Tag Archives: Jayce Carberry

The red ribbon stigma…

“Well perhaps if those dirty f**king queers stopped spreading their disgusting f**king diseases, we wouldn’t need World AIDS Day would we?!”

Shocking to read right?

Well that is what was shouted at me and two of my colleagues from METRO Charity outside Greenwich Train Station in London yesterday evening by a woman and was followed by abuse from one of her friends in front of their children….on World AIDS day.

We were there trying to raise money for our hardship fund which supports people living with HIV that are also living in poverty or in crisis.

I would love to say that was the only time we endured HIV-phobic abuse yesterday, but unfortunately I can’t.

“I support many charities- but one aiding HIV certainly isn’t going to be one of them!”

Those of you that have followed my journey over the last 3 and a half years will know that I primarily campaign against the stigma attached to living with HIV.

Whilst the comments weren’t aimed at me directly, they felt very personal. It was hard to stand there and listen to it and not be able to say anything to defend my community.

For me, World AIDS Day has always been a really positive experience. It has been a time to remember those we have lost to HIV & AIDS related illnesses, to celebrate those that are living with the virus and to admire just how far we have come in working towards beating it.

It has been a time where I reflect on how lucky I am to be happy and healthy and to watch as the world takes a moment to show their support.

Yesterday evening, I didn’t feel lucky.

My rose tinted glasses were ripped from my face and I was shown the cold, hard reality of just how far we still have to come.

“I think it’s disgusting you are asking for money for people like that!”

I have always said that the worst aspect of living with HIV is the stigma attached to it. It’s the only thing that scares me about being positive.

I don’t know why these people felt the need to be so open about their apparent hatred towards the HIV community. I don’t understand why they felt it was OK to express it how they did.


Had we been standing there giving out pink ribbons rather than red, would we have had people shouting blame towards women living with breast cancer?

Had we been standing there giving out white ribbons rather than red, would we have had been told it was wrong that we were supporting women enduring domestic abuse?

Had we been there asking for help to support people living with diabetes rather than HIV, would we have had to worry about our safety whilst a member of the public shouted in our faces?


The answer to all of those questions, I hope, is an obvious no.

I can’t say that yesterday was all bad, we also had some really nice comments about the work we do as a charity and we raised over £500 for our hardship fund which is amazing!

If WAD 2015 taught me anything, it’s that the work we do has never been more important and the voices we have need be heard more than ever.

All my love, as always,



Posted by on December 2, 2015 in My Blog, Support Not Stigma, Train The Change


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Why Charlie Sheen really is winning.

Last week you may have seen vultures of the media circling around an unknown Hollywood star that is living with the HIV virus.

Splashed on the front page of a national tabloid, it was clear that these journalists cared more about scare-mongering the public and forcing the star to ‘come out of hiding”. I am sad to see that it is an approach that has worked.

On America’s ‘Today’ show, 50 year old actor Charlie Sheen, known for his role in the sitcom Two and a Half Men, revealed his HIV status in an emotional and heartfelt interview.


The interview carried out by Matt Lauer, began with Sheen giving praise of how sensitively both the production team and Lauer had been over the last few days.

Lauer then stated “There have been a lot of rumours and you would like to address them head on.” Sheen replied simply- “I have to, I have to.”

Charlie seemed incredibly nervous, as you can understand whilst he was revealing such a personal thing about your life to a world you know has been waiting desperately to find out who this ‘mystery star’ is.

Whilst he stuttered, Charlie conveyed himself with grace, humility and honesty as he told the world his story. “I am here to admit that I am in fact HIV positive…I have to put an end to this onslaught, this mirage of attacks….”

Sheen went on to tell us that he has been living with the HIV virus for more than 4 years and that since then, he has been battling with depression and worse still, people threatening to reveal his status, blackmailing him “enough to bring it into the millions”.

A man the world has looked at for his party lifestyle sat in the chair looking uncomfortable and vulnerable- a world away from that almost ‘crazed-man’ interview he gave just a few years ago.

It quickly became clear why- “It’s a hard three letters to absorb. It’s a turning point in one’s life”

Sheen went on to talk about the speculation of his passing the virus on that were reported during the weeks leading up to this interview.

When asked whether he had disclosed his status to all of his sexual partners since diagnosis he replied- “Yes I have, no exceptions.”

Mr. Sheen brought his own doctor to the interview who discussed the medical side of the diagnosis- insisting that despite reports that Sheen has AIDS, he does not.

Dr. Robert Huizenga went on to explain that Sheen has an undetectable viral load. This means that the HIV virus in his body is under control and also means he is highly unlikely to have passed it on since shortly after beginning his treatment of HIV drugs; ART.

Matt Lauer asked Dr, Huizenga directly whether he had concerns about Charlie adhering to his medication routine due to his lifestyle. Huizenga was frank and stated that he has always been anxious about it; whether it be due to his alcohol or substance misuse or the long term battle Sheen has had with depression.

