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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

Rough Night

By Brandon Lacy Campos

June 5, 2010

It is 4:25am, and I am sitting at my desk working on not crying and chatting with a friend from junior high and high school on Facebook about the royally screwed up discrimination her daughter is experiencing in her Minneapolis suburb school district.

I believe everything happens for a reason.

For example, I believe that it is not coincidental that La and my good friend and ex Chris were both online dealing with their own emotional issues when I logged in with my own baggage in tow.

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I also logged in to Facebook to find that a reader of TheBody.com, recently diagnosed as HIV positive, read my story there and sent me a very kind and caring email. That is exactly why I took the step of writing openly about my life and struggles and celebrations as an HIV positive man, including allowing TheBody.com to post my recent blogs concerning my failure to disclose and the possible outcome of that.

For that express reason, I am writing this blog, tonight, just a couple of hours before the summer sun makes its extremely early morning appearance.

This evening, I was devouring a Domino's pizza around Midnight (don't judge). I had put in the Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and I was having a text war with my partner David. I closed down my computer and settled into bed with David and my gorgeous Jack Russell Mimzy, when I fired up the old cell and was going to entertain myself with a good game of Scrabble. I noticed I had an email from one of my softball teammates. He had left a comment on one of my blogs recapping a recent game. The blog started shitty and ended with "fuck you."

Excusez-moi?

Being who I am, a gay Virgo, I shot him an email and a text message asking him if he had indeed made that comment and, if he did, why. I also explained that if anything in my blog offended him, it was all written with an eye towards humor, and I would gladly remove anything that he found personally offensive that referenced or included him or his loved ones.

He wrote back and told me that he thinks I am a "piece of shit."

Laissez les bontemps rouler!

I don't know this guy. Really. We've played on the same softball team for one full season. He is one of the guys that never goes out with the team afterwards, and he rarely participates (if ever) in our email discussions. So I don't know much about him except that he is a lawyer that works in the public interest. So, when I got his message tonight, I was, needless to say, completely and totally floored.

Now, though I play a blonde in everyday life, I have a genius level IQ, which means I am pretty much stupid and useless most of the time, but my powers of deductive reasoning are generally dead on. I know, for example, that this guy does the AIDS Ride each year. In fact, I pledged $100 towards his ride this fall. I know that I have posted on TheBody.com and on my blog about my recent failure to disclose and some of the emotional fallout from that experience. So, my conclusion was that either he knows the person involved in the story or that he read my blogs and decided that I am, indeed, a piece of shit.

And, of course, being a recovering addict living with PTSD and the survivor of abuse and sexual assault, the negative tapes kicked into high gear, I accepted that I am a piece of shit, and now I am writing a blog at nearly 5am. Hell, the birds just started chirping outside, which means that the sun is about to wake up, and I have not even gone to bed yet. Against all that I know to be true about humanity and myself personally, I still believe that I am shitty human being. I believe that I am worthless because those are the lessons that were beat into me as a child. In group therapy tonight, we talked about this subject. Our counselor asked me and another client why we felt the way that we felt ... and I was clear ... that which is beaten into you (literally) from age 3-12 and then verbally past that into young adulthood is what you learn to be true about yourself. And no one teaches you, unless you have the resources for psychotherapy that those internal messages aren't true. And, that being ones own (aka my) truth, one does some fucked up and stupid shit.

I am really tired. Not just physically, but spiritually.

Since my failure to disclose and my subsequent confrontation about that and the emotional fallout, I have felt relatively good about my life and how I have taken steps to ensure that I do not repeat the experience in anyway. I have spent 5 and a half hours a week in therapy. I have gotten to a place of acceptance if not comfort of what went down. And then, in one fell swoop, I let one person rip all that down.

And the fun fact is that though I surmise the cause of his emotional aggression, I don't actually know.

I am supposed to play softball in the morning. But I sent a note to my team telling them that I won't be there along with a very frank and very raw explanation of why. Some of them already know the story as they read my blog. Others have/had no idea until they read the email of what has passed recently. But, I learned that when there is bochinche (gossip) potential, it is better to lay it all out there and hope for acceptance than to let someone else spin the story and have to play damage control.

In the end, whether judgment is rendered against me or him or neither or both ... I can't say. But, at least now, everything is out in the open to everyone, and, moving forward, I will know if I am wanted or rejected based on the truth rather than a lie. Of course, relying on my team to approve or disapprove of what I have done or the way I have handled the fall out is still part of the problem. I should be able to say, "I've done what I've done. I've tried to heal what I can heal. I have owned what I could own. And each person can live, respond, and react in the way that best represents their feelings without it enhancing or diminishing my spirit."

Unfortunately, I am so not that evolved or there.

That is an apt lesson for life as a whole.

Send Brandon an e-mail.

