What can I say about my husband other than he is the most incredible man I've ever met. He is supporting me and my campaign and also I commend him. It took a lot for him to do this as it would anyone that would express their feelings in such a way. Baby I love you and thank you.
Here is his letter to HIV:
I know it has been while since I've communicated but I've frankly been at a loss of words. It finally occurred to me the other day why I've been bothered by you. I don't like being rude, but sometimes there is no other way than through directness. You are the type of acquaintance that shows up at a party, often uninvited and doesn't know when to leave. Just as I was coming into my own, accepting my sexuality and firming up my identity, here you come. I was just barely out of high school and basic training, setting out on my own enjoying new found "adult" freedom when you started rearing your ugly head.
Just a few years after coming to grips with my sexual identity ... in the aftermath of the vitriol being spewed by Anita Bryant and her hate induced madness in Florida, you hit the scene, at the time called GRID, Gay Related Immune Deficiency ... .GAY related ... sweeping through San Francisco, New York. No known cause and a host of previously unheard of illnesses literally plaguing the very community that I was just becoming comfortable in. Rare cancers, pneumonias that would kill in literally weeks, previously healthy young men, many not much older than I, wasting away became the norm ... .AIDS. Fear, anxiety, anger, guilt, remorse ... all seemed to feed the societal and religious condemnation of me and my kind. It seemed inevitable ... .get this thing ... die of AIDS ... ..And then you show up to the party, my party, hanging out with my friends and yes ... lovers. The rumors of how you were spread started to give way to the reality that you and your devious ways crashed our most intimate of relations. My dislike of you grew even stronger.
I remember the roll call of close and intimate friends who you seemed to have fondness for. Tom, Bob, Richard ... the funerals I was asked to officiate for ... Carlos, Nick, Rob ... .the list grew too large and too painful, sadness, loss, anxiety, wonder ... when ... . That gave way to why hasn't ... it seemed inevitable. The frequent tests, the scares simply because one caught a cold or flu, or because one sweat in one's sleep, a previously unseen skin blemish, a loss of weight ... all became cause for alarm, cause for anxiety ... cause for anger ... paranoia, isolation ... the expectation for folks who knew I was gay and medical professionals, guessing, suspecting ... constant vigilance. Why didn't you simply leave ... you were never welcome in my home or at my party, you were never invited, but crept your way in, closer and closer ... . It seemed inevitable ... or even miraculous that we did not become closer years ago. Fear gave way to hope as new less lethal medications emerged and it seemed possible for one to live with a chronic, yet manageable disease. Still none-the-less a troublesome condition, but manageable, less debilitating, less life altering ... but still troublesome and still a requirement for hyper vigilance. It seemed inevitable. And your proclivity for crashing parties, especially the ones you seem to like now, other young men and women ... just coming into their prime, really bothers me, really shows your devious nature ... .that parasitic quality to prey on the vulnerable like some sick stalker ... some sexual predator ... just waiting to strike.
So here we are ... . some 30 years since you first crashed my party, my cotillion, you're still hanging out ... still the nuisance, unwanted, obnoxious, parasitic guest that simply won't leave. Well, in case you forgot, I've shared this with you once before. I don't like you! You are not welcome in my home, my life or my body ... but since you seem to not be able to take a hint and seem to not want to go away anytime soon ... in the mean time ... .if you can refrain from stealing anything or anyone else from me ... if you promise not to be too much of a pest ... .perhaps we can co-exist with a peaceful détente.
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Justin B. Terry-Smith, M.P.H., may be one of the most public African Americans living with HIV: He has his own website, and he's even on YouTube. He is a noted HIV and gay civil rights activist and the creator of "Justin's HIV Journal," a popular blog in which he shares his trials and tribulations of living with HIV. A U.S. Air Force veteran, Justin resides in Laurel, Maryland, with his husband, Dr. Philip Terry-Smith, and their son, Lundyn. Presently, Justin is working toward earning his doctorate in public health. He welcomes your questions.
(Photo credit: Don Harris)
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