Friendships, Fallout and HIV

By OckyDub | Posted May 9 2015 | 16 Comments  

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The “Friendship”

I was a little over a year in Atlanta and was not only feeling the city and the clubs but also myself. I met Brock and his crew through my best friend at the time. Thinking the friend of my friend is a friend, everything was cool. Brock worked in the music industry in Atlanta, which was still blossoming into the black entertainment mecca of the United States.

He was the “I got you man.” Any club, restaurant or lounge you went to with Brock, he would say, “Yo, I got you.” Meaning you didn’t have to pay for anything. Straight Ball’n. I would take Brock up on his “I got you” offers every once in a while, but I have never been comfortable with another man paying my way. Brock’s superficial materialism wasn’t me but he was still a cool dude. Something else that was noticed later was Brock’s affection for lighter complexioned black men. I didn’t know it at the time but this afforded me a space in his entourage. Brock’s cousin Tee also had a thing for light skinned men. Not necessarily odd, many darker men like lighter and vice versa.

Single; I was open to date, entertain and sex freely and Tee sparked my interests. He was masculine, gainfully employed, attractive, had his own town home, and was mobile. So when I found out Brock was secretly playing match maker with Tee and I, I was down.

Tee and I had a good time while I was at his place. I smoked, we laughed, cracked jokes, etc. It’s was getting late. I was down for sex if he was down. After the heavy petting preliminaries in the bedroom, it was time for intercourse. Right as the tip touched the eye, I stopped. I had planned for this occasion and had supplies. I got out the bed went over to the door knob where my book bag was hanging and pulled out a condom. All is good.

Many men in their early or mid-twenties are still kids. We’re like teenage boys and we talk about our sexual conquests. The same way I had shared with my best friend about Tee, Tee had shared with Brock…it was to be expected. A few days later when I visited Brock’s massive home following my sexual encounter with his cousin, there was a strange air about him. It was kind of jovialness mixed with anger and “I told you so” sarcasm. There were odd general questions, kind of, concerning what did I think of Tee’s home, his furniture, his kitchen, etc. Materialistic questions as if to convey, “his stuff isn’t better than mine.”

As we made drinks his questions turned more judgmental or accusatory as to why I had sex with Tee. My mid-twenty self was confused by the tone of questioning so he begins to elaborate. He explained, not only did Tee have a boyfriend; he was getting over a bout of hepatitis. Wow, I had no idea about a boyfriend but Tee did mention hepatitis. I know hepatitis is a disease that impacts the liver but it didn’t register with me that it can also be transmitted as an STI.

“Dude, it was just sex” I explained and no harm no foul because I used protection. Brock replied, “Well that’s good because that nigga got HIV anyway.” Wait…What?

The Fallout

Wait what? I now have questions. I’m thinking, come on Brock, we been hanging tough now for months. We’re home boys. Why would you hook me up with someone who is HIV positive and you know he is in a relationship? So I ask him.

The response was very matter-of-fact. He replied “No, he wanted to holla at you, you wanted to holla at him, I just connected the dots and gave you two each others phone numbers with both of yours permissions. The rest was up to yall. Yall set a date, met up and had sex. I had nothing to do with it.”

True, but Brock knew of his relationship and obviously knew or suspected an HIV positive status. Why wouldn’t he tell me? After a couple of weeks, our friendship became more distant. It finally ended when he temporarily moved to LA and we for the most part stopped communicating with just a few calls here and there.

I spoke to Tee via phone on two other occasions. The conversations were very dry. Years had passed since our first post sex phone call. I was no longer living with a roommate and by this time, I had my own apartment. During that last conversation with Tee, I made sure to mention what Brock had told me many years before about his boyfriend and HIV status. He told me Brock was hate’n and the info Brock shared was all lies. No matter, I never spoke to Tee again. Hearing his voice brought up a forgotten rage.

There was a hatred and rage that built after Brock told me about Tee’s supposed HIV status. After a couple of days I found myself plotting to kill Tee. I came up with an entire plan the entailed me going over to his house, strangling him and setting his town house on fire. My murderous revengeful intent was the result of my thoughts about HIV. I’m old enough to remember when HIV was an AIDS death sentence. That fear of death from sex was real. It influenced me to become consumed with, “he tried to kill me by giving me HIV so imma kill him.” If it was true that Tee was HIV positive and didn’t tell me, I felt like it was attempted murder. I needed to kill him before he infected and possibly killed others. I’m glad I grew and moved on.

