Posts Tagged ‘love’

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“An agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions” is the definition of compromise. Lately this is something that I have been struggling with, as it relates to my career and my personal life. I rarely share details about my personal life but at times I feel it is necessary; this is one of those times. My husband and I have had numerous conversations, sometimes arguments, about the balance of time for my career and our relationship.

For those who know me, know that I give a 110 percent to whatever I do. I like to world hard and unless I am constantly moving and contributing in some way shape or form, I am do not feel fulfilled. Some may call that being a workaholic but I think its being passion. When did working hard to be successful become negative?

At one point my husband felt that I work so much that I was not fully invested in our relationship. He also expressed concern that since I am HIV+, I should allow myself to rest more. Well the challenge was, how was I supposed to achieve my career and personal goals and still be invested in my relationship without feeling as though I was settling? I have always been very ambitious and driven. I know what I want to accomplish and in what time frame I want it accomplished. I didn’t want my career to suffer or my relationship but the truth was that I did not know how to balance. Yes I have been in relationships before but they were with men who were even more driven than me so to be with someone who not only wanted to invest in our relationship but wanted me to as well as an equal was foreign to me.

I had to understand where my husband was coming from. Yes my career was very important to me but I had to realize that my husband is my family now and that he should be a priority. If I expect him to cater to my needs and be supportive of me, I have to do the same for him. Sometimes this means not responding to an email once I am home, not taking a call or simply catering to his needs and wants and making him feel like he is my husband.

But also my husband had to be honest with himself and acknowledge that fact that he wanted someone who was not as career driven as I am. He wanted a husband who would take on the traditional roles of a “woman”. He wanted to be the provider. Hearing this from him made me realize how many times we as gay men still try impose hetero-normative roles in our relationships and forget that we are both two men who have very similar desires.

My husband and I had to learn three very key components for any relationship; respect, communication and compromise. In my opinion the hardest of the three is compromise and there is a huge different between compromising and settling. It’s difficult to find compromise as a couple but at some point the two individuals have to reach a point of balance within the relationship. And they have to learn to do so without resenting the other person. We can’t be naive to the fact that these concessions will be difficult and that someone may even feel as though they are settling but once they learn to get past emotions the couple is open to a whole new level of love and respect.

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Check out the latest video for The Poz Life on Youtube!!!! I will be doing a mini video series of my wedding hopefully giving hope to those who are positive that love and marriage is still a possibility. So please join me on this journey of high, lows, good, bad and crazy lol.

#blacklove #gayblacklove #positivityiseverything #wedding #neilhobson14

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KenLikeBarbie and Patrick Ingram behind the scenes photo shoot for AIDS.gov (and no folks this was just for play-both are not together).

[This was brought to you by one of our guest contributors who wanted to share their story.  Want to share your story then click here!]

    If one were to ask me six months ago my thoughts on being in a relationship with someone who was HIV positive, I would have responded that it wasn’t an option. From a young age, I always imagined myself having the ‘fairytale’ ending. Well, the fairytale that always seems to be portrayed in media, at least. The handsome, well-groomed, great mannered gentlemen; three kids, two dogs, luxury cars, a four-story house with a green carpet of grass…all concealed by the security of our bordering white picket fence. For years, I’ve been daydreaming of the fantasy. Being a gay black male, however, my parents found it necessary to remind me that life was going to be hard enough considering I would already have those ‘three strikes’ against me. With the silent whisper in my mind, I made it a point to never involve myself, or get caught up with something that could potentially put my fantasy lifestyle in farther reach. As simple minded as it may seem, I always assumed that contracting HIV would be equivalent to putting a loaded gun to my head and pulling the trigger. Death to the luxurious lifestyle; a suicide to ravish reality. An HIV negative and HIV positive persons could never coincide together, I would tell myself. Looking back, I realize that it was a mere lack of education and knowledge that brought me to this elementary conclusion.

            It wasn’t until three months ago that my ideologies began to quickly change. I met this amazing guy who seemed to have all of the qualities that I was searching for, and countless more. He made it a point to be very open and honest about his lifestyle, and quickly shared his status of being HIV positive. It may seem odd, but the mere fact that he was willing to be so open and honest shortly after our introduction was very reassuring to me. Just in that one statement, he showed more self-confidence than I could ever hope to have. It was in that instance that I knew it was time to be more open minded, trustworthy, and take a chance on love…a chance on true happiness. A few weeks later, it was apparent that he was becoming a much-needed positive – no pun intended – influence in my life. He was patient with me, showing great interest and care in my well-being, as well as his own. This allowed me the time to take into consideration all that would entail in being involved in a sero-discordant relationship. Engaging in conversation and activity with someone who was HIV positive, which once seemed like a detrimental mask, was only a small blemish – per se – in realizing that my real life fairytale was coming true.

