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My Love Has No Status

My Love Has No Status

Our hearts and souls themselves are not HIV-positive. 


Saying “I Love You” can feel dangerous sometimes. We put our heart and soul on display expecting anarchy, and are always surprised to find peace instead. Saying it requires vulnerability, awareness, and an acknowledgment of one’s value in our lives without boundaries.

Real love, the kind that gives you chills and exists at the pit of your heartstrings, is grounded in rules of reality. It’s human, it’s tangible, it’s fragile, and yet incredibly solid. It doesn’t come with stipulations: “I love you, except if you’re…” or “I love you, but you’re…”

The truth is you can’t say I love you until you accept the entire package first. It’s a statement that really means: I see you, I want you, I accept you, and in some ways I am you. It’s free of judgments and conditions — at least it should be.

I’ve been guilty of putting boundaries on love. Coming from the ‘90s Disney Channel generation, falling in love had plenty of non-negotiables before I knew what it truly meant or felt like. I thought all love looked the same: a magical story where my Prince Charming sweeps me off my feet to pull me away from whatever hell I was in. Turns out it’s not nearly as enchanting in real life but that’s OK.

In my life I’ve seen HIV stigma poison the deepest of relationships not only with other people, but also the one we have with ourselves. We think our status keeps love away, or that it prevents us from being loveable. We shape it into a Scarlett Letter, and our shame continues to rot all hopes away. But why is that?

Have we made love itself HIV-positive? Love is neither poz, gay, straight, male, female, non-binary, trans, white, Black, Asian, Hispanic, rich, poor, disabled, or blind. Love is a trigger uniting us all, reminding us of an absolute truth that we’re all the same. No matter where we come from or what our status may be.

The ghosts of those who died from AIDS complications in the 1980s and ‘90s (some also continue to die today due to a lack of access to care) are stuck in the back of our minds when we talk about HIV. Even in the LGBTQ community, discussions about the virus can lead down an ignorant path of word vomit. It’s interesting how even in today’s world we still don’t know how to talk about HIV.

Being educated is the first step. No one in history has contracted HIV from loving someone who is poz. It’s time to take back the narrative, promoted by homophobic bigots and ignorant media outlets, that HIV-positive people are doomed to walk the world alone in their shame — waiting for death’s door. Who the hell are we to continue breathing life into that idea?

Things have changed since those dark days. HIV is treatable with sophisticated antiretrovirals that suppress the virus to such low levels that it turns you undetectable — and by that I mean it’s impossible to transmit to others. With HIV being more controlled, all that’s left to suppress is the stigma, which in many can be more toxic than the virus itself.

I say it's time to be selfish. It's time to grab love when we can. Own it. Breathe it. Love is ours, and it belongs to us. We are worthy of it, we are better for it, and it is what we’re here on earth to do.

Love has no status. It’s about how we make each other feel. It’s about inviting each other into our lives. It’s about complimenting each other’s strengths and personalities and goals. It’s about enriching ourselves, and bringing the best out of the other person. That’s something we all deserve.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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David Artavia

David Artavia is the managing editor at The Advocate magazine and Plus magazines, as well as an editor Chill magazine and Follow him on Facebook @TheDavidArtavia and Instagram: @DMArtavia.

David Artavia is the managing editor at The Advocate magazine and Plus magazines, as well as an editor Chill magazine and Follow him on Facebook @TheDavidArtavia and Instagram: @DMArtavia.