To be honest, disclosing to my son wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Keeping my HIV status a secret was a big deal, since I've done interviews, and talked on camera and whatnot. I was willing to let anyone know, that wanted to know, all in the name of awareness, and wanting people like me to get informed and start getting treated. My son was a different story. I just felt like it was too soon for me to tell him my status. I was hoping I could teach him about it and then let him know sometime after that.
One day, my son started to google my name, and he said, "Whoa! My dad is on Google!" I knew that the results that came up were about my HIV status. That's when my wife suggested I tell him and I thought it was a good idea at the time, too. So I asked him, "Do you know what HIV is?" He answered yes, then I told him I have HIV. I showed him the newspaper article where I was on the front page with my wife, and had him watch one of the videos I was in. He had a lot of questions, which fortunately, my wife and I were prepared to answer. I'm educated about living with HIV, and my wife works in the field (actually, for HIVE!)
I'm starting to figure it's not as much of a big deal as I make it. I mean, it's the stigma that gets me, and wondering what others think: them judging you and looking at you different. But if you hit that road block on the way to strength and confidence, knowing being well and healthy is the only thing that matters, then you start to understand the reason you disclose. And the reason for me is: wanting people like me, African-American people, and young Black males in particular, to know it's ok to go see a doctor, have a family, live and lead a healthy life and be ok with having the virus. Nowadays, you can live healthier than ever.
Disclosing with my son was kind of like I was backed into a corner, because he was about to find out from Google whether I was ready or not. And now he knows and we can discuss it at any time and I would be able to tell him about my life, the way I got it, and my medication, my awareness, my work as a speaker in high schools.
Of course, disclosing is a personal choice, and anyone with the knowledge of your HIV status should keep it confidential, not tell your story for you. I wanna be able to disclose to anybody and everybody. I'm sure I'll get there one day. Until I do, at least I know that all my family knows and accepts my status. But as long as my wife and I accept it, then I'm in pretty good shape.
I really would love to work on disclosing to friends that are not that up on HIV health as a whole. Knowing that I can educate people, I mean my peers and friends, makes me look forward to disclosing. But there are those that look at it as disgusting, so do I not be friends with them anymore? A part of me feels I am strong enough in accepting my status, another part of me says just keep it to yourself, I mean I'm not dying and am very healthy so I could just keep it to myself and everything would be alright. I'll just keep working on it and hopefully soon I get the courage and will to be honest. For the sole purpose of helping people like me out!
Deon lives in the East Bay with his wife, two kids and their dog, Weezle. He hopes to become a marriage and family therapist one day.