#lgbthealth

Are We Aging Out Of Remembering The Emotional Fight Against AIDS?

Being 44, I was not even sexually active when the AIDS crisis was in full swing.  Graduating from high school in 92 and not being sexually active until 24, I didn't worry about HIV/AIDS.  But to be honest, maybe that's one of the reasons I was not sexually active earlier, the fear of HIV/AIDS. 

When talking with older friends, I've heard them tell the stories of losing loves and relatives to AIDS.  I don't have that personal connection to AIDS related deaths.  I think a lot of us do not have that personal history of death as now our friends and exes are living without that threat, without the worry of dieing from HIV/AIDS, but more worried about health care costs.  It's no longer a death sentence for us here in the United States which is an amazing thing, but it is still a diesase.

Gareth Johnson, from MainlyMale.com, caught up with Ron Dyer to talk about his memories and experiences with HIV.


When were you diagnosed as having contracted HIV?

It was 1994. I’d come home to Indiana after all of the the friends I knew had died — I thought it best to come home and face what future I had left in a familiar place.

I met my lover, and we started an upholstery business. It did well, and we finished raising his two children and my nephew.

My lover became ill in 1994. We were both diagnosed as being positive, and both given a year to live. He died in 1996.

What are some of your memories of those early days of the pandemic?

I was living in Dallas. I was was young, and doing the party life. I’d moved there in 1975. In 1981 I started hearing rumors of gay men becoming ill . It was no one I knew, so didn’t pay much attention. But later that year my roommate became ill, was hospitalized, and died overnight. It became very confusing.

After my roommate’s passing, many friends started passing and the gay community became frightened and targeted by the straight community. There’s something about that combination that has always put the backbone in the gay community — it was clear that we weren’t going to get help from the general public. Medical staff looked like they had just stepped out of a space ship, in some areas it was a problem to even have funeral services.

It took time, but with the support of some wonderful nurses and doctors, the gay community eventually had the time and space to fight for better medications, and better health care and disability.

What was the political climate at that time?

Many were fighting for their lives, and living very short lives, and taking their own lives in what they thought to be a dignified way — it was heart breaking. As far as I know, Ronald Reagan or his administration never once mentioned the pandemic that ravaged the world during his time in office.

The treatment landscape for HIV has evolved over the years. Do you think it’s important that young gay guys understand our community’s past experience with this virus?

It’s very important — not just that young people know the history of this disease, but how they’re able to live with the freedoms they have.

You can go on any hook-up site and put in your profile that you’ve been tested or that you’re on PrEP and no one questions you, they’re ready to hook-up . You put on your profile that you’re positive, and it’s no thanks. Honesty is not welcome.

The stigma of this virus is still hurting us.

Follow Ron Dyer on LinkedIn


We do need to remember our history.  We need to remember it so it does not repeat itself.  We need to realize what previous generations went through to help us get where we are today. Today, the fight involves pills and making sure costs are covered by health insurance. But as Dyer said, the HIV/AIDS stigma is still there.


Content republished with permission from Gareth Johnson

Originally from Australia, Gareth now lives in London. A non-smoker who loves to laugh, Gareth writes about all aspects of the LGBTQ experiences, with a particular passion for travel, sport, and films.

h/t: MailnyMale and Medium.com

Smoking and Vaping. Bigger in the LGBT Community? New Study on Teens Sheds Light on the Matter.

Is the jury still out on vaping?  Is it good for you?  Are there health risks? Does it actually help you quit smoking?  Are LGBT people vaping more than straight people?  Are people vaping that never smoked in the first place?

We'll have to wait and see about all of those questions above, but we're sure you have your own personal opinions about vaping.

But one question that has recently been answered is are members of the LGBT community vaping more than others?

A recent study by the Ohio Department of Health found that Ohio's gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teens have substantially higher rates of e-cigarette use than straight youth. The study was conducted during the 2016-2017 school year.

  • LGB teens were far more likely to say they had vaped or smoked in the past 30 days than their straight or questioning counterparts.
     
  • Those who described themselves as transgender or gender nonconforming were far more likely to vape or smoke than their male and female peers.
     
  • Transgender teens used e-cigarettes at twice the rate of males or females, according to the survey.
     
  • Transgender or gender nonconforming were far more likely to vape or smoke than their male and female peers.

 

To feel a sense of belonging, to deal with stress, those were the two main reasons transgender students stated they vaped and/or smoked.

Are your LGBT friends smoking and vaping more than your straight ones?

Do you judge someone if they smoke or vape?

If you smoke or vape, do you feel judged?