When Sheen was asked whether he has struggled with his 4-pills-a-day, he smiled as he proudly said he had never missed a single pill. Something that is no mean feat when dealing with the issues he has over the last four years.

Charlie made an incredibly heartfelt statement when it came to talking about his history of substance misuse and alcohol consumption. Whist he admitted he is still drinking, he said he had stopped taking drugs, then added “I have a responsibility now to better myself and help a lot of other people”.

The more the interview went on, the freer Charlie looked. Although he didn’t feel this revelation was a choice; it clearly took a huge weight off his mind- “I think I release myself from this prison today.”

When asked if the pressure of blackmailers has contributed to his alcohol consumption, Sheen hopingly responded “perhaps the freedom of today will end that too.”

The interview was uncomfortable viewing for sure! Back in 2012 when I was diagnosed, I was forced to put an end to rumours and mistruths and reveal my own HIV status. Doing that on Facebook and twitter to just a few thousand people felt like the biggest and the hardest thing I had ever faced.

Charlie Sheen did it to millions across the globe; bearing all to settle the vultures appetites that have made a circus out of his life for four years.

Over the last few weeks it has been horrible to watch as the media etched closer and closer into forcing his secret out- and that made me sad for the society we live in.

Journalists have the power to begin a narrative around HIV in a really positive way; education is, and always has been the key here. Instead they chose the ‘scoop’, the scandal and ripping apart the life of a man that deserves privacy like each and every one of you enjoy.

His status should never have been splashed over the newspapers and online; but I am so glad he took the chance to tell his story in a calm and collected way with a journalistic team he clearly trusted, and that even clearer, respected him and how he wanted to do it given the situation.

I look back at the Charlie Sheen from ‘that interview’ and simply wouldn’t recognise him today.

He was incredibly brave. He was open and honest. He was admirable.

The impact he could have is huge. For people to look to him and identify with him as a white, heterosexual male in his 50’s to take a step back and think “you know what, this could be me!”- this is a huge conversation that we couldn’t have started with the same impact that sharing his story will.

Despite his flaws, despite his past and despite his diagnosis- this time, Charlie Sheen really is winning.

Part 1 of Charlie Sheen’s interview:

Part 2 of Charlie Sheen’s interview:

Part 3 of Charlie Sheen’s interview:




This week is National HIV Testing week.

For more information, please visit

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Posted by on November 17, 2015 in My Blog, Support Not Stigma, Train The Change


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PRESS RELEASE: Jayce Carberry Nominated for the UK’s Largest Diversity Awards.

PRESS RELEASE: Jayce Carberry Nominated for the UK’s Largest Diversity Awards.

Jayce, an activist from Ramsgate in Kent, has been nominated for the Positive Role Model – LGBT at The 2015 National Diversity Awards. The ceremony celebrates some of the excellent and inspiring achievements of positive role models and community organisations from across the UK. The awards aim to recognise nominees in their respective fields of diversity including age, disability, gender, race, faith, religion and sexual orientation.

Jayce Carberry is 25 years old and lives in the seaside town of Ramsgate, Kent. In 2012, he tested positive for HIV and began his journey to accepting and embracing his status.

Confronted with a new and frightening chapter of his life, Jayce struggled to cope with the mental impact the diagnosis was having on him. It was then he started to write his blog and talked openly about how it was affecting him mentally- meant originally only for his family and friends to read.

Very quickly his blog began to read by thousands of people from across the globe from all walks of life. Not only was the raw emotion and brutal honesty giving people a better understanding of the journey after diagnosis- but it became a resource for people living with HIV, helping them feel less like they were alone and that the feeling they had were shared by others going through the same.

It also became a way for the friends and families to have a better understanding of the journey their loved ones were facing and insight into how to support them to find the strength to come to terms with a positive diagnosis.

Jayce began to actively campaign against the stigma associated with HIV after he was subjected to it by a member of staff at his local jobcentre having turned to them for support to get back into work after taking time out.

After the incident at Maidstone Jobcentre Plus, Jayce wrote about what had happened on his blog and less than 24 hours later it had gone viral and support came flooding in from all the world. He gained the support of the then Equalities Minister Helen Grant, who was also Jayce’s local MP.

Determined that he wanted change and to ensure this kind of incident wouldn’t happen again, he called for the ‘optional’ HIV & AIDS awareness training to become mandatory. He appeared on TV, radio, in newspapers, magazines and on news websites all over the world.

The fight took its toll on him mentally and emotionally after he began to receive abuse via social media and email. Undeterred, Jayce continued to fight to ensure nobody else living with HIV would be subjected to the humiliating and devastating treatment he had.

After weeks of campaigning and fighting, he received a full apology from the jobcentre involved and, the once optional training unit was made mandatory with promises it would become a national standard.

Jayce then began the ‘#SupportNotStigma’ campaign on social media in a bid to raise awareness of the effects stigma can have on people living with HIV.

In 2014, when discussing the incident at the jobcentre- the conclusion was reached that, if effective awareness training is in place, the lack of education and resulting ignorance towards HIV & AIDS-  the fight against stigma could be won.

