April 4, 2012
People say that eyes are a window into the soul, but what about memories? Don't they count for something as well? I'm blind, gay, and I can remember my life changing all because of you.
I can clearly remember the first time ever truly hearing about you. It was a high school health class and all of us were instructed to do some research on a common STD. I chose you because I wanted to get to know you and to see what kind of damage that you did to people. I didn't know that I'd meet you face to face the next year.
When I met you I was homeless, roaming the streets hoping to find some sort of perishable food. It was late at night and I had just found a nice truck to sleep in and so I curled up with my backpack in the truck bed. Suddenly, I felt the glare of a flashlight on my face, demanding to know why I was in his truck. After some arguing and bickering, he took me into his home, and gave me his couch to sleep on ... the first one I had ever slept on in years. His name, I came to learn, was Brian. Brian took me into his home, and we soon became boyfriends. I didn't know that he was infected with you until my first heated passionate uproar. I wanted to make love to Brian so bad that it literally hurt me that he didn't want to pursue the same actions as I wanted. I didn't understand until he told me that he had you coursing through his body. I now understood what a horrible thing you were. What I didn't understand was why you would do this to a respected African-American teacher who liked to bowl every Tuesday night and have scented candles sitting near his tub every night when we took a soft bath together. I just don't get it at all. Why would you infect someone so pure hearted and strong?
As I grew and became stronger, graduating high school, I watched you work your magic on this 32-year-old man. I watched you eat away at his T cells and his immune system all because of a blood transfusion. Towards the end, I stayed home with him and cared for him. He helped me survive the bitter world and I was trying to help him survive your bitter plight. I lay with him as he vomited, and shook in my arms, unable to fight you off any longer. I didn't know how to handle this at all. I was only 19 at the time. I didn't know how to fight you, but trust me; I did everything that I could. He couldn't teach anymore, and it soon got to be so bad that he was hospitalized.
On his last day ... I held Brian's hand as he faded away from me, his HIV medicine utterly useless to him now. By the tone of the doctors, I was certain he looked as white as a sheet, but I stuck with him as he cried through the nights, as he vomited on my clothes and as he tried to lurch to the bathroom with my help. If you were going to have it your way, I was going to fight you every step of the way. I was going to be with him until the end, and I was. His last hours were of encouragement to me. We lay on his bed, with him in my arms. He kept telling me to never give up and be the best that I could possibly be. I promised him I would, and after I did that, I felt his chest stop moving, and I felt his breath stop hitting me with spurts. It was April 10th, 2010. The day I graduated high school was when Brian died.
Brian was a good person and I took his words to heart. I walked across that stage, and grabbed my diploma all the while with tears gushing down my face. Brian told me to be strong however, so I was. After my graduation, I went to college, and became a writer and a motivational speaker, using the money obtained to donate to HIV research labs and medical teams in the United States. I won't back down and I definitely won't give up. I go to schools and educate them about you, and I'm actively participating in many ways to eradicate you from this earth. I may be blind, but you have not sapped away my sight. I see the people who battle you every day just as Brian did and I see the advances we make to beat you. I'll tell you something here and now. When that first cure is administered, my cane and I will be way out in the front row of onlookers grinning broadly. Soon, you won't be a problem anymore, and I will be there to watch every second of it.