Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Stacy Sampson, DO
I sat down this evening intending to write about the recent awards The STI Project has received, and I will, don’t worry, because they are super super cool and I have a really awesome discount to give all of my readers for their STD testing needs as a result!!! So, I promise, I’ll get to that.
However, my mind’s a bit scattered lately, and I am drawing inspiration from the things which have come up while being a proponent for The STI Project this week.
Just Before I Sat Down To Write This Post
I walked out to get my mail and caught a glimpse of my neighbor dancing in the kitchen. I could faintly here music coming through her exterior walls as I walked to the front porch and was immediately uplifted. (Sorry, neighbor, if you’re reading this – the bf and I dance in the kitchen all of the time – it fills me with joy to see someone else doing it too!)
I envisioned her listening to Paul Simon as I have also spent countless times dancing around my parent’s living room and subsequently, dancing around my own living rooms and kitchens to Paul Simon – sometimes by myself as my neighbor appeared to be tonight, sometimes with others as well – we’re always up for a reason to dance, and Paul Simon is just the ticket.
Regardless of what she was listening to, she was dancing. All of the week’s worries and even the triumphs were stolen from my mind as I reveled in her physical expression of happiness. I can only imagine why she was dancing….but, the why seems so unimportant.
(I’m not getting paid to plug Paul Simon tonight, I swear!) As an aside – the last link is my favorite – it has always elicited complete unabashed and wild pow-wow-esque moves out of the whole family! 🙂 Someday, I’ll post a video of this for comedic relief…
Living With Stigma
How often are the positive things we encounter overshadowed by the negative? How often does living with an STD overcome your attempts at being optimistic?
Until recently (since having begun The STI Project), living with an STD has affected me minimally. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve experienced heartless reactions as a result of contracting an STD or had to cope with the daily trepidation one encounters while knowing they have a secret that’s highly stigmatized by pop-culture – a shame they feel obligated to burden alone – and a precursor to all future relationships.
Mainly, this is because I’ve lived with an STD for nearly 15 years (my story). It’s easy for me to forget some of the initial pain and the horrible responses I’ve received – especially, while I was in high school. Yet, I knew they still existed and that others were facing them – which was why I started The STI Project, of course.
However, the misconceptions and judgments have been coming out of the woodwork again. Things from, ‘I wouldn’t touch you with a ten foot pole’…(in another sentence)…’HPV isn’t an STD, I just don’t believe that’ – one man’s perspective, to, ‘just because she has an STD doesn’t mean she needs to get on her soap-box and talk about it’ – coming from two women living with STDs.
First: I laughed about the ten-foot pole comment. When that was said, I wasn’t proposing a sexual encounter – presently, I have a very willing BF for that.
I have never (other people’s experiences have been different, albeit) been turned down as a result of an STD.
The STI Project aims to curb those harsh reactions for ones containing substantial knowledge about the STD in question and ones with greater compassion toward others.
I don’t expect everyone to want to ‘jump right in bed’ with someone with an STD. I don’t expect ANYONE to want to ‘jump right in bed’ with ANYONE. That is one of the reasons STDs are so rampant because of the willingness to share a bed with people one wouldn’t date or consider for a long term relationship, to have one-night stands without protection, and to be promiscuous without being tested frequently for STDs. (It is important to note: The STI Project makes no judgement toward those enjoying sexual activities – The STI Project simply says, one should advocate for themselves by educating themselves, practicing safe-sex, and getting frequent STD tests.) (Yey sex!)
Second: HPV is an STD.
I don’t know what more to say about it other than this is another reason The STI Project is necessary. There is an incredible ignorance around STDs – a what you don’t know won’t hurt you kind of mentality.
The trouble is, what you don’t know can hurt you in the form of the 20 different STDs listed here. And, you certainly don’t have to take my word for it – I pull my information from The CDC, Planned Parenthood, and The U.S. National Library of Medicine, mainly.
So, in short, HPV is an STD, period.
This is another phenomenal reason The STI Project exists: to provide reputable STD resources all in one super-duper location. (The super-duper is subjective, of course.) 🙂
Third: Because I have an STD is precisely why I should fashion my very own soap-box (called The STI Project) and talk about my experiences. It is from those narratives and those of others living with an STD society will grow and from which the stigma around living with an STD will be eradicated.
That others with an STD are appalled by my choice of venue, by the openness to which I share my personal history, and what I have chosen as my vocation is yet one more reason The STI Project is hitting the mark. The stigma can be perpetuated by people with and without STDs alike and neither are acceptable in The STI Project’s book. 🙂
So, readers……here is how all of this relates back to my beautiful neighbor dancing in the kitchen tonight. I bet you were wondering how in the world I was going to tie this all back together, huh?!?!?!
As soon as this posts, I will also dance in my kitchen for all of you. I will dance for the people who are living with an STD, who are scared, hurting, and feel lost – not in the dancing on your head kind of degrading way, of course – in the, it’s ok; things will get better and eventually you will dance again kind of way.
All of the feedback I receive – positive AND negative – further encourages me to try harder – I have my work cut out for me, I know, but I believe in the overall good in people and the power of change.
This stigma can be eradicated and The STI Project aims to do just that (ie. continue sharing stories and promoting mindfulness, education, and acceptance)!
Living with an STD is not the end of the world and is merely a speed-bump to all of the things you will accomplish in life.
Don’t let it stop you from dancing either. 🙂
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What do you think about some of the comments you read above? Have you heard similar remarks or do you think they are warranted? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!