Using his own money and time, Jayce started a project called ‘Train The Change’ – an HIV, AIDS & stigma awareness campaign. The launch happened exactly oneyear after the incident in Maidstone and has been delivered to people from all walks of life. One learner described it as ‘a perfect model for HIV education in schools’.

Since then, Jayce has been invited to advise Kent County Council’s Public Health department on HIV prevention and early diagnosis strategies and has become a respected figure in regards to sexual health and LGBT equality.

Most recently he has been asked to join the advisory board for sexual health services in Kent to ensure they are fully inclusive for the LGBT community and that service inequalities and issues are known in Kent and are remodelled in a way that helps to combat the late diagnosis and non-testing  figures in Kent.

Jayce has tried to raise as much awareness about PeP as he can to ensure both LGBTQ and heterosexual people know what it is and how to access it. On two occasions it has been at a time the people that contacted him needed it and were unaware of it’s existence- potentially preventing them from contracting HIV.

He has received some incredibly negative and hurtful attacks both in person and online since he began sharing his journey, and at times, has felt like he should walk away and stop fighting for equality and against stigma- but has been able to use the support of his friends, family and supporters to continue to do what he feels passionately about.

Behind the scenes, for the last 3 years, Jayce has dedicated a large portion of his time, roughly an hour a night, replying to messages, emails and even meeting with people affected with HIV or people going through an ‘HIV scare’.

Jayce has now joined an equality & diversity charity as a community participation officer to dedicate all his time and efforts to work towards reshaping the equality landscape and supporting those who need it.

“I do all I can to help all the people I can because it just feels like it is the right thing to do. I am a regular person and I guess people can relate to that. I hope being open about my status and doing what I do helps people to see that HIV doesn’t change who people are and what they can be.

It is an amazing feeling to be nominated for an award like this- and whatever happens, I feel very blessed!”

The National Diversity Awards 2015 in association with Microsoft will be held in Liverpool on September 18th. Britain’s most  inspirational and selfless people will come together to honour the rich tapestry of our nation, recognising individuals and groups from grass roots communities who have contributed to creating a more diverse and inclusive society.

The largest diversity awards ceremony of its kind has attracted a growing list of top employers such as Sky, Financial Ombudsman Service and Price Waterhouse Coopers.

The prestigious black-tie event has also gained support from a number of celebrities including Stephen Fry, Misha B and Ade Adepitan.

Theresa McHenry, of Microsoft UK, said ‘The National Diversity Awards 2013 were thought provoking, humbling, inspiring, and not least, entertaining. This is the reason Microsoft are delighted to continue to be involved and have committed to sponsoring the National Diversity Awards 2015’.

Amongst last year’s winners was James Partridge, who spear-headed campaigns for social change and pushed for anti-discrimination protection. Jessica Huie took home the entrepreneur of excellence award for race, faith & religion, for setting up the UK’s most successful multicultural Greeting Card and Gift Company. Birmingham LGBT were also recognised for opening the first LGBT Health & Wellbeing Centre in England and Wales

The National Diversity Awards received an astonishing amount of nominations for last year’s event. Paul Sesay, Chief Executive of The National Diversity Awards said, ‘It is an honour to witness the extraordinary journeys of Britain’s unsung diversity heroes, and we will continue to recognise their extraordinary achievements during 2015’.

‘I know another fantastic spectacle of role models will be delivered and recognised this year’.

Nominations are now open and close June 21st 2015 – so don’t miss out on your chance to get involved!

Shortlisted nominees will be announced shortly after this date.

To nominate Jayce Carberry please visit:



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Best Birthday EVER!

Hey everyone I hope you are well!

I feel a little bit emotional tonight- and not because I just had to update my age on the homepage! I hoped I would have a good day today- I turned 25 and it’s getting harder and harder for me to get away with telling people I’m only 18!

I have been applying for jobs like crazy all day; as some of you may know, I decided to leave my job last week. Of course, it was not a decision that was taken lightly- but one I feel was the best one for me. It has meant all of my time has been sent writing covering letters and focussing on finding a job that is better suited to what I think is where I would be a better asset.

Whilst writing what felt like the 100th covering letter of the week, I got an email….and was very surprised by its’ contents!!

It was from the National Diversity Awards to tell me I had been nominated for The Positive Role Model Award, LGBT for The National Diversity Awards 2015.

I clicked the link and read the nomination that I later found out was from a friend Amy- the person that had supported me in the first weeks of my diagnosis- before I had made it public knowledge.

I accepted the nomination and had to write a bio about myself and what it is that i ‘do’….and you know by know how awkward I find that!

I tweeted the link to the voting & endorsements page and suddenly that feeling of surprise was substituted with being utterly overwhelmed!

The things people have written to submit their votes have made me feel so blessed and really touched me- I am so grateful to everyone who has voted!

