All posts tagged latino

4 Posts

How I Found Out

We are so excited that Adrian C. decided to join ThePozLife.  This took place at USCA in Patricks room as he asked for Thomas and Adrian C. to come so that we all could chat.  After inviting and having Adrian so graciously agree to come on board Patrick asked him if he ever wanted to share his story.  Adrian at 12am pacific time responded, “how about now?”  Hours later after interviewing, talking and sharing experiences the film was completed and the team worked hard to prepare for the debut of Adrian Castellanos.  Well without further delay we want to share with you his story.

3v4wylje“I’ve decided to share my story because it’s time HIV positive folks began living sin verguenza. Without shame or fear. I feel that an important aspect of ending this pandemic is engaging in dialogue. I hope that my story will get people talking and educating themselves. Knowledge is power and in this case it will be the end of the virus. I am excited to be a part of ThePozLife.com because I will be putting a face, along with my new colleagues, to the epidemic. We are bringing the issue of HIV out of the shadows, and facing it head on. I am happy that we are creating a space for people like us, people of color, to be comfortable enough to talk about HIV and AIDS. I never really thought of myself as an activist, but the moment I heard that I am positive I knew I had to get moving.” – Adrian C.

You can find more information about ThePozLife Crew here!

What HIV Looks Like

A year and a half ago I was diagnosed with HIV. As the year progressed I started disclosing my status to my friends, family, and of course my sexual partners. There was always the initial shock from everyone when I would disclose my HIV status. They would gasp, clutch their pearls, and scratch their heads, because for some reason they could not wrap their head around the fact that I was HIV positive.

My sex life did not change. The only thing that was different was that I would disclose my status to my sexual partners. I put my status on my Jack’d account and made sure people read my profile and just to be safe I would bring up the subject before things got to an intimate setting. To this day, I still have yet to have someone tell me that there was a lack of interest based on my status. In fact, most guys seem okay with the fact that I am positive. I am happy to experience this, but it definitely is never the reaction I expect. One thing I started to hear a lot was “Well it’s okay you don’t even look positive,”….ummmmm excuse me?

I’m not sure what people expected to see. Maybe they thought I would look “sick” or tired or beat up and miserable from finding out my status. Instead of being offended by what they said, I wanted to know why they did not think I looked positive. I would ask them: what does “sick” look like? If I take care of myself, why should I look tired or beat up? What does HIV look like? Have you EVER been able to tell by looking at someone? No one had answers for me but it was clear that to them I, “Just don’t LOOK HIV positive.”

HIV is a virus. It is INSIDE you. It is not something you can see. You cannot tell who has HIV just by looking at them. Having HIV does not make you “sick”. The ONLY way you can know your status and your partner’s status is to BE TESTED. That’s it. You can’t see, smell, or feel it.

  • I am a 22
  • I am HIV positive
  • I am African American
  • I am Latino
  • I am a man who has sex with other men
  • I am part of the demographic that is most affected by HIV
  • We are the ones with the most newly diagnosed cases
  • We are the ones that seem to be shocking the nation with the outstanding numbers of just how many of us are acquiring this virus.

Therefore, the notion that I do not “look” HIV positive is FALSE. Currently, I am what HIV looks like. 

 

 

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Shade: Necessary or Not?

IN THE GROUNDBREAKING documentary “Paris Is Burning,” Dorien Corey states, “Shade is I don’t tell you you’re ugly but I don’t have to tell you because you know you’re ugly. And that’s shade…” I often see LGBTQ people tearing each other down.

With all this shade being thrown around, we need to pause to ask questions. Is it necessary? Why do we do this? What is the balance between fun and harm? Why does a community that is already fighting for so many things battle each other?

While shade can be viewed as a form of banter, it can often be taken to the point where it impacts an individual’s mental and social development and outlook on a particular community. I have many times found myself on the negative side of shade. Growing up, I felt alienated from my peers and family because of my sexual orientation, and I felt alienated from a community where being different is supposed to be celebrated, not debased. I quickly found myself feeling more alone than I had before coming out.

At that point in my life, I didn’t feel comfortable within the African American gay community (and truthfully, I still don’t at times) because that is where most of my negative experiences have occurred. As a result, I developed a distrust and found myself feeling alone, not good enough, and like I didn’t meet some sort of gay black standard of acceptance. This led to depression, self-harm, and feelings of being unworthy of love and friendship. I felt betrayed, not only by my family and society, but by a community who I thought would accept differences. Not only did I not have the family support I desired, but I also didn’t have a group of non-judgmental, young African American gay males that I could turn to for support.

In my opinion, shade is often the result of someone being jealous or self-conscious about their shortcomings. I too am guilty of throwing shade; usually it’s because I see a characteristic in someone else that I wish I possessed. For example, when I would see people who were not afraid to be themselves no matter what others thought, I would get jealous. I was not yet at that place in my life, so I would quickly pass judgment or talk about them. Secretly I wished I was that confident to be who Adrian really was.

Talking about someone without money for certain shoes or making fun of someone who happens to sleep with many people is exactly what we shouldn’t be doing. We may find it to be a joke or think of it as innocent fun, but we don’t know the person’s whole story, what their struggles are, and how our “shade” will affect them.

When I have pointed out that maybe the person has been though a deeply traumatic experience, many have responded,“Well, I have had traumatic things happen to me and I got over it.” I think it is important to understand that not everyone is emotionally or mentally strong enough to just “get over it.” Either way, this type of shade is not healthy for our LGBTQ brother or sister– and it is not healthy for our LGBTQ community.

With the growing rate of suicides, bullying, and HIV infections, it is time for us to collectively rise above all this. As we move forward, I implore each person to ask yourself: Am I helping to build up the community or am I still stuck within the narrow confines of my own individualistic concerns?

-Adrian Neil-Hobson

HIV in Rural Communities (pt.1)

Check out my new series that discusses HIV in rural communities. I interview individuals who are actually on the ground leading the fight against this growing epidemic in rural Virginia. Please share and spread the word!