Sunday, August 22, 2010


Last night I decided to bar hop for the first time in a while. After my friends and I enjoyed a fabulous Thai dinner we made our way to the watering holes in Chelsea and the West Village. As the night played out I unexpectedly analyzed everything going on around me rather than getting loaded and making new acquaintances like probably should have. Perhaps it was the bourbon that caused me to observe or if I was experiencing side effects from my medications. Regardless of the reason last night was an eye opener for me to rethink strategically how I am going to conquer HIV in this gay Mecca.

One of the most appealing attractions of NYC is the various communities and neighborhoods and the diversity of its occupants. There is something for everyone here. NYC is a safe haven for the gay community- the boy who grew up isolated in rural America simply because he was different knew one day he could run away to this city where he’d feel safe. Take note that it must never be forgotten that this city once oppressed those that were ‘different’ and all the tears, blood and shouts that were shed to fight the corruption. I thank those men and women for bringing me one step closer to showing the world it is okay for two people of the same sex to hold hands down Eighth Avenue.

With that said, as I sipped my cocktail and listened to the DJ blasting the latest dance tunes I asked the gay community in NYC as a whole, “What happened to us as a community? When did it become okay for us to be complacent?”

Let me give you a few quick examples of last night. We went to one bar in Chelsea filled with clicks and attitudes where majority of the patrons were dressed in tank tops and sweat shorts. Is this night life or did I make a wrong turn and enter the gym? Learn proper dress attire for the evening, I say. I had enough and headed to the West Village for some good old fashioned karaoke, and coincidentally, one of the few places that have the proper ingredients for an Old Fashioned cocktail. The clientele median age was 22 or so. The MC played the hit disco song, “I Love the Nightlife,” by Alicia Bridges. Unfortunately, my friends and I were of the handful of people in the bar singing along as the rest of the patrons had no idea what the song was. Taking note, the MC made a comment to the audience that maybe he should play some “Salt and Pepa” tunes to bring the kids up to speed. I swear on my life someone shouted out, “Who?” Come on now, these were songs I listened to as a kid in my bedroom fearing I’d get beaten up in school for knowing all the lyrics. Sure, I’m not a Streisand fan, but I still recognize her as a gay icon for the generation before me- for men who needn’t dare admit they were in love with her putting their own lives in jeopardy. Do the youth not recognize that Lady GaGa and TV shows like ABC’s, “Modern Family” were not always in existence? Brush up on gay history like Stonewall and life before it, I say. And finally, the icing on the cake was when I told my friend, who is in his mid forties and came out of the closet at thirty, that I’m HIV positive. His immediate response was, “Oh no you have AIDS!” Learn the facts of HIV before spreading lies, I say.

I could continue with my tangent forever, but let me get to the point. Gay guys here seem to be all over the spectrum, with a sense of entitlement- and why- because we are gay? Sure, it’s great that couples here can go to Connecticut to get married and come back to Manhattan. But, does it not dawn on them that you can’t get married in your own state? Why aren’t these Chelsea queens and the youth giving back what was privileged to them? Everyone seems to make time for the gym and brunches and frivolous things like that. Then, why aren’t more voices fighting for gay marriage and educating themselves on the ADAP crisis- chances are they have a friend or two in this city living with HIV. We are a city of eight million people, and sometimes this community can seem so small.

As I contemplate about relocating to another city, like Philadelphia or Washington D.C., I am starting to wonder whether New York City needs someone like me to bring back that sense of urgency and radicalism that gave us the freedom to be gay here. I am proud to be a New Yorker, but now I must speak to you, New York, as a whole: You’ve got a lot of shaping up to do.


Last week I posted a video on YOUTUBE that spoke about my brief history living with HIV. In addition, I offered my words of advice for newly diagnosed individuals and their loved ones. Overall feedback from viewers was all sorts of encouraging words thus allotting me the confidence to continue videotaping my fight against this illness.

Let me be clear before I continue with my blog entry. Disclosure is a constant debate. I considered all of the avenues of disclosing my status up until the minutes before recording. My opinion rests that it is solely up to the individual as to whether or not to disclose his or her status to loved ones and friends. This does not include sexual partners of which I feel deserve a right to know. The truth is there is no right or wrong answer as to when one should disclose. Once you tell one person the possibility arises that more people will know without your control. It’s understandable for people to want to wait until they are mentally ready to tell their secret.

I wasn’t open about my status in the beginning as I am now. At first only a handful of people knew about me. I halted my sexual encounters for a while to focus on myself. I thought I was safe that way. Consequently, this action left me in isolation. Days turned into weeks turned into months and I had a less than satisfactory support group. Something had to change before HIV and stress would take over sending me six feet under.

So- I came out of the closet for the second time in my life. No longer will I be hiding in the shadows just because society teaches me to fear HIV/AIDS. I plan to do my part to end the stigmas against this illness. It had shown that my courage has proven beneficial- all of my friends and family stand behind me and wish me all the luck and happiness life has to offer. My support group is larger than ever with nothing stopping me in the interim.

Don’t get me wrong- disclosing will have its up’s and down’s and there will be scary ventures ahead of me. But, if I don’t do my part to help make a difference then who will? I speak for my brothers and sisters who no longer have a voice. I speak for those who are not yet ready to disclose to others and most of all I speak for me, the most important person in my world.

For all those out there who are afraid to speak, refuse to speak, or want to speak louder- I offer you my hand in support and comfort, and will always be here to help you.


While writing this blog I am listening to Sheryl Crow’s, “A Change (Would Do You Good).” I thought it was fitting and motivational and after reading this you may agree. Are you someone like myself where every time you take one step forward you somehow take three steps back? This seems to be an ongoing pattern in my life right now which is really getting old. The bills, the rent, medication reminders, work problems, doctors’ appointments, etc. There is only one simple solution- a “staycation” from my life. For the record, I hate combining two English words into one in my writing like “guesstimate,” but considering my vacation started today it seemed appropriate to go beyond my boundaries.