 


h/t: Images from Cleveland.com

LOVELOUD 2018 - When In Utah, Let The Rainbow Flag Fly High

What did we think of LOVELOUD 2018?  Here's some of my thoughts in video form.


I said in the video, great job of AT&T for donating the $1 Million to the LOVELOUD Festival and all of the causes the concert and weekend supports.  Now some of you may think, is this pink washing?  This is where a corporation buys our attention with flashy colorful and supportive ads wanting us to move over to their side because they are waving a rainbow flag for 29.5 days during PRIDE month while not supporting other LGBTQ+ causes throughout the year and not supporting LGBTQ+ employees.  Before I went to LOVELOUD, I asked to meet with AT&T VP of Advertising and Creative Services, Valerie Vargas and asked her that pink washing question.  Instead of utilizing the banal term pink washing, she mentioned rainbow consumerism. And said she was aware of that practice by other companies, but AT&T had a vibrant and honest history of supporting and protecting the LGBTQ+ community.

AT&T was one of the first corporations in the country to adopt a policy prohibiting discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation. That was in 1975.  Most states have not even accomplished that over 40 years later. Valerie hit on the other important LGBTQ+ / AT&T historical milestones that are also mentioned in this video.

 

 

I talked to Valerie about my own personal history with AT&T and hen asked her what's next for the company!  More music venues or more changes in policies and practices?  After she told me what was next, we came up with a quick little catch phrase for some AT&T employees in the near future - Trevor Trained.  AT&T is not just throwing money at the rainbow, they're committed in helping.  Valerie stated that her company has recently started a support and crisis program and already has a waiting list of employees desiring to be trained the same way that The Trevor Project workers are trained, to handle those tough calls from people that need help. My grin was quite large when I heard that AT&T was looking at ways to help our community, ways that will take time, more time than it takes to write a check. Keep up the good work AT&T. We need more corporations to step forward and not just do these things, but also tell the world they are doing these things.  AT&T has a large,far, and influential reach.

The AT&T support was evident everywhere, not just the signage, but the members of their corporation that were present.

Not to say they were outdone, but as mentioned in my vide above, the presence of Tim Cook shook!  For me at least, his being there and his speech were major highlights of the festival.  Here are Tim's words.

 

Over all, the concert was deemed a success.  There have been instances of complaints that the University of Utah was not structured to accommodate people in wheelchairs, the bathrooms were all not gender inclusive, and some trans attendees were confronted and misgendered. I was there, I saw that not all of the bathrooms were transgender, but there were some all-inclusive bathrooms as well as family bathrooms.  The elevators were just aas hard to find as the free water filling stations (it was so hot!), but once you found them, you knew where they were.

Dan Reynolds had this to say about the day.

My time in Utah was one to remember.  I'll talk more about the rest of my visit in Salt Lake City in a future Travel Thursday piece.

Going back to the beginning of the day, I was able to ask the last question of the panel discussion.  My question was, if you could ask anything of the media, since you have several LGBTQ+ and other outlets present, what would you ask the media to do to help your cause?

They all came together and stated the same thing ... make us be seen, allow us to be seen, assist LGBTQ+ performers and fellow citizens in being visible to the world.  We are everywhere, we are doing great things, we are great members of society, and we are great talents.  We exist.  Don't just report the bad things, but show that we are good, talented, and dedicated citizens. 

So, at the very end of this lengthy coverage, I will share the very up close, wowtastic, and shirtless videos and pictures of Dan Reynolds and Imagine Dragons (my camera wasn't the only thing that overheated as he took the stage), but before that, I want to share videos and pictures I took of the event with my new trusty camera, videos of fellow LGBTQ+ citizens performing for a good cause, our cause, society's cause (you can watch the whole concert here). As promised here's Kalen Allen's Blue Carpet interview followed by other performers and attendees.

KALEN ALLEN

 

 

VINCINT X PARSONS

 

 

TYLER GLENN - I seriously need to download more of his music!

 

 

JUSSIE SMOLLETT

 

 

KALEN ALLEN - in his Beyonce moment.

 

 

MIKE SHINODA - Ghosts

 

 

MARY LAMBERT - a smooth rendition of "Jessie's Girl"

 

 

ZEDD

 

 

GUS KENWORTHY

 

 

WRABEL - THE VILLAGE  - one of my favorite songs of all time.

 

 

THIS IS ME -  You can hear me talking to the proud dad of one of the singers as he stood behind me.

 

 

MALE DANCERS - A very moving performance.

