Have your relationships with your family and your friends changed since you were diagnosed?
Oh, no. Earlier in life, I was comfortable with myself, so I didn't mind telling people about me. For the most part I haven't experienced much negativity. I have experienced some, but not near as much as some other people have. My friends are still my friends. My family still loves me. I don't think anything has changed since I have been diagnosed. But like I said, it's been such a long time, now. They were as supportive as they could be. That was always good.
How do you determine the right time to disclose your HIV status to someone?
I have a saying. This is before I became involved in any relationships. I used to go out and have sex on a regular basis. My rule once I became positive I said, "Before we get naked, I'm going to tell you." That was just my rule of thumb. I chose to bring it up in conversation some kind of way along the way. I kind of let them decide to do whatever they feel like they needed to do. I got turned down sometimes. A lot of times I got rejected. But at no time, thankfully, did I experience any violence.
What were the best and worst responses you have ever gotten when you disclosed?
The best response when I told someone I was HIV positive came from my daughter, who looked up at me with those little brown eyes she has and said, "Well Daddy, no matter what happens to you, I will always love you." After that, it's like, you know, who cares? Everybody else can take a number, because I'm all right now.
The worst response, probably, was from someone I thought was my friend. This was kind of early on when I was still in the Navy, and I ran across someone -- we were close while I was on the ship -- and I told him what was going on with me. He kind of looked at me. He was younger than me. We never had a physical relationship, but we were close friends because we worked in close quarters, and we talked a lot. He looked at me and said, "How could you do that to yourself?" He proceeded to just berate me, "You should have known better. There is no reason why you should have it." And he was right. He was absolutely right. But of course, it doesn't help. It hurts more than it helps. Of course, in hindsight he was completely right. But he got so upset he just walked off, and I never heard from him again. I would hear about him through other friends, and I would send my regards on, but I never saw him after that.
What's the greatest adventure you've ever had?
I would have to say the time I spent on my first ship in the Navy. We rode out three hurricanes. We traveled through the Red Sea. We saw Iran, Turkey, some other ports of call in the Mediterranean Sea -- Italy, Spain, all those places. I'd have to say my time in the Navy.
If you were granted one wish, what would it be?
Ouch. One wish? If I were granted one wish, it would be that I was in a place where I was well off, I didn't have to worry about money, and all my family was around me and we were comfortable.
What is the story behind your e-mail address, which has the word "bowler" in it? Do you love to bowl?
Yes, I am an avid bowler! I've been bowling ever since I was 10 years old. As a matter of fact, I just came from a tournament in Dallas this past weekend.
Do you play on a team?
Yes. On a couple of teams. I love to bowl. Love it. Love it. There are times [when], if I have the money and I'm thinking about getting something to eat, I will go bowl, then I will figure out something to eat later. I have done it. I am guilty of that.
That's wonderful -- to have something that you're so passionate about.
Yes. I'm passionate about a lot of things. I just pick my passions a little bit better these days.
Thank you so much.
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