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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

You Gotta Have Friends

A Video Blog

By Mark S. King

April 22, 2009

Thirty years ago I was a skinny college freshman at the University of New Orleans who had no idea that a fellow student would become a brother to me. Charles was the first friend I told when I tested HIV positive. The value of his friendship was something I took for granted through years of drug addiction (and as lovers came and went). Somehow we've remained constants in each other's lives even as I moved around the country. And just how good a friend is Charles today? Good enough to spend hours at my house, behind a camera, quietly filming a wild night of discussion, gossip and secrets that became this video blog.

In this video you'll meet my friends James, Craig, Antron and Eric. They are all gay men living with HIV, so consider this a "meet and greet," because you'll be seeing them again soon. We had so much fun trading tales of love, sex and disclosure that we're going to make this a regular feature on my blog. And by the way, yes, they're all single.

And since we'll be doing this again, it would be great to hear from you. Did you enjoy this get-together? What kinds of topics would be helpful to you? Are there things you wish you could discuss with your friends but don't? I'll take your questions or topics and spring them on the guys the next time we get together!

In the meantime, my cyber-friends, please be well.


To contact Mark, click here.

Episode Eight: You Gotta Have Friends

To read more about one of Mark's friends -- Craig -- click here.

See Also
10 Things You Can Do to Enhance Your Emotional Well-Being
Depression and HIV
Feeling Good Again: Mental Healthcare Works!
More Personal Viewpoints on Coping With HIV

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Andrew (Belleville, ON, Canada) Fri., Jan. 14, 2011 at 9:50 am UTC
You guys are all so sweet. Thank you for letting me see a moment of your lives. :)
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Comment by: C, Jay (Houston) Mon., Oct. 25, 2010 at 5:34 pm UTC
I can relate with all the conversation, please discuss as a group the stigma that still exists in the gay community. You would think it should be a culture of understanding but I find it to be anything but. In the much overrated web dating community especially.

