My Thoughts on Usher’s Herpes Lawsuit

Hi everyone! I took fifteen minutes tonight to talk on Facebook Live about the developing Usher herpes lawsuit situation. This is a complicated story where no one wins: non-disclosure laws are proven to be bad public health policy, but not disclosing to your partners that you have herpes (especially to young female fans who you aren’t using condoms with) is a deeply unethical thing to do. To make a bad situation worse, the ongoing coverage of this story is also steeped in racism and fat shaming. There are no clear takeaways and everything is garbage.

This is a rough time for our herpes community and I hope you all know that you are loved, valuable, desirable and so much more than your STIs. This is why we fight STI stigma. This is why we do the work. If you were given herpes by a partner who didn’t disclose to you, or if you’ve transmitted herpes to a partner when you didn’t know your status, I’m so sorry that you’ve been bombarded by this upsetting story for the last few weeks. I’ve found it triggering, as have many of my friends. You’re not alone.

Please share your thoughts in the comments! I’ll be moderating heavily but would love to hear perspectives from within the herpes community on this story as it evolves. Here’s a link to to the article in Cassius Magazine that I mentioned in the Live. Here’s a link to listen to my episode of Whoreible Decisions where I talk to Mandii B and WeezyWTF about herpes and this Usher story. If there are other stories you recommend that we read, share those in the comments as well.

Sending everyone love and strength,


RELATED: Herpes disclosure is very necessary and very complicated.

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Ella Dawson is a sex and culture critic and a digital strategist. She drinks too much Diet Coke.

5 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Usher’s Herpes Lawsuit

  1. You said that hsv1 is the “lazy strain of herpes.” I have had genital hsv 1 for 10 years. In the beginning my outbreaks were less frequent, but i definitely had more than 2. I now have to take valtrex every day because 10 years later it wont leave me alone. So, lazy strain it is not. How will this single girl not give this to anyone. I havent had sex in years. Too much shame, too much fear, too much viral activity.

    1. I have had HSV-2 since i was 18. I am now 23. I have had at least 5 outbreaks a year. Just like any lasting pain it has gotten easier to deal with. I’m so sorry that you are alone. please remember that you are more than your diagnosis. I know it is difficult to imagine that you are worth it. Especially if you might have seen herpes as lets say disgusting beforehand- i know I did. “It would never happen to me” and than it did and I had no idea how to cope. Please get out there and get support. Years later when i had told a new group of friends that I had herpes (mind you after joining a herpes dating site-which wasn’t too bad but in my opinion any dating site is a low lol) My friends male and female loved me. They saw me for who I was they reminded me that this stigma the world has is just that a stigma. In turn I could educate them. I was able to break those stigmas for them. I am in a relationship with someone who doesn’t have herpes. They haven’t shown any outbreaks and in the beginning of our relationship they tested for hsv-2 it came out negative. Who knows it may be dormant but even after I told him that he doesn’t want a relationship with me because i have herpes he still wanted one because I am a person not a disease or infection. Remember you are a person with great potential someone who deserves all that life offers.

  2. I saw your video. Thank you so much for all you do. I feel like the artist should have known much better and I hope that he pays dearly for the lives he has changed for not disclosing his status.

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