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Is There Pride in Being HIV Positive?

A Video Blog

June 7, 2013

During my new video blog episode, below, someone asks me incredulously if I would actually march down the street telling people I was HIV positive.

Well, actually, I would. And have. Many Gay Pride parades ago, in 1994, I marched while wearing a t-shirt that said "NO ONE KNOWS I'M HIV POSITIVE." This was prior to the advent of protease inhibitors, when many were still dying. The shirt felt like an enormous "screw you" to the virus, to the body count, and to anyone who had a problem with my status.

Episode 42: Is There Pride in Being HIV Positive?

But I have a peculiar lack of shame, or if you will, I'm shameless. And I am very, very fortunate that I can exercise this trait with a minimum of consequences. It's not someone that many people with HIV are able to do. Why? Beyond their personal reticence, there is still an appalling lack of empathy (and education) within families, workplaces, and social networks. The issue of HIV criminalization and the increased prosecutions of people for not disclosing their status only increases the risks of sharing your status.

During the Atlanta Pride parade and festival, I tried to reconcile my own "HIV OUT" status with those who can't speak for themselves, and I investigated a simple question: if HIV is nothing to be ashamed of, can it be something to be proud of?

Thanks for watching, and please be well.


This article originally appeared on Mark's blog, My Fabulous Disease, on October 18, 2012.

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This article was provided by TheBody.
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Reader Comments:

Comment by: C (TX) Sun., Jun. 23, 2013 at 5:55 pm UTC
I'm not "proud" of being poz but I'm not ashamed of it either. I was ashamed of it for a while but that got exhausting. I would love to march with a poz pride group just to give the middle finger to the people who say I should be ashamed. Isn't that what gay pride is all about?
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Comment by: Dan (WI) Fri., Nov. 9, 2012 at 12:56 pm UTC
Wow to the guy who only 6 months later is making a difference for others already! As usual, Mark, your video made me laugh to the point of tears (flight attendants, Ben Cohen) (and I noticed "St Mark's Church" banner in the parade!). And delved into the deeper issue. I thought the Pride Guide was going to have NOTHING cut out of it.

Being proud about what I'm doing now to make a difference--that is what I need to do. It is so hard when there is so much invisibility and denial. I guess acceptance and visibility are needed, to lead by example.
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Mark S. King (Atlanta) Tue., Nov. 13, 2012 at 2:03 pm UTC
Thanks, Dan. I promise including "St. Mark's Church" in the video wasn't an editorial remark. ;]

Comment by: A. CLARE (Fortportal- uganda) Sat., Oct. 27, 2012 at 4:48 pm UTC
Bravo Mark! this helped you to live positively and get over the problem.By disclosing you saved many some also learn to be positive while others could have learnt alot. keep the fire burning.
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Comment by: Charles (New Jersey) Sat., Oct. 27, 2012 at 2:56 pm UTC
GREAT topic. For me I am not proud about contracting HIV but I am immensely proud of the type of man I have become BECAUSE of HIV. I have turned my life around and now I am living a very healthy life. Before HIV I would always think...I'll start the diet on Monday....OR......I'll start working out next week.....OR I'll start really taking care of my mental being some other time. So many thoughts go through my head. I recently ran into the husband of my wife's sister who couldn't believe how great I looked....His comment was..."If getting HIV makes you look like that..." Well not the best comment but I knew what he meant.

I exercise everyday and eat a very healthy diet. I am med compliant (only missed two doses since July 2010). I make sure I do whatever makes me happy and focus on teh good things in my life....My soon to be ex wife and my three kids have become my focus......I still have yet to find a man but who with HIV is tough...I met a guy at my gym recently who has become my workout partner and recently I disclosed was gay and turns out he is too. Nothing happened for awhile but when he asked me out for coffee and we talked I disclosed my hiv status becasue I felt there was something there between us. He rejected me in a very polite way but it was still rejection....We still workout together but don't see eachother outside the gym. He did say that it was too bad I was Poz because he thought I was hot. I did tell him that I was proud of the way I have handled my post diagnosis life and he was impressed with my outlook.

What made me recall this experience was that guy "Steve"(the guy with the bluetooth in his ear) you interveiwed in the video. He looks very much like my workout buddy........

Would love to see you do a piece on dating and disclosure. Interested in your thoughts.....

Thanks for all your great work.
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Mark S. King (Atlanta) Tue., Nov. 13, 2012 at 2:05 pm UTC
Absolutely "dating & disclosure" would make a great blog topic. Sometimes I just figure the big topics have been thoroughly examined by other people, but there's nothing wrong with putting my spin on the issue. Consider that topic green-lighted!

Comment by: Jon Stewart (Brooklyn, NY) Fri., Oct. 26, 2012 at 12:27 pm UTC
if HIV is nothing to be ashamed of, can it be something to be proud of?

I think that people can become proud of beinb HIV+ if they are accepting enough of themselves and it. One of my friends is quite open about HIV and recently told me that he feels proud of being HIV+!
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Comment by: Vickie (Florida) Thu., Oct. 18, 2012 at 8:31 pm UTC
Love you!
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