Karl Schmid, a gay TV reporter working for ABC’s Los Angeles affiliate, came out for the second time when he revealed over the weekend that he’s also poz.
Today Karl Schmid, intentionally or not, is a hero. Anyone who’s come out of the closet once knows that crucible can be preceded by years of sleepless nights and emotions ranging from self-doubt to self-loathing. To come out as HIV+ makes matters more complex: It’s telling the world something very intimate, and when someone does so as visibly as Schmid, it’s information that will accompany him for the rest of his life.
But the revelation will also send some important messages. For starters, it may allow Mom and Pop America may to look at this handsome Aussie and realize perhaps for the first time that someone can be both poz and completely normal and healthy. It’s also a reminder to the gay community that we are still not talking enough about HIV. This, despite the fact that the virus ran rampant through the gay community for three decades; that there were over 25,000 new diagnoses among gay and bisexual men in 2016 alone, and that it’s been nearly 30 years since Magic Johnson famously declared before the world press that he had tested positive.
It might also at last be a time to consider how we talk about safer sex. When guys discuss their serostatus, people who test negative still frequently often describe themselves as “clean”. Take a look at Karl Schmid. Is there anything about him that appears “unclean?” Not so long before the AIDS crisis, the word “unclean” was used to reference lepers. Referring to yourself as “clean” means, by definition, you believe someone poz is not. That is an ugly way to describe a human being.
Poz and Reflect
It’s also worth remembering that properly medicated positive people who have undetectable viral loads have been proven statistically not infectious. See the facts ati-base.info. That doesn’t mean to stop taking precautions against other STDs and STIs. Nor does it mean we stop protecting ourselves with PrEP and safer sex practices in case we are exposed by a partner who is undiagnosed. But it does mean that it would be a medical marvel if an undetectable HIV+ partner passed on the virus: it has been proven that undetectable equals untransmittable.
Let us hope that Scmid’s act of candor and bravery will be a turning point— a long overdue welcome to an era when we collectively think of people who are poz as able to live happy and healthy lives, and a time to put the stigma of being poz where it belongs: in the past.
For those you who haven’t yet seen Schmid’s brilliant post, it’s below in its entirety. He appears as centered and brave as he is resolute. We salute you, Karl Schmid.
From Schmid’s Facebook page:
Hi. I’m a 37-year-old HIV+ man who has been poz for almost ten years. I work in television. And on the side of the camera where, for better or worse, it’s considered “taboo” for people “like me” to be “like me”. For 10 years I’ve struggled with “Do I or don’t I”? For ten years the stigma and industry professionals have said, “Don’t! It’ll ruin you.”
But here’s the thing. I’m me. I’m just like you. I have a big heart and I want to be loved and accepted. I may be on TV from time to time, but at the end of the day I’m just an average guy who wants what we all want. To be accepted and loved by our friends and family and to be encouraged by our peers.
So here’s what I say, stand tall, and stand proud. You can’t make everybody happy but you can make you happy. And so long as you tell the truth, you will never have to remember anything. Labels are things that come and go but your dignity and who you are is what defines you. I know who I am, I know what I stand for and while in the past I may not have always had clarity, I do now. Love me or hate me, that’s up to you. But, for anyone who has ever doubted themselves because of those scary three letters and one symbol, let me tell you this, you are somebody who matters. Your feelings, your thoughts, your emotions count. And don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. I’m Karl Schmid, and I’m an HIV-positive man! #whatisrememberedlives @theaidsmemorial @theaidsmemorialtshirt
Last modified: March 26, 2018