 

 

 

and now .... IMAGINE DRAGONS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Straight Enough To Give Blood? 'Gaydr' Used To Test UK Men Trying To Donate

 

I was laughing, I was sad, and I was mad.  The emotions while watching the newest creation by LGBT activist Peter Tatchell .  This time he partnered with Screen the Blood to create something we all have heard about before, a  gaydar, a gay detector, something they labeled "the Gaydr."

The premise of this "Gaydr" application was to have a British officer scan men as they enter a blood donation center.  Were they 85%, 100%, or just way too gay?

Related Post: Gay Men Used Their Blood To Print These Shirts In Protest Of Current Blood Donation Laws

There were moments of laughter as these men went along with the gaydar.  There was sadness that we think that this would be implemented if this existed, and we were a little mad along with these participants that this policy exists in the first place.

 

 

These all might have been actors and we're totally fine with that.  It's a tool to educate, to promote awareness, and hopefully gain some allies in the fight to allow LGBT men to donate blood, no matter their sexual history.

For more on this and to get tested yourself via the internet, head over to https://screentheblood.com/ . My results are below.

Other Related Stories:

LGBTQ + Money: 57% Say Financial Situation Harms Their Mental Health

How important is money when it comes to happiness in your relationship?  What a dumb question, right? Money is everything!

No, having money is not everything, but it sure does help. Love, affection, attraction, health, well-being, family, are all important.  But money (or lack there of) does get in the way of happiness.

In a LGBTQ Love & Money Survey, Honeyfi states that 55% of queer couples fight daily, weekly, or monthly with their partner about financial security stress and that negatively affects their sex lives.

 

Honeyfi, the app that helps couples better manage money together, surveyed 300 LGBTQ couples and asked them how they manage money together, how they communicate about money and about their financial challenges and goals. The findings were a combination of inspiring and concerning.

One consistent theme from the results was that LGBTQ couples are having trouble saving enough and want to save more.

-We asked about their biggest financial problems. The top answers were:

#1 Lack of savings, not saving enough, 52%

#2 Bills/cost of living, 50%

#3 Income/job, 33%

#4 Healthcare costs, medical bills, illness, 30%

#5 Not saving enough for retirement, 30%

#6 Debt (besides student debt), 29%

#7 Student debt, 29%

#8 Bad credit, 16%

 

LGBTQ respondents to the survey reported slightly better incomes than the general population, which contradicts previous surveys. Unfortunately, however, those same respondents reported not saving as much of their slightly higher incomes as they could.

Financially and with my savings, I'm doing okay, middle of the pack, but I have no one to fight with about savings other than myself.  But I do see some of my friends fighting often with their partners over money, spending, saving, and which one is paying for which bills. 

I think the biggest dilemma I've seen is when you have two different levels of income within one household.  I've had conversations with some of my single acquaintances and they've said that they do not want to be in a relationship with someone that makes less than they do. Is that wrong to say?  Is that wrong to look for in a partner?

Question time:

How are you doing with savings? 

Is it harder or easier since you have been in a partnership?

What is the biggest hurdle for you when trying to save money?


For more information on the Honeyfi results, head over to blog.honeyfi.com, or you can review the bullets and infograph below.

  • 52% of respondents reported being concerned about their lack of savings.
  • 16% having $10,000 or more saved.
  • 56% of couples reported having $1,000 or more saved for unexpected circumstances
  • 25% of couples surveyed reported having less than $1,000 saved for an emergency
  • 19% reported having no money saved.
  • 35% said they don’t use any financial tools.
  • 55% of LGBTQ couples in which at least one partner has bad credit fight regularly
  • Of the 55% of couples who fight regularly, 100% said they also worry about money monthly, 86% weekly and 51% daily.
  • 57% of LGBTQ people say their financial situation adversely affects their mental health
  • Only 6.31% of LGBTQ discretionary spending goes towards charity

Gay, Straight, Or Bisexual - Which Group Of Men Are More At Risk Of Heart Failure?

 

Can your sexuality increase or decrease your risk of heart failure?  A new study released by the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing states that Bisexual men have a higher risk for heart disease compared with heterosexual men.

Now, of course it is not because you're sleeping with men, but it's because of everything else that may come with it.

In a new study published online in the journal LGBT Health, Billy Caceres, the study's lead author, states:

Our findings highlight the impact of sexual orientation, specifically sexual identity, on the cardiovascular health of men and suggest clinicians and public health practitioners should develop tailored screening and prevention to reduce heart disease risk in bisexual men.

More than 30 percent of men in the US have some form of heart disease making it a leading cause of death for American men. Not many studies have been done to understand the impact of sexual orientation on heart disease risk for men.

