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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

Working Through It

By Brandon Lacy Campos

June 7, 2010

So, it's after Friday night's exchange with my teammate, whose name I shall not use as he asked oh so politely that I not do so. And even though I would be completely justified in ignoring a request that was made so lovingly, I will go ahead and respect the request boxed inside the venom.

I have been struggling hard core since Friday night. Today, I finally came to the astounding conclusion that the voice that I keep hearing, in Dolby Digital Stereo Surround Sound, repeating that I am a piece of shit isn't my teammate's voice, it's my own.

Frankly, I have no power over the opinion that someone else has of me. I suppose if I lived my life in a cubicle and never made any mistakes, small or fucking huge as I have done, then I suppose, controlling for all that, I could influence someones opinion of me. But change it? Nope ... that's not a power I have.

But I can interrupt those tapes inside of me that are determined to keep me kicking my own ass until my motherfuckin' foot falls off or gets wedged somewhere in my colon.

Colostomy, table of one, please.

Now ... considering the voice that has declared that I am a piece of shit is, in fact, a part of my own psyche, which means, technically, I do have control over it, one would assume that one could just flip the off switch and away it would go. Unfortunately, to get to the off switch you have to wade hip deep in the Bog of Eternal Stench, with giant leeches the size of Rush Limbaugh's ass trying to suck the life out of you, as you have to do a back hand spring through a mine field covered in old syringes filled with nitroglycerin and all piled on top of a nuclear warhead that goes by the nick name of Bubbles and is on a hair trigger held by a 98 year old man with cerebral palsy and the DTs.

But if you can get through all of that, well, by all means, turn that switch right off ... and ... while you're at it ... cure AIDS, homelessness, and cold fusion.

So, since I am not Mary Lou Retton inside of a cybertronic Voltron-on-steroids intergalactic gymnastics suit, I get to sit with the mother fucking feelings until I can get a handle enough on them to step outside of my front door.

This weekend I did a lot of isolating and a lot of hiding. I didn't go to the gym. I skipped my softball games, and it took a supreme act of will and effort to go to the BBQ and Hummus parties that I attended. It took all of my energy to put on my happy face and go play well adjusted and normal for several hours at a stretch.

But that's just it ... I'm not normal. No matter how much I want to be, I am not normal. I am a recovering meth addict that is HIV positive. No matter how much I want those two things to be different. They won't be. Not in this lifetime. No matter how much I want to be just like everyone else (well, ok ... even if I were not a positive addict, I am too fuckin' weird to be just like everyone else), but no matter how drunk I get or high I get to permission myself to act like a self-absorbed person just looking for a little human contact without any barriers, I don't get to be that person anymore. This fucking (these fucking) disease have taken that away. And though it is fucked up, foul, wrong, unjust, uncool, and just plain oppressive that people living with HIV are held to a higher, different standard of behavior (ie ... if a straight guy and girl fuck without a condom and the girl gets pregnant, no one gets called a piece of shit ... if two dudes are on a three day meth binge with needles in every vein but neither of them IS or KNOWS that they are HIV positive ... they might get called stupid but they aren't a piece of shit ... if two guys get drunk and fuck without a condom ... and one is unsure of his status or both are and neither knows for sure ... they aren't a piece of shit ... get the picture?) but positive folks ... that fuck up just like every other sexually active person FUCKS UP does so ... we (I) are moral reprobates, intentional bastards, pieces of shit, fucked up, inhuman, demonic (let's pretend this is a MadLib ... insert your favorite negative dehumanizing adjective here), etc., ad infinitum.

There is ill intent assigned to what we were doing instead of asking ... what ... other than a demonic and devilish desire to cause harm ... could possibly motivate someone to get drunk and/or high and have unprotected sex even when they know that they are HIV positive, or worse, lie about their status? Hmmmm ... asking that question forces people to look to damn closely at their own desperate desire to fit in, be loved, be, dare I say, normal.

I mean, I can't imagine why someone would do such a dastardly thing. I mean ... our society loves, values, and in no way stigmatizes HIV positive people, does it? I mean, I have never been in a club and heard folks talking about this or that person that is positive and how they can't believe anyone would sleep with them? I mean, I have never been interested in someone, disclosed my status, and watched their face shut down and despite their insistence that it doesn't really matter, they never call back? I mean, I don't see imagery on TV and in the media about how FAGS deserve AIDS and deserve to die. I mean, I didn't grow up with Fred Phelps telling me that I got what I deserved. I mean, I didn't learn messages that it was ok to have HIV if you got it through a blood transfusion or through a surgical accident (which meant you were to be pitied instead of reviled) but if you got it through consensual, even if stupid, unprotected sex then you got what you deserved. I mean, on top of racism and homophobia, adding being HIV positive to the mix of ones life isn't too fucking much so that sometimes you are willing to do anything and go to any lengths JUST TO FEEL THE WAY THAT EVERYONE ELSE GETS TO FEEL ALL THE TIME ... AKA wanted, desired, loved, valued, beautiful, caring, cared for, and cherished -- even if all those things are found only in a 30 minute hook up with someone, somewhere ... that you never see again.

Silly silly me. Feeling untouched, unwanted, and completely disconnected from everyone around you while walking the streets in a city of almost 9 million people is normal. Right?

But, guess what, I get to change that too. I can't change what I've done. I've said that before. But I can change what I am going to do. I can't change what other people think of me, but I am changing the way that I think and feel about myself.

