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.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Psyched Out

Psyched OutI don’t know what’s been going on, but I’ve found myself volunteering more and more to be a representative of the HIV-positive person. It’s a consequence of my being more relatively in-your-face from the start about my whole HIV story.

I received an e-mail last week from a group of psychology majors who were doing a study on some things that an MSM who lives with HIV has to deal with. They had found me through this blog and I certainly fit their criteria. I didn’t really have to give it a second thought, and I agreed to meet the group.

I’m not sure, but I think the fact that they were from the same university I went to made me more eager to do it. Making sure not to give them any clue, I decided I’d reveal that fact to them at the end of the meeting, so it would not be something that they nor I would need to factor into the conversation.

My eagerness to do this particular meeting hit a speed bump when I realized that my sister taught at the same department of this same university where these students were from. I was thinking what a hilarious coincidence it would be if my sister turned out to be their professor. So again, I decided not to dare ask who their professor was until the end of the meeting.

It was another benefit-of-the-doubt thing to be waiting inside the mall for some strangers to come up to me. After a few minutes standing there, I was approached by two girls. It was them. The third member of their group was to join us in a while.

While walking to the third floor of the mall, they began chatting me up. It was fine to some extent, but hearing them refer to me with words like sir, kuya, po and opo was a bit uncomfortable. Considering I was more dressed down than they were, I requested them to treat me as a peer. I just thought it’d make things more comfortable for the rest of the afternoon. And it would be good for my ego, too.

Getting to the almost empty coffee place, we took a table at the very corner, and they began explaining that this was to be an unstructured interview, where they had no real outline, basically just letting the conversation take on its natural flow. They simply called it kwentuhan. Cool. They also mentioned that they had already spoken to members of the so-called HIV advocacy groups, which only struck me because of the fact that what they learned there could already have caused them to formulate patterns for MSMs with HIV. Patterns which I probably won’t conform to.

It was an awkward start for all of us, to be honest, but when the third member of the group arrived, he had the secret to breaking the ice. He had been reading this blog religiously, I believe, so much so that he was accurately able to use several entries, situations and personalities that I’ve mentioned here to formulate his questions.

So with Mr. In-One-of-your-Entries opening the floodgates, they were able to tap into my thoughts, and I found myself rambling openly and comfortably with the group. The two other girls followed suit and opened up as well, and they became Ms. I-Have-a-Question and Ms. I-Have-a-Realization. Don’t get me wrong, these were all good aspects of each of them, and I really do believe that it was their diversity that made them a great team.

After about three hours of touching every aspect of my story, even going beyond the supposed scope of their topic, it was refreshing to see them all still laughing and smiling. That, to me, was good, because it meant that I had told my story just as it was, which was far from tragic. The most significant thing I heard from them was that I seemed so different from the guys from the HIV advocacy groups that they’d spoken to. I took that as a compliment.

As the end of the meeting approached, Ms. I-Have-a-Question wanted to know if writing was any part of my profession or education, to which I answered, “No”. Asking what course I actually took in college, I said I’d tell them off the record later, which was when Mr. In-One-of-your-Entries reached for the voice recorder and turned it off. So I told them. You’d think they’d stop there? No, no, no.

I soon found them passing the baton to each other, wanting to ask me something else. I had a hunch what it was about, but waited. Ms. I-Have-a-Question stepped up to the plate. I was right. They wanted to know where I went to college. They didn’t ask what school, but rather named their own, asking if I graduated from there or not. I was giggling at the fact that they guessed right, and that they couldn’t even stop themselves from asking or wait for my planned confession. So I said simply, “Yes”.

With I-knew-its all around, they admitted they were so convinced based on the way I dressed, the way I spoke, the way my mind worked and even went as far as saying it was evident in my eyes. Very intuitive. I felt good that I was that open and transparent to them, as I pride myself with being a no frills kind of guy. But I had also confirmed that these people were amazingly smart. They had psyched me out.

With that secret out of the way, I decided to ask my other question. Who was their professor? With drum rolls in the back of my mind, they mentioned a name. Nope, it wasn’t my sister. I’m not sure if I was relieved or disappointed, having considered the possibility of this being a chance from the heavens for me to come out to my sister. Darn.

At that point, we wrapped up. They presented me with a token of thanks, which I certainly wasn’t expecting or asking for. After agreeing to follow-up meetings after this and hugs all around, we went our separate ways. I couldn’t help smiling on the walk home, recalling the afternoon’s events. I realize that I do love sharing my story, and I was left with a high for me to enjoy.

Though I can only hope that I have been able to share my knowledge and my experiences to these members of the new generation, I acknowledge that I too have learned a lot from them. More than just the objective of a passing grade, they have shared with me their sincerity, their interest and their passion in the lives of us who live with HIV, and if I may take them to be rightful representatives of their generation, then there is definitely much hope for the future.


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Anonymous said...

Will you bring me to this sort of rendezvous?

Jose Theodore Gonzales

rubypurple said...

Come to think of it, I haven't done any Q&A with you. Our interaction mainly involves our baby Nathan.

Next time, interview to the max 'to... ^^

Uhmm, be prepared?! Hehehe.

Love ya hun ^^

MrCens said...

it would be my plan (if not dream) come true if you will be with me (a cup of coffee or to watch movie) one day during my 45 days vacation sa pinas...

im not smart nor psychology major when i was a student but to be with someone that opens my eyes into very important matter is very inspiring...

PinoyPoz said...

@ JT: Sure! They'd love to hear our stories!

@ Ruby: Ready ako! Grrrr!

@ MrCens: Sure! Can't wait to meet you!

Mac Callister said...

its nice to let them interview you and shared your life with them.You are a brave man.

Kiks said...

this made my monday night feel good, pp.


Rainbow Bloggers Philippines said...

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PinoyPoz said...

Wow, ha... Rainbow Blog of the Week? Hmmm... Gusto ko Rainbow Blog of Eternity! Bwahaha!