With a quick press of the fast forward button, I am grateful to say that he is still in my life; with hopes that he will remain forever. Being an advocate for HIV awareness, he has educated me tremendously on the pressures of living with HIV. While we have not yet had any backlash of negative stigma surrounding our relationship, I feel the time may be approaching for me to be open with my close friends and family about our sero-discordant relationship. A part of me still feels a sense of anxiety, wondering how others will view us, or quickly pass judgment. I contemplate on a daily basis over when is the ‘right’ time to share the news. But knowing that I have him in my corner to help weed out the negative opinions of others is making this internal battle all the more easier. When I look at him, I don’t see or think about HIV; I’m simply reminded of all the characteristics that make him a wonderful individual. I know this is only the beginning of the journey, but I couldn’t think of anyone else I would rather take this adventure with.

Moving forward, we have made it a point to maintain open communication in all aspects of our relationship. Staying on top of one another about getting tested regularly, maintaining healthy eating habits, and staying active are towards the top of the list. We have also been discussing methods of practicing safer sex. Aside from the frontrunner of condom use, PrEP has been a big part of the discussion. If used correctly, PrEP can greatly reduce the risk of contracting HIV. After recent discussion with my doctor, as well as, educating myself on the costs and benefits of using PrEP, I think this will be a major benefit for our relationship. My only advice for those who find themselves in a similar circumstance is to keep an open mind, but be honest with yourself about the struggles of the future. Educate yourself, as well as others, because with knowledge, each day is another step forward in winning the battle of the HIV epidemic. Be kind to others, as you never know another individuals feats and triumphs. And finally, stay humble and be fortunate for all that you have been blessed with.IMG_0225

 

So I will start this off by saying that this as well as my other work is my own perspective.

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So you’ve just been told by someone that they are HIV positive and have just been diagnosed. What do you do?

First off this can also be used if someone has just come to you and disclosed their HIV status to you as well.

Through my experiences these are my recommendations on what you can do:

1. Support is everything. Even if you are just there physically for the person to talk to you being there is the most important thing. Support does not always have to be vocal so just bear that in mind.

2. Understanding and patience because that someone has probably just received the most shocking news of their lives. The reaction can differ so expect the unexpected. The person just being diagnosed may not want to talk or may become introverted. Just understand that it is ok to be down or sad for a moment, but to only step in when you notice a drastic change in quality of life.

3. It is not about you, so while someone is dealing with a friend or lover who has just been diagnosed do not do thinks like make “I,” statements or after listening to what that person is saying changing the subject to something about you.  You are there as a friend, colleague, or as support so do just that and not make him or her feel less valuable or important because of you commandeering the conversation or mood.

4. Hold off judgments because at this time the individual who has just found out their status and have come to you trusts you.  It is simple, if you do not have anything nice to say then do not say anything at all.  Also, refrain from questions like, “Who gave it to you?” and “Who have you been sleeping with?” which can come off very crude.

5. Confidentiality:  This is a big one folks.  Someone who is telling your their status (probably for the first time) is putting their trust in your and bringing their walls down.  He or she probably also knows and fear the related stigma and knows you will not judge them.  With that said keep what they are telling you to yourself.  Become a vault and keep that top secret information to yourself.

6. Educate yourself on HIV/AIDS and know about it.  Don’t tell people there are a cure for HIV (currently there is no cure).  Providing misinformation and false hopes can cause damage to a newly infected person.  If you are not sure ask a medical professional or check out a resource like The Body or Poz.  Heck even watching YouTube videos on how people found out they were HIV positive help as well (after you get a feel on what that person went through and how they felt).

7. Love because during this time someone newly diagnosed in my experiences and perspective can feel lonely, unwanted, dirty, and worthless.  Spend more time with him/her or if they allow try to plan a weekend getaway.  It is important to show them that you care and if you are in a relationship (dating, married, etc) try to do something nice and romantic (which does not have to include sex).   20130520-110704.jpg

The list can go on and on; however, it is very important to show support, have understanding/patience, be self-less, be non-judgmental, confidential, educated, and loving.  These things can help someone who is just going through or has been dealing with HIV and now wants to tell you.   Also just like my friend Calvin says, people definitely need to understand that dealing with HIV is a process.  It will take time and the most confident person in the world can go as low as feel like a tiny ant in the confidence department.  I know that there are many more things that can be added.  What other things would you add?

..And don’t forget my blog http://www.youtube.com/pozlifeofpatrick