June 1, 2011
Maria T. Mejia
I have pride and I am a proud HIV- positive lesbian female. Coming from an ultraconservative Hispanic family, it was a very hard step for me to deal with many issues in my life and be able to speak about them -- or "come out," as they say. I was very confused when I was young -- being sexually abused at the tender age of 3; having someone that was supposed to take care of me, a family member, take away my innocence -- I learned to block things and keep things inside. I never thought I would end up in love and married to a woman! We have been together for four years and she is my everything -- my true soulmate.
I was diagnosed with HIV at a very young age -- I was just turning 18 -- so I only had my mother, who was my rock in the process of dealing with an illness that was killing people very fast. I'd always thought to myself, during this journey of being positive, that my running away from home and joining a gang, the things we had to go through in our home with my father, and then having to tell her that I was HIV positive was just enough for her to handle. I didn't want to give her one more thing to worry about, and tell her: "Mom, I am a LESBIAN also!"
So I just went through life, trying to do what was considered normal, and not give my mother more pain. It was really about her. She has always been so supportive! And I always had my gay friends; she was always very kind to them, but I know that she would've loved to have seen me married and having children.
Maria and her partner, Lisa.
As time passed and I started getting older, I started working out my own issues -- and I still am! I am a work in progress. :) I came out of the closet, as they say, maybe eight years ago ... but I was still hiding it from my mother, even though mothers KNOW. She is so understanding and loving; I was just afraid to hurt her more! She is like the military: DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL. But when I met my partner, Lisa, I just couldn't hold the happiness and joy I had inside! I felt I had to share it with my mother. By this time I was also coming out of the HIV closet to the whole world, and I was ready and proud. I felt like a butterfly!
So, I went to visit my mother -- as I always do, once a year -- last year. We were on the patio of the house, on a bench. having a talk. I was beating around the bush, and I was like "Mom, I have to tell you something about me ..." and she responded "What? That you are with Lisa?" I said "YES!!! Ohmygod, you knew." She said "Yes!" Wow -- mothers do know you! She told me, as she said to me when I found out I was positive 20 years ago: "I am here for you."
I cried! I am so blessed to have a mother like this, who does not judge me; just loves me, accepts me, prays for me, and is my example for life!
So my pride has to do more with being proud of who I am as a human being.
Love and Light,
Maria T. Mejia
Read more of Time to Show My Face and Take the Stigma Away, Maria T. Mejia's blog, at TheBody.com.
This article originally appeared in TheBody.com's Pride 2011 special section.