Back then, I wasn’t cool with everyone in Brock’s clique. At times it seemed like they were on some Hollywood shit… partying, pop’n bottles, weed, cocaine, ecstasy. Years after Brock’s and I friendship ended. I bumped into Alex, a member of the entourage (Brock’s best friend) in a club one night. It was odd because I hadn’t seen Alex in so long…and he looked, different. “You here by yourself, where is everybody?” I yelled over the loud music. He replied “we’ll talk later.”

As the night wears down, I find him and let him know I was leaving. He offers to walk me to my car.

Outside on the way to my car we have light banter and I finally ask, “So how is the crew?” He stops walking, so I stopped. He begins to tell me everyone in the circle has passed away; Tee, Brock and the rest, all gone.

The last conversation I had with Brock, he told me about his boyfriend (a very attractive industry model) passing away in his home. I felt Brock just needed someone to talk to because we hadn’t spoke, in what seemed like forever. Brock told me he wanted his boyfriend to be comfortable and he explained in detail his boyfriend’s final moments on earth while at his bedside. I didn’t ask how he died because I had my suspicions. His death I knew about but what about everyone else?

“How is everybody, just dead…how?” I ask Alex. “HIV” he says. As if a faucet is turned on, I begin to cry. It was horrible. Deep uncontrollable sobs. Alex rubs my back and begins to cry. Having just come out of the club and under the influence, I have the courage to ask. Viewing his appearance, I ask Alex, “Do you have HIV?” He replies “yes.” We continue to cry.

After composing myself I exchange numbers with Alex to keep in touch. I knew I was being untruthful. There was a reason I never wanted to be chummy with him in the past. Alex was very messy. The gossipy type and he and others had been arrested a couple of times for check and credit card fraud. Because of this, I rarely interacted with him. Yes people change but I hold mental grudges. I didn’t want to know if he was a better person.

Looking Back

On my drive home my mind begins to deduce. Wait, all these dudes are dead and all from HIV? When I got home, I was able to find their obituaries online. Of course I didn’t know positively they all died from HIV, technically this is hearsay; nonetheless the three young men I knew, Brock, Tee and Brock’s boyfriend had passed away.

Brock knew Tee had HIV. That’s what he said. He said it frankly to me. Alex told me directly that he is HIV positive. My mind wonders…“what the fuck is this?”

Did I escape some type of scheme or plot? Was the night that Tee and I were together supposed to be my initiation, the catalyst to be indoctrinated into some weird brotherhood? What is the explanation for this? How does an entourage become extinct from HIV?

Alex called me weekly for about a month. I never returned his calls. I found out later he committed suicide.

Even though I have no concrete proof that Brock in some way was hoping I had unprotected sex with Tee, thinking back to his comments, his demeanor and attitude, I feel there is truth to my hunches. Thinking objectively and critically, a part of me thinks I understand the why but the part of me that is empathetic to the human soul, hits a wall of befuddlement as to the why turning into a how.

The part that I think I understand falls in line with the same reason I think Alex committed suicide. The stigma and stress of HIV and just living with the virus can, in some cases, have a serve impact to the point one doesn’t see a bright side to existing. The gay community can be very materialistic and superficial as it pertains to masculinity, femininity, appearance, status, wealth, age and whether someone is “clean.”

On the other hand, some HIV positive people (not just gays) can and do purposely and casually infect others. Maybe in their minds, “someone gave it to me and didn’t care or disclose, so I’m going to give it to others.” Would this mindset exist if it wasn’t for the stigma attached?

At 38 years old, I’m an HIV negative black homosexual man. That night with Tee, in that single sexual instance, my story may be different today. Yes, it was my responsibility to protect myself. I succeeded but what about all the others who didn’t? What about the willfully knowing who set out to infect others? Do they bare any responsibility? Do they get an automatic pass because it’s up to the others to protect themselves? What about the man who becomes HIV positive from sexual assault? What about the psychology and testimony of an HIV positive man dealing with stress and stigma?

HIV no longer being a death sentence shouldn’t mean more men are nonchalant about becoming HIV positive or nonchalant about infecting others. Due to the unfortunate statistics as it relates to HIV infection rates within communities of color, I think these diverse dynamics and scenarios should be explored.

