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Do I Have Poz Pride?

By Tree Alexander

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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