“Jayce is an inspiration. I found his blog shortly after I was diagnosed HIV positive, and it’s thanks to him sharing his experiences of living with HIV that I learnt to accept that life goes on and that my world wasn’t about to fall apart. I remember emailing Jayce when I needed some advice on coming out to family and friends about my HIV status, he was so supportive and really helped me more than I could even begin to describe. “

It’s unusual for me because I just don’t see what I do as others do- but it is so nice to hear such positive things….especially after the last time I was in the press!!

Whether I win the award or not will not take away from the feeling of absolute gratitude I feel and how lucky I am to have all of you and whatever happens; it has been the best birthday gift I have ever received!!

The link is below in case any of you would like to vote!!

Again, I want to a huge thank you to everyone for all the support and love you have given me over the last three years!

As if it couldn’t have got any better for me today; 10 minutes later I received an email asking me to attend an interview for the job I applied for a few weeks ago- not just any job….my dream job!

I have had a perfect birthday and gosh- even turning 25 feels ok after that!!

All my love, as always,


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Posted by on May 26, 2015 in My Blog, Support Not Stigma


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An Open Letter To Caroline Dinenage

Below is a letter I sent by email to the UK’s new Minister for Equalities; Caroline Dinenage- a woman who once voted against equal marriage and has now stated she no longer feels as she did and is now a supporter of the LGBTQ community.

Dear Caroline,

My name is Jayce Carberry, I am 24 and whilst I don’t live in your constituency, your new role is very relevant to my life.

I am a gay man, and obviously, I am aware of your vote to say my relationships were worth less than yours- the equal marriage bill. I have read today that you have changed your mind- I, like many others feel this is a little…convienient?

I have questioned why you were appointed as Equalities Minister when you do, or at least did, have a strong stance against equality. I am pleased that you feel able to stand up and say you revoke your previous thoughts about me and my LGBT family.

My first question to you is this; what are you going to do for our community now that you represent us in government?

One thing that needs to be brought into 2015 standards of equality and inclusion is sex and relationships education- something that I could have desperately benefited from.

I didn’t feel equal when sitting in a class with 30 other boys whilst the incredibly uncomfortable teacher sped through the lesson about sex.

I didn’t feel equal because after being taught; I knew everything about how to have a safe HETEROSEXUAL relationship.

I didn’t feel equal because I knew about they symptoms of female infections. I knew how not to get her pregnant. I even knew all about her menstrual cycle!

I didn’t feel equal when I realised I was gay and knew nothing about safe sex that applied to how I was having it.

I didn’t feel equal when I had to sneak onto the family computer and educate myself- terrified that I would be caught by my parents and they would find out my big gay secret.

I didn’t feel equal when I cried myself to sleep after being taught heterosexual sex education because I had never felt more inadequate or like more of a freak in my entire life.

I didn’t feel equal when I contracted HIV and knew absoltely nothing about how it was going to affect my life.

I didn’t feel equal when I didn’t know how to see the signs of an abusive relationship and how to get out of it.

I didn’t feel equal in 2004 when I was taught sex education.

I was a scared and terrified boy who felt unequal.

You have the power to end that inequality for a generation. You have the power to end that fear for a generation. You have the power to change scared little boys and girls lives forever.

My second questions is, will you be as brave as you were to take back your stance of us, and make the change that is so deperately needed and introduce FULLY INCLUSIVE SRE?

Yours sincerely

Jayce Carberry

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Posted by on May 13, 2015 in My Blog, Support Not Stigma


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Progression or Regression

Last night I couldn’t sleep. I reached for my phone, opened Facebook and began vacantly staring as I scrolled through my friends’ statuses and instagram’d photographs of their dinners. Don’t get me wrong, I love an X-PRO filtered pork chop close up as much as the next guy- but that isn’t what caught my eye.

It was a link to an article with a thumbnail that made me sit up in bed and reach for my reading glasses. It was accompanied by this post from a friend;

“Bloody brilliant IMHO, we need to be talking about this again! People need education I can’t believe such high levels of stigma are still in society”

Photo Credit- Vangardist

Photo Credit- Vangardist

It was clearly not my friends’ status that grabbed my attention, but the front cover of the newest edition of VANGARDIST- an Austrian Monthly Men’s publication, and by all accounts a popular one at that.

I read the IFLS article and my mouth was open whilst I read the contents of it, and for quite some time after. I honestly thought I had clicked on a link to a satire based website instead of a factual scientific one.

An anti-stigma campaign has been launched called ‘#HIVHeroes’. Vangardist have had 3,000 copy of their latest issue printed- but here’s where it gets unusual. The ink used to print it had been mixed with the blood of three donors living with HIV. The print is quite literally ink and blood- regardless of the HIV status of the donors, it is…unconventional to say the least.

I commented on my friend’s status and made my face-value based view quite clear;

Honestly…I don’t like this concept at all. I agree with you completely- that goes without saying…but this magazine is not the way forward. I agree that it’s very innovative! I just think the ‘gore factor’ is a little bit….questionable? It’s certainly going to start conversations- and ultimately that’s gotta be a good thing?