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Comment by: Kostas (Greece) Sat., Apr. 3, 2010 at 3:30 am UTC
Love your vid guys . Im a greek gay man and often very scared and depressed about life but u bought a big smile on my face . Thank you
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Comment by: Paul (Tampa, Florida) Thu., Feb. 4, 2010 at 7:18 pm UTC
Great video loved it!
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Comment by: Michael (Minneapolis,MN) Fri., Aug. 14, 2009 at 10:38 am UTC
I appreciate the video and it showed me that there are ways of dealing with all up's and down's.
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Comment by: Robert (San Diego) Thu., Jul. 30, 2009 at 1:40 am UTC
WOW. I appreciate the honesty of the guys' stories from the those in the group conversation. What a blessing and privilege to have friends to be totally, 100% honest about the topic of HIV. I am turning 50 soon and to this date, only two people know of my status and it hurts because it's family. Their only question is how is your health? Conversation stops at my reply "good." The group's insightful, descriptive, personal stories help me to hone in on my own issues and encourages me to come out, speak out, and find friends or support groups who love unconditionally and truthfully, and whole-heartedly.
Wow I am glad to have found this blog.
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Comment by: Sabsblurl (Panama) Fri., Jul. 17, 2009 at 3:16 pm UTC
Right-minded in behalf of you beloved!
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Comment by: JIMMY MACK (SOUTHAMPTON, NY) Tue., Jun. 2, 2009 at 8:07 pm UTC
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Comment by: butterfly (san diego, ca) Wed., May. 13, 2009 at 3:07 pm UTC
This just might be the strangest request you have received but I cannot find a resource online...I am new to this blog stuff so forgive me.
I am the mother of a 14 year old boy, an actor, that has just been cast in Rent the school edition (not without its controversy...why?. He is playing Roger, the ex-drugie who has AIDS (after a one night stand), deep in depression and trying to figure out how he got there. My son is very mature for his age and has been acting since he was 9...he is having a hard time connecting to Roger because he has no way to understand how he an actor this is frustrating for him. Here is my question, how can I find someone in the San Diego area willing to share his story with my son, limited details of course? Just the feelings, the worry, the stages of anger??? anything that he might be able to connect with to "find" Roger. He is committed to playing Roger real, not just singing but feeling so the audience can feel and sympathize, empathize, not judge but understand. Suggestions???
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Comment by: michael (Melbourne Aussieland) Sun., May. 3, 2009 at 6:12 am UTC
enjoyed the talk. its true that we are all universal with HIV and the situations are different but the resource that we gain are beneficial to those that are remote and need a point of contact to share thoughs and beliefs.
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Comment by: Richard (kalamazoo) Thu., Apr. 30, 2009 at 11:09 am UTC
What an inspiration you and your friends are! I feel better just listening to you guys talk. I hope you will blog more episodes with this same group. Thank you!
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Comment by: M (Spain ) Wed., Apr. 29, 2009 at 3:34 pm UTC
Thanks for this good idea; That help people. I know since september I'm positive; only few months with the news in my mind. It's clear to me that your way to do is a good way to follow. Thanks a lot.
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Comment by: Lynn (NYC) Tue., Apr. 28, 2009 at 10:58 pm UTC
People should know their state disclosure law. I would hate for someone to go to jail because they didn't disclose before having sex...also, invite some positive women to the gathering.
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Comment by: NewlySingle (San Francisco) Sun., Apr. 26, 2009 at 8:37 pm UTC
I too agreed with Eric about being selective about who you tell. Being newly single, I haven't had to disclose to any new sexual partners -- 'cuz there haven't been any yet -- but I do dread having to do so. As far as everyone else in my life, I consider my poz status to be kind of like my bank balance, it's a piece of personal information that I don't choose to share with everyone.
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Comment by: Sue (Kansas City) Sun., Apr. 26, 2009 at 10:11 am UTC
What about women? I love you. Keep it up. It's almost as good as being with you.
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Comment by: Bob Robertson (Houston ,Texas) Fri., Apr. 24, 2009 at 3:39 pm UTC
Mark,I was deeply touched by all your videos on this video blog. I have been HIV+ since Valentine's Day ,1986. I am still known as "Grandpa Batty Bob" at Houston, Astro Home Games. When I first came out to the Astro Fans in 1991. They accepted me with open arms and still do. When Drayton McLane bought the team and found out I was poz. He did everything in His Power to remove me from the games in 1994. The Astro players were giving me free admission since 1980 but when Drayton found out in 1997, he told all the players you let "Grandpa Batty Bob" in free
you will be traded. It has been difficult these last 10 years to go to games.I retired in 1999 when the Astros move into new stadium.The Organization took away my pavillion from Astrodome.I feel into depression for 9 years. Then when I lost my lifeime partner of 3
Years on May 7th,2008. I made a return to the Games. To my surprize fans commented ,'We thought you were dead. Are you the son of Batty Bob"? My responses were: Do I look dead,or Look at the
Back of my Uniform what does is say "Grandpa Batty Bob". Most fans cheered me on as we managed to take the last place Astros from 28 1/2 out of first place and 18 1/2 games out of Wild Card to an amazing 3rd Place Finish and 1 1/2 games from making Wild Card Team. I was trying to see about being let in free again in 2009,the organization shut me down.i am at a lose for what to do. I am wanting you to know, being "Batty Bob " and "Grandpa Batty Bob" as a volunterring unpaid mascot/cheerleader helped me stay alive and upbeat about my HIV staus. I have been undedective for 15 years with my latest T count 454. I am very safe and have always told everyone about my HIV status. The fans,the players,my family,my friends all accepted me from the very start. I am a Christian and have been since 12/08/1977. I am very active in my gay church, community Gospel Church. I am dealing with my status excellently. My dealing with the Astro Organization is still terrible. Drayton is so ignorant!
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Comment by: Mark (Kenya) Fri., Apr. 24, 2009 at 6:52 am UTC
You guys are great! We do the same here in Kenya. We meet and bond. Keep it up guys, GOD has great plans for each one live on!!! Also pray.
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Comment by: Juan (Spain) Fri., Apr. 24, 2009 at 3:08 am UTC
Thanks, thanks sooooo much for posting this video that treats the whole thing in such a natural, way... I just woke up... checked thebody page after a few months... guess I did it because I have my doctor's appoinment today and I needed some kind of support before going to doctor's office... It was so relieving watching four men just like me being open about their experiences... Well, medication does its job in our bodies... but what you did here is soul medication... thanks
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Comment by: Poz Mikey (Santa Cruz Ca) Thu., Apr. 23, 2009 at 8:32 pm UTC
Mark- I want to know if they were medical brownies? OMG I cried at this vlog. I've only known my HIV status for a little over four and a half years. When I found out, I had full blown AIDS. You and your friends are such an inspiration.

