Living the Questions
BY Tyler Helms
November 30 2010 7:35 PM ET
And just maybe, this year is best measured by what happens when one person shares one story, simply because he didn’t know what else to do. Because he felt bad for feeling bad, scared of getting sick, shamed by the loving act that resulted in his truth, and so regretful of the path he was letting it take. He sat alone on November 30, 2009, angry at everything, suddenly mentally challenged by a secret that was destroying him — a secret he knew he was responsible for. A truth that could be treated with medicine — everyone would tell him to get over it, be thankful you have that pill. The measure being the simple click: “share.”
And maybe still, this year is measured by the tears he still sheds, writing this very column. Tears that do not ask for pity, tears that are grateful for his good fortune, his good job, his support, and, yes, that pill. Tears that are hard to explain because it’s a sadness that can’t be measured. One that will no doubt will be mocked by those critics who simply see him — as one so eloquently put it — as “an irresponsible unthankful slut.” Tears that are real.
It's no doubt each of these measures together that speak of this year. The numbers that seem to mean nothing. Each of the questions we all asked. From the worst in human moments. To the Michelles, Lesleys, Adams, Deutsches, and Michaels of the world, who show us the best in human moments. To the person who simply wanted to start a conversation to help end the veil of silence that is still frightening to those who are positive, working against the tremendous efforts of prevention and awareness.
And so on this Worlds AIDS Day, we no doubt remember those who have passed, celebrate the advancements and work that has been done, and take note of all that is left to do. But we also measure this year and the ones ahead by the conversations we started, leading to answers that will get us closer to what has become our most daunting question yet — how do we live with HIV? So I end where I began — “There are an estimated 1.2 million American living with HIV. I am one of them. Living my way through the questions, and perhaps unexpectedly, without knowing to the answers.”
- Read Tyler's "coming out" e-mail from December 1, 2009.
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