I really don't wish to begin by telling you who I am, but rather by telling you where I come from, where I have been, and most of all, where I am today. It has now been almost fifteen years, if not more, since I came out of my closet (not that I ever thought of myself as having been in one!). Coming from Guatemalan descent meant many different things to me than it did to my siblings -- two brothers and two sisters. I'm the baby. Mind you, being the youngest wasn't a piece of cake for me. Up until the relocation (1980) my siblings and I all went to one Catholic school or another. Being of the Roman Catholic faith made this a must for Mom, and we all saw Mom as the head of the household; Dad was present on a "need to be" basis.
After quite a satisfactory transition from teen to adult like the concept of my being gay was all but simple, nothing big as they say, compared to what transpired between the ages of 25 to 30, which is now. What I mean by that is as follows: At 25 I experienced my first loss due to AIDS. This event caused me to look closer at the realities in my life -- just a bit closer. By age 27, realities in my mind would turn to actual truths for me. I had been diagnosed with HIV disease. Mind you, the day I got tested I was not only told the results would come back in two weeks, but also managed to get a call from one person I had unprotected sex with letting me know he was aware of his being positive for ten years and just didn't mention it.
This information simply got me to do some serious soul searching, and in doing so, allowed me to accept the possibilities of my winding up with a positive test result. When I went in for my results fear, anger, and denial were not options for me. On the contrary, it was more of a confirmation of what I already knew inside, which simply meant, "research." After jumping into my research of who, what, and why, the only thing scaring me was my head and the thoughts regarding the moment in which I would tell Mom and my siblings, much less my Dad who still didn't even know about me being gay, much less this!
Dad was not an active participant in the family as I recall, but again I need to reiterate we relocated when I was eight, and he simply chose to stay behind to take care of the businesses he owned. Left with his absentia for 20 years meant simply, for me, he was just a man I knew and called "Dad." Upon his return, even though awkward, I had accepted who he was, and what he stood for in my life; and, with that, I chose Christmas 2000 as the day I would fill them all in about not only my status of AIDS, but also about my Kaposi's Sarcoma (KS).
I must say timing is, or was, of the essence. Which, for me, simply is not one of my best attributes, so after having just been released from the hospital, the concept of lying about how advanced I was with AIDS was thrown out the window by the doctors treating me. It meant better they find out from me now, rather than later from someone else.
So one by one, siblings first, Mom, and Dad last, I informed them of my new reality and what it meant to me to have their support and strength as siblings when I told Mom and Dad. I saw, felt, and respected the response given by my siblings. Mom took the information in and had all but known and accepted this for the previous three years and was prepared to admit her baby was HIV-positive. I must say she never once failed to support, respect, understand, and most of all -- love me.
I turned thirty this past September and I owe my family many thanks for that gift, simply because had it not been for their active interest, concern, and love for me, I can't say I would have walked out of the hospital on April 12th of this year after my fifth stay. Even if with only 20 T-cells, having beaten PCP pneumonia, and facing my KS lesions, I walked knowing I never had to ever again even contemplate the thought of doubt regarding the simple new reality in my life -- that my family was there for me with strength, respect, caring, but best of all not only open arms and open hearts, but most definitely love.
This article was provided by AIDS Project Los Angeles. It is a part of the publication Breaking the Silence... (Rompiendo El Silencio).