Having slept on it, I woke up and saw it on my timeline a few times- and something just wasn’t right for me. I looked into it further and I began to actually feel quite upset by it- to me, it seems unnecessary and distasteful. I put out a status on my Facebook page, my personal profile and on twitter to see what everyone else was making of it.

A magazine printed in ink mixed with blood from people living with HIV- in a bid to eradicate stigma. For me, although it is certainly….innovative and creative….it’s not right. What I see is the chance for people to see this completely inappropriate ‘gore factor’ approach as a joke, a trick you can play on a colleague or something to make horrid remarks about…The people they are targeting- the ones they want to educate; would never pick that magazine up…

What are your thoughts?

The reaction was mixed, by swayed towards the conclusion I had come to. Then, I saw the first of the repercussions I had seen coming. I won’t quote exactly, and I won’t name anyone- but it was a joke about not wanting to get a paper cut from the magazine.

Harmless joke? Of course- I don’t think he was being malicious. Ignorant, but not nasty, regardless, to me it affirmed what I had already started to think and so had several people on twitter.

To me it’s a very outlandish approach, it does its job of capturing the interest but not necessarily for the right reasons. – Twitter User

I DO agree with Vangardist, conversations DO need to be had, HIV does need the press exposure it once had…but not like this surely?

By the end of today, thousands of people around the world will have seen or read about this magazine- and conversations will be had. I have had countless ones today about it. No doubt the same around the world….the thing is, these conversations have not been about HIV- but rather the ethics in carrying out such a bizarre printing method.

It is almost as if they want to know if people DARE to touch a magazine with ‘HIV on it’. Are people BRAVE enough? Are people SUPPORTIVE enough. Are people FEARLESS enough?

Do you know what the reminds me of? A story I was once told by a long-term HIV survivor who was quarantined because people were too scared to touch him…as some people will inevitably be with the magazine.

Let’s be bluntly honest here- the people that are being targeted in this campaign are the uneducated or plain ignorant ones who genuinely have some kind of fear towards HIV & AIDS….why on EARTH would they pick up this magazine? The ones who purchase this €50.00 magazine will be doing so to raise money for the amazing HIV & AIDS charities it is raising funds for.

I don’t see this as a shining beacon of hope in the fight against stigma, Personally, I see this as dark and dangerous campaign that could so quickly, start again the same misguided fear that was around in the 80s…contact.

I hope I am wrong, and I really hope that Vangardist haven’t created a weapon that will cause more stigma that it will solve. I hope nobody ‘tricks’ people into holding this magazine, chase them around the office with it, making jokes about paper cuts and more about it, or using it to vilify anyone living with HIV or AIDS.

I was almost swayed by the stories of the donors for this magazine- and although I don’t agree with the ink, I do commend their bravery to take part in such a massively controversial thing such as this. Their stories are touching, and their intentions are good- as seen in the #HIVHeroes campaign video below;

I end this post by sincerely saying that I wish them all the best of luck in raising as much money for charity as possible. For more details about the #HIVHeroes campaign visit –

All my love, as always.



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Is it worth the risk?

I am almost 99% sure that the model for the 2000’s ‘Chav’ came from the estate in which I spent my teenage years, and that if Jeremy Kyle did a live stage show- it would be reminiscent of where I live. It isn’t that it is a homophobic town, I have never really had any trouble in Ramsgate in that respect- that of course, was left to Margate just two miles down the road!

By the time I had moved back here, I felt so much security in my status and the acceptance to it that I had been receiving back in Brighton that I guess I fell into a false sense of security. I assumed it wouldn’t be an issue.

Since being back- I have never felt so insecure about it. Am I am local celebrity- no. Do people recognise me for what I write on here and the small amounts of sporadic work I do- yes. They tell me what they think of it, and mostly it’s really good. I always have, and always will, feel a little uncomfortable being praised for it- to me it just seems like what I should be doing. That though, is where it ends- like it’s a free pass to the friend zone.

Gone are the days that I can walk into a bar and people comment about my confident manner, my happy-go-lucky outlook and humour. When I go to gay bars now, I don’t have a great time…I think. I think so much I get to a point when over thinking fuels my drinking and inevitably I get into a mess. It goes one of two ways…I drink until I pass out or cry….either way, I embarrass myself.

It got so bad that I stopped going out and I stopped drinking- other than a few glasses of wine indoors where I knew I wouldn’t over think my surroundings!

I became resolute to the fact I probably would’t find love here, and that, when I inevitably move again, I’d find it easier in a more ‘accepting’ place like London or Manchester…conclusion drawn from my experiences I hastened to add. Gay-centric areas seem, to me, to be better at seeing my status as a small part of me- and nothing to do with who I am as a person.

I enjoyed the time on my own as a whole. Sure I got lonely at times and missed affection- but it was empowering for me as a classic ‘Daddy issues’ gay guy to realise I didn’t need a man to make me happy. Recently though, this changed.

