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The Dating Game
The Best Pickup Spots ... When and How to Disclose ... the Dates They Won't Soon Forget; Four People With HIV Kiss and Tell

Interviews by RonniLyn Pustil

Winter 2012

Sébastien Goulet

Sébastien Goulet, 38

HIV+: 12 years
Job: Web services manager, Fétiche Armada
Sign: Aquarius
Status: Single

LIKES: beards, leather, video games, zombies, nerdy guys, sci-fi, B-rated horror movies, glasses, bearded nerdy guys with glasses (maybe wearing leather)

DISLIKES: attitude, goat cheese (ugh!), bad breath, lack of compassion, elitists

How do you meet dates?
Usually via friends and sometimes in bars. I've pretty much dropped all of the online websites due to rampant lying and serophobia.

When do you tell a date that you have HIV?
My HIV status was very clear on my online profiles. As for an actual date, I usually tell the person on the second date. And I tell every potential sex partner before having sex.

Has disclosing ever led to a disaster date or a magical moment?
The disaster date is what prompts me to disclose to every potential partner: I had met someone and we clicked really well. As we were kissing, he looked at me and asked: "Are you clean?" (I absolutely despise that term.) When I told him my status, he went into a giant panic and had to check his mouth for open sores. He said: "Thanks, now I need to go to a clinic." Baffling how a 35-year-old gay man still thinks HIV can be transmitted via kissing.

Does the HIV status of your date matter to you?
I prefer dating other HIV-positive men. As understanding and sweet and nice as someone can be, if they do not live with the disease, it's difficult for them to understand when you need to cancel a date because your meds aren't agreeing with you. Also, if I'm going to be in a long-term relationship, I'd rather not be the man who infects his partner if an accident happens with the condom.

The perfect date:
Definitely good food. Maybe a fun movie or an evening battling on the PS3. Lots of chatter about serious and inane things. And some heavy kissing, maybe beard rubs.

Jessica Whitbread

Jessica Whitbread, 31

HIV+: 10 years
Job: Youth support worker, Positive Youth Outreach; grad student; hairdresser
Sign: Taurus
Status: Separated (and loving it)

LIKES: Pomeranians, tea parties, vintage dresses, bicycles, hard-to-watch documentaries

DISLIKES: macho men, onions, mosquitoes, [Toronto Mayor] Rob Ford

How do you meet dates?
Mostly I meet people just from hanging out and through friends. My favourite places to meet dates are in the spots you're not looking for them -- in the library or supermarket. Not that I pick up lots of people in the supermarket, but that's where the funniest conversations happen. Most recently I met someone on an airplane and now I have an international lover.

When do you tell a date that you have HIV?
That's a hard one. I generally go on a couple of dates and feel the person out a bit before disclosing. I tell before I know I'm going to make out with them. Ideally, they already know about the advocacy work I do, so they already know my status.

What is your disclosure approach?
I drop giant hints about the work I do so it's not coming out of left field. Then I cross my fingers that they ask me how I got into this work. Other than that, my style is to just throw it in like it doesn't matter -- not like "brace yourself." I try to make it as cute and fun and playful as possible. I like to build up the sexual tension if I'm really into the person, and then I'll say, "I got the HIV."

Has disclosing ever led to a disaster date or a magical moment?
It's always been cool. I date men and women, and I've never had someone kick me out of bed for being positive. In fact, I find that they're more interested.

Does the HIV status of your date matter to you?
No, but I'm hard-pressed to find a positive person who wants to sleep with a lady.

The perfect date:
We ride our bikes to a park and have a picnic on a red-and-white-checkered picnic blanket, with vintage china teacups and home-baked treats. There's lots of conversation with a definite make-out at the end. Or, a hot date with Freddy Mercury and we're both wearing jumpsuits (imagine how fun that would be).

Steven Tingley

Steven Tingley, 29

HIV+: 8 years
Job: Actor, model
Sign: Aquarius
Status: Single

LIKES: big beautiful eyes, a great smile, a positive outlook, a sense of humour, charisma, walks on the beach, Chinese food, tattoos

DISLIKES: gossip, horror movies, sushi, lazy people, bad kissers

How do you meet dates?
One of my favourite ways to meet men is in clothing stores. I met one of my exes in Winners. I was walking down one aisle and he was looking at me over the clothing rack. We followed each other up and down the aisles, with strong eye contact the entire time, and then started a conversation in the checkout line. We were together for about three months. I've also met people at Athlete's World.

When do you tell a date that you have HIV?
I want them to see me for who I am, so I normally tell them on the first date. It's better to break the barrier right away than have your feelings hurt or be judged once you're in the relationship. Most people see it as a reward. They think, "He told me right away, what a nice guy. That must have been hard for him." Many people are thankful because they don't usually ask before getting into bed.

Has disclosing ever led to a disaster date or a magical moment?
One gentleman and I met through a mutual friend, and I figured that since this friend was positive he might have disclosed my status. I hooked up with this guy and we started making out. When we went into the bedroom, I told him about my HIV status. He basically tripped over his pants and bolted through the door. His pants came off and he ran down the hallway in his boxers, freaking out. When he came back (his wallet was in his pants) we talked for a while. He really didn't know a lot about transmission. I settled him down and told him I'm on meds and I'm undetectable. He thanked me but said there was no way he could bring himself to be with someone with HIV. I never heard from him again.

Does the HIV status of your date matter to you?
No. I've actually dated mostly negative guys. But I wouldn't want to infect anybody.

The perfect date:
It's like a date I had a couple of weeks ago. We bumped into each other on the street and started walking together. We went out for supper and I ended up at his place. We chilled for a few hours -- watching movies, talking, laughing and holding each other.

Danita Wahpoosewyan

Danita Wahpoosewyan, 44

Regina, Saskatchewan
HIV+: 5 years
Job: Needle exchange coordinator and peer support worker, AIDS Programs South Saskatchewan
Sign: Aquarius
Status: In a relationship

LIKES: going to movies, listening to music, relaxing, a man who likes kids

DISLIKES: poor hygiene, people who judge, spicy food, clingy or selfish people

How do you meet dates?
Usually through friends or relatives. I've met a few in the bar when I used to go to certain clubs, but in a bar you don't really know who you're meeting; they could end up being a psychopath.

When do you tell a date that you have HIV?
I tell them right away on the first date if I really like them and wish to continue to see them. If I know there won't be a second date and it's not going to go any further, I don't feel the need to tell them.

What's your disclosure approach?
I've been in the news and I work at an AIDS organization, so most people already know that I am positive. But if they don't, I'm usually very upfront about it.

Has disclosing ever led to a disaster date or a magical moment?
I told my current boyfriend that I really liked him and that there was something about me that he should know if we were to continue our relationship. He was very kind and nonjudgmental.

Does your date's HIV status matter to you?
No. Why should it? People are people, and some things you just can't change about a person.

The perfect date:
He comes to pick me up with a bouquet of flowers and takes me somewhere nice for dinner. Then he takes me to a movie or park and we hold hands and talk about the future together.

This article was provided by Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange. It is a part of the publication The Positive Side. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:

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