For a long time
I've been active in the cause of fighting HIV.
I've also battled with an addiction to crystal.
These things have brought me to where I am today.
In high school I
was part of the first gay-straight alliance in the
Tacoma, Wash., school district. This brought me a lot of
negative attention. I was beat up daily. Ultimately I
dropped out of school and picked up drugs. I was high
most of the time, hanging out with dealers, trading
sex for drugs. I always asked them to use condoms, but when
you're high, who knows what's going on?
A little over a
year ago, at 21, I signed up for an HIV vaccine trial.
I'd been tested three times in just a couple of
months, and they all came back negative. So I was
shocked at my second appointment when I was told I
couldn't be used because my blood test came back
positive. I freaked out. I was crying so hard, I
couldn't see my own hand in front of me. When I
got home my mom could see how upset I was. I told her what I
had found out. She said how sorry she was and asked me
for a hug, but I wouldn't let her. I
couldn't believe I had let this happen and thought if
I couldn't love myself enough to prevent this, then
how could she possibly want to hug me? I felt so ugly.
This was the worst moment, I'm sure, that
I'll ever have to face.
Except for some
commitment phobias, I haven't changed much. Other
people, though, have changed, and they tend to be
extreme in their reactions. My social life has become
a minefield of hit-and-miss reactions. Some stop
talking to me, while others seem to want to know me more.
I'm not sure which is worse.
Some good has
come out of all this. I've been fortunate to have the
chance to be a part of a cross-country caravan with the
Campaign 2 End AIDS and to get more involved with
outreach in my own community. It has also brought me
closer to my parents and friends. I have an amazing
support network that is as strong as could be. It's
sad that this isn't true for everyone. I often
hear gay youths say they'd rather just go ahead
and get HIV instead of living in the fear of, Is today the
day it will happen? In some ways I feel that fighting
the stigma that comes with being positive is a mission
chosen for me, and I can't think of a fight
I'd rather be part of. Let's end AIDS now.