Op-ed: An Older Sisterâ€™s Reluctant Response to Her Newly HIV-Positive Brother
BY Amber Gracia
December 14 2012 5:37 AM ET
In response to a post published by my brother, Tyler Curry, entitled Reluctant Social Commentary of a Newly HIV-Positive 20-Something.
I have long since traded my urban Sunday brunches filled with mimosas and salacious bedtime stories for Saturday morning soccer games, chilled juice boxes and fairy tales. Although a self-described idiot when it comes to the intricacies of T-cell counts, I do seem to remember a fragment or two. There are, however, a few things I know for sure. Life changes. Things evolve. We evolve. At least I hope so.
We are two siblings living as well-cast bookends in a set of three. You are the baby brother of two headstrong sisters and despite our many similarities and overlapping social circles, there are almost 12 years between us. Separated by a generation, I play one of your three mothers in the theater of the Bible Belt, which we both know has made for both hilarious tragedy and hurtful comedy.
â€śI am gay.â€ť
I was a twenty-something, married woman when you shed that first mask and began living your truth. You had courage in the face of a privileged few who cast harsh judgment under the protection of a vengeful God. You had courage as they turned their backs with silent whispers of disapproval. I bore witness to this noxious comedy with its twang-y players, pickup trucks and cicada song soundtrack. One that left a lasting scar upon your heart.
You have always been bold, never one to wear a mask, at least not for too long and not very well. Often infuriating to those of us who know you best, your boldness is also a thing of great beauty.
As we sat across the table at that all-organic, locally grown place eating excruciatingly few carbohydrates and drinking iced tea, I had that harried, mother-of-two, canâ€™t-get-it-all-done look on my face and you were wearing an uncharacteristically small amount of self-tanner. â€śHow is your day?â€ť I asked. â€śGood,â€ť you said, â€śbut there is something I need to tell you.â€ť You continued, â€śI donâ€™t want you to be worried.â€ť Gulp. I nodded sheepishly in affirmation. Then you said it. Those three capital letters and mathematical symbol strung together in such horrific order.
â€śI am HIV+.â€ť
For a moment, my mind went blank. Then memories came rushing back, like someone had turned on the hydrant of my past. You said, â€śI am going to be O.K. and I am not ready to tell anyone else. Not yet.â€ť I nodded again, accepting this burden of silence. I asked all of the obligatory questions. You were using medical terms I didnâ€™t understand and trying to reassure me that things were different now. You said, â€śJust know, this isnâ€™t a death sentence anymore.â€ť Something about detectable levels and viral loads and that I should not walk away with fear in my heart. I tried to listen, I saw your lips moving, but the waters were raging inside my head and that hydrant of the past was on full blast.
As you spoke your sugary-sweet words of optimism, you seemed to forget that I am of a different generation. I have seen what happens at the end of the line when those three despicable capital letters and mathematical symbol get involved. I was scared. Scared at the most remote possibility of losing my often artificially-tanned, always perfectly-coiffed and pectorally-superior opposite bookend. I heard the words intended to soothe my mind and heart. But in that moment, I fell from my bench seat in that well-lit restaurant into a deep, dark well of shock and dated memories. I didnâ€™t show it, but as I got up and walked out the door, I was still down in that well and tangled in despair. All I could think was that this wasnâ€™t how your twenties were supposed to end. And, this wasnâ€™t how your thirties were supposed to begin. Your peregrine words of reassurance kept playing in my head, but â€śundetectableâ€ť and â€śhigh T-cell countâ€ť simply had no current meaning to me. So, I sat down and got comfortable in the silence of my pitch-dark place. Alone, scared and really pissed off.
- WATCH: President Obama Tells Morehouse Grads 'Be the Best Husband to Your Boyfriend'
- Op-ed: Religion Shouldn't Be an Excuse for Discrimination
- WATCH: Ben Affleck and SNL Crew Go to Ex-Gay Camp
- Thousands Rally Against Anti-LGBT Violence in New York City
- Photos: Cuba Libre
- WATCH: The Cure for Gay Wedding-Related Depression
Sign Up For Email Updates
- Commentary Op-ed: Religion Shouldn't Be an Excuse for Discrimination 4:40 AM
- Current Issue The Miseducation of Destin Holmes 4:00 AM
- Politics Obama to Grads: 'Be the Best Husband to Your Boyfriend' May 20 2013 7:56 PM
- Crime Thousands Rally Against Anti-LGBT Violence in NYC May 20 2013 7:35 PM
- Women WATCH: Ellen Responds To Abercrombie's Sizeist CEO - 'Fitch, Please!' May 20 2013 7:26 PM
- Marriage Equality WATCH: Matthew Morrison Can't Even Make Sense of Marriage Inequality May 20 2013 7:00 PM
- Law Texas Man Resurrects Suit Alleging AG Fired Him for Being Gay May 20 2013 6:48 PM