Gay Men Living With Health & Medical Issues, More Common Than We Think
Health Issues, Medical Conditions, Aches and Pains are so very common yet people often think they are the only ones silently having to deal with them… it can seriously affect confidence, especially with socializing and dating.
From asthma and respiratory issues to digestive disorders to living with HIV, the “severity” of the affliction is subjective and in the eye of the beholder.
One of my single close friends presents her life on social media as “perfect” yet she suffers with Sickle Cell Anemia and often has to be hospitalized.
My own younger brother, who’s married with children, has had a weak immune system his entire life. He’s constantly sick and is often taking off work to either go to the doctor or check in to the hospital. He’s taken off work so much that they think he’s faking it at this point.
Another friend of mine suffers from the sleep disorder insomnia, which affects his energy level during the day.
Even myself, a man getting up there in age, I’ve started to notice that my body isn’t as well-oiled of a machine anymore. My gut can’t so easily digest any and every type of food that I shove into it like it used to (an issue shared by over 20% of Americans)… In the grand scheme of things, this is nothing debilitating or major, but at times it can be so annoyingly inconvenient that I’ve cancelled social activities pre-planned with friends.
Do I talk about this on social media, nope. Not many people do.
Unless its something mundane like having a cold or flu, many of us keep chronic or recurring health issues to ourselves because A) they’re personal and between us and our doctor only, B) they can be embarrassing, and C) they could affect how others view us.
Also, no one wants to be a negative “Debbie Downer,” lowering the moods of other people by constantly discussing/complaining about their issues.
But in reality, more people would probably relate to and identify with social media posts about health issues than less downer posts about your favorite TV Show or Musician.
Herpes is another very common lifelong (but manageable) medical condition, affecting 67% of the global population under 50 years old and roughly 16% of United States citizens aged 14-49 years old. This doesn’t even include the people who don’t know they have the infection. But living with Herpes is rarely ever spoken about in “polite society.”
Many of the gay men who proudly discuss their HIV status on social media rarely go into details about the complications that can come with living with the virus. True, it takes courage to publicly disclose your status to others, but it can be equally informative and reassuring if the details of what life is like after being diagnosed is discussed as well.
The ironic thing about all this is just about everyone has something they’re silently dealing or living with…or had to live with in the past and finally recovered from.
This misguided sense of being “the only one” with a chronic illness or medical affliction, coupled with the low self esteem from being gay/bisexual in a less-than-welcoming society, can drive some people to extremes.
Like a perfect storm, Depression can result in this toxic cocktail, leading to isolation in socializing with other people and sometimes even suicide.
The invention of the Internet has helped greatly with this. There are now many forum support communities online just for people living with certain illnesses. On top of that, a quick Google search can easily lead you to dating sites specifically for people to find others who are either just like them or willing to look past a medical condition to get to know the person inside.
Admittedly, shedding the fear and embarrassment can come from discussing your health issues with others is easier said than done. But reminding yourself that no one is perfect and that many of the people that you meet will likely share your experience (in some form or another) can make it a lot better.
Nick is a founder, editor and the pop culture expert at Cypher Avenue. Serving as the designer and webmaster of the site, he is the architect of The Cypher Avenue Matrix.
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