In this study, NYU researchers examined differences in modifiable risk factors for heart disease and heart disease diagnoses in men of different sexual orientations. Risk factors measured included:

mental distress
health behaviors such as

  •       tobacco use
  •       binge drinking
  •       diet
  •       exercise

biological risk factors such as

  •       obesity
  •       hypertension
  •       diabetes
  •       cholesterol.

Responses from 7,731 men ages 20 to 59 were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2001-2012). Differences were analyzed across four groups based on their sexual identities: gay men, bisexual men, heterosexual men who have sex with men, and heterosexual men.

The researchers found no differences in heart disease diagnoses based on sexual orientation, but risk for heart disease was more complicated.

  • Gay men, heterosexual men, and heterosexual men who have sex with men had similar heart disease risk.
  • Gay men reported lower binge drinking compared with heterosexual men, but otherwise few differences in health behaviors were noted.
  • Bisexual men, however, had higher rates of several risk factors for heart disease relative to heterosexual men: mental distress, obesity, elevated blood pressure, and three different measures of diabetes (medication use, medical history, and average glycosylated hemoglobin level).

"Poor mental health is a recognized risk factor for the development of heart disease," said Caceres. "Clinicians should be educated about sexual minority health and should routinely screen bisexual men for mental distress as a risk factor for heart disease. This is particularly important as healthcare organizations increasingly include sexual orientation as part of demographic questionnaires in electronic health records."

 

h/t: medicalexpress.com

The Greatest Con - Convincing Yourself That You Don’t Have A Problem.

Let me level with you; getting into recovery is a bitch.  There was a time I fully believed that I wasn’t an addict and didn’t need help.  I completely underestimated my addiction.  Even when I began sticking myself like a voodoo doll I didn’t believe I had a problem.  It is estimated that 30 percent of LGBT struggles with some form of addiction. The three most problematic words that can come out of an addicts mouth are “I got this.”  Convincing yourself that you don’t have a problem is the greatest con game.  Only 10 percent of addicts ever seek out treatment.  Self-deception is the barrier to getting into treatment.   On the flip side, the three most empowering words an addict will ever speak are “I need help.” 

Eventually, you have to wake up to the reality that your drug use negatively impacts your life.  You can’t continue to be a chaos agent wagering your life on denial.  You are like a tea bag, you are in hot water.  When your use begins to spiral out of control, and it will, prepare to go from Park Avenue to park benches.  It’s not my intention to sound mean, it’s just that I mean business. I am fully aware of drug use in gay culture and I encourage anyone who regularly uses to seek treatment. Guilt, shame, and remorse keeps you out there in your addiction longer.  Admitting you have a problem is a scary prospect, but it's a better option than an early engraving of ‘dope fiend’ on your tombstone.  It is a sad, startling reality that few addicts make it.  I’m not trying to sound like a doomsday prophet, but it is my hope to help others survive the odds.  That hope starts with treatment.  The thing is, if you go into treatment for anyone other than yourself, the shit won’t work. 

Overdose deaths within the LGBT community are at epidemic levels throughout the United States.  Dope sprees, binges, and chem-sex have infiltrated the scene taking too many promising lives into full blown addiction and even death.  Buy into recovery through treatment, don’t buy into getting high, the drugs don’t give any fucks about you.  So do you want the red pill or the blue pill?  It is your choice alone. 

We all have a past, now hold your head up.  Going into treatment for drug addiction is a chance to turn an obstacle into an opportunity.  You have to be a beast to recover, but when your future is on the line you can find motivation in the fight.  For a long stretch of years, I had almost completely given up hope in having the future I had always dreamed of.  Being an ‘atomic cowboy’ who doesn’t play into societal norms and being so open publicly about my life seemed to be deep strikes against me.  Add into the mix working through past traumas that have occurred in my life, most of which ‘normal’ people wouldn’t have survived, led me to believe that I would never get the family life I so desperately hoped for.  My ultimate future is the ‘white picket fence’ and when I found myself once again seeing this life as a possibility I began to seek out treatment as to not miss out on the possible.  So, delete your ‘hook-up’ apps boys because you won’t find your husband on them.

All I know is that we can recover.  Addiction is a cunning habit that, after the momentary emotional numbing, leads your further and further away from your purpose.  You lose your way.  Just take the suggestion to go into treatment.  The decision is fully on you.  If you are at a crossroads and recognize that using and addiction are not how you want to live then it's time to seek out help.  You cannot become what you cannot define.  It’s like a rabbit hole prayer with God.  I found that it won’t help on the scale that I know I am capable of unless I make it into recovery.  I must live a life of significance and make a difference in the world.  What do you want out of your life?

