A couple have shared the heartwarming story of how they met, fell in love, and got engaged to marry, all within the month of December.
The story was posted to the Instagram and Facebook accounts of @theaidsmemorial. The profile primarily posts tributes to lives lost to HIV. However, it also occasionally posts stories of survivors.
One such person living with HIV is Michael Glockner, who lives in Orange County, California.
“On December 1st, 2021, I made a post on my Instagram account for World Aids Day and tagged The AIDS Memorial account,” Glockner says. “The AIDS Memorial reposted it and a few hours later a guy named Johnny ‘slid into my DMs’ introducing himself to me.
“We started to chat about each other’s HIV journey. From there the chatting on Instagram became texting on the phone to chatting on the telephone to video chats. We would talk several times a day, a few hours each time. We both ended up developing feelings for each other. It was such an amazing feeling.
“A couple of weeks later, Johnny then suggested we meet in person. So I flew to the Bay Area from Orange County to meet this wonderful guy despite having a fear of flying and having not flown in 12 years.
“I was expecting Johnny to pick me up from the curb after I got my bag, but when I walked towards baggage claim, I heard a voice saying my name ‘Michael.’ When I turned around and looked, it was Johnny. We locked eyes and it became instant love. It was simply amazing.
“On New Year’s Eve, I proposed to Johnny and he responded with a loud yes and a beautiful smile. We are now officially engaged and we love each other very much.
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“Johnny has had HIV for ten years. It was very hard on him in the beginning. At one point Johnny’s life had many personal tragedies and challenges. For myself, I have been living with HIV since 2005. I was diagnosed with AIDS in 2011. I continued to battle with HIV Vacuolar Myelopathy (spinal cord disease) which in the beginning put me in a wheelchair for approximately four years. I almost died from my AIDS diagnosis.
“Johnny and I are very thankful to have met through The AIDS Memorial IG account. This has been a real love story in the most beautiful way. We appreciate being able to share our story and we hope whatever health challenges anyone faces that our story will give you hope and faith to fight for your dreams and love because love conquers all.”
The couple’s story has prompted over 10k likes on Instagram and hundreds of comments both on that platform and Facebook.
“What a beautiful story!” said actress and activist Patricia Arquette. “May you have much joy together.”
“Who is chopping onions around here?!” another jokingly said. “Congratulations to you both!”
“The AIDS Memorial is all about the Love we have for those that have passed and keeping that love alive,” said another follower of the account on Facebook. “How beautiful that it has brought people together in so many ways. I have found the cousin of my departed dear friend. Long may it continue. I wish you both happiness.”
Glockner told Queerty he’d been blown away by the response his story had received online.
“All I did was to send The AIDS Memorial a memo telling them how Johnny and I met. Then they asked me if they could reprint it on their post.
“As a kid in the 70’s, up until about 2005, I had a lot of hate swung my way for being open about my sexuality. I’ve been beaten up a few times, one time hospitalized. Physically and mentally some people tried to destroy me, but I always kept my head high.”
As a young man, Glockner was previously married to a woman. He has two children and four grandchildren. He says their support has helped him enormously to cope with the challenges life has thrown at him over the years.
He firmly believes that sharing his story about living with HIV can help others, and to this end, posts videos about his life on YouTube. As he recently wrote on a World AIDS Day posting, “Live each day with pride, be proud of yourself, keep believing, help others when you can.”
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