introducing a bill that would require a review of all federal and state laws and policies regarding criminalizing people with HIV. This maddening issue was the topic of my conversation with Sean Strub last year, and it's about damn time that legislative action (of the sensible variety) is being taken. "Thirty-four states and two U.S. territories have statutes that penalize HIV exposure" says the Housing Works piece. "While their supporters claim these policies protect the public health, evidence shows they do more harm than good."

Send Mark an e-mail.

Get e-mail notifications every time Mark's blog is updated.

See Also
TheBody.com's Just Diagnosed Resource Center
Telling Others You're HIV Positive
More Personal Accounts of HIV Disclosure
Advertisement:
Find out how a Walgreens specially trained pharmacist can help you

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Delores L (san francisco) Thu., Sep. 22, 2011 at 4:49 pm EDT
i need somebody to talk to. I have nobody in my life.
Reply to this comment


Comment by: cebisile (mandeni) Thu., Sep. 22, 2011 at 9:25 am EDT
it's been hard for you to be in this situation but you did the right choice to come out. you are free now. there is no need for you to stress.
Reply to this comment


Comment by: Anne (Louisiana) Fri., Sep. 16, 2011 at 12:35 pm EDT
Glad to see that you have been able to collect all of your colorful personalities under one rainbow-colored umbrella! Good on you!
Reply to this comment


Add Your Comment:
(Please note: Your name and comment will be public, and may even show up in
Internet search results. Be careful when providing personal information! Before
adding your comment, please read TheBody.com's Comment Policy.)

Your Name:


Your Location:

(ex: San Francisco, CA)

Your Comment:

Characters remaining:
VIDEO BLOG:
My Fabulous Disease


Mark S. King has been an active AIDS activist, writer and community organization leader since the early 1980s in Los Angeles. He has been an outspoken advocate for prevention education and for issues important to those living with HIV.

Diagnosed in 1985, Mark has held positions with the Los Angeles Shanti Foundation, AID Atlanta and AIDS Survival Project, and is an award-winning writer. He continues his volunteer work as an AIDS educator and speaker for conferences and events.

Speaking engagements: Mark King is available to speak to groups. Contact Mark about speaking at your organization or event!


More About Mark:
Profile


Subscribe to Mark's Blog:

Subscribe by RSSBy RSS ?

Subscribe by Email


Recent Posts:

View All Posts


A Place Like This by Mark King

View an excerpt of Mark's book

To read PDF, click here


Interviews With Mark:

Mark King Looks Back at the AIDS Epidemic's Darkest Hour in the U.S. (May 14, 2008)

This Month in HIV: Crystal Methamphetamine and HIV (August 2007)


Articles by Mark:

Meth Burial (May 2008)

Outliving My Father (May 22, 2001)
Mark recounts how years of caring for friends dying of AIDS prepared him for taking care of his dying father
From The Advocate

AIDS Always Benefits from What We Don't Talk About (April 2001)


For the rest of Mark's articles, click here.


A Brief Disclaimer:

The opinions expressed by TheBody.com's bloggers are entirely their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of TheBody.com itself.

Advertisement