Over the last week, I have wavered back and forth to address harassment issues regarding the #ShoutYourStatus campaign on Twitter, created Ella Dawson, Lachrista Greco, Britni de laCretaz, and Kayla Axelrod. The #ShoutYourStatus tag aims to promote a more open conversation about living with STIs. Being HSV2+ and caught in the activists’ mindset, I felt an inherent need to stand by my peers, my cause, and share my piece. I am certain that something in this post will be represented in a manner opposing its original intent, as have other postings and tweets. I carry that risk with every post, every tweet, every text. There is an awareness that these words, my words, and I could meet again out of context on opposing terms. And this week, we have.
Certain tweets received more publicity than others. The main two addressed how I still have a fulfilling sex life despite carrying an STI, and how I was able to assist in educating a seventh grade human sexuality course, in addition to sharing my story. Apparently, this angered a largeRachel Kramer Bussel's recent article. So much so that there was an entire article dedicated to my crazy feminist ways. It seems that every morning, I wake up and find a new post bearing my name, my words, branded into someone’s latest publication. I locked down my Twitter for a few days, something which I have never felt a need to do before. I have always been someone who says, “Hey this is me. This is who I am. Take it or leave it.” I began receiving direct messages and mentions from Twitter that I would rather not be a part of. So I took a step back. I shouldn’t have to. I shouldn’t have to feel that I am silenced, but I did. Sure, I can block certain individuals from contacting me, but there are loopholes. There are still ways for them to find me, read my tweets. They are probably working on their next article as I type this.
At this point, I do not know what is more sickening and disheartening to read: the articles, or the comments sections. I’ve compiled a very, very short list of comments and messages I’ve received below:
I am in articles, forums, tweets, comments, you name it, my name is probably there somewhere. What I see in these remarks (besides opposition) is passion, and a lot of it. I love asking people what they are passionate about, what they want to accomplish in their lives. It delves so much deeper into one's identity, and I find it sparks better conversations. With passion, there comes risk. Just as I am passionate about my causes, these individuals are, obviously, deeply involved in their own, however, there is a difference. There is a way to discuss opposing values without trolling, without direct messaging, without bullying. I am confident in myself and my mission. I am not looking to gain approval, especially from these individuals--although, I would appreciate any future articles referring to me use the correct spelling of my name.
I have always been "different." I never really understood why. Why me? Well, with my herpes diagnosis, a lot of these feelings resurfaced, and I believe I finally have the answers. At 23 years old, I don't know everything, I never will. But there are certain moments in my life that have led up to this point, which are beginning to make sense to me. I am proud of myself for rising from the shadows of genital herpes. I never asked for herpes. I never consented to it. It originated from someone I knew well, someone whom I trusted. I didn't know who to turn to, so I ran. I was depressed. I had a problem with alcohol. It wasn't okay. I hit rock bottom, and I am lucky to have been given a chance to revive myself, to stand up for myself--for once in my life. I am finally confident in who I am and because of that, I am able to embrace my herpes positive status. This is me. I have no shame in who I am.
I never expected my blog would reach almost 9,000 views. I never expected to connect with the very women who once inspired me. I never wanted, nor expected to 'make a name' for myself in this manner, but here I am in defense of myself and my words. I define myself as a woman. I affirm myself as a woman. I have sex, great sex. I write about sex. I talk openly about sex. In the eyes of many, my very being is inherently wrong. I choose to follow the path less traveled by, I always have. It has made all the difference, and it will continue to make all the difference (Thanks, Frost). Ladies and gentlemen, my work has only just begun.