That’s right, after working a year and a few months at my crappy job I finally earned some paid vacation days. Sure, I could have gone somewhere exotic and rode an elephant somewhere in Asia or hike the rainforests of the Amazon. But unlike others, I am an individual who enjoys lounging at home over the excitement of losing luggage, sightseeing in one hundred degree weather and turbulent plane rides to foreign land. And to be honest, I barely have the finances right now for a day trip around Manhattan.

Things have been so crazy on my home front lately between sorting out medical bills, working situations, and friendships that it’s as if my life’s problems threw up on me all at once. God’s little test, I guess. But, being HIV positive I have to remember stressing about all the little variables in life will only do more damage to my health in the long run. So, I have learned to brush things off and not get myself sick over frivolous things. For example, I tell myself, “This bill is all messed up and the phone operator can’t fix it at the given time? No big deal.” As long as I don’t build this thought up into stress it will be okay. As a writer my best friend is a notepad- I carry one everywhere I go. I just leave myself a note and put it on my “to-do” list. So what if that list is growing? It’ll get done.

For the next twelve days I will be in my apartment. If I’m not there then I am at the gym doing my laps and lifting free-weights. If I’m not at the gym or my apartment then I am somewhere where I don’t want to be reached. This will be MY TIME where I can work on the novel I have been writing for quite some time now. My only life reminder that I will have with me is my medication, of course. Yes, a vacation for me is a vacation from everything. Peace a quiet.
Listen for me on the POZIAM radio show this month! I’d love to hear your comments about my blog.


In a previous blog I wrote about how I wake up every morning with a smile. Well, just like anyone that has a functioning pulse can say that even those in great spirits have days where they don’t want to get out of bed. There are numerous variables that put me in this category- stress buildup, waking up alone, going to a job where I ‘m hated, the reminder that I am living with HIV, to name a few. I pat myself on the back for being able to move on with my life so quickly since my diagnosis, but I have to admit that some days are easier than others. I guess the “waking up alone” part can get to me because it must be nice to come home after a hard day and get your feet rubbed and have someone to relieve your stress with.

Listen to what happened to me this past week. I received a call from the New York City Department of Health (DOH) requesting I come in to be tested for HIV as they feel I “may have” been exposed to the virus. As I commend the gentleman (my past partner whoever it may be) for being socially responsible and listing his past partners that may be in danger I question the DOH. I explained to them that testing is no longer necessary for me and that all of my STD tests are up to date from the current month through my primary care doctor and I haven’t been with anyone in months. Yet, they still wanted me to come in for an HIV test. What the…? Two days later I received a letter in the mail and what was flabbergasting about the whole ordeal was that the clinic that was harassing me to come in was the same clinic that diagnosed me Positive back in January of this year! WHAT THE…? Finally, three missed calls today from the clinic. Gosh, leave me alone!

I guess I shouldn’t complain. I’ve mentioned before if there was anything I could change about my DAY ONE episode it would have been my experience with this clinic- and this incident further proves my point. I should be happy that I am healthy and that it could be much worse. But, lately as I thought I finally began to get a grip on my new life I have constant reminders interrupting my daily activities. As if pill popping and disclosure wasn’t enough of a reminder. When is enough, enough? When is it considerably okay for me to jump into a pool, go under water and scream at the top of my lungs without someone saying, “It could be much worse, Christopher.” When is it acceptable to be selfish for just a few moments?

When I let out that scream, I feel better for the time being. I tell myself that the medical bills will be paid, I’ll save money soon, I’ll start dating soon, and my life will find purpose-soon. These are the thoughts I say to myself and then life and my smile continues. I begin to think of all the positives in my life- no pun intended. I have a loving and supportive family, I have a full time (yet terrible) job, and luckily I have medical insurance for the time being, and most importantly, I’m alive.

The best feeling in the world for me is sitting on a beach with the palm trees swaying in the wind and hearing the ocean’s flow. That’s the beauty of mother nature- absolute silence and serenity. Boy, do I miss my palm trees.

Thank you readers for letting me vent. I feel better now.


As promised, I’m going to talk this week about how my parents took the news about my HIV status. It’s a short and to-the-point blog. Let me tell you that I thought I planned every possible scenario out in my head prior and was certain that I had a pretty good idea as to the outcome of my parent’s reaction to the news. If you read last week’s blog I give a fairly good description of what my predictions were. However, NOTHING prepared me for the actual results.

I sat my mother and father in my old bedroom and just flat out said, “You two need to know that as of January I found out that I am HIV positive.” Then, there was a long a pause, and god strike me dead if I ever forget what my mother said after that- take note of the paraphrasing. “To be honest I’m not surprised considering your life of promiscuity.” Talk about being thrown off and being far from the truth. Was I back in church? Where did that come from? She later apologized for that remark, but moms sure know how to throw your train of thought off. Once that blow was settled my parents heard me out and pretty much asked all the right questions. I told them it wasn’t important “how” I got it, but that it’s not going away and we are all in this together. There was no screaming, no unbearable silence, no tears. They showed concern and just wanted to make sure I was being taken care of medically and mentally. Long story short, they were completely supportive of me, just like a family should be.

Even though I told her it wasn’t necessary, my mother plans to buy me a medic alert necklace that says the medications I am on should I ever end up unconscious- but that’s a mother for you. I assured her that there is nothing to worry about with me as my health is excellent and I haven’t missed a dose or doctors visit to date. I told her my recent involvement with wanting to help with ADAP- for another blog. That brought