Seven years ago I met a man who grabbed my attention and captivated me from the moment I met him. From day one I could feel that Matt had an energy and charisma that could not be denied. He was happy, full of life, and it seemed nothing could bring him down. When I met Matt I was very new to St. Louis. I did not know many people and I was a little timid being a young gay man in a big city. Meeting Matt brought my shyness and loneliness to an end. From the beginning he made me feel as though I was special and had someone who cared about me. He made this small town boy feel more at home in a city that almost overwhelmed me.

Our story together is one that began with honesty. An experience that occurred following our first initial meeting was very unexpected but it allowed me to understand and appreciate who Matt Schiermeier really was. Matt pulled me aside and told he had something important he needed to talk to me about. With open ears I listened as he expressed to me very calmly that he was HIV positive. He wanted to be honest and come out with this information so I could decide if I still wanted to continue seeing him or if this was something that would cause me to want to part ways. I have to admit, at this point in my life I had never met anyone with HIV and knew very little about it. I knew it had sadly taken many peoples lives but had never had any experience in dealing with it first hand. After our discussion, I had to leave because I was running late for work. I left his house, surprised, scared, and with many questions running through my head. Questions abut HIV.

Could I contract it easily if I continued seeing Matt? Even a greater question lingering in my head was; Now that I know this serious information should I still have this ultimate feeling of a true connection with him? By the time I finished my work day many other questions had piled up in my head. I knew I could not just run away, I knew I had to see Matt. I wanted some answers and I could not deny the emotions and energy I felt between us. We sat and talked for a very long time. He told me his story and educated me on several issues in dealing with HIV. At this point I took it upon myself to do some research and become more educated on this new topic that had presented itself to my life. From listening to Matt and doing my research I began to understand that this is not something I want to be scared of, it is something I want to be knowledgeable about, aware of, and be open minded to.
I grew up in a place where a lot of people could possibly be closed minded to certain situations or circumstances. I however, even from a young age, have been a person who does not judge, who is very open minded, and who desires for everyone to be treated equally as possible no matter what the circumstance. Because of Matt’s honesty from the beginning I was able to put my sense of fear aside and replace it with a sense of trust. It let me see that Matt was just as beautiful on the inside as he appears on the outside.

I do have to admit, as our relationship began to evolve and trust was in place, the fact that he had HIV still played a certain fear role in my life. This certain fear caused our relationship to become a little rocky at times. Looking back I realized that this behavior was a bit regretful and selfish on my part. Many people would say to me, “Don’t hang out with him, don’t you know? He’s HIV positive.” This statement caused me to think, if people knew I was with Matt; Would they assume I was HIV positive? This at first scared me and I was unsure how this would ultimately lead people to perceive me. Because of my uncertainty, I treated Matt unfairly at times. I soon realized that I was being very foolish and letting other peoples opinions persuade my thoughts and my actions. I opened my eyes and saw that most people telling me hurtful things, did not know who I was and most likely did not know who Matt was beyond his outer layer. I then began to focus on the most important thing, the relationship between Matt and I.

Matt and Cameron On the Instinct Cover

Matt truly helped me grow and become a better man. I became a man who was completely confident and comfortable with himself, from an issue of being gay to issues of knowing my own strengths and weaknesses. Now having Matt by my side gave me a huge sense of pride, HIV or no HIV. I was proud to have Matt because I knew Matt’s heart. HIV is part of Matt’s life and has now become part of mine. It is something I know he deals with daily and something we both desire to protect me from contracting. Matt and I have now been together 7 years. With my education being in dietetics and exercise, I make sure we continue to eat healthy, workout daily, and live each passing day to its fullest.

If you ever get the chance to personally meet Matt, you will feel this energy I spoke of earlier. An energy that draws you to him. Beyond Matt’s great looks, incredible physique and quirky,fun personality lies one of the biggest hearts I have ever known. A heart that has been uplifted and broken but one that continues to beat strong for things that matter to him most. Matt is my best friend and soul mate. We share many of the same thoughts and desires. This can especially be seen when it comes to the issue of HIV. Matt and I want people to become more educated about this issue, we desire to give to research organizations to help find a cure for HIV, and we strive for fear to be dispelled by an increase in knowledge.

Though extraordinary circumstances may exist in a relationship, I would like people to realize that it is possible to be with someone and truly love. Yes, there are risks involved. It is each individuals responsibility to be aware of their health status, be knowledgeable, and make a devotion to protection. Matt and I have come together at this time in our life to take our experiences and our love and share them in a true desire to help others. Showing people that with honesty, knowledge, understanding, and a desire to give back, we can all come Together For Good, controlling and fighting.