In the cases where they are just too sick, I cannot fault them. That is what disability, public benefits, and not-for-profit service agencies are there to do...provide a humanitarian safety net for those who wouldn't be able to survive without help.
But, I too have seen those cases where there are those who are for all intents and purposes "healthy" and do nothing to serve the community. In fact, in my experience they have an extreme entitlement mentality and are always looking for additional ways to "game the system". I find those men to be despicable parasites and will have nothing to do with them.
Just my experience and observations.
I went on disability after suffering stage four Non-Hodgin's lymphoma. After not being in remission for a year I was then diagnosed with anal cancer. I went through fucking hell. Because of my experience I often fear there is another cancer lurking around the corner. This does fuck with my mind on a constant daily basis. I feel like a time bomb ready to go off at any moment. It's exhausting to say the least.
With that being said, I don't appear sick. But I did when I had lymphoma. I was almost wheelchair bound, that's how severe it was. But when I bounced back and was treated for anal cancer I didn't appear sick. But, in fact, the radiation to my pelvis caused me immense pain. I was literally suicidal. Every time I took a piss or a shit I was screaming in agony and wishing I had a gun in the house to end it all. The radiation went everywhere in my pelvis and burned my urethra shut, I had to rip it open every time to take a piss. Although I was nuked from behind it shot right through and burned my crotch and penis/urethra.
The point I'm trying to make is that the OP really struck a cord with me. My dating life has been quite awful. Gay men have judged me harshly for being on disability and I have had to be strong and work hard not to feel ashamed. And I must admit that at times I don't have much luck with that battle.
Most people I know who are on disability have not gone through multiple cancers. I know there are parasites who want to abuse the system. Unfortunately I get lumped into that group. Men haven't really taken the time to get to know me. For example, when I survived lymphoma I decided to go back to school to get my undergraduate degree. While doing so I was diagnosed with another cancer. Instead of throwing in the towel (with school) I used my schooling as a way to help me hang on. In a way it was like something to keep pushing myself in order to make it through. Many college students drop out when diagnosed with cancer. I did the opposite, I used my schooling as a way to help me fight my battle, as something to pull me through.
Now that I graduated last fall (and as of December of 2011 got a clean bill of health from my last colonoscopy) I have been looking for work. In the meantime I volunteer once week at a library in a Spanish non profit institute called the Cervantes Institute. I used to volunteer at the Center on Halsted (Chicago's GLBT well known community center) in their computer lab and assist with Microsoft Office Suite classes and general invigilating duties. I got burnt out there but may go back soon.
What concerns me is what if I find a good job, go off of disability and then have another cancer? I've been told it's very difficult to go back on disability once a person attempts to go back to work. How will I pay for my HIV meds? It's all very overwhelming. Just because I'm cancer free doesn't mean I'm not battling other things like depression and at times - extreme anxiety/fear of more cancer.
I've had people (even guys I met on RJ in person) talk down to me and tell me I 'need to get a job.' It's really not that easy. The last guy I dated late last year was not very compassionate. And oddly enough, his own mother died from stomach cancer! You would think someone touched by cancer would be more understanding. His motive was to have me get a job so that he wouldn't be ashamed to tell his friends that he was dating someone on disability. He expected me to change and hounded me about getting a job.
People assume I'm physically strong because of how my body appears. But I only work out 1.5 hours a week total and only go M-W-F. Not to mention I put in nearly twenty years in the gym prior to being sick, it's not like I'm going to lose everything.
I'm glad that Smegmatron started this thread. All I can say is that I am more at peace with my path in life. It has taught me a ton of humility. I thought I would share a bit of my story since I thought it applied well to the topic of discussion. I will continue to be judged and I have learned not to care. Those people who judge me harshly have not experienced what I have and therefore really have no place in judging me. I someday hope to find a job and have a long healthy prosperous life. And I will be happy to pay taxes knowing that a percentage of them will help someone who, unfortunately, may have similar challenges like mine. I do know that if the shoe were on the other foot that I would date someone on disability. And for those that harshly judge, I simply have to remind myself that they are people I don't need approval from nor are they people I typically am compatible with in the long run.
A, you're like my friend in Puerto Rico. You've made something of your life DESPITE the health challenges which have come your way AND you contribute to your community.
You're the kind of person who reinforces my belief that our social safety net programs are a necessary part of the kind of society which not only promotes "free market" success, but also socially compassionate virtue.
My friend Fernando is a catch, and so are you.
It's that other small population of entitlement minded deadbeats who scam and game the system who draw my ire. Yes, they qualified for benefits. And, when I served on the board of an HIV/AIDS services organization, I've had to tolerate giving those clients benefits because I knew that the overwhelmingly larger population of clients were also qualified AND deserving.
One Thanksgiving, I was not scheduled nor had I planned to volunteer. Help was needed in the kitchen. I put on an apron and got to work. After I had toiled in the kitchen to prepare dinner for several hundred, I took my apron off and prepared to join dinner. A client walked up to me and complained about the orange drink. He told me how it used to be better, and sweeter, and blah, blah, blah! Another man who served on the board of another affiliated organization was standing there with me. I looked over at him. He looked back at me with that knowing look. I turned to the ungrateful client and said, "You know, Andy, I am just so grateful on Thanksgiving to have anything to eat and drink. I am so grateful to all the volunteers who made it and provided it for us today. I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving."
Andy was one of those who was well enough to do volunteer work. We saw him at the gym and doing his speed walking, But, he just "never had the time because he might not feel well". Bullshit!
I was so disgusted that I could not sit down to eat. I left. As I was leaving, another client stopped me and told me that the dinner was the other direction. I took his hand and gave it a squeeze, smiled, thanked him, and hugged him. I told him that I had been around the food all day and now just needed to go home and rest.
I enjoyed the rest of the day by myself and had a lovely time.