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Question: Why did you come out publicly about being HIV positive?

Andrew Sullivan: I think coming out as HIV positive, for example, whose effects I underestimated, was simply because I felt as a writer I could not write with integrity about the subject without being honest about who I was and what I had experienced.  I wrote about it, HIV, before I seroconverted, "Gay Life, Gay Death" was the cover story in The New Republic in 1990, and I became positive in 1993.  I don’t believe as a writer in this day and age, a gay man had any option but to be completely open.  I felt that was a moral responsibility.  It was particularly a moral responsibility where my brothers were dying in so many great numbers.  But it was also a responsibility to myself to live a life and not be a liar; to have integrity as a human being.  And it took a long time, but I was really almost never in the closet.  I just refused to deal with it and to talk about it—I never denied it—because of my Catholic upbringing and faith, which was an extraordinarily difficult struggle. 

Recorded on October 12, 2010
Interviewed by Max Miller

 

Confronting HIV as a Writer

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