Cecilia Chung, San Francisco, Calif., diagnosed in 1993
I actually went with another friend to get tested and he was my support system at the time. ... But the first person I talked to after that was my mom. It was very difficult for me, for many reasons. One was because I'm Chinese. There are a lot of values that, as a Chinese son, I was taught: that, when I grew up, I was supposed to take care of my parents and make sure that they live comfortably. I'm supposed to make sure that I provide for them. The thought that I might die before they do was something that I was never prepared for.
Second: Catholic guilt. I was raised Catholic. And somehow that whole idea, or that internal chatter, all started to talk to me, and say, "This is what happens. This is God's way of punishing you. You transitioned [from male to female]. You're an abomination. This is God's way of telling you He doesn't approve." It was very hard to bear. So I decided to pick up the phone and call my mom. I told her that I might die before she does, and I told her that I tested HIV positive. Even though, at that time, we didn't really have a good relationship, I thought I owed her at least that. ...
I felt really alone for a long time, because my family and I didn't reconcile until later on in my journey. My mom and I truly reconciled in the middle of 1995.
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