Nelson Vergel; Houston, Texas
I first witnessed a Pride parade when I moved to the United States from Venezuela as I was coming out in the early '80s. I could not believe that gay people could be so out in public on one of the main roads in Houston during plain daylight! This was something I could not even imagine in the culture I grew up in.
Little did I know that our pride would be tested beyond a parade when we soon started hearing about gay men dying of a weird disease. Being visible was about to become even more important.
I am glad that a lot of good things have happened since I celebrated my first Pride as a young immigrant who was about to find out he had the virus. I have witnessed sweeping changes in laws that give us protection not only as gay but as HIV+. Most of us can now survive this virus to witness what is yet to come as progress happens in GLBT rights, but also in the HIV cure field.