Reaching recovery will be a milestone.  From that point on my social media posts should read ‘haters wanted’ followed by the wink emoji.  It will be the most prideful accomplishment of my life.  I consider myself to be between addict and recovery, I don’t plan on being stuck there.  I want to be the resource.  I want to be the fury.  There is no shame in admitting you are battling an addiction and to those who say otherwise, well that is on them.  By now, everyone should gleam that stigmas are ignorant and ignorance has zero standing.  Fresh out of treatment, I have never felt more alive or hopeful.  Sober feels good, but my second chance at the life I have always gunned for feels even better.  It is empowering to surrender the con of denial and find a treatment program that will be the foundation of your recovery. 


Instinct wants to thank C.L. Frederick for sharing his open and honest piece on addiction and rehab.  Discussions need to happen, truths need to be shared and sharing personal accounts like this is a great beginning. For help, check out these resources:

https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/resources/lgbtq/

https://americanaddictioncenters.org/rehab-guide/lgbt/

https://drugabuse.com/library/gay-addiction-treatment-center/


C.L. Frederick is an internationally published columnist, reporting on social issues affecting the LGBT community. His articles have been published by numerous national and international publications. A few of the outlets he has written for include The Phoenix Newsletter (Kansas City), DNA Magazine, Prism Magazine, Homoculture, Impulse Group, The Dallas Voice, and The Windy City Times (Chicago). As a writer, he is known for sharing his personal experiences dealing with being a HIV positive gay man and for documenting his journey from addict to being in recovery. He has had several featured acting roles on t.v. shows such as; Modern Family, Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Chicago Med, LA Hair, and Empire. As a male model, he has been featured in campaigns for Joe's Jeans, Quarter Homme, and Andrew Christian. He is single in his personal life, but has his Dimaggio. His greatest dream in life is to have a family and he will build that 'white picket fence' with his own two well manicured hands if he has to.

Domestic Violence And Gay Men: My Survival Story

We often receive personal stories from our readers.  This submission's cover letter begins:

 

As a gay man, I rarely hear about stories of domestic violence among gay men, or other same sex couples.

 

I was in an abusive relationship for about two years. I wanted to share my story and open up this dialogue. I have had many people who have heard my story, reach out to me about how they were in similar situations, but never spoke out. 

I have told this story many times. It’s actually a story within a story.

Here is our reader's story.


When you hear about domestic violence, society tends think it’s between a man AND a woman. The general thought veers toward a man physically or verbally abusing his girlfriend or wife - a female. Domestic violence among gay men is something that is not really talked about too often, if at all.

In 2007, I was 27 years old and living in Los Angeles, enjoying the city to the best of my ability. Being a young professional who made decent money, I was able to really sample what the city had to offer: trying different restaurants weekly, going to Hollywood parties, brunch with friends, and late-night outings were not uncommon. Overall, I was pretty happy with my life. There was one thing that did elude me while living in that city...love.

If anyone has ever lived in Los Angeles, they can attest to the fact that it can be incredibly difficult to find a real connection with someone.

In the fall of 2007, I started chatting with a man on Myspace who was a friend of a friend I was instantly taken with this person. To protect his identity, I will call him David. David was quirky, charming, determined, goal-oriented, and the type of personality that I had not come in contact while living in Los Angeles. He genuinely seemed to like me, and I felt the same way. The only issue we had was he lived on the East Coast. at the time, and I was in LA. Despite the long distance, we continued to chat via Myspace which lead to texting, and then Skype sessions. I enjoyed talking with him. We chatted for hours each day, which was something I was growing to love. Whenever I had a hard day at work, I knew that chatting on the phone with David would cheer me up; he said all the right things.

David became someone who I genuinely cared for, and our online relationship was something I was excited to explore. After a couple of months, I decided the time was right to meet David. So, I bought a ticket without hesitation, flew to the East Coast and spent one on one time with him. It was a magical four days together. I felt special, but most importantly, I felt loved.

Over the next six months, we took turns flying back and forth, coast to coast. We could not get enough of one another. I was feeling emotions which I had never felt before and it was all encompassing. One night, we were Skyping for several hours when he looked at me and said, “I... I love you.”

Now, for someone who was desperately trying to find a true connection with someone for years, this was GOLD. I was instantly drawn to him, like a moth to a flame.

My face lit up and I replied, “I love you too!”

Not too long after that momentous night, we decided to start our lives together, in the same city. David was quite persistent and driven to move forward with our relationship; I was as well, yet instinctively more reserved. David’s persistence paid off.