I met a guy in a bar and we really hit it off- I have enjoyed so much the time we spend together and it truly seemed like my status was so irrelevant that for the first time, I didn’t have to have ‘that conversation’ because he already knew who I was and what I do- that was nice. It felt, and I hate to use this word but…normal.

It hadn’t been an issue at all…and I loved that. At long last I felt like I felt ready to begin the journey to sharing my life again. It scared the hell out of me- I have become selfish in my ways and compromising has unavoidably become something alien to my lifestyle…but he made me want to try. He made me want to be loved again.

This start to something seemingly beautiful came crashing down over the weekend. Destroyed by the thing I had become complacently fearless about….so sure I was that it was irrelevant that I was naive in believing it didn’t matter. My HIV status once again- the elephant in the room that makes me shut down and hide beneath my own skin.

This time though- it isn’t fear. It isn’t ignorance…and honestly- I can’t find it in me to angry with him about it. He has been honest and open, and I am glad he has- whatever happens.

He is concious about his safety and my strong stance on protected sex- and knows I would never take risks. His issue is- that protection, in a long term, committed and faithful relationship, is a barrier for him. He feels that there could be a closeness missing- that in the past, it has made him feel a lack of closeness; intimacy and feels more like sex than love making. It’s not just a fetish- to him. It is symbolic.

I get it. I really do. Countless others feel the same- by no means is he alone…but for me, this is a huge issue with a vital and fatal flaw in starting a relationship together. It is quite normal for committed couples to ensure they have been tested and are safe to begin having unprotected sex- and I have no problem with that at all. I can see his point of view and I respect it has been something that is important for him in the past.

I know I will never be able to give him that- I will never have unprotected sex with him.

He tells me he ‘thinks’ it wouldn’t be a problem- and I believe him. It isn’t that he wants us to take risks…because he doesn’t. He just knows the option being missing might become an issue.

Here’s my problem.

It has taken me a long time to feel like I could believe in love again, to take the risk of being hurt because the feeling of euphoria is worth so much more. To be ready to commit my heart and soul because the way he looks at me makes me feel like the luckiest boy in the world….all that soppy Hallmark card stuff- I felt ready to buy into it again.

However…when he says he ‘thinks’ it won’t be an issue….that gamble in happiness becomes one with higher stakes, higher odds and ultimately…a bigger loss. I could give it a go…be happy for a while, fall in love and start an amazing life…then one day- my world comes crashing down before me when he tells me that he was wrong.

I have left the decision to him- told him only he can find the answers he is looking for and whether I am enough for him- after all, his happiness is every bit as important as mine. Obviously, I have to decide too.

I have to ask myself…Am do I believe I am enough to make him happy? Can I give him the feeling of intimacy and closeness in another way? Is the chance of love worth the risk?

You of course, have my love, as always,


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Posted by on April 26, 2015 in My Blog, Support Not Stigma


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When I walk into the bar and see people turn to look at me; I’m always filled with fear. Bars. night clubs and wine bars by the harbour; when I walk in I am scared.

This was always the case in the wine bars in town, the locals pub and the busy straight nightclub; I always knew to be aware of myself. I am a skinny camp OBVIOUSLY gay man- at least, that’s what society tells me I am. I walk in nervously, hoping nobody is going to take issue with it; that they aren’t going to spot me checking their friend out, accidentally, as he stands at the bar ordering his drink.

I have come to know and accept the fear that a night out in a ‘straight world’ might, just might, be an unpleasant experience. Countless times, I have pretended not to hear the rugby-player type, burly bloke and his friends talking about the ‘queer’ sitting in the corner with a group of girls….I pretend not to be scared.

I pretend that my sexuality doesn’t make me vulnerable- or at the very least, make me feel as if I am. I have spent the last 11 years pretending that…it has become second nature.

Five years ago, I first walked into a gay bar in the Medway Towns. It wasn’t long before I knew the polite smile of almost every regular face there; at one point or another, I had exchanged words with almost all of the regular customers. In that place, at that time….I didn’t have to pretend.

I was free to be me.

Then I tested positive for HIV.

Quickly the whispers started…the discreet pointing, the ‘don’t-look-now’ glances started and of course…a few comments said just loud enough so I was able to hear. One night, for four hours, I pretended.

I pretended not to hear them.

I pretended not to see them.

I pretended not to notice them.

For four hours, I pretended I wasn’t hurt, devastated and scared.

I felt betrayed by every single one of the polite smiles that I had ever received, every conversation, every Facebook friend request I had ever gotten. I felt robbed of every good memory I had of that place. My safe space where I felt free suddenly became a place I wanted to run from.

In those four hours…a lot of courage came in the form of alcohol…and in my drunken state; I shouted as loud as I could

The long story short was that, after the initial shock, the people in the bar that had stared, pointed and gossiped…eventually stopped.

Almost three years later….I thought those days were long gone.

I was wrong.

I went out last weekend to a bar I had only been to twice before, and something was said; I don’t know how or why; but a rumour was started that night that I have AIDS. Not even HIV….AIDS. Instead of anyone asking me, talking to me or having the front to say it to me…I had to deal with whispering…again.

