Proud or Ashamed

 

I recently got a message asking, “Are you ashamed to have HIV?”

“No.” I replied.

He continued, “Then you’re proud to have HIV?”

I said, “No.”

“I don’t get it.” He said

I was actually at the airport and it was 4 in the morning, and I didn’t see the urgency of the inquiry.  The message came from an old friend from pre-med school.

I called him up the next day but did not reach him. I then sent him this long email instead.

 

Hi, friend!

Sorry I was not able to respond to you yesterday morning as I was finding my way around the airport while waiting for boarding.  Let me answer your inquiry via email since a text message would seem too long.

So I am not exactly proud to have HIV,  as if it were an achievement.  I wouldn’t want to “inspire” or influence people to have HIV, really.

I am not ashamed of being HIV positive. If there’s a need to disclose, I would. But not telling some people about it is not because of shame,  it just doesn’t feel like there’s a need to do so.

D**, it’s not black and white. I’m not proud but I am not ashamed of my status.   I am taking accountability for the things I did during my younger years.  I am taking responsibility for my status and in doing so, I chose, and choose, to educate as much people as I can.   I am not afraid of what people will say, but I am concerned that others (especially on social media) may bash other bashers if I would indiscriminately shout out my status online.  Yes, there’s an opportunity to educate people, but I feel that education doesn’t have to come from below-the-belt hits.

You were one of the very, very, very few friends I retained from pre-med. People until now don’t even know about your sexuality.  You have remained in touch through the (many, many) years and I appreciate that.  You did not become a stranger through the years.  You were not a friend for good times only, or bad times only.  You were always there.

Don’t get me wrong, I took no offense in any way.  You were in fact one of the very few who kept asking about how my living with HIV was during my first few years more than a decade ago.

See you soon, loves.

 

Today, I got an email response:

Loves,

I guess I have seen your pic on Twitter (your poz account) and I have been “watching” your account from afar.  I was afraid that you might get bashed. I guess for more than 12 years, I have been in touch but we never really saw each other. I wanted to know how you were, how you are, and I wanted to know that you will be okay.  Of course, you weren’t offended, you never did, at least not by me. Proud of you, loves.  You went so far out there, farther than any of our friends in college did,  or could have gone.  Ever.   We dreamt of saving lives, and you are saving lives.  I used to tear up every time I think about you.  One day, I told myself, it’s not a question of who don’t deserve HIV, it’s a question of who can do most having HIV, and loves, that’s you.

***

P.S. Labs you always. Lams mo yans.

About +daddy+drEw+

HIV awareness and treatment Advocate & Activist. Living with HIV since 2007. A friend. A partner. A dad to the HIV Community.
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1 Response to Proud or Ashamed

  1. Mandy Thomas says:

    Beautiful. And amazing !!!

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