Thank you
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Comment by: javier (Miami, FL) Thu., Apr. 23, 2009 at 6:58 pm UTC
Hi you guys,
I have been + since 84. In some way I have been a fighter but now I need more help than ever. Now I am also an BK amputee. Since last year and I am back to my FT job. However I still feel I need a lot of support. I want to have friends like you. I feel I need more active friends that are welling to push me to do things other then just my FT job.
Keep it going!
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Comment by: Kirk (Dallas, TX) Thu., Apr. 23, 2009 at 6:35 pm UTC
Great episode, Mark! You guys talked about some really important things. I can identify with the part about telling "mom". It was so difficult to tell my mother and so I waited for 3.5 years. When I finally shared, I saw a sadness but then she wanted to know about how she could help. Well, I am fine now, and want to know more about you guys "natural things" you are doing,versus medications. I would also want to know about your exercise and how you deal or dealt with anxiety and/or fatigue. And perhaps do some of you exclusively date other + guys and why not do it. Anyway, I love what you and your friends are doing, Mark!
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Comment by: David Capogna (NYC) Thu., Apr. 23, 2009 at 4:44 pm UTC
This was so awesome! I'm we so alone now...wah
Just kidding!
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Comment by: David T (Dallas, TX) Thu., Apr. 23, 2009 at 10:56 am UTC
Great blog! I look forward to each installment! I have to agree that friends are very important. It is unfortunate that there is still a large amount of ignorance out there though, which for some can't get past and see a person for who he is and not his condition. As for me, I didn't tell anyone outside of my ex when I found out about my status. I grew up where no one talked about very private things. It has taken several years, but I am completely out about my status. My online profile states it, but I have yet to tell a new person as I haven't met anyone new in a while. I still feel it would be difficult at first, but I certainly would tell them if we engaged in any sexual activity. I think that is based on my fears of immediately being rejected because of my status rather than who I am as a person. After reading many people's experiences about their experiences of telling someone, it makes it difficult for me in dating someone who isn't. Maybe that is just my closed mind, but the fear of infecting someone, or even posing a remote chance of infecting someone regardless of how cautious I am, is something I don't think I could deal with emotionally. I made the decision I would only become emotionally involved with other pos men. Perhaps that could be a topic of discussion for a future Vlog! Mark, James is cute like everyone else, but Eric is HOT! Be still my beating heart! I'd go out with him in a heart beat!
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Comment by: Keith (Atlanta) Thu., Apr. 23, 2009 at 10:53 am UTC
Wow! What a fantastic post. Your friends are fabulous. My partner for 8 years was just diagnosed a month ago and he still refuses to go in for treatment. He doesn't sleep and has been experiencing severe hives. I've been positive since 1989 and only my family knows. In 1994, I became disabled due to a severe myelopathy and piss poor treatment and/or judgment on the part of my physician. Now, I am completely disabled and use a tri-rollator to move around. As a result, there has been a lasting stigma about me that is unacceptable to everyone I meet. Honestly, we have no friends to speak of, just acquaintances. I continually receive invites to a variety of events at Aid Atlanta and am seriously thinking about dragging my better half down there one of these evenings for one of their dinner engagements with a guest speaker. I think this might be a very good start to networking and making friends, which I honestly believe we desperately need. Once again, thank you so much. I will subscribe to your blog and look forward to future posts.
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Comment by: Diana (staten island NY) Thu., Apr. 23, 2009 at 10:21 am UTC
I especially was touched when the issues of telling Mom was discussed. I am the parent of an HIV positive child who also did not want me to know for several years. My thoughts of why were confirmed when "not wanting to deal with the grief of your mother" was introduced. It helps me to understand from my son's viewpoint since I have wondered if he thought I would reject him. That would be most hard for me to handle. "Did my child not know what he means to me?" I too put my grief to the side and came back instantly with "What can I do for you". Since then, his fiance has told me that his greatest sadness in telling me was seeing the "fear of losing him on my face". I look forward to your next meeting. God bless you all for the help you give so many like me. Blessings!
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Comment by: Jim Frederick (Dallas, Texas) Thu., Apr. 23, 2009 at 8:37 am UTC
Great way to start the day, I've sent your link to my friends and you didn't talk too much yesterday afternoon! Ya'll were perfect, lol
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Comment by: john (spain) Thu., Apr. 23, 2009 at 4:54 am UTC
Great friends, great blog. Thank you all for sharing.
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Comment by: Janus (South Africa) Thu., Apr. 23, 2009 at 4:14 am UTC
Thank you Mark and friends! This episode was AB-FAB!
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Comment by: Rodger (Canada) Wed., Apr. 22, 2009 at 10:24 pm UTC
I really agreed with Eric that you make decisions about who you want to know. If HIV isn't your defining characteristic, then it doesn't have to be part of every single relationship in your entire life. To me those decisions are not about not accepting yourself or not being honest, it's about being empowered to define yourself on your own terms.
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Comment by: princess (france) Wed., Apr. 22, 2009 at 8:30 pm UTC
is it possible to get me in touch with other HIV positive groups? am tired of the stigma and I would love to date HIV postive christian men. Thanking you in advance.
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Comment by: Charles (Atlanta) Wed., Apr. 22, 2009 at 3:51 pm UTC
Mark, you assembled some great guys. I felt I was sitting there in the midst of all of you. And they respectfully agreed to disagree. I hope you continue further conversations with topics submitted by your blog followers. I thank them for sharing their stories and insights.
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Comment by: ben (Ft. Lauderdale) Wed., Apr. 22, 2009 at 3:45 pm UTC
Very sweet episode of your blog, Mark. The guys each brought something different, which underscored the idea that whatever is right for each person to deal with their status is ok.
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Comment by: Robert (Philadelphia) Wed., Apr. 22, 2009 at 3:42 pm UTC
Thank you for sharing your wonderful friends with us... Friendship is key to surviving... You're an inspiration to all of us... Your friends are great people... thank them too for participating in your Vlog... Big HUG
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Comment by: Robert Meek (Loris, SC, USA) Wed., Apr. 22, 2009 at 3:26 pm UTC
Yea, I know, round #2 of running my mouth.

I just wanted to say that when I was diagnosed I was diagnosed at the hospital I worked, on the nursing unit that I worked, informed by the staff whom I worked with at that time.

Needless to say, this brought a bizzare set of challenges to me.

I chose, under the circumstances, to tell all of my friends, to come out 100% about HIV. I was already 100% out as a gay man.

This is when I found out, here, that my most stable supporters were my straight friends, rather than my gay ones.

No, I cannot explain why. I still do not know why, and I was diagnosed January of 2002!

But it has remained true, for me, to this day.
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Comment by: Robert Meek (Loris, SC, USA) Wed., Apr. 22, 2009 at 3:21 pm UTC
Oh, sweet Jesus! Be still my palpitating heart! I do believe I've got "The Vapors" just like in "Gone With The Wind"! If any of y'all ever decide to vacation at the SC beach, let me know! ;) That includes you, Mark! ;) Friends are critical, I agree. Ironically, my strongest friends here ended up being my straight ones. But then living in the massive metropolis of Loris might have something to do with that. We finally went from 3 to 5 stop lights, got a KFC, and a Subway restaurant. Need I say more? Least ways it's a very safe place for me to "bring up" my Precious Baby Girl, FiFi, my dear little Poodle.
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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:

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A Place Like This by Mark King

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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)

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

A Brief Disclaimer:

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