Yes, I'm gay. I probably was since the day I was born. On my 21st birthday, I sort of had my debut. I came out to my parents. A little drama from mom, and some indifference from dad. An above-average coming out. Almost perfect.

Nine years later, two weeks before my 30th birthday, I found out... I'M HIV POSITIVE.

And so my story begins... I'm BACK IN THE CLOSET.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Good Catch

The CatchSince finding out that I’m HIV positive more than six months ago, I’ve been able to meet so many pozzies. It’s true that we come in all sizes and shapes, but most if not all, are presentable, personable and attractive. Add to that the fact that I’ve met so many who are happily in relationships, so much so that it leaves me wondering whether, and worried to some point that, I won’t be single for long.

So I dare ask. Is having HIV directly proportional to apparent relationship potential? Does being poz have anything to do with hotness? Is it just me, or is the Pozzie a good catch?

Don’t count on anything scientifically proven, okay? I know this will sound like I’m blowing my own horn, or whatever else there is on me to be blown, but just have fun and hear me out.

HIV is primarily sexually transmitted. So unless the pozzie got it from infected needles (a likely story...), a blood transfusion (a possibility...), or from birth or breast feeding (yeah, right...), he or she is definitely getting some action. And let’s face it, getting some action means you are, on some level, sexually attractive.

Multiply that by the amount of action he or she gets. The more action, the greater the risk. The greater the risk, the more likely for one to catch the virus. And the more action he or she had been getting, the greater the chance he or she is God’s gift to man, woman or whatever-kind.

Ok, so maybe Pozzie-ness has some relation to hotness, but of course not everything is about the physical, right? So how do Pozzies rate on the personality scale?

Having the HIV bomb being dropped on someone is a daunting thing. Trust me, I know. And as we all know, people handle changes in their lives in different ways. Though for me there wasn’t really much negativity, the truth is, it’s very common for one to feel depressed, angry, paranoid, lost, or numb. But I think all that, though normal, is just a phase. Eventually, I think once we’ve gotten all the drama out of us, we end up being stronger, more emotionally stable, more mature, and more appreciative of the little blessings that life presents us.

Strong? Emotionally stable? Mature? Appreciative? Aren’t those exactly the adjectives that everyone would want to describe their relationships with?

What about other aspects? If we’ve been able to tell you that we are HIV positive, then the communication routes should be no problem. If we can tell you that, we can probably tell you anything. It’s also probable, we’ve learned our lesson, and won’t go around looking to hanky and panky with anything and everything that moves. Also highly likely is that we will love you even more for accepting us for who we are, despite what we have.

So there, I’ve presented my case. Of course, the success of a relationship will depend further on chemistry, timing, and fate. And neither does this mean everyone should go out and catch the virus, just to prove they’re a good catch. I’m just trying to point out, that there is so much more about us Pozzies, over and above the virus.

So for everyone in the world, consider finding yourself a Pozzie. If not for a relationship, a friendship at least. I think we do that well, too.

Oh, and by the way, I’m single... and available. Oops... hehehe.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bitch Hunt

Bitch On BoardI was catching up with one of my poz friends this past week over the phone, and I was telling him about the day I spent at the RITM. He asked me if I met a guy of this certain name. I said I wasn’t sure, but that I thought I had heard that name while waiting.

Apparently, this person is an officer of one of the so-called HIV advocacy groups. Yes, one of those that I may have referred to in earlier posts. Then my friend tells me this person reads my blog... oops, sorry, "monitors" my blog... and even prints it out. I thought to myself, "That's flattering... I think." He assured me though that they didn't have any problems with this blog, except again that they didn't want their health professionals, personnel and institutions linked with HIV. Hmm, my instincts were right. I knew it was all too good to be true.

So I then made a joke out of it, saying that if this person happened to read my entry which put me at the RITM the same day he was there, then he'd just have to guess which one I was out of the lot. Then my friend says, "Oh, they know..." Baffling enough, right? But the way he interrupted his own statement baffled me even more.

"They know what?" I asked. It took him a full minute of silence to answer. He said, "They know who you are."

I asked, "How would they know?" At this point, I knew he had backed himself into a corner, and I was just playing the scene out. He paused again, and just said, "In the HIV world, there is much transparency." Wow, I never thought it would be possible to use the words HIV and transparency in one sentence.