This piece originally appeared in Brandon's blog My Feet Only Walk Forward.

Get e-mail notifications every time Brandon's blog is updated.

See Also
TheBody.com's Just Diagnosed Resource Center
Telling Others You're HIV Positive
More Personal Accounts of HIV Disclosure
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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Brandon Lacy Campos (New York, NY) Mon., Jun. 21, 2010 at 10:24 am EDT
Dear Ana:

I read your post on my blog at TheBody.com, and I want to start out by saying thank you for reaching out. Secondly, and please hear this, you are a loved, beautiful, and valued person. We all make mistakes. Your responsibility is to your truth. That's it. In the end, whether you are positive or he is positive or you both are negative, the test doesn't change your worth. It can change your feelings about your worth, but it does NOT change your worth.


Also, you, in the end, are only responsible for yourself. Period. Even if he tests positive, he still bears ultimate responsibility for his status. YOU bear responsibility for YOUR status. He, though, gets to determine how he feels and the action he needs to take around the circumstances up to the point he made his own choice to engage in unprotected sex. But, no matter his reaction or action, you are still a worthy human being without caveat and without reservation.

That's the truth.

Much love to you.

Yours,
Brandon
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Comment by: Brandon Lacy Campos (New York, NY) Mon., Jun. 21, 2010 at 10:23 am EDT
Dear Nyalie:

You are appreciated. Much love to you.

-Brandon
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Comment by: Ana (Los Angeles, CA) Sun., Jun. 20, 2010 at 8:51 am EDT
Brandon, I love your honesty. I wish there were more like you. I wish more people would disclose their HIV status to the public and be so honest about how it feels to live life, no poetry, no bs. It would have given me courage to go get tested. Now my partner got tested and we will see the results very soon and I am in panic. I know that if he has it, it is my fault because he tested negative before. I lied telling him I tested negative. I did not want to lose him and I did not want to be judged. I wanted to see if it was going to last. And it lasted and it became serious and I love him so much. And I might have screwed up. I don't mind having screwed up myself but my hope is I didn't screw up his life. I am going to be there when the results come and I do not even know what I'll say if the news are bad. Whatever happens, I learned my lesson. We have been using protection and I will be tested too. I'll face the music.
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Comment by: Brandon Lacy Campos (New York, NY) Fri., Jun. 18, 2010 at 9:20 pm EDT
Dear Alex,

Thank you for writing. I appreciate it. Very much.

Yours,
Brandon
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Comment by: nyalie (selibe phikwe bw) Fri., Jun. 18, 2010 at 5:56 pm EDT
brandon one thing i can tell is this this guy is so jealousy of you that you are so brave to believe in yourself to be yourself that the only thing that he can do is just be a bully caz it makes him feel good about himself so take this from me he can go to hell and back just tell yiurself that he is not going to manage to touch you ar do you any damage.be brave.we don't only get bullies in the school playground but also in life.
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Comment by: Alex (Atlanta) Fri., Jun. 18, 2010 at 9:15 am EDT
Your blog was so painfully honest that I had to put it aside last night and come back this morning to finish it. I so appreciate your willingness to bare your soul both to help others move forward and to find your own center. There will always be mean people, whether you are HIV+ or your skin is the wrong color or you don't have the right animal on your polo shirt. I share your pain of an upbringing that convinced you that you were always wrong and I see how far you have some. Please don't be disheartened. You are a much bigger person. Thank you for sharing.
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Comment by: Brandon Lacy Campos (New York, NY) Fri., Jun. 18, 2010 at 8:17 am EDT
Gostoso:

Thank you for your note. My teammate wasn't upset about my HIV status as it related to the sports team. I was already out to most of the team members. I had my own failure to disclose situation that I wrote about openly on my blog (and which has been copied here). He read the blogs where I was attempting to own my mess up and hold myself personally and publicly accountable to the situation, and he decided, from that, what he decided about my personal worth. That too is his to carry and not mine. Of course, you know, Virgos may be analytical, but we are also wells of emotion...and when you cut through our surprisingly not thick skin...you find vulnerability ;-). I am working on that. I appreciate your words here.

Yours,
Brandon

PS I play soccer too! Though not on a league. And it's great to hear from another Midwesterner. Particularly the upper midwest.
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Comment by: Brandon Lacy Campos (New York, NY) Thu., Jun. 17, 2010 at 7:37 pm EDT
LOL! John, you most definitely got a smile out of me. And, personally, I prefer a nice glass of Pinot Grigio and a good old fashioned (well, if five year ago is old fashioned) blog vent.

