I have to admit. I am feeling pretty vulnerable about publishing this particular post. This was one of the first posts I wanted to write when I launched my website. But it's taken me a wee while to muster up the courage. So here I am today, harnessing all my precious pussy power in the name of bravery and a better world, because ultimately... I am really not ashamed.
It starts with a confession.
I have had an STI.
A fact that broke me for a good month or so, after I received a positive test result. I was devastated. I was terrified that this rendered me unloveable, scared that this had taken a permanent hit to my worth, and was convinced that I would never feel sexy again.
Let’s flash back.
After realising something was a little off, I nervously made my way to the Doctors. I remember sitting in the sterile practice, feeling like the dirtiest thing in the room. As I lay on the vinyl bed, covered in those disposable plastic sheets, my Doctor inserted the speculum. Red in the face, heart beating, I felt the weight of the world’s judgement hanging above me. Ready to come crashing down.
It did… Tested POSITIVE.
Fuck me. I don’t think I have ever felt smaller than I did in that moment.
So I had pulled my panties up and got myself treatment. And physiologically, I was perfect again! But emotionally… I was a wreck. For about a month. It took me a hell of a lot of work before I felt desirable, sexual and worthy again.
But throughout this turbulent time, one thing became incredibly clear to me. I realised that what was so painful about this ordeal, wasn’t dealing with the symptoms of the thing itself. It was managing the inordinate social stigma and heavy fear of judgement that comes with a positive prognosis. A stigma that I believe to be disproportionately negative. Especially given these facts and stats:
1 in 2 sexually active people will contract an STI before they are 25
80% of people will have HPV at some point in their lifetime
1 in 6 people have genital herpes, and 1 in 2 have HSV-1 (oral herpes) which can also be contracted on the gentiles
Close to 90% of people with herpes, don’t even know they have it
So the vast majority of us, that are having sex, will contract an STI in their lifetime. Yet we beat ourselves and each other up about it, in a way that likely only proliferates the spread of STI/STD/STDs.
Do you think people are more, or less likely to disclose their status in a context of fear and judgement?
Do you think people are more, or less likely to get tested in a context of fear and judgement?
Now I am not saying that you shouldn’t practice safe sex. I don’t want you to test positive for STI/STDs, more than I want you to catch a cold. What I am saying, is that we need to rethink the way we represent STI/STDs culturally. We can all play a part in this.
If you have an STI/STD, be brave and disclose your status to your lovers! Do so knowing that you are no less delicious and no less worthy of their loving. If they can’t get down with that, they simply aren’t the human to which you should give your time or energy.
If you are with someone who is brave and honest enough to tell you their status, meet them with kindness and understanding. Knowing that chances are, if you are having sex, there is a very good chance that you will contract an STI/STD yourself in your lifetime and would probably like to be treated as such.
Let’s abandon the fear mongering messages about sex, STIs and STDs etched into our brains at High School. Neither love nor pleasure grow well in this puritanical context. Practice safe sex! But go forth rethinking whether it’s justified that STI/STDs are so shameful, whilst colds/flus/fevers/chicken pox (which are a strain of herpes I might add) escape completely free of these judgements.
My names Michelle Kasey, I have had a positive result for an STI, and #IAMWORTHY.
Join me, if you wish, in contributing to the cause by sharing your own positive status (past or present). Comment #IAMWORTHY in the comments below, or on my Facebook page. A truly revolutionary and inspiring act.
Photography by Reality Dysfunction Photography.