In retrospect, David showed signs of being controlling and manipulative, but after I heard the words, ‘I love you,’ I subconsciously pushed them aside. I was blinded by love. Out of concern, a couple of friends brought up some of the things he said / had done that were out of line, but I brushed them off, because they were not in this relationship and did not know what they were talking about.

Finally, after seven months of endless chats on the phone, Skype, and many trips back and forth, David and I decided to move to the Midwest to start our new lives together. Simultaneously, I was nervous, yet excited. This was it; this is what I wanted.

The first few months living together were so great. David and I got settled into our new apartment, started our new jobs, started our new lives, together.

We decided on the Midwest because David was originally from there, and he still had friends and family living there. I, on the other hand, was a fish out of water; I knew no one. Feeling vulnerable and out of my element, I looked to David for support and comfort. In hindsight, I realize he was very much aware of this fact and decided to use it to his advantage.

We did things that he wanted to do, went to places he wanted to go, and my ideas were more or less swept under the rug. If I had an idea, he would say something like, “That’s good, but why not do this instead?” or, “This is a better idea.” Anything I would suggest would never be good enough, so his world became my world - no compromises.

Over time, it became apparent that David had the ability to manipulate any situation. I started to find my voice and address my observation, yet somehow I was the crazy one. Six months flew by and David casually mentioned buying a home together. Reluctantly, I agreed. Upon finding the perfect house, I started to learn more about David financially. We decided to close on the house, however, the mortgage was solely in my name. To keep control in his court, David made sure to have the final say on the home decor, and anything that should have been a fun compromise building a new home life together.

At this point, I was totally involved in the relationship and did not know how I could get out of it, even if I wanted to. In the 2.5 years that were together, he talked me into giving him $2,500 for him to buy a car, we bought multiple numbers and types of pets, and several other major purchases (which, I might add, I paid for most, and took on the responsibilities they required). He was reaping the rewards, but not doing any of the work. I was way in over my head, I was drowning.

The swirl of abuse began the first few months of me moving to the Midwest. It started as verbal abuse. Snide remarks which escalated throughout the relationship, and eventually on to blow out fights. On two separate occasions, David put me down in front of groups of his friends. I remember him saying, ‘You’re f**king retarded,’ and, ‘It figures you forgot that, you’re so stupid.’ Now mind you, I know these things were wrong, but I was so deeply invested financially and emotionally into this relationship at this point, I genuinely wanted to try and make it work somehow. Even after being spit on during an argument, I said to myself, ‘I can’t bail now, I put too much work into this. It’ll get better.’

David still had the upper hand during this whole time. After several months of living in the Midwest, I still didn’t have a lot of friends of my own, and the few I did have, David somehow hated. He didn’t like my family or ANY of my friends. Now I know why. It is so much easier to manipulate someone when they are alone and vulnerable.

Arguments were frequent when we were both in the house, which casually grew into public fights. In the 2.5 years of being together, we got into two physical altercations, which I never will forget.
 The first time was a late evening and were arguing about something, I can’t recall; I just remember wanting to talk about a problem I was having and David walked away not wanting to discuss it. Unresolved issues drove me crazy, and he knew this.

He got up to leave and go sleep in the other room, then I said, “Fine, see ya!”

The next thing I knew, he clocked me on the outside of my right eye, which began to bleed and swell. He was wearing a ring on his hand and this tore into my face as his fist struck me. I was terrified, enraged, and I had no idea what to do.

I always would hear about women going in public with black eyes, laughing it off to others and saying, ‘I fell. It was the stupidest thing.’ I thought to myself, How can people say things like this? How can they let something get so bad?

The next day, I went to work with a bloody face, black eye, and said to my co-worker, ‘I tripped and fell.’ I had become one of those people.

This happened about a year into the relationship, and yet, I stayed.

February of 2009 was the second time we got into a physical altercation. Emotionally, I was beat down, I could not possibly get any lower or depressed. I came home one day after work, went up to him and said, ‘We need to end this, we need to find an exit plan for both of us.’ He got real angry, his facial expressions changing, scoffed and went upstairs. The next thing I heard were loud crashes. In shock and my heart racing, I quickly ran upstairs, walked into our bedroom and saw our big screen TV on the floor along with my laptop sticking out of the wall. I looked at all the chaos and snapped. I charged after him and slapped him in the face. I’ve never struck anyone in my life, and I was stunned I did it. I just wanted out of this mess. Yet David tried everything in his power to stop that because it was something I wanted.

It took a good week for my mind and body to cool down after the last and final altercation. Together, we made the decision that our relationship was over. For the next month, David slept in the bedroom down the hall until he could find a place of his own.