Consider this: T, who I've been in touch with for years, has seen every inch of me in pictures, and knows all about me and this blog, started off oblivious to the fact of who I was upon meeting. So how could this person, or his organization, who I do not know, have not met, and have never been in touch with, know who I was?

My first theory, my friend is exaggerating. Is he trying to spook me into stopping this blog? Why? I'm hoping this isn't what "friends" are for.

My second theory, someone is ratting me out. Of my HIV acquaintances, some know me personally, but do not know about my blog. And adversely, some know about my blog, but do not know me personally, all contact being confined to e-mail and chat. And there are a select few, who do know me personally AND know this blog that I do. Most, if not all of those in the overlap group, know what I hold against these so-called advocacy groups, and at least respect my views. So who is the mole? Who is selling me out?

My third theory, this person and his organization did their research. Based on the information I've put here, primarily the patient code in my earlier posts, they may have been able to dig up my records. Something very creative, but a possibility I've expected. Now, over and above fielding Republic Act 8504 repeatedly on us bloggers for mentioning the HIV treatment hubs, HIV doctors, and HIV medical personnel, shouldn’t this be the case over which R.A. 8504 truly has jurisdiction? Where did my medical confidentiality go?

Now, if there is any truth to this witch hunt that is being launched against me, let me just say to these so-called advocacy groups, don't waste your resources on little old me. Go do something more... productive. Maybe revisit your mission and your vision, and reevaluate what kind of advocacy you truly want to evoke.

Well, well, well, turns out I'm not as stupid a newbie as you thought I was, huh? Too many theories? Well, I wasn't the one who first started to make such a big deal out of things. And unless someone fesses up, the heavens hold everyone's karma.

I'm not afraid. Because I'm not the witch. Very fitting that I've dubbed myself the Back In The Closet Ho'... I'm the B.I.T.C.H. And I'm ready for the Bitch Hunt.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Kuya (Big Brother)

big brotherHaving worked extra over the weekend, I had a day and a half worth of vacation that I could offset with a workday. So in the midst of an agreement with E, who is part of the team, we agreed to head for the RITM yesterday, Tuesday. More on in a later post.

My personal agenda at the RITM would be to get a med reload. I only had enough medicines to last me till tonight, so one way or another I was bound to go. But my main purpose would be to just hang around with E and the resident counselor, who is also part of the team.

So hang around I did. I helped out with some paperwork – literally – no typing or writing or thinking. Just collating and stapling. Mmm, repetitive work, gotta love it. Lunch with the counselor was great, too. I tried hard to keep up with her appetite. Hehehe.

E sent me a message that a friend of his was coming in. He asked me to talk to him, because he wasn’t feeling well. Me? Why me? Was this counseling? Yikes. The shy guy in me was trying to file an appeal. Ok, ok, let’s see what we can do.

Once I figured out which one he was, I took the counselor’s seat, and E's friend took a seat in front “my” desk. It turns out he was experiencing fevers after being on Nevirapine for about a week. Well, well, I knew exactly how that went, so that gave me a bit of confidence. I found myself opening up, and putting him at ease that what he was going through was a normal part of the process.

Hey, I actually thought I was good at that! A second guy actually came in having the same complaints, so again, I shared my story. It felt good being able to help in my own little way. Very kuya-like of me.

Later I received news that T was coming, with three new recruits. T is an old friend. An old friend who I was going to meet for the first time. So he would be an old-new friend. Confused? You see we’d been chatting online for more than five years now, if I’m not mistaken. There were plans to meet which never pushed through, but we never lost touch. Until finally, we discovered each other again, in the poz world this time.

So finally, finally, finally, we met. The only thing was, he didn’t realize it was me. I thought maybe it was too much for me to expect us to be instantly chummy, so I didn’t pursue it, and just stuck by E, who kept exchanging jokes, quips and the occasional elbow with me. T’s three new recruits had gone through their paces with the doctor, and he invited us all for dinner at nearby Festival Mall, still oblivious of who I was exactly.

We headed to the mall, but let the newbies take the car. E, his friend and I trekked on foot, since we couldn’t all fit. Getting there, we had dinner, where I showed off my new found appetite. We were almost through with dinner before T finally figured out who I was, which was what broke the ice for us. He’s been reading this blog regularly, so he knows what things I’ve been going through. He probably sees me as a willing guinea pig for the poz journey.

