Being a man living with HIV and having a child, and now children, was easy, yet hard.
Let me explain ...
Traditionally, I am not what you would consider a man that would have children. When you see me, you will see that I am a proud openly gay individual.
But who are we to judge?
Actually, I informed my son's mother that she was pregnant because I was experiencing new crazy cravings for my diet all of a sudden, so of course I was every bad guy name under the sun. We were cohabitating, and she didn't want to be pregnant because she was on the basketball team in college, studying criminal justice. At that moment I knew to accept the riff raff.
Prior to being a father on my own, I already knew how to parent because I was the second oldest out of nineteen. The responsibility of me taking care of my siblings while my dad was at work became real strong on my part. Not to mention all the stray children that my siblings brought with them when they came home from school.
Once I got my own child, I still remained a father figure to my community no matter my sexual preference, age or ability to support. It became almost natural to give my offspring a better life than I had, a life that I prayed and hoped for in my past.
Both moms of my kids identify as lesbians. I'm coparenting with my son's mom, and I will be coparenting with my new baby's mom, too.
I was relatively newly diagnosed when I got my son's mom pregnant, but I was on my medications to protect her and the baby. I was told that staying adherent would protect them, but TasP wasn't a well-known form of prevention then. I am an HIV educator, both locally and statewide, so I felt secure in my decision.
My second child's mother is due in November. At the time she approached me about having a child, I informed her that I had been sexually active and masturbating, so she would have to give me a month to not have sexual encounters or engagements. The true fact was that I hadn't been compliant with my medication, I had missed some doses. I wanted to delay until I had an undetectable viral load.
Neither of my babies' moms know about my HIV status. My reason to keep my status private is this: it's not about being judged, it's more about receiving the unwanted, over-the-top concerns. I'm here to focus on helping others, not to be the main focus of concern. I tell my clients personal stories in the third person, so they won't redirect their focus on sympathy or concerns about me.
My story is, everyone knows that I help folks with HIV, but they are not aware that I'm HIV positive. I take my medications to protect my partners.
Trecory Jackson is an HIV educator. He loves being a father.