Rodney, age 67 / Melbourne, Australia


I didn’t come out. I didn’t tell anyone. No one knew for 10 years. And I think that’s what helped me. You see, on that day I was told – because this was what you were told in those days – I was told that I could possibly be dead in 5 years, but if I had plenty of luck and took my medicine, I’d make it maybe to 10. But I’d definitely be dead in 10 years.

I was almost 50 – I was just a month or two short of my 50th birthday.  So it’s around now, the anniversary. So, I thought, well okay, I’ve had 50 years, and I’m gonna take my medicine, so I reckon I’ll get to 60. That’s not a bad innings. But I think, really, the fact was that I kept it to myself and just concentrated on doing what I needed to do in order to get well, or, to stay well.

I guess that also meant that I didn’t have to go through the angst of telling people, uh, like family, or closest friends, or whatever, and having to deal with their grief. I knew I could deal with my own, but I didn’t want to have to deal with other people’s. I didn’t want that burden as well.

I decided to disclose to my best friend, who I’d never kept anything from, ever, and neither had he kept anything from me. So, I felt very, very bad about that – that I had kept this – such an important thing from him for 10 years. But I was living in another state at this time, and I rang him and just said I needed to have a chat. And I came down, and saw him, and just told him what had happened, and where I was. And he was upset that I hadn’t told him. He took a while to get over that, but he was glad finally that he did know.

It was a huge relief. Because it was something I really had wanted to do – really, I suppose, from the start. And I remember a couple of years after I was diagnosed, I was assaulted in the street and covered in blood, and had to go to the hospital. And at that point, I really would’ve liked to have called him, but I couldn’t, because I was afraid of him being in contact with my blood. And so at moments like that, you know, I really missed him – the fact that he didn’t know. So, now that he did know, I felt, well, that’s good, at least. There are no more secrets now, so it’ll be easier to deal with. But I still didn’t tell my family or anybody else; it was just him. The bulk of my friends don’t know. It’s only quite a few – I don’t know how many – three or four people. That’s all it is.

This is going to go online. You know, it could go anywhere now, and I’ve used my real name and whatever. So… I’m just saying. I mean, I’m, I’m using it as a, as an extension of, you know, coming out.