I wasn’t the kuya or big brother of the group age-wise, but when it came to the HIV journey, my mere six-months already made me the kuya of kuyas. So on the trip home, T encouraged his new recruits to bombard me with all the questions they had, which really weren’t much. I think it was enough for them to see that T, E and I were smiling, laughing, and living... enough to see that we were normal... enough to assure them that they, too, would be okay.

I was the last to get off at Guadalupe, before which T thanked me for having this blog and sharing my experiences. T is to be thanked, too, for the work that he does with these kids. I’ve never been a kuya in my life. But regardless of whether it made me feel old, I realized last night, it felt swell to be a kuya.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Remote Control

remote controlI got the chance to hang out again this weekend, this time with a group of my fellow pozzies. It was funny to observe how liberating it must’ve been for everyone to be able to talk openly about poz stuff, being in the privacy of a poz-friendly household.

We talked about everything from our diagnoses, poz histories, medications, side effects, experiences, and love lives. But there was one particular topic which caused sweat to form on my brow. Sex.

I’ve never claimed to be clean, innocent, or angelic – not even vanilla – when it comes to sex. Threesomes, orgies, all the way sex sessions… I can say that I’ve been there and done that. I may just have done everything imaginable, and classify under extreme kink. That was then. But now it’s a different story. HIV made it a different story.

But why can’t I go back to it? Technically, I could, right? Yes. Technically I could, under the premise that I’d play it safe this time, everytime. So, why haven’t I?

I realize, it’s a matter of control. Ever since, I’ve always been a bottom. Submissive. Passive. I practically never made the first move. I needed to be controlled. I needed to be dominated. I aimed to please a master. And please I did.

I was, and still am, the type who goes all the way. Whatever the master wanted I would give. And that’s what guys liked about me, I guess. I almost never said no. If they wanted to do me bareback, fine. If they wanted me to swallow, I would. If they wanted to see me get gang banged, I just tell them to form a line. If they’d make me take a double, I had no reason not to.

It was all about control. I needed to give up control to whoever I was with. Apparently guys like that.

So at this poz time of my life, I can no longer go back to the guys, or the games, I used to have fun with. These are guys who know I would give everything. I can no longer give everything. I could no longer give up all control. I now need to be in control.

For now, I will probably opt for a guy who knew I was poz, or was hell-bent on using protection. That’s as much as I can control. Because honestly, if temptation arises, I can’t be 100% sure that I’d resist the temptation to go all the way. The urge to please without question still whispers in my ear. I just might forget to use protection. I might just lose control of the situation.

So do I ever expect to be totally in control? I can’t promise, but I can try to get there step by step. I can no longer afford to be totally controlled by the guy or guys I’m with. But I am still not ready to claim full control over myself. I want to be in control of myself. And I want something beyond that.

I need something bigger than myself to be in control of me. And that’s HIV. I need it to fill my default thoughts, so there will be no possibility for me to consider anything else but safe sex. I need it to control me, sexually, that is. It will be my Remote Control. I emphasize “will”. Future tense. I’m not there yet.

So for now, I’m trying, trying, trying to stay in situations that I have the most possibility of controlling. And try I will, until I’m ready to give total control of my sex life to HIV. And when I get that point, I’m absolutely NOT passing the remote.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Oh Sistah!

sisterMy sister is the eldest in our brood of three, while I’m the youngest. Not much of an age gap to speak of, though, as we were born just three years apart from each other. Spending my childhood with her didn’t really leave much of an impression on me, since we would usually do things separately. You know... the Mars versus Venus thing. One thing I do remember is that she and my brother would always team up and pick on me. Pretty normal, don’t you think?

I believe I’ve mentioned my sister a number of times since starting this blog. So I might as well tell you more.

Growing up with her was a different story. She became a thorn in my side. Being siblings, I expected her to be an ally against authority figures. But no. She always played mommy-junior, echoing every disappointment my mom had for me. So much for her being my hero.

She was always so perfect. She set the standards when it came to educational achievements. And man, were they high. The sad part was that I was always compared to her.

Just like her, I graduated at the top of the class in primary school. But unlike her, I never had any medals to add to the showcase. Just like her, I graduated from one of the toughest secondary schools in town. But that never mattered because my grades were never as high as hers. Just like her, I graduated from one of the best universities in the country. But unlike her, I needed extra years to finish my course.

