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.

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.


Anonymous said...

nice post. and heart warming that the newbies are finding their feet again because of the kuyas

E said...

That is one reason why I asked you to wait for T and to talked to my friend..I know deep down that silent virginal facade there's a counselor in you.
You can be learn to be like me :-) an introvert posing as an extrovert...Your experienc will help alot of newbies especially now that every week we're bringing in new poz peeps at ritm...

We are the new breed,we don't attend to these newbies needs for possible hook up or dates. We do this because we want to and we care...We don't get paid for it-we don't have an ID that says "volunteer" but In our way we are helping out more na!

PinoyPoz said...

thanks E. but... i object... me? virginal? hahahaha...

but seriously, it's during these times that i realize how much help is needed, and how it takes as little as a bit of heart to make things easier for others like us. indeed, it's the perfect time for a new breed of advocacy. so watch out!

Anonymous said...

you are amazing guys...i wish i could be there and be part of the brotherhood too...I shall...someday.


PinoyPoz said...

but you are already part of the brotherhood, Coure... you may not be there physically, but i know your whole heart is in it. thank you, Coure. thank you.