Earlier this week someone I used to see asked me if I wanted to join him at Lollapalooza. His brother’s band was on the lineup so backstage passes were complimentary. The festival was in three days. My answer was an immediate yes. He bought our plane tickets later that night.
Taking a look at the lineup I was ecstatic that so many artists I loved would be playing: Illenium, Rezz, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, Vampire Weekend, Tycho, The National, Odesza just to name a few. I carefully handpicked a lineup of artists for everyday, planning out who I would see and which ones I would miss due to time conflicts. My excitement was out the roof as I started reaching out to friends to see who was going. I never dreamed of actually being able to go to Lollapalooza and the idea of being backstage was too much to even comprehend.
There was less than 24 hours till our flight when I noticed a familiar itch. With closer inspection I realized something terrible was happening. I was experiencing the beginning of a herpes outbreak.
My bags were packed, my outfits picked out. The Westin in downtown Chicago had been booked and I had a pit in my stomach knowing that something was bound to happen. I contemplated how to kindly approach the subject of “I won’t be able to have sex with you.” I came to the conclusion that the only option was to tell this guy flat out what was going on.
I sent a text, telling him straight up that I was having a herpes outbreak. I was a tad nervous, but figured I would get a reasonable response back. Hours went by. Nothing. I decided to give him a call to make sure he got the memo. No answer. As the hours ticked by I contemplated whether I should just show up at the airport and fly out without a response. I was already on the guest list for the entire festival, why not?
4pm rolls around and I send him a text,
“I am not apologizing for telling you the truth. But making sure you still want to go.”
I could see his little “read at 4:32pm” notification underneath.
Three hours later,
“I’m completely fine with not going, just please let me know before I drive to the airport.”
Slightly annoyed that a couple texts and a phone call didn’t return any response I decided to check into my flight on my phone. I had a screenshot of my ticket number and confirmation. I entered the information and received an,
“Oops! We could not recognize your itinerary. Please Try Again”.
I tried the number again subbing the 0 for a O. Same error message. I tried a couple more times before I realized that my flight no longer existed, it had been cancelled.
Excitement about Lollapalooza was replaced with the realization that Herpes is a BIG DEAL. A big enough deal to “ghost” someone and then cancel all plans to go to one of the best festivals in the entire U.S.
Which leads me to this conclusion.
Herpes is still incredibly stigmatized Even though almost everyone will be exposed to herpes by the time they are 50 years old, people are still freaking out about it. Herpes is still the butt of jokes, and the most feared STD possibly ever. Until this post, I haven’t spoken publicly about having it. And yes, I am often nervous telling a new partner.
The Herpes virus is pretty much the least harmless out of all STDs, other than the fact it sticks around… forever. Unlike other STD’s like Chlamydia, you won’t go infertile if left untreated. An actual herpes outbreak is like a coldsore, just elsewhere, thats it. In fact 90% of people with herpes don’t even know they have it/ have never shown symptoms.
Since I was diagnosed with Herpes I have found that a majority of my past partners are completely fine with the fact that I am living with an incurable virus that will stay with me forever. Most of the time I am not contagious, and it is only with a plethora of stress that an outbreak occurs.
Living with this terrible, horrible, omg how can I even write a blog post about it because everyone is going to KNOW?!? disease, I have realized I am so much more than a stupid virus. If someone wants to try and rain on my parade by cancelling plans to my dream festival SO. BE. IT.
I am happy to be alive. Happy to be here. And happy to tell you that I have herpes.