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Kai Chandler Lois Crenshaw Gary Paul Wright Fortunata Kasege Keith Green Lois Bates Greg Braxton Vanessa Austin Bernard Jackson

Do I Have Poz Pride?

April 21, 2010

I speak out every day about my HIV status. I tell a large number of people my story. I want them to know my name and of my many experiences. Some people thank me. Others despise my exposure. They tell me it's no one's business but my own, what I have done and what STD [sexually transmitted disease] I have. However, I'm honest and have no problem telling the world that I have sex with men on occasion and that I'm HIV positive.

They ask, "Are you proud of your HIV status? Do you take pride in you incurable infectious disease?"

Out of sheer defense, I say, "YES!"

But one weekend a little while back, I was asked again and wasn't able to answer at all. I just really didn't know how to feel this time. I continued to give it thought. I wondered if I really do have POZ PRIDE. I know that I have pride in the work that I do, as well as the speaking opportunities that I am given to warn the affected and encourage the infected by telling my story.

I know that I have nothing to hide no matter how America may accept me. I'm very honest, truthful and forthright about who I am and what I do. I LOVE MYSELF ... I don't expose myself for attention or fame. I always wanted to become famous, but not because of a disease. I said I wanted to help others ... Am I?

I think back to when I first began to tell my story and why. I was scared and alone, I had only my sister's support and a few friends. I felt completely isolated and hurt. I really wanted to speak about my life just as any other family member at family events. I disclosed my bi-sexuality to my family at the age 13 so I never shied away from speaking out. It was very uncomfortable not being able to share intimate parts of my life with those that mattered most to me.

I think I'm so open because I come from a big family (a REALLY BIG FAMILY), and we didn't have many secrets. My family feels: "A family that prays together will stay together" and "A family that cares will share the good times as well as the hardships."

When I told my family I was HIV positive ... they threw me a "STAY HEALTHY" party. They cooked, they brought me gifts and information about the virus. I knew that I was truly loved. I guess I'm one of the lucky ones who just come from continued acceptance.

After my flash back, I notice that I do have PRIDE -- not specifically POZ PRIDE but SELF PRIDE. The PRIDE that has brought me out of denial, and out of depression, into a state of love and empowerment.

I will continue to be non-judgmental in my life and the lives of others!

"He who conceals his disease cannot expect to be cured." -- Ethiopian Proverb

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More From This Resource Center

Magic Johnson Wants You to Know: He Isn't Cured of HIV

Living With HIV? African Americans Share Their Advice

This article was provided by TheBody.

See Also's Just Diagnosed Resource Center
Telling Others You're HIV Positive
More Personal Accounts of HIV Disclosure

Reader Comments:

Comment by: PozLyfe09 (Kalamazoo, MI) Mon., Oct. 17, 2011 at 1:02 am UTC
This is the first blog of yours that i have read and i love it! This actually made me question whether or not I have POZ PRIDE!

Thank you for posting this!
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Comment by: MarkSpizer (Ghana) Mon., May. 3, 2010 at 6:07 am UTC
great post as usual!
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Comment by: jayla (buffalo ny) Wed., Apr. 28, 2010 at 8:46 am UTC
that iz good dat u have no problem saying that you have a gift start useing it u can talk speak your mind out
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Comment by: Irving Benjamin Jr (BROOKLYN, NEW YORK) Tue., Apr. 27, 2010 at 11:55 am UTC
I admire your courage to express to the world your tetimony. I encourage you to continue to make a better and positive difference in the world as you go forth. May God continue to prosper your path and be your guiding light in your walk in making change this world. God bless and peeace.
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Comment by: Leke (Cameroun) Mon., Apr. 26, 2010 at 9:45 am UTC
Tree, i find you exceptionally cute. I have never given a thought of dating a poz fellow before but i just admire your guts-looks-and self esteem . I am very proud of your family and how they accepted you. If i were in your visinity , i would have actually come looking for you.I love being about positive thinking people.
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Comment by: loo (south africa) Fri., Apr. 23, 2010 at 10:27 pm UTC
living with the deseas for shutted my life at first, then i realise there was nothing wrong with me. I was dignose 3years back and i have never been sick and i look foward each an every day wirh pride.
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Comment by: Arick (Chicago, IL) Fri., Apr. 23, 2010 at 6:46 pm UTC
I so admire your courage to be able to publicly speak as a survivor of HIV. I would encourage you to continue to lend your voice to this epidemic as that is the only way we will be able to break the stigmas associated with the disease. You have been blessed with your unique stories so continue to utilize the the platforms given to continue to inform the general public. Until there is a cure... We need more trees!
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Comment by: Roberto (New York ) Fri., Apr. 23, 2010 at 1:15 pm UTC
To say yes I'm proud about HIV is something that I would say to make me feel better but we all know better
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Comment by: Tree Alexander (NYC) Fri., Apr. 23, 2010 at 11:38 am UTC
Thank you all for your comments. All are greatly appreciated and motivating. I want to thank you all for taking the time read my article and support me. I really want to speak with Sean from Orange County. When you have the time please send me a message.
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Comment by: john (dallas,tx) Thu., Apr. 22, 2010 at 10:33 pm UTC
proud is not the word....i am not proud of hiv but i with it...and it takes a minor role in my daily life except my reminder at pill time....take pride in the life you live but not in hiv....acceptance and moving forward is most important to me
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Comment by: sean (orange county, ca.) Thu., Apr. 22, 2010 at 9:01 pm UTC
"proud to be poz?" i hate this disease. i wish i was dead
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Comment by: greg (Minneapolis, MN) Thu., Apr. 22, 2010 at 3:38 pm UTC
I would say I'm proud of the fact that I'm still alive after being poz for 20+ years, but not proud of being poz, per se.

Great article Tree.
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Comment by: Forrest Gump (Boston, MA) Thu., Apr. 22, 2010 at 3:24 pm UTC
I've been poz for over 22 years. Back in 1988, it was essentially a death sentence. I've been fortunate never to be sick, I take care of myself. My pride stems from my ability to stay healthy and counsel those lives are changed by becoming poz. But I find the idea of having pride in being poz somewhat absurd. Personally, I still feel like damaged goods. I never wanted HIV, I still don't want it.
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Comment by: Kirk (Dallas, TX) Wed., Apr. 21, 2010 at 9:32 pm UTC
Your self-love is very apparent and refreshing. I believe that you truly are free. That is a rarity even among people who do not have a disease. Well, I am so proud by your zeal and desire to speak out.
May you continue to have all you need to keep going.
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