 

 

About the Author
OckyDub

Octavius is a founder and editor of Cypher Avenue. He's here to help speak for us and show the world that masculine gay / bisexual men of color are not a part of the stereotypical gay normal that is seen and fed to the masses. No...we are a distinct breed, filled with character and pride. Cypher Avenue is here to show the world how we are different.

   
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16 Comments Feel Free To Join The Cypher.

  1. Jacques Luc Dudre
    Jacques Luc Dudre | May 9th, 2015
    +5

    This is one of the better post I have seen on here

  2. Rhode | May 9th, 2015
    +2

    This post was like a punch to the gut. I felt you 150%. I am speechless but extremely thought provoked.

  3. Lee King
    Lee King | May 9th, 2015
    +3

    Very thoughtful, honest, and insightful.

  4. Jordan
    Jordan | May 9th, 2015
    +2

    Just wow.

  5. DANZO | May 9th, 2015
    +1

    Why did I just finish reading this and the first words that came out of my mouth was ”I hate gay people”.
    Let me preference this my saying I am not in any way self hating or have some issues with my sexuality however I can not rap my head around the fact that someone will know or have some sort of awareness of a friends status and will proceed to play matchmaker without any sort of warning or caution to the individual involved.That whole thought process is just beyond me.
    HIV has always and will always be an Issue when it pertains to someone being gay, not that It isn’t an issue with Hetero individuals. When dating we have to worry about the others status( at least for me).
    With the recent advancement in HIV prevention and awareness many gay people, and sadly the young ones, treat HIV like having a Common Cold. With sayings such as ”Oh I am on PreP” or ”I will just pop a pill’ and people labeling themselves as ”Bug Chasers” it really saddens me and also tales like this. Reports have shown that HIV rates have never really gone down, yes there have been advancements made in treatment and it is no longer labelled a Death sentence however the rates of new infections,with the HIV and AIDS prevention methods out there, are still really high.
    I would stop here by saying I recently saw the HBO movie ”The Normal Heart” with Mark Ruffalo, amazing film. I wish and pray that gay individuals shared the same mentality and approach to sex and its expression, as Mark’s character did in that film.
    Thanks for this post.

  6. HauteChocolat
    HauteChocolat | May 9th, 2015
    +1

    “I stopped. I had planned for this occasion and had supplies. I got out the bed went over to the door knob where my book bag was hanging and pulled out a condom. All is good.”

    Insightful, pensive and a beautiful post in all… Ocky coming through with a big punch! It’s a sad state of affairs but I think the quote is the crux of the issue and the take home – one’s safety is primarily one’s sole responsibility – especially after reading Brock’s caveat when you accused him of hooking you up with someone he knew was HIV+. Thanks for doing the smart thing then and for this reminder… On a prosaic note, Ocky is light skinned?! I don’t know why I always imagined you were a dark/chocolate skinned person.

    • Confusing One | May 10th, 2015
      -1

      @HauteChocolat I was also thinking that Nick and Ocky were just brown/black brothers. lol

      As a person not in the life this story is actually very shocking. It is one thing if an individual is not responsible or if an individual chooses to infect, it is entirely different story when an entire group of people get together and attempt to infect or set you up with someone who is HIV.

      For those who have/had sex raw outside of relationships, why do you do it and for how long? Was it more like the first time/times you did it raw and you thought that was the norm? For example, when I was 14 with my first male experience in high school, I attempted to penetrate and get penetrated raw. We were fooling around in basement at school a couple times a week and eventually tried to progress to fucking. That did not work on both of our ends lol thank God. I knew nothing about condoms at that age. Topped for the first time at 16 with a condom provided by the guy who was bottoming and then I assumed that was the norm. Could it be the opposite for a person who does it raw? First experience was raw so you think that is the norm? Does it really feel that much better? And if so, for who, the top or the bottom? Curious here.

  7. Tao Fi
    Tao Fi' | May 9th, 2015
    +1

    Wow…

  8. ControlledXaos | May 9th, 2015
    +4

    Whoo hoo! I’m glad I’m not the wood because it would be hurting from all these folks coming up out of its works. 😀

    This is a precautionary tale. You always have to look out for yourself regardless. Most of us know when things are leading to possible hookups or if it’s likely we are going to have sex. Keep yourself protected. Condoms last a while so even if you are not having sex right this moment, it’s worth your time to keep some on hand. They go on sale all the time AND they are FSA/health care expense approved.

