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Spiritual about

Spiritual about


Michael McColly's spiritual journey began in an unlikely place.

In 2000, Michael McColly led a workshop at the International AIDS Conference in South Africa, teaching HIV patients the benefits of yoga. His students' indomitable spirit inspired the HIV-positive writer and activist to eventually quit his job, sell his belongings, and travel the world collecting the stories of other HIV-positive men and women. The title of his new book, The After-Death Room: Journey Into Spiritual Activism, came from his experience at a Buddhist monastery in Thailand, where he was asked to wait in a room filled with the bodies of people who had died of AIDS complications.

What surprised you the most on your journey? How vast and powerful the AIDS network is in the world. I was literally led around the world by the people I met. An activist in South Africa connected me with an activist in India. The stories I heard just took me everywhere.

Why did you decide to intersperse stories of your own sexual history? I felt it would be disingenuous not to include my struggles as a bisexual man dealing with drug use. Initially I wanted to make this book about the people I met. But the people I met made me have to tell my story.

How will HIV-positive men and women benefit from reading your book? I think you have to realize how fortunate we are in America to have the kind of access to treatment and health care organizations, and to know that these organizations are so developed and work so well compared to other places where people are ostracized and terrified.

How are people reacting to it? They're just so stunned that I'm open about my sexuality and about my drug use and even about my spirituality. They come to realize that you can have a difficult experience and come out of it if you face yourself, face your fears, and face the people who are afraid.

What fears did you face on this journey? To travel with HIV--my doctors didn't want me to. Some family members and friends thought I was crazy. I keep telling people that I wasn't sure what was going to happen. I just went out there.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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