DEAR HARRIETTE: I have an etiquette question. My nonprofit organization is partnering with another nonprofit to present a community workshop. We want to present the guest speaker with a gift. The two options are a $25 American Express gift card or flowers (not in a vase).
Which is more acceptable or appropriate? My board members think the gift card is impersonal. -- Do the Right Thing, Baltimore
DEAR DO THE RIGHT THING: It's great that you want to publicly thank your speaker. Since you are not paying the speaker, a token of appreciation is a fine gesture.
I would consider a hybrid of your ideas. How about the gift card with a single rose, so that when you present it, folks in the audience see something and the speaker gets something he or she can actually use? Be sure to include a note of gratitude with the gift card that is signed by the key members of your group.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm a 26-year-old gay male. I started seeing a guy when I was 19, and we dated for five years. This June, I found out I had contracted HIV from him, and it totally devastated me.
I had resigned myself to remaining single and "bearing the burden alone." I have told only one of my family members and am TERRIFIED to tell the rest. To make it worse, I've met an amazing guy who, despite my best efforts, I've fallen in love with. How can I tell him about this? I'm terrified that if I tell him or my family, I truly will be alone forever. Help! -- Desperately Confused, Washington, D.C.
DEAR DESPERATELY CONFUSED: I want you to notice that you have highs and lows that are taking up equal space in your life right now. It's good to look at them.
I'm so sorry you contracted HIV. I understand being wary of telling your family. You don't have to tell them. But you do have an obligation to tell the man you have fallen in love with. Do you run the risk that he'll run away? Yes, but not necessarily. Being honest upfront allows you to figure out how you can have a relationship and be as safe as possible.
I recommend that you get counseling that will support you in dealing with your health condition and navigating your relationship. One source is the Gay Men's Health Crisis (www.gmhc.org).
You also should know that many couples have weathered this storm. As an example, I have a friend who has been HIV-positive for many years. He didn't talk about it at first, but he didn't hide it, either. He has walked in all of the AIDS walks in New York City, and his friends have long known his status. He has been in a relationship with someone who is not HIV-positive for many years. The great news is that this year his partner asked him to get married. Because the laws have changed in some states, they were able to do just that.
You can have a full life. Take care of your health first. Get support, and tell the man you hope to make your partner.