The entire night; I had to pretend I hadn’t heard what was said. I had to pretend I was having a good time. I had to pretend like I didn’t feel that the last three years spent accepting my HIV status myself, hadn’t been a waste of time. I had to pretend I wasn’t upset, confused or ashamed- I pretended that I didn’t notice.

As I had in 2012, I found courage from somewhere and decided I wouldn’t allow complete strangers to make me feel too ashamed to go out to a place that I shouldn’t  feel ashamed in! When I got there, the people I am talking about were not there. Friends started to arrive and I was starting to relax. I went to the toilet, and as I was walking back- I bumped straight into one of the people who I had heard reference AIDS in relation to me.

I pretended I didn’t want to blank him….I smiled, and he leant in for a kiss on the cheek.

I stupidly thought that maybe he had discovered that actually, I don’t have AIDS, and this was his way of reassuring himself that he wasn’t a bad person after all.

To say I saw him staring a few times would be a lie. To say I saw him staring more than a few times would be an understatement. I first noticed the ‘see that guy over there but don’t stare’ move…then it got more and more obvious. By the end of the night EVERY SINGLE TIME I looked across the bar, him, his friend or both of them were looking across the bar at me. I feel like I have to make it clear….this wasn’t a lustful stare by ANY stretch of the imagination- and it felt as if they wanted me to know that they were doing it.
I pretended….and pretended….and pretended some more.Twice during the night I had to go outside and stop myself from crying because after two and a half years of being proud to be an activist….they made me feel more ashamed than I ever have been since the second I was told I tested positive.

I wish I could have screamed at them;




The fact I have HIV is not a secret; and I am doing my best at the moment to pretend I don’t hate myself for having it…I just wish they knew just how much it took for me to go to that bar this weekend, and just how much what they were doing hurt.

It is the worst feeling in the world to know that the worst stigma I have faced because of my status; nearly always comes from within the LBGTQ community….How am I supposed to have pride in that?


Posted by on March 30, 2015 in My Blog, Support Not Stigma


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Mr Nandos

At 17, I decided it was time to ‘come out’; to tell the world I had accepted my sexuality. I had been with guys, but never by this point, had a boyfriend. Enter stage right, Grant….who didn’t return in act two!

After Grant, let’s just say, I explored my sexuality! I had a few guys I saw exclusively for no more than a month or so- but didn’t have a serious boyfriend until I was 18. This relationship should have come with a warning- it wasn’t healthy! I spent probably far longer than I should have done in it, but as they say, love is blind- and your penis makes you stupid!

Over the next 4 years, I went from relationship to relationship. Some were blissful briefly, some were me seeking to have a life of luxury and one that I wanted to last forever…sometimes. I had never really been ‘on my own’. As a person, I am somewhat of a chameleon; I adapt myself to suit those around me. Never to a huge extent but some people bring things out in me; others I feel like I have to suppress parts of my personality.

Having done this for as long as I can remember; it’s was inevitable that at some point I would forget how to be me, instead of a jigsaw made up of pieces of what other people thought or how I presumed I should be. This sobering realisation hit me quicker than a shot of tequila, and the hangover was more insufferable!

I decided I would do what I had always avoided….stay single, at least for a while.

At first, it was OK! I could go weeks without ‘grooming’ and no one knew or cared! I wore primark pants almost every day and was able to eat without worrying! I enjoyed my own company, and loved being able to watch TV and not be forced to watch documentaries about crap I wasn’t interested in! In short….it was bliss!

Then I got bored.

I started dating a guy- and when I say dating, I mean I was there whilst he wandered around shops, gazed into his fish tank and really only got his attention when I took my clothes off.

I got bored again.

I went back to my life of not shaving, eating carbs and watching repeats of Downtown Abbey….this time the period of bliss got boring far quicker! I did what every other completely sane and balanced person doe, and went on Grindr…gaydar….hornet….etc. etc. etc…..I was really bored!

Having spent most of my time on there ignoring faceless profiles and people that think saying HI 50 times is going to increase their sexual appeal to you….I got bored yet again!

The boredom of it has long since faded; and is now replaced with loneliness. The thing I didn’t foresee was that spending all this time on my own, I would become selfish and self-reliant. It’s also destroyed my once very confident and outgoing nature; and apparently it’s noticeable.

It has been a journey of rediscovery I guess; but it’s when you are so single that your best friends buy you valentines cards and you have date night with them, instead of someone you want ‘dessert’ with…it gets lonely.

The loneliness is such that; if I didn’t live with my pet-hating parents, I would probably have built up an impressive collection of cats by now! The thought of that makes my heart go warm….and I don’t like cats; I’m horribly allergic to them!

I am now at the stage that, I don’t know where a partner would fit in my life…and if I’d be willing to sacrifice the freedoms I have now- I feel like I am in a catch 22!

I want to be settled down, have the traditional gay life- Him, me, a teacup dog and extensive collection of candles in every room in the two bedroom flat with a balcony….I want it all!

