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.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

HIV & (Miss) U

Yeah, sure. I enjoy watching beauty pageants. There’s nothing wrong with that. I remember, even when I was younger, I’d e fascinated by the national costumes and long gowns of each candidate, list down my bets, and check them against the ones the judges would pick. Was it because I was gay? Oh, please... only heaven knows which came first.

But this year, more than because I'm gay, nor nor because I was a beauty titlist myself... oi, that’s a whole other story... I discovered one other reason to love beauty pageants: HIV. HIV?!

Of course, the most prestigious of the beauty tilts has always been the Miss Universe pageant. On August 23rd this year, I watched intently as Stefania Fernandez of Venezuela was crowned the new queen of the universe on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. It really should’ve been like any other Miss Universe night. One distinct difference? Three Miss Universe crowns. Three crowns to choose from, at least.

Basically, the new jewelry sponsor of the pageant, Diamond Nexus Labs or DNL, designed three different Miss Universe crowns, each costing a whopping US$202,000. And of the three crowns, named Hope, Peace and Unity, one would be voted winner by the public via an online poll.

Though the three designs were distinctly different from each other, one similarity was the inlay of red rubies... apparently meant to symbolize the pageant’s cause: HIV and AIDS awareness. Interesting, right? I was never aware that they supported that cause.

According to the Miss Universe website, the compelling reason to take the advocacy of HIV/AIDS awareness under its wing was the fact that 47% of the 41 million people living with HIV/AIDS around the world are women.

And because AIDS is the deadliest infectious disease among adults and the fourth leading cause of death worldwide, every Miss Universe is said to take on the job of traveling the world to speak on behalf of this official cause, using her title to champion HIV/AIDS prevention, particularly among adolescents. During her reign, Miss Universe is to work with the Latino Commission on AIDS, Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) and Youth AIDS/PSI among other organizations and charitable allies.

The advocacy also made its presence felt in the Q&A portion of the pageant as one judge, Tamara Tunie, fielded her question to Miss Dominican Republic, Ada Aimee De La Cruz:

Tamara Tunie: According to the world health organization, there’s an urgent need for HIV testing across the globe. Do you believe that HIV testing should be made mandatory?

Miss Dominican Republic: Good night Bahamas! I definitely do believe that the necessary tests should be made so that people can prevent aids. Because definitely, by just being not careful in just one minute, we may lose our own lives. And that is very costly for us. Thank you so much.

Okay fine. “Good night, Bahamas!” initially threw me off. And though Miss Dominican Republic didn’t actually answer the question as it was stated, I’m just glad she didn’t phrase it in a way that says it should be mandatory. I just think everyone getting tested because it's mandatory is totally different from everyone getting tested because they understand the need to know their status. What she said made sense. The necessary tests should be made. And everyone understanding the need to know their HIV status is indeed the necessary thing.

What did you think of her answer?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This sounds like its a few notches above that I-do-believe-maps girl. At least this one kinda made sense and she had the excuse that English isn't her first language. Also, I think the translator probably had something to contribute to this.

And yes, like what I told you before, I think everyone should be given a nudge to get tested. People don't necessarily die of having HIV anymore. They die because they find out too late.

I'm actually curious as to how many local death tolls concerning HIV are there because they find out too late.