    If you treat everyone like they have a disease that you don’t want to catch yourself, you don’t have to worry about if they actually have something or not. Yes, there is calculated risk and some things are riskier than others but for me, it’s a condom every time. When I’m in a relationship and if I feel we are ready to go condomless, testing and retesting will be done.

    What I see here is a group of people who were doing absolutely nothing to keep their health up while positive and wanted other people to become ‘one of them’. Rather sad. If these guys were getting treatment, they most likely would not have died so quickly. There’s too many people who are HIV+ and living active and normal lives for people to just up and die. So I imagine they did not seek treatment being in denial or perhaps could not afford it. Who knows? Neither here nor there now.

    As I plan to go on pRep, my behavior has no need to change because it’s not, for me, a pass to do whatever because it only protects against one thing. But I do think people need to do research on what works for them and we need to stop shaming people who have HIV because everyone with it isn’t a slut or dirty. They just made a mistake and or trusted someone who lied to them, either actively or by omission. We don’t shame unwed mothers like we used to who clearly had unprotected sex, so why do we shame people with HIV?

  9. SB3000 | May 10th, 2015
    +3

    Wow. I just wanna commend @ocky for how open he is on here, in general. That was a really selfless story man. Respect.

  10. Mark Henry
    Mark Henry | May 10th, 2015
    +1

    Good read

  11. Me2 | May 10th, 2015
    +1

    WOW! I’m 37 yrs old and had a very similar experience like this in my 20’s too. My boy, at the time, had hooked me up with his friend. Then after he found out that we had sex, he just simply blurted out “Oh Aaron has AIDS and you do too”…I was CRUSHED!! I couldn’t understand my “boy’s” motive and lack of disclosure. I tried to remain friends but wound up being bitter, shady, passive aggressive, and just eventually cut him off. I confronted Aaron too – but I took a slow and sneaky approach and did a little snooping in this back pack pack that he ALWAYS had. I ended up finding some confidential paperwork for NYC Welfare that confirmed his hiv+ status, t-cell count, real name, and age. So I confronted him & would you believe that he broke down in tears and walked off as if I had done something wrong and refused to ever speak to me again!! I kept the paperwork and for many weeks contemplated photocopying it and handing it out out at the Octagon (the club where he hung out religiously). I don’t know if either one of them are dead or alive, but the experience definitely left me jaded and has made it hard for me to trust people.

  12. precious87
    Precious | May 13th, 2015
    +2

    This story is similar to mine, It happened to me when i was 25 years. I meet a guy (Innocent) online whom i was talking to on many gay chat sites. I asked for a relationship with him, he refused giving me a reason that distance can’t allow it he was in the capital city of our country (Lusaka) and its 6 hours away from my town. We used to chat on a friendly environment. 3 days away from my birthday he sent a text that he was in my town attending a workshop with his boss so he wanted to meet me. I was happy and it was late so I booked a cab to take me to the hotel he mentioned. I arrived at the same place I saw him coming down the stairs the dude was handsome and manly. He took me to the club for my first time, he paid for my drinks and he danced and i was sited just watching him. After dancing he came and he apologized for refusing me to be his dude and he told me that he is not ready and gave me hope that i will find someone. I thanked him for telling me the truth and being frank with me.
    He asked me why am single and am so handsome, I told him that many gay people are hiding due to laws in our country and i don’t club neither like hook ups or random sex. And since guys are few who are open, those open guys go round having sex with any one, its like everyone is sharing every guy. Then he told me that he feel bad for me then he suggested that i must shift and move to the capital city because there everything is great. After a while he pulled his cellphone then he showed me a guy, who looked better than him. Then he asked me if I know him or I have meet the guy before. I didn’t know the guy and asked him who he was. Then he said it’s his ex. They broke up cause he was too jealousy, the ex couldn’t stand watching him talk to a guy when they go out at night so they decided to end it. Then he said he is a nice guy, the only problem is Jealousy. Then i said for me its fine cause the guy is protecting me from others and that’s great. Then he asked me if i would like to know him, I laughed. He opened Facebook and showed me his profile and gave me his number. I was happy and loved it cause at 26 I will have a man in my life.

    It was few minutes to midnight and I told him I gotta go and there are slim chances that i might get a cab in town. Then he was surprised that it was getting to mid night so we left the club. He asked me if i can spend a night with him, I hesitated in answering, cause the bought me every drink and he asked me to meet up and I couldn’t leave him alone thought he has changed his mind.

