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, July 12, 2009

The Stigma Enigma

Chicken or Egg?I’ve said it enough times. I’ve felt it enough times. I’ve worried about it enough times. I think it’s safe to say that everyone does acknowledge that there is stigma that surrounds HIV in the Philippines.

But is there indeed an enigma behind this stigma?

Hell, just going to get tested, or even thinking of getting tested, you might not have realized you’ve experienced the stigma as well. What will they think of me?, Will they judge me?, Will they think I’m gay?, Will they think I’m promiscuous? and so on. It’s sad that you have to worry about things like that, rather than just acknowledge the importance of knowing one’s HIV status.

But I’ve come to realize that the stigma experienced by those living with HIV is not the same for each and everyone. Some have it bad, some have it worse. These variances along the stigma scale can stem from the smallest things, and certainly HIV being regarded as a gay disease is just one of those things.

Certainly, babies and children who most probably contracted it through modes other than sex have no need to be defensive. And women have absolutely no chance of being mistaken as a gay man, not unless they have masculine features or something. And either way, I don’t think it will be as detrimental to their reputation.

For the not-so-straight guys, it’s less of an issue, because granted, they... I, included... supposedly fit the bill, right? But then of course, there’s the whole spectrum of gayness that we need to deal with. From the bisexual to the gay, from the flamboyant to the discreet, and so on. It’s one thing to disclose that one is HIV-positive, and a whole other issue to disclose one’s sexual orientation.

Straight guys have it worst I believe, because they actually need to battle the stigma of HIV being a gay disease.

So far, here in the Philippines, faces and most stories that have embodied the HIV-positive have been women and homosexuals. And certainly, it must be this representation that fuels the stigma of HIV being an anything-but-straight-male virus. But seemingly, it must not help either that no HIV-positive straight guys are coming forward to represent themselves as faces of HIV.

So it seems like it’s a draw. An enigma. A classic example of a chicken-and-egg situation.

So which should come first? Can we just sit and wait for the stigma to fade? Or can this serve as a challenge for some Filipino man to be a real man and say “Hey, I’m straight, and I’m HIV-positive”?

- republished from Ka-Blog by Positivism


Anonimus said...

And that's what makes it all the more scary.

Straight promiscuous alpha males who have HIV will be the most dreaded carriers. All because of this stigma. They won't have themselves tested, now way. And they're bound to be too alpha to wear condoms. Slap me if this profiling and tell me otherwise.

Down Beat Electro said...

I've experienced this... My solution is to test myself using a screening strip. When it comes up negative, I feel comfortable enough to get tested at a diagnostic center.

Angelo said...

I'm not sure, ah, but I remember someone saying that the disease is a concern within the maritime industry.

Not just for passenger/luxury liners but even for the non-passenger ships (which is mainly composed of straight and I'm sure a number of gay men).

I'm just not sure how the local maritime industry is addressing it.