A challenging month it was, to say the least. For my own sanity, I needed to find solace in something that would keep me out of the house as much as possible after work. One day, it clicked, I set a challenge for myself: 30 days of consecutive yoga classes. Every day after work, I would find a yoga class, sometimes two an evening to attend.

Within that challenge, I met my first real yoga teacher, who became my mentor. She opened the doors on the next chapter in my life, a yogi.

After 30 days, David took most of the furniture in the house and moved out. I remember sitting with my dog in a near empty home, crying. I couldn’t believe all that had happened to me over the span of 2.5 short, yet very long years. Little did I know that he himself had set me on a new path in my life. Without him, I would not have tried yoga, therefore never meeting my first teacher, who lifted me up out of a great deal of sadness.

Six months after we split up, I moved back to Los Angeles, and continued my yoga practice with another great teacher. He picked up where my first teacher left off. This upcoming April will mark eight years since I’ve been practicing yoga. Some amazing things have happened within those eight years, empowering me to be the best version of myself. Thanks to the yoga community, I have traveled to many countries, meeting incredible people along the way. Most importantly, I have a new sense of self awareness.

For which I can truly say, I am happy. Being in a challenging situation, can make one appreciate the good things in life like embracing the people who care about you. My relationship with David wasn’t all bad, but most of it was and I have put the memories behind me. I am living proof that good things come from bad things, because I’ve lived it, experienced it with blood, sweat and tears.

The gay community has this image that everyone is happy, having a great time, laughing. But, I can tell you this is not always the case. To this day, I really don’t hear or read about domestic violence in the gay community, but I do think it should be a topic of conversation. If it happened to me, it has or is happening to someone else.

I would be silly to think that I could just erase that time in my life, block it out. That relationship definitely changed me quite a bit, and I do still think about David, but I no longer wish to stay in contact.

I will say that I do wish him well, and I do thank him (from afar) for pushing my life in a positive direction. Experiences like these can change your life forever. The question is, what do you want to do with them?


Can you relate to this reader's story?

Have you found a good resource that helped you get out of an abusive relationship?

One such resource is The National Domestic Violence HOTLINE

Will New HIV Drug Hong Kong Fight Virus Causing AIDS? Hong Kong Scientist Hope.

Scientist believe they have not only found a better weapon to treat people with AIDS but may have found a way to prevent people contracting HIV int he first place.  University of Hong Kong scientists are working with others have developed a new antibody drug that will help all infected and prevent further infections. 

The drug, named “BiIA-SG”, will be a long term treatment as opposed to the daily treatments people need to take currently. 

Testing the drug on mice showed that mice given the drug before being infected with HIV were protected from the virus for about a week, and when mice were infected with HIV before being treated, 42% were tested and came back as “undetectable” for at least four weeks after just one injection of antibodies.

Related Post: ​Study: Only 20 Percent Of HIV Transmission In China Is From Gay Sex

How does this relate to current options in preventing HIV/AIDS?

There is also Truvada, a pill that can prevent infection. It is a pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, that if taken daily, can lower the chances of getting HIV from sex by over 90 per cent and from injecting drugs by over 70 per cent, according to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. 

In Hong Kong, the drug is offered through private clinics at a price of about HK$8,000 to HK$10,000 for one month’s supply, according to Aids Concern, an NGO.  - South China Morning Post

What is the next step in testing? They will need to wait for clearance to test on larger animals than mice, but the hope is to extend the effectiveness of the drug from a week to "weeks or even months.” 

The tests found that the drug was effective against 124 strains of HIV, including those that are commonly found in infected people from Hong Kong and mainland China.

According to government figures, 9,091 people in Hong Kong were diagnosed with HIV between 1984 – when the first case was reported – and last year. About 681 new cases were reported to the Centre for Health Protection last year. The cost of antiretroviral drugs for those in the city infected with the virus comes up to over HK$550 million a year, according to a press release issued by HKU on Thursday. - South China Morning Post

We hope their work is true and correct. 

 

h/t: www.scmp.com

What Does Conchita Wurst 'Coming Out' as HIV+ Mean in 2018?

Coming out can be one of the more stressful things in our lives to do.  Hey mom, dad, I'm one of the alphabet soup people... TQGQLIBA.   But some of us have to come out for a second time, but we are regulated to just three letters, HIV.

Last week, Conchita Wurst felt she needed to come out for a second time before someone else went public about her HIV status.  I wanted to share the Austrian drag queen's story and why she felt she was forced to reveal her HIV status.  She shared it was all because an ex-boyfriend threatened to tell all.

