Every so often, people find The STD Project by way of Googling ‘celebrities with STDs’.
Initially, this was comical to me as I’m not entirely certain how my website or my name got lumped in with those searches. I’m definitely not a celebrity, despite parading around with my picture all over the web and sharing my STD story publicly.
In fact, I quit an incredibly lucrative job as an accountant to do this. Quite literally, I designed a website, started writing about my experiences, accumulated a plethora of information (which is still growing) and then told my friends and family (Facebook friends and all), ‘I have an STD and I’ve quit my job as an accountant to talk about STDs and how they affect people for the rest of my life!’
Who the heck does that, right?!?!
Definitely NOT a celebrity.
Right now, I’ll bet you’re wondering how this really has anything to do with celebrities and STDs at all… Bear with me for just a moment longer; I assure you, I’ll get there. At which point, and understandably so, you might think I’ve completely fallen off my rocker (if you haven’t thought it already).
So, as I began to see this was how some people were coming to land on my site, I learned not only were people finding my website by searching for celebrities who have STDs, they hoped to find a celebrity who’d succeeded despite their STD.
They were seeking stories about people they admired, respected, and who had triumphed in the face of the ever-present adversity and stigma surrounding sexually transmitted diseases and infections. They were looking for this because, surely, if a celebrity could overcome the stigma, they could too!
A celebrity talking about STDs or having an STD, therefore, would be proof that their STD was not destined to define them.
Then There Was None
You may have already guessed what comes next.
The same people looking to find hope, reassurance, and guidance found slanderous blog posts, unverified lists of celebrities with STDs, and virtually nothing of any substance to help them deal with their fate – the same fate 19+ million Americans deal with annually and upwards of 65 million Americans are living with (here are some additional STD statistics guaranteed to knock your socks off).
It’s appalling – the staggering number of people contracting and living with an STD annually who have very few positive examples to reference as well as the poor quality of information and reputable stories out there!
After talking with some of the people who landed on my page somewhat by default, they all said the same thing: I was the closest they had come to anyone sharing their story openly and sending a positive message.
My subsequent searches also returned little else.
Naturally, the first thing that came to mind as a newly self-invented STD educator was, ‘You mean to tell me, of all of the people living with an STD and contracting an STD annually, not a single celebrity has contracted an STD??!?!’
Complete and utter bologna!
Regardless, very few (if any) are talking about it.
Sure, Magic Johnson has been a champion for HIV – which is amazing – but what about the 20+ or so other STDs (the World Health Organization says there are more than 30 – The STD Project addresses about 20 of them)?!?! HIV has become much more mainstream recently; stigma still abounds, of course, but so many have begun to rally around the cause. Anne Heche, apparently, talks about being abused as a child and contracting herpes (a harrowing and heart-breaking story, yes – I’ve heard, but have not yet read her autobiography). Albeit, this is one of the only other stories out there (people even have the audacity to refute its accuracy).
Consequently, everyone contracting an STD wants to claim victim too, because, so far, that’s been one of the only partially accepted circumstances.
Some people actually are victims (via rape or infidelity, for example), but everyone else engaging in sexual activities willingly can’t claim victim as they had/have a responsibility to themselves first and foremost (I talk a little bit more about my views on that here).
The majority of people contracting an STD are contracting them (as I did) the good old-fashioned way – they have a little less (or a lot less) than safer-sex with someone and ta-da! (Less-than safer-sex includes these activities and can mean not getting tested together before engaging in those activities, not talking about sexual history and testing history, choosing not to use protection, and not limiting partners. The STD Project encourages lots of healthy and happy sex and makes no judgments about one’s choices, of course. Simply, these are the facts.)
The point is, the ratio of people contracting STDs to people sharing their experiences is incredibly imbalanced due to stigma.
People are shamed for contracting an STD and spend their lives hiding, embodying the stigma imposed on them.
When someone contracts an STD, they have nowhere to look for inspiration, guidance, or perspective.
No one talks about them, everyone* has them, and the only time we hear about them is in crude jokes on late night television or in R-Rated comedies.
Is is just me, or is something drastically wrong with this picture?!?!
It Just Takes One
Here’s where the meat of this post comes in. (Finally!)
I’m challenging you, celebrities, to take a stand with me.
Join me in talking about STDs openly whether you’re Paris Hilton, Jessica Alba, Robin Williams, Anne Heche (I’m just mentioning you, folks, because your names popped up in my ‘celebrities with STDs’ search), or anyone else – whether you have an STD or not!
Frankly, I don’t care if you have or have ever had an STD at all.
If the rumors are untrue, help me stop the media from using them as a derogatory way to defame celebrities.
STDs are a part of life – unfortunate as they may be – and right now, I can’t see any better solution than to address them.
The only way to reduce the spread or prevent increased STD numbers is to deal with STDs and the people who have them compassionately and with maturity! In doing that, we strip the comedy from STDs and remove the impact they have as a slur.
If the rumors are true, cheers, you’re one of the many and sharing your story will positively impact the lives of so many!!!
Imagine the additional fan base you have an opportunity to accumulate!
This is true whether you have or have ever had an STD or not, quite honestly!! In standing up for those who have contracted or are living with a sexually transmitted disease or infection, you have the potential to greatly affect the lives of so many just by joining me and talking about STDs out loud!
TAKE A STAND.
I’ll even help you.
‘How can some random stranger help you,’ you ask?
First of all, I’m an excellent example of how an STD and talking about having an STD does not stop people from achieving things. In fact, it has grown my (meager) fan-base exponentially (friends included) and the people who love me haven’t disowned me. Rather, they are applauding my efforts, my gall (I like to say I have some pretty big ovaries – as opposed to balls), and they have joined with me.
Secondly, I’ve already done the legwork – I’ve an excellent site primed for your input!
I cannot stress this enough; you have the potential and the power in your hands to effect change.
Yes, I will keep building my website and continue reaching out to people globally regardless of any celebrity support, but I welcome and encourage your support all day, obviously.
Did I mention, I’m global?!?!
Check out my resources – specifically how to find STD Testing Centers globally!
You could reach billions!!!
With you, I can change the minds of many and let people know that an STD doesn’t have to stop them or break them.
Be authentic and break the stigma with me, powerful people.
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Did you find The STD Project by searching for celebrities with STDs too? Do you think it’d be great if a celebrity supported a cause like this and helped us eradicate the stigma? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!