Cynical and Southern: The time my co-workers thought I was HIV positive

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Simon quit the job where we worked together. I didn’t hear about him for a long time. The next time I heard about him was when people at work started whispering about how he’d contracted HIV. A friend of a friend of a friend heard, and they made a point to tell everyone.

I was sad to hear that Simon had contracted HIV. I was even more sad to hear that a lot of people at work were worried that because of this I might have HIV too.

Simon was gay and I am gay. We worked at the same job.

We never had sex. We never dated. We never hung out as friends except for one or two large group settings. I would have hung out with him one-on-one. He was a nice person. But we never had sex. And we definitely never had unprotected sex.

And the moral of the story is that my co-workers were simple enough people to assume that because two gay men were within a mile of each other they were fucking — and doing so without a condom.

I considered contacting the corporate office and filing a complaint. My co-workers’ gossip and ignorance was a disrespect to me, a disrespect to Simon, and a disrespect to gay people in general. I had trouble sleeping for a week.

I wasn’t worried about my health. It didn’t bother me if my dumb ass co-workers thought I had HIV. It bothered me that there are people who have trouble grasping the fact that two gay men can just be friends with each other.

I hope Simon is doing okay. I don’t miss my co-workers at all.

It is possible for two gay men to be friends with each other. Gay men can be friends without having sex. Gay men can also be friends without any sexual attraction. It is possible.

Such was the case with Simon. I became friends with Simon at a job I used to work up north. He was a nice kid, a few years older. He was a bit strange. I was not attracted to him. He was gay. I’m gay too.

Sometimes Simon used to hang out with our co-workers. There were also times that I hung out with our co-workers. Only once or twice did Simon and I ever hang out with our co-workers at the same time. Simon and I never developed a close enough friendship that we hung out one-on-one. All the same, he was fun to work with.

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