HIV Won't Stop Me Nor Define Me
As a child I was a sweet, loving, and sensitive boy. I always felt a deep, close connection to my mother. However, I never felt love and acceptance from my father. I was not the ideal version of a son in my father’s eyes. My father would scold me if I ever acted or sounded feminine. From a young age I felt that something was wrong with me, and I would pray to God to please make me straight. I lived in fear and always had to go in a different direction than where my mind and heart wanted. I completely lost myself trying to be as close to the boy my father wanted me to be.
As young as thirteen, I tried to escape this pain and confusion with alcohol and marijuana. When I was sixteen, my father passed away from a heroin overdose. After his passing, I decided that I could not live this lie anymore. I felt safe to come out to my friends and family. After coming out, I sought the love and acceptance that my father never gave me from other men. I committed to a relationship that became toxic and abusive, with a man that was 10 years older than me. I felt like I was reliving my past dynamic that I had with my father, now with my partner. Once I found enough courage, will, and support to finally leave that relationship, I wanted to heal and live a life that I deserved.
The pain in that process of healing became overwhelming for me to deal with. I continued seeking love, acceptance, and validation through other men that I would meet on hook up apps. I then met a guy who introduced me to crystal meth. Crystal meth numbed my pain and seemed like the answer to all my problems. I became addicted and started to live the lifestyle of a gay, crystal meth addict. Being high allowed me the ability to have many anonymous sexual partners and one-night stands. During my addiction, I also lost my job, apartment, stability, and sanity.
After fighting my addiction and living that lifestyle for too long, I finally admitted that I needed help. In July of 2022 I checked into rehab, where I learned that I was HIV positive. I was not incredibly surprised because I knew the risky lifestyle that I was living would one day catch up to me and have consequences. I felt some relief now, knowing my HIV status and knowing I could treat my HIV. I try to look at my diagnosis as a blessing in disguise. I am reminded where my addiction took me, but I am now even more motivated to make my holistic health a priority. I hope to be a voice and to raise awareness on the epidemic of meth in the gay community, as well as living with HIV. For me, I think abstaining from being sexually involved or getting committed with anyone for an entire year is important for my recovery. I am blessed to be taking my medication every day, continuing my treatment, working on my self-esteem, and building a support system of other people like me who share the same disease. HIV won’t stop me nor define me, but it will make me stronger.