The Herpes+ Writer Directory

Millions of people live with herpes. Many of those millions are writers who fearlessly share their experiences with the world. Each of us herpetic punks has an entirely unique story to tell, and we need as many stories as possible reaching as many readers as possible if we want to make STI stigma a thing of the past. In the interest of boosting other voices, here’s a list of authors you need to be reading, AND, if you’re a journalist or an editor, contacting about writing for your publications.

I also know several authors and journalists who aren’t public yet about their STI status. Your stories are valid, and your voices are valid, and I want to boost your work too! I will continue to do so on Twitter and Facebook, and I hope you’ll continue to reach out to me via my contact form when you have pieces you want to share. But this list is of openly herpes+ writers only, in the hopes that this will serve as a directory of sorts. It’s hard to contact Anonymous.

I’m excited to see queer people, non-monogamous people, sex workers, and different age groups on this list. But conspicuously underrepresented are men, trans men, trans women, and people of color. Most published, easily accessible stories about living with herpes come from cis-gender white women, and that’s a problem. Please, please, please help me add more voices to this list! Share your recommendations in the comments and help me boost other stories.

Ashley Manta. Ashley is a sex educator, podcaster, author and coach. She’s also a total bundle of joy. I’m a big fan of her essay Growing Through the Yuck of Having Herpes, which also appeared in Best Sex Writing of the Year. She often talks about herpes on her podcast, Carnalcopia, which she co-hosts with Katie Mack. Find her on Twitter @ashleymanta.

Britni de la Cretaz. Britni is a community organizer, activist, and feminist writer who came up on my Twitter feed one day and blew my mind with her essay for Cosmo, What It’s Like to Have Genital Herpes When You’re Pregnant. You can find more of her unapologetic writing on Twitter @britnidlc.

Sarit Luban. Sarit is a blogger and a zine maker and a personal role model of mine. I found her writing when I was newly diagnosed, and her understanding of STI stigma and its politics is so sharp and so necessary. You should check out her take on those ridiculous color-changing condoms over on xoJane, and her essay Six Ways to Talk About STIS (Without Being a Jerk). Follow her on Twitter @suhreet.

Mollena Williams. Mollena is a BDSM educator, an actor and a writer. Her essay No Shame: Coming Out Positive about being diagnosed as asymptomatic for both HSV-1 and HSV-2 is honest and raw. It also discusses the complex intersection of race and herpes. You can read more of her writing at her website, The Perverted Negress.

Adrial Dale. Adrial is the founder of The Herpes Opportunity, an online resource and community for folks struggling with herpes. I’ve gushed about Adrial on my blog before, and I highly recommend his Lifestyle Guides, available here. You can even use the coupon code ELLA to receive 25% off!

Jenelle Marie Davis. Jenelle is the founder of The STD Project and an STD expert on a million different sites across the web. She battles STD stigma, publishes interviews with folks living with STDs, and shares news and resources related to sexual health. Her recent blog post about dealing with shitty, judgmental family members, My Herpes > Your Self-Loathing, is brilliant and fierce. I’m not just saying that because I’m mentioned in it, I promise.

Madison Young. I don’t even know how to describe Madison because she’s so goddamn cool. She’s a feminist pornographer, a performance artist, an author, and a mom. She also happens to be herpes+, a topic she writes about in her gritty, sensual Daddy: A Memoir. I had the pleasure of interning with her a few summers ago, and we wandered around Berkeley talking about herpes and the San Francisco sexual health scene. What a badass. You can buy her book here, and visit her website.

Crista Anne. Crista is a sex educator, blogger, and founder of the and #OrgasmQuest. She also happens to be herpes+, and you should read everything she writes because she’s a rainbow revolutionary.

UPDATED 9/7/2015

Rae Lewis-Thornton. Rae is an author, coach and AIDS activist. Way back in 1994, she shared her HIV story on the cover of Essence Magazine, and she’s continued to be a badass ever since. I loved her blog post “Overcoming Shame…“, where she admitted that she struggles more with shame related to having herpes than to having AIDs. You can learn more about Rae on her website.

Andrew W.K. Andrew is a rock musician (think “Party Hard” from 2001), and an advice columnist for the Village Voice. He recently shared his experience dating and disclosing with genital herpes in the 9/2/2015 issue.

UPDATED 2/24/2016

Emily Depasse. Emily is a feminist sex writer whose work caught my eye a few months ago when she came out as herpes+ on her blog shortly after getting diagnosed. It’s been eye-opening for me to read somebody’s experiences while they are still fresh and ongoing, as opposed to reflecting years later—especially when the writing is this good. You can read her letter to her ex’s other partners, “To The Girls He Hasn’t Give Herpes To Yet: This Is For You”, on Thought Catalog. Find her on Twitter @eld3393.

UPDATED 5/11/2016

Lachrista Greco. Lachrista is the founder and CEO of Guerrilla Feminism, a global feminist resource network for activists. She recently wrote about the complicated dynamics of disability and desire for Bitch Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @lachristagreco.

Posted by

Ella Dawson is a rowdy millennial who cares too much about The Bachelor. Her passions include sexual health and education, feminist erotica and social media.

10 thoughts on “The Herpes+ Writer Directory

  1. I have to say I admire your candor. Also your bravery in a soceity that is far too judgmental of too many things. Hypocrites are everywhere. It is always amazing to me that we’ll call oral herpes a “cold sore” and people will shrug it off and dismiss it almost immediately. Bring it below the waist and people freak out. Granted…I don’t think that anyone wants to be that person…I know I didn’t…but as you said in your article, if you’re standing in a room with a good number of people in it, chances are that there’s at least a couple of people that aren’t chuckling about a Herpes joke. Kudos to you young lady. There needs to be more like you.

  2. are you planninf or have you done a tedx talk ? the folks not aware of you are the ones that also need your message.’chuck

  3. Thanks for sharing this. If you’d like to read my blog check it out. My boyfriend has herpes and I am currently saving money to do my yoga therapy training to create a business teaching yoga to people with STDs. I write about my experiences here, I love helping people let go of fear, know they can love themselves, and be loved my others. Keep up the great work! 🙂

  4. Thanks for sharing these authors with your readers, Ella! It’s a generous and tangible proof that this cause prevails over anything else for you.
    I stumbled upon your blog a couple months ago when I was considering to go public about having genital herpes. Your confidence was contagious and a few weeks later, my first post was uploaded. My entourage’s response has been great, even though the goal behind my disclosure was less about getting compassion and more about sparking honest conversations around it. Since then, some folks who are still emotionally battling with the stigma have opened up to me, and it only gave me more confirmation that people are ready to listen if not talk about a different story of genital herpes than the one culture has long been corroding.
    Anyhow, as a response to your encouragement to share other stories, I am including the link of my “coming out” post. I am glad this community exists, and eager to contribute to it in any possible way!

  5. It’s funny. I talk about my struggle with mental health, and all the mistakes I have made in my life quite happily on my blog, I share it on all my social media platforms, to friends, family, workmates and I have unknown readers all around the world. People call me brave for sharing the inner workings of my warped mind, yet I just don’t have the guts to share my STI story yet. My partner (obviously) and a few close friends know about it, but I am so far off being able to share it with my family let alone posting it for the world to see. I am so glad I stumbled across your blog a few weeks ago, it gives me hope that one day I will completely let go of the stigma I have placed on myself and be a part of removing the stigma from the world too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s