How I Came Out to Facebook
"In reflection of 2015…
Many of my friends advised that I should not publicize this because it cannot be taken back, and they’re absolutely right. But herpes cannot be taken back, either. I do believe, however, that the STD stigma can be reclaimed. Since receiving my confirmed diagnosis this July, I promised myself that I would do whatever it takes to fight the stigmatization of herpes, but upon further reflection, I lost myself running from it. I have always had a passion for feminism and human sexuality, and believe this diagnosis weaved a new sense of purpose into my career goals as a future sexual health educator/sex therapist/marriage counselor. This is raw, this is real, this is me.
Recently, I’ve found myself sharing more articles related to STD transmission, prevention, and overall awareness, but determined that this was not proactive enough for what I wanted to accomplish. In my own life, I have received nothing but positive responses and support from my friends and family members. I know there will be a wide variety of reactions to this post, so be it. People will always find something negative to say, but sometimes, when we know someone affected by an illness, mental or physical, we start to see things differently. If I can eliminate one herpes joke or one slut-shaming remark by sharing my story and herpes status--that’s progress to me.
My disclosure was inspired by Ella Dawson, a fellow herpes+ writer who recently was named one of MTV’s "Top 12 Millennials of 2015" for encouraging STD+ people to share their stories in an effort to change the way we talk about stigma. I join in solidarity in that mission. I have found that being open about my diagnosis has allowed me to be at peace with myself and move forward into 2016 with a clearer vision. We all have things that drive us, things that keep us up at night, things that we’re so passionate about, and this, although unique, is now one of mine. I believe in seeing the good in everything: people when they cause us harm, situations where there is little hope, and in a world filled with such negativity, I choose to vibrate kindness, vulnerability and authenticity. Within my herpes diagnosis, there is something beautiful about being given the chance to create change. From my seemingly negative positive stems more positive changes for the world around me.
I encourage all of you to get tested for all STDs, including herpes (it’s not usually included on STD panels). Know your status. If you do test positive for something, it is not the end of the world. For a moment, it may seem like your world is falling apart, and that moment may last for several months. But over time, you will return to yourself again. It is only a weakness if you choose to make it one, and that, is pure defeat."