I know I didn’t do too bad, but being compared to her just magnified my flaws and left me at the bottom of the pack. I’m probably an underachiever because of her. I became an underachiever hidden behind the guise of being easily contented with what little I had and proud of what little I was capable of.

So far from the looks of things, we were never close. Add to that the fact that she moved out on her own earlier on, leaving us even less time to build a mature relationship.

But somehow we did. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but I think it started when she needed someone to take care of her dog and her house while she was at work, for a couple of weeks, after a burglar broke into her place. She chose me. I was honored. I couldn’t believe she trusted me that much, and felt safe coming home to find me there.

Since then, she’d gotten married, and man, I was holding back the tears at her wedding. Who would’ve imagined we’d build that kind of relationship? She and her husband eventually moved to a neighboring city, but she’d still call on me to man their house or take her dog while she was out of town.

Our relationship is... civil. We’re not all mushy and I-love-you about it, but the ties are definitely there. We don’t get to talk that often, but each is just a phone call away when the other one is in need. We understand each other. We have the same humor. We have the same pet peeves. We’ve even accepted the fact that I’m a male version of her, and she a female version of me. Good thing we look pretty good either way.

The last phone conversation we had started with me ranting about my mom. Shortly after, the conversation shifted to her ranting... ranting about how she’d just had her appendix removed, and how she’d had a couple of benign cysts removed from her breasts before that. I was shocked. She never told me any of this. But again, I was honored she trusted me with her stories. I offered support, and mostly humor about it, although she begged me not to make her laugh because it still caused her pain in the side.

And then, my realization came. This is why I thought she would be the perfect person to tell about my condition. This is why I thought she deserved to know I have HIV. Because if I could count on the fact that she was just a female version of me, then that would be the same way she’d take my revelation. Light, supportive, and positive.

I don’t know how, where or when I’ll tell her, but God is definitely sending me the signs. I can’t promise I won’t cry when I tell her, but I’m sure it won’t take long for her to make a joke out of it and tickle me silly. I can’t be sure she won’t faint with the news, but she’ll snap out of it soon enough. I can’t say she won’t be all mommy-junior about it, but I know she won’t judge me for it. I won’t promise she’d understand everything right off the bat, but I know I won’t have to apologetic about it.

So I’ll leave it at that for now. When I'll tell her, and if I'll tell her, only the heavens know. The only thing definite now is that... I do love my sister.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

House, Not Home

It was Wednesday night. I had spent ten hours at the office, making money to pay the bills. I took an hour-long bus ride home, standing in the aisle the whole way. Instead of taking a tricycle in, I took the ten-minute walk home, meaning to save fifteen pesos, which could buy me two cups of rice for lunch the next day. And all this for what?

I walked into the house, and changed from my work clothes. I hadn’t even eaten dinner, or sat down at all, when my mom started bombarding me with things she needed me to do. Things that weren’t really urgent. Things that could wait till I at least sat down.

Peace and quiet helps an introvert like me recover from a long day. And it was clear she didn’t care enough to give it to me. So I raised my talk-to-the-hand hand to shush her, and went on to have my dinner.

Then it started. She started sighing, and clutching her stomach in alleged pain. She told me that if I’d come home one day and she wasn’t there, I’d probably find her in the hospital. Then she asked me if I had medicines. Mylanta. I shook my head.

And what did I do after all this? Absolutely nothing. It was happening again. She was acting up again. Craving for attention. The attention that’s been lacking since her favorite son left the country. The same attention I was deprived of since childhood.

She’d done this before, lying in bed, claiming she “almost had a stroke”. Complaining that half her body was numb. I’m not stupid. You don’t almost have a stroke. It’s either you do, or you don’t. That time, I turned my back for two minutes, and the next thing I know, she was out of bed, all dressed up, ready to go to the mall. Retrogression at its finest. Imagine how my eyes rolled.

So this time around, I was already in The-Boy-Who-Cried-Wolf mode. I was eating dinner, not giving her even a glance. I had my eyes glued to the television and was letting everything from her go in one ear and out the other.

Hospital? I don’t know what psychic powers she used to see that coming. I knew she was acting when she asked me if I had medicines. I never stocked medicines and she knows it. At least not until I started on ARVs, and that she doesn’t know. And of all medicines, Mylanta? What for? Gas? Indigestion? Hell.