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Comment by: Gostoso (Los Angeles, CA) Thu., Jun. 17, 2010 at 6:51 pm EDT
(CONT'D)

Yes, playing sports can cause injuries where blood is let. But softball is not like football or basketball where you are constantly crashing into people. Sure, you might collide with a baseman trying to beat the ball for a run. My ex, an HIV+ soccer player, played in the West Hollywood league for years. Some people knew about his condition, others no. The general attitude however, was, if you're playing on a gay league, probably you'll have a teammate or two--at the least--who is HIV-infected. Don't want to be around HIV-infected athletes? Go play Wii with your virtual friends.

By the way, I've got three planets in Virgo myself (although I'm a Cancer by birth). Take your incisive mind, your formidable writing skills, and your ability to see to the bottom of issues and move forward.

Much love to you, my friend.
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Comment by: Gostoso (Los Angeles, CA) Thu., Jun. 17, 2010 at 6:45 pm EDT
Brandon,

As a fellow HIV-er originally from the Midwest, I admire you confronting stigma in your region of the country. I spent the first 18 years of my life in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin and I know that many Midwesterners can be a curious mix of polite, introverted, naive, narrow-minded and unforgivingly avoidant and judgmental people. I didn't understand the paradoxes then, ahd I don't understand them now. Something in the corn, I guess.

It's a trite saying, but the problem anybody has with your or my HIV status is primarily theirs. Ours, unfortunately, is to deal with the stigmatizing spew of mindless jokers like this guy whose messages of hatred have hurt you. Do not let the fact that he is a lawyer intimidate you. Having worked in the largest law firms in Los Angeles and New York over the years, I can assure you that lawyers can be some of the most vile people in the world. As a prior post indicated, they are trained confrontationalists, and many of them use all that fine alphabet soup behind their names in the service of damaging others because they have not yet figured out how to use their training in the service of human compassion. This one, more so than most, seems to have degenerated below his the purpose of his training, lobbing ad hominem attacks at an HIV+ man.

Second, I take it this guy's anger is entirely because you did not disclose your HIV status. My thought--unless you're dating someone, planning to ejaculate in them, donating bone marrow for his next spine replacement (God knows the jerk needs one) or bleeding over someone's open sores--is that you owe nobody any ammunition with which to load their bigotry. Did *he* disclose his medical history to the team before he joined up and made friends? My advice (not that you asked, I know): Do not let this small human being deter you from being the great human being you are. (MORE NEXT POST)
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Comment by: John R. Biron (Austin, Texas) Thu., Jun. 17, 2010 at 5:22 pm EDT
He's a lawyer. He's been trained to judge and take sides, and this is the path he has chosen as a free and empowered (we'd like to believe) adult. You should encourage him for the sake of his future success and happiness to continue to make hard judgements such as this or his skills in defining the truth and earning a successful living for his family will be in jeapordy... What a confederacy of fools and necessity of acceptance echoes from the quicksand. Or something like that...(this is why "G"od has given us single malt whiskey babe)
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Comment by: Brandon Lacy Campos (New York, NY) Thu., Jun. 10, 2010 at 11:07 pm EDT
Hey Green Trees...thanks for that. I am trying to let other people have their opinion while not letting it break me down. Working on it ;-)
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Comment by: Green Trees (Atlanta) Wed., Jun. 9, 2010 at 5:33 pm EDT
Hey Brandon,

Don't let this guys comments bend you out of shape so much. While I, as a straight Virgo totally understand the turmoil of wanting everything to be right in our personal universe, its important to understand that some times things won't be right. And you know what...that's okay too. Personally, I think the dude is kind of shady for not being totally upfront about his anger and resorting to name calling, but those are his issues...not yours. Thanks for the blog, which was both humorous and insightful. Keep up the writing, and I'll keep reading.
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Brandon Lacy Campos

Brandon Lacy Campos

Brandon Lacy Campos is a 32-year-old queer, poz, African-American, Afro-Puerto Rican, Ojibwe and Euro (smorgasbord) poet, playwright, blogger, journalist and novelist (that last one is slowly coming along). In 2009, MyLatinoVoice.com named him the #2 queer, Latino blogger to watch. In 2006, the Star Tribune named him a young policy wonk for his political shenanigans. His writing and poetry have appeared in numerous anthologies including, most recently, Mariposas, edited by Emanuel Xavier and published by Floricanto Press. This fall, his work will appear in the academic text Queer Twin Cities, published by the University of Minnesota Press. And, one of these days, Summerfolk Press will be publishing his first solo book of poetry: It Ain't Truth If It Doesn't Hurt. Brandon is hard at work on his first novel, Eden Lost, and he lives in New York City with his partner, artist David Berube, and his boss, Mimzy Lacy Berube de Campos (their dog).

It's with heavy hearts that we share that Brandon passed away unexpectedly on Friday, Nov. 9, 2012. He was 35 years old. Read memorials by Brandon's friends and colleagues.


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