I know I am not going to find it on a networking app, and I know I probably won’t find it in my hometown…but wherever it is, wherever he is….can someone point him firmly in the direction of my local Nando’s…I’ll be there covered in cat hair with a table for two!

1 Comment

Posted by on February 18, 2015 in My Blog


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SEXUAL HEALTH CLINIC OPEN….no gays allowed! – Part 2


Hey everyone!

Yesterday evening, I posted a blog about a sexual health clinic in Dover, that has a sign on the wall, that states the clinic will NOT treat men who have sex with men or sex workers.

I ended the post with very little information about the why; but the refusal to treat MSM and sex workers, is one that hadn’t been denied by the person I had spoken to.

I had spoken with a member of the East Kent NHS Sexual Health Service team, and explained what the sign said. I was then asked to forward a copy of the photograph that had been sent to me by a friend. I was told it would be looked into, and I would hear back from them.

Early this afternoon, I spoke with the head of East Kent NHS Sexual Health Services, Jinny Robinson. Having been sent a copy of my email, Jinny seemed just as shocked by the sign as I had been. It has become clear, over the last 24 hours, that this sign is not an official one and it’s placing on the wall of the Dover clinic- wasn’t an official direction.

Whilst she wholeheartedly apologised for the sign that seems to openly discriminate against MSM and sex workers – the actual message behind it, that the clinic won’t treat the two groups which are considered the most ‘high risk’, still hasn’t been argued. I confirmed with her that the Dover Health Centre WILL turn MSM and sex workers away, advising them of other provisions that WILL treat them.

It seems that this, in my opinion, is blatant discrimination. It is disguised under a ‘tier system’ of GUM clinics. Dover only has a ‘level 2’ facility, whilst MSM and sex workers are required to attend a level 3 provision. Is the fact that it seems the same treatment is offered to heterosexuals and indeed gay women, ‘OK’ in officials eyes?

Katie Street, who lives in Dover, and made me aware of the sign didn’t think it was ‘ok’;

As a straight person it really shocked me to find the sign in the clinic. I find that Many health services claim that they ‘treat everyone the same’, but this usually means that they treat everyone as heterosexual. Gay and lesbian people do not need special medical treatment, but they do need treatment that is fair and appropriate.

Dover Health Clinic would of made anyone from the LGBT community feel unwanted or that they shouldn’t be there. We live in a century now where we should be accepting of different people, and not discriminating anyone.

I hope that in the future and hopefully not to long away. That Dover will have a fully functional Clinic in which everyone including people from the gay community is accepted and where they can go to be treated if a problem occurs and not to be made to feel that they can’t go and have to travel.

I am assured that a full investigation will be started to discover why the sign is up. The fact that Dover and the surrounding towns and villages do not have an adequate sexual health provision is for me, the biggest problem at hand. This, for me, and for many people across Kent, IS the point. The wording of the sign is offensive and discriminatory…but in the bigger picture, irrelevant- It’s the fact there is a policy behind it!

If it is perfectly legal for MSM and sex workers to be refused treatment at ‘Level 1 & 2’ provisions, how many clinics are there across the country that are turning people away? This issue may not be as serious as it is in Dover; leaving MSM and sex workers having to travel to other parts of the county to receive treatment.

The closest provisions (Train Station to Train Station – not including additional bus journeys or walking) are as follows;

10 miles away.
Costing £4.80 if travelling by train.

19 miles away.
Costing between £8.10 and £14.90 if travelling by train.

23 miles away.
Costing £11.80 if travelling by train.

So MSM and sex workers have to pay an extra fee for a sexual health MOT? They have to travel to a clinic that’s “MSM-friendly”? It was hard for me to just accept. I wanted to hear from KCC- who are now in charge of public health for Kent.

I spoke with the head of Public Health at Kent County Council, who I had worked with last year. It seems that my phone call was an expected one – hardly surprising when the post has been read by thousands of people, who are now asking the same questions as I am. It was clear that there was an air of caution as to what was said, a sentiment I can completely understand.

I am told that there will be a press statement made on Monday and that I will receive a phone call from the head of Public Health at Kent County Council, to answer my queries directly. I have no reason to doubt that they will.

I can only hope that Kent County Council and East Kent NHS Sexual Health Services assure us that this provision will be ungraded to a ‘Level 3’ one, as soon as possible, so it’s brought up to 2015 standards and needs! To me, this outdated policy, screams segregation. Segregation is illegal, as stated in the Equality Act 2010.

How can this be going on in 2015? What about the people who cannot afford the train fares or fuel to travel for a sexual health test? How many people cannot access these clinics on the days and/or times that they run? How many people think they are ‘probably’ free of infection, so it’s not worth the hassle? How many people are seeing this policy as stigmatising, and are frightened, so don’t feel comfortable attending an alternative clinic? How many people, including those who aren’t ‘out’, feel too embarrassed to ask where the nearest “MSM-friendly” clinic is?

How many are being left untreated?


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