I admit I was so tempted to shoot her bad act down by telling her, “I have HIV, and you’re complaining about gas?” But like always, I just put my poker face on and kept quiet, making sure I locked myself in my room as quickly as possible, safe from the attention-starved monster. It reminded me why she doesn’t deserve to know I have HIV. Because she doesn’t really care.

In times like these, I usually call my sister. Because no one else would believe my story. Because only she knows my mom and the craziness she’s capable of.

Good thing she was home, and I was able to vent. We share the same wavelength, and vent as we do to each other, we never fail to find humor in all the insanity that life throws at us. By the end of it all, I was laughing again, smiling again.

I slept soundly through the night, and rushed through my morning routine so I could leave for work and escape any residual craziness at the house. Yes. This is my house, but it is not home. My room is my home. My bed is my home. My friends are my home. My sister is my home. My solitude is my home.


Monday, October 06, 2008

The New Virginity

the new virginityI met a new friend this week, a fellow pozzie. So I got to treat myself to a bit of a social life, something that I’d set aside a bit for a while now.

The day was laden with such lively conversation, probably because, needless to say, we could relate to each other.

He introduced me to a new concept. He said that HIV was the New Virginity. A New Virginity?! I was so curious, but baffled at the same time. Wouldn’t you be?

He pointed out how the pre-HIV we, and the HIV-negative rest of the world technically didn’t have a need for limitations when choosing a sexual partner. Whereas we, at this new HIV stage of life, have a bit of exclusivity to consider, and sexual practices to re-think and re-learn.

Hmm, very interesting. Might this just be what I am looking for to increase my personal value? I gave it some thought.

I’ve actually set aside the possibility of having sex with anyone, long before I started on my medications. And now, I’d set my mind on letting my body adjust to the medications, before moving on to even think about other stuff that might complicate it. And that included sex.

I haven’t really been totally sexless, and honestly, I’ve still been horny as hell until now. My outlet has just shifted to a more personal level, if you know what I mean. Self-gratification has become a daily habit. Okay, okay, I saw your jaw drop. Oh, get off your high horses and gimme a break! Hehehe.

So anyways, I’ve gotten to a point where, if sex isn’t like riding a bicycle, I might just forget how to do it. Or if the law of evolution that states “use it or lose it” applies, I just might be left with one appendage and one orifice less on my body. And that’s absolutely scary. Hahaha.

So I started reminiscing, and did remember some questions that popped into my head since getting my gift. How does sex go for a pozzie like me? How will I have sex? Can I ever have sex? Who can I have sex with? What can and can’t I do?

So many questions that I have no ready answers for. Me? Asking about sex? How virginal!

And so it hit me. I was convinced. Maybe there is something to this New Virginity thing. Wow, who would’ve ever thought I’d be a virgin again. My pogi points must’ve just went up by a couple of thousand…

But so much for my New Virginity... Ooops, I lost it already. (Imagine me with a guilty smirk on my face...)


Friday, October 03, 2008

Thank You

thank you prayerLast Wednesday was a great day for me. It left me with so much running through my head, I hardly felt I slept through the night. But I wasn’t tired. I was inspired.

Lying in bed the following morning, way before my alarm clock rang, I was looking forward to the day ahead. And then it happened. I found myself praying. Praying, not because I needed something, but because I just wanted to talk to God.

Thank you for giving me this gift. You’ve made clear that you’ve clipped my wings, but never failed to show me that I can still soar.

Thank you for sending me your angels. They’ve been showing up in unexpected places, unexpected times and unexpected ways, but always the right places, the right times and the right ways.

Thank you for helping me find my voice. It was a voice that would not come from my mouth, but would be heard by more ears.

Thank you for giving me so much to say. But thank you more for giving me the courage to share it with the world.

Thank you for my journey. It hasn’t been the easiest, and I doubt it will ever be, but I know you’ve been watching over me every step of the adventure.

I would’ve really wanted to tell you what triggered this, but I can’t. I really hope I wasn’t sworn to secrecy, but you’ll find out when the time is right.

Let’s just say I was fortunate enough to have gone through the right circumstances, that led me to the right people. People who shared my advocacy, and had the will, the mind, and the heart to take it that much further.

I’m proud to be part of this team, and can’t wait to tell you more about them. But for now, pardon me, but my lips are sealed. Rest assured, I’m happy.