 

 

heute ist der tag gekommen, mich für den rest meines lebens von einem damoklesschwert zu befreien: ich bin seit vielen jahren hiv-positiv. das ist für die öffentlichkeit eigentlich irrelevant, aber ein ex-freund droht mir, mit dieser privaten information an die öffentlichkeit zu gehen, und ich gebe auch in zukunft niemandem das recht, mir angst zu machen und mein leben derart zu beeinflussen. seit ich die diagnose erhalten habe, bin ich in medizinischer behandlung, und seit vielen jahren unterbrechungsfrei unter der nachweisgrenze, damit also nicht in der lage, den virus weiter zu geben. ich wollte aus mehreren gründen bisher nicht damit an die öffentlichkeit gehen, nur zwei davon will ich hier nennen: der wichtigste war mir meine familie, die seit dem ersten tag bescheid weiss und mich bedingungslos unterstützt hat. ihnen hätte ich die aufmerksamkeit für den hiv-status ihres sohnes, enkels und bruders gerne erspart. genauso wissen meine freunde seit geraumer zeit bescheid und gehen in einer unbefangenheit damit um, die ich jeder und jedem betroffenen wünschen würde. zweitens ist es eine information, die meiner meinung nach hauptsächlich für diejenigen menschen von relevanz ist, mit denen sexueller kontakt infrage kommt. coming out ist besser als von dritten geoutet zu werden. ich hoffe, mut zu machen und einen weiteren schritt zu setzen gegen die stigmatisierung von menschen, die sich durch ihr eigenes verhalten oder aber unverschuldet mit hiv infiziert haben. an meine fans: die information über meinen hiv-status mag neu für euch sein – mein status ist es nicht! es geht mir gesundheitlich gut, und ich bin stärker, motivierter und befreiter denn je. danke für eure unterstützung!

A post shared by conchita (@conchitawurst) on

 

The Google translation of her post in German reads:

Today is the day to free me from the sword of Damocles for the rest of my life:
 
I have been hiv-positive for many years. this is actually irrelevant to the public, but an ex-boyfriend threatens me to go public with this private information, and I will not give anyone the right to frighten me and influence my life in the future.
Since I received the diagnosis, I am in medical treatment, and for many years without interruption under the detection limit, so that so not able to pass on the virus.
I did not want to go public with it for several reasons so far, I just want to mention two of them here: the most important one was my family, which has known and supported me unconditionally since day one. I would have gladly spared you the attention of the hiv status of your son, grandson and brother. Likewise, my friends have been aware of this for quite some time and are dealing with it in an unbiased way that I would wish to everyone and everyone concerned.
Secondly, it is an information that I believe is mainly relevant to those people with whom sexual contact is an option.

coming out is better than being outed by third. I hope to build up courage and take another step against the stigmatization of people who have become infected by hiv, either through their own behavior or through no fault of their own.

to my fans: the information about my hiv status may be new to you - my status is not! I'm well and well, and I'm stronger, more motivated and liberated than ever. Thank you for your support!

The 2014 Eurovision is not a newbie when it comes to being in the spotlight but she also seems like someone that is in control of her destiny.  She stated I “will not give anyone the right to frighten me or affect my life.” 

We all need to claim power over our own lives and not give it away to anyone or let anyone try to steer us down the wrong path.

Wurst further explained that she hoped her decision to go public helped “lessen the stigmatization of people who have become infected with HIV.”

One of my good friends just recently wanted to talk about coming out as gay to his family and then his coming out as HIV+.  He said that the second time he came out to his family was so much more emotional, worse, difficult.  Being gay, well, he knew he was not wrong with that, but being HIV+, he felt that he let his family down, that he did something wrong, that he was ashamed. It was a powerful conversation, but it was more so just me listening and thinking how hard it must have been compared to the "I'm GAY" speech.  He knows now that he does not have or hold onto any personal shame about being HIV+, but back when he came out, actually for both times, the world was quite different.

And it is people, well-known individuals like Conchita that with her actions, she is removing yet another layer of that stigma some people feel regarding AIDS/HIV.

No matter which three letters G-A-Y or H-I-V, we should not drop our heads.  No matter what LBTQQIAA label or category or none of the above, we need to retain our own power.

Thank you Conchita for being a powerful human being and showing us that we are in charge of our lives, we have the power over our own lives, and we have the power over HIV.


Have you had to come out twice?  Once for your sexuality and once involving your status?

Which one was more difficult?

We do have straight readers as well.  Have you as a straight person had to come out because of your HIV status?  What was that experience like?


h/t:  dnamagazine.com

Pages