And I will tell you one damn thing, I am NOT running away. Not this time, not ever again. So, I sent an email to my softball team letting them know that I will be showing up this weekend for the games. And I will show up the next week and the week after. It is going to be, for me, awkward as fuck showing up at our meeting spot for this weekend's games. But I am going. Because if I don't go ... it isn't my vitriolic teammate that wins, it's the voice in my head telling me that I am a piece of shit that wins.

And that motherfucker has won quite enough thank you. It's MY turn now.

Send Brandon an e-mail.

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

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

Reader Comments:

Comment by: April (Thunder Bay, On) Mon., Mar. 7, 2011 at 11:13 am UTC
Stay postive - you did "man/fairy up" for what actions you had made previously. We all make mistakes and when we make big mistakes like you did not all of us are brave enought to do so. So you did a very brave thing. i think people are angry about positive people admitting that they gave someone HIV knowlingly becuase they were probaly one of the victims that this happened to. Although they were just as willing to take that risk and scared to even ask if thier quickie partner was positive they dont want to feel responsible for their own acts of stupidity. And thats what it is. Everyone takes unprotected risks and i believe that if i ask someone are you hiv positive before we have unprotected sex and they lie and say no...I would be pissed too only becuase now I would possibly be infected or was infected and hiv is a chronic disease or can even be a death sentence. Impregnating a woman is not a incurable disease - it is creating new life not possibly ending it.
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Comment by: Brandon Lacy Campos (New York, NY) Thu., Jun. 24, 2010 at 8:49 am UTC
@Anonymous Much love and strength to you. Find the path that is going to work best for you, but there is support out there. Austin has great queer 12-step meetings. You don't have to make any committments but maybe check out a Crystal Meth Anonymous or an NA meeting.

@Graig Thanks for your comments. When I write, I write to externalize, honestly as possible, the feelings I am experiencing in the moment. By externalizing the feelings (good, bad, and ugly)...I release them to the universe and take love and peace back in. I also write openly because I can. I know that I am not the only person that is or has felt this way, and I hope that by sharing I am able to help reduce the isolation and emotional stagnation that often accompanies our lives. Forgiving myself is a process, and removing these experiences from the internal, talking about them, and letting them go is all part of the healing. I am not sitting in the dark moaning and beating my head on the floor...I am living...and living as honestly as I can, which means acknowledging the ups and downs, et al. Thanks for reading.
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Comment by: Graig (Columbus) Tue., Jun. 22, 2010 at 6:25 pm UTC
WOW, can you really be any more one sighted self serving? Really this month I celebrated my 25th year of being HIV positive.I am coming upon my 50th year of life.I played softball, and we as a team were very competitive. It does not matter my statues as I walked into the batters box was how many out, were are my baserunners, and what do I need to do to get on base. The rest only matter's because you make it matter. You are ball player, thats it. You are a recovering addict, congrats, You are traveling a journy and some how you decided your companion is hate of self... get over it and live in the present, The past like a lion upon a cliff attepting to slash you with its claws -is OUT OF REACH. stop going back to see if you still will bleed, you will, Move to the present, and put hope in the future, let and forgive yourself. It is what it is and people will be what they will be, their opinion of you is really none of your business. regardless of being HIV psitive, the issues you discussed are the same that anyone feels. acceptance love hope is what we are seeking regardless of statues. So stop using that as a deterant and a platform for others to start from, why not make them start where it matters, who you are, not what you have or what you did. Oh yeah hiding behind teh F- bomb only shows lack of ownership, own thy-self. You can do it simply, because if you want someones attention- whisper Good luck
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Comment by: anonymous (Austin, Texas) Mon., Jun. 21, 2010 at 1:18 pm UTC
I just looked at the in box of my cellphone and within the 100 continuously saved history of messages there are 2 which were automatic texts sent from my cellphone service provider after dialing information and the rest are all meth and sex messages from the last few days. Yesterday I vowed to never use meth again after my third paranoid delusional brain suffered thru hours of disconnect. I just hit the "yes" button after requesting that my cellphone "Delete All" messages in the Inbox and noticed the half sized Outbox and logically concluded the same fate was necessary for it and while deleting it my noon time alarm on the phone went off to remind my ADD unmedicated brain to take my daily HIV meds. I am ok so far. I can do this and found a reasonable place to stand my self image upon while typing and repeating to the jumpy brain voice "remember to take the meds". It's noon and 4 minutes minute at a time for this day is all I can pray for more time here on this spot. One more chance PLEASE to find the center of my true path aligned with a self respecting purpose and echoes back from the Universe that smile with kindness and the warmth of friendly voices that say "Hey, by me you're OK". Here I am. If "Pooh just is", then dammit here I am.
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Comment by: Brandon Lacy Campos (New York, NY) Thu., Jun. 17, 2010 at 7:34 pm UTC
Thank you my friends, and thank you for reading.
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Comment by: Oide (Youngstown,OH) Thu., Jun. 17, 2010 at 4:48 pm UTC
This was like a breath of fresh air to read. Thank You for letting it out.
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Comment by: D (Atlanta,GA) Thu., Jun. 17, 2010 at 3:36 pm UTC
WOW, what a powerful entry!!! You DEFINITELY have to get back on that field and YOU TAKE charge of your worth..... He can only WISH that he could deal with even 1 issue as well as you sound like you are..... I commend you, your attitude about HIV and life as well as the WORTH of poz people.... THANKS for continuing to write!!!
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Queer, Poz and Colored: The Essentials

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, 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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