    We arrived in the hotel we stripped clothes off and we were in our boxers, i kept a distance cause he said he was not looking for anything and we were friends. Just a few minutes he got closer to me and touched me saying I shouldn’t be afraid of him. I touched him then we kissed. I asked if he has a condom, then he reached for his bag and grabbed some lube and a condom, he fucked me then we took a bath. After that he said he wants more, this time it was raw. After 2 minutes i stopped him. Then we decided to sleep. It was 5.30am the alarm ringed we got up, he said I can sleep wait for breakfast and then go home, he was rushing for the 6.00 am bus to go back. I was not comfortable with the idea i suggested that we go together. I escorted him to the station.

    Few days later, i called him to find out how he is doing, he was ok and happy that i was with him and the sex was great. Then asked me if i have called his ex, which I didn’t do. He encouraged me to do it and not to mention him to his ex. I didn’t want to lie, so i first contacted him via Facebook. The guy replied and everything went well. A few weeks later I asked him if he can be my guy, he refused and i asked him why, he said he was HIV positive. Then he asked me to tell him the truth how i got contact of him cause there was no mutual friend with me and him. I told him the truth. Then he asked if I have slept with his ex (Innocent),I agreed, He asked if i used protection. I did but not on the second round.
    He went quiet and say Innocent was the one who infected him. I saw my life diminishing and an echo went in my mind that i am dying. I called the office that i was submitting my school project and i cant report for work. I was in a mess that day. I picked my bag called project supervisor that I ll be late. I looked myself in the mirror,I was not ok what i was seen. I called a doctor whom i asked to give me the symptoms of HIV. He explained but i was not satisfied. I rushed to the nearby university hospital, they made me wait for hours and they didn’t have the HIV testing kit. I got paranoid thought everyone was looking at me that am positive. Until i went to the Health Counseling center. I pulled my sunglasses in my bag to avoid everyone looking at me. In the waiting room I found two men who were positive and there were in pain they were waiting for an ambulance to take them to the hospital. And a thought came into my mind that I was next. I thought how am I going to tell my relatives that I am Positive? Every friend of mine has never seen me with a girl and no one knows am gay. My young sis will be alone for life since Dad and Mum are gone. Who is going to take care of me when situations get worse?
    After an hour, Innocent ex mailed me a conversation they had via whatsapp when he was complaining to him that at night he is sweating a lot and his CD4 count is low and wants to go to the hospital. I asked why he forwarded it to me, he said he wanted to give me concrete information that it’s true what he is saying. 30 minutes later I was called in the testing room, I felt like quitting everything in life. My project supervisor called me because it was my time to present my project. I just looked at the phone and didn’t pick up cause there was no need for it.
    I did the test it was negative. Then i called Innocent ex and told him the good news. And he was happy for me, and then he revealed another secret to me. He said the name “Innocent” is not the real name of his ex. He gave me his real name. Fuck I screamed! I called “innocent”, i asked him what his real name is, he mumbled to answer and he asked me if he can explain. He said he used that name because he has two passports he uses when going to South Africa and the other name “Innocent” is a South African Identity. I stopped him then I asked him why he was doing what he did to me. He went quiet and cut the call. I called him he didn’t pick up. Up to now we have never talked and meet.
    From that day I don’t accept a hook up, if I decide to have sex, I have to date a guy and know him. If he is too quick I end everything and ask them to look for someone who needs sex. Condoms and lube are things I ask for every time we have sex.
    Up to today am waiting for a real man who can start a relationship with me. Most people are on a mission to infect others its true and that’s a fact.10 years ago In the capital city there was a female student who used to sleep with anyone who wants sex(Lectures, students or other men). With her it was up to a man to decide, if he wants to use a condom or not. When it was time to leave the college she wrote all the names of men she had sex with and stacked the paper on the notice board and she wrote that she was HIV positive. Any person who slept with her has contracted HIV. It was sad and the message went viral and it was broadcasted on the national news.
    In my life I trust two people, God and me. Use a condom or stay away!!

  13. MrSeldomSeen | May 14th, 2015
    +1

    This is not isolated. I’ve had some friends relay stories similar to this to me over the past few decades.

  14. Dre G | May 15th, 2015
    +1

    Heavy Stuff man

  15. samespiritssamebody | October 5th, 2015
    0

    Thank you ockydub for this. Earlier this year I dated someone who is Positive, I’m negative, and he turned out to be not worth the risk I was willing to take to be with him. Lets just say that.




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