When Larry contacted me online – barely in his twenties and beyond handsome … he looked like chiseled perfection.
The first day riding in the AIDS/Lifecycle, if nothing else, made me an expert on California weather. The morning started off cold while the afternoon got hot. Even though my little windbreaker came in handy, once the sun came out it suffocated me. At least I could tie my arm and leg warmers around empty bar space on the bike.
This was the point where I should say the same thing back, but I couldn’t do it. A knot began to twist in my stomach. I began my own confession, ‘But you can’t trust me.’
When the tester announced that it was time to reveal the test, my stomach turned. Lifting up the plastic cover, he stopped. He didn’t look up with a smile like he had the last time. I suddenly felt suffocated.
When I stumbled upon a remote STD testing center set up in the bathhouse, I thought it was a match made in heaven: bawdy, sexy heaven. That would be my new guilt-free reason to go to the bathhouse. Any hot and heavy action there would be a reward for my good safety measures.
Mr. Poodle explained to an Atlanta gay magazine that he was infected by an ex-boyfriend who hadn’t disclosed his status. Poodle said he pressed charges and the ex is now serving a five-year prison sentence. He said turning his ex in ‘was the right thing to do.’
I had just been serosorted; that term is for the act of sorting out guys by their HIV status. It had happened to me often online, but never to my face.
The week before, a former coworker called to say that her company had a position open. Since social work can be a bit female-dominated, the organization wanted to hire a male. Nonetheless, I didn’t need to switch jobs.
How could anyone want to get a disease, especially one so serious? How could someone want the very thing that wreaked havoc in my own life? I had encountered my very first bug chaser and loathed it.
I stood outside the building, bundled in my winter coat. I clutched my new yoga mat, still in its plastic, deciding whether I’d actually go inside. Trying anything for the first time can be nerve wrecking. Trying something new without clothes on seemed ridiculous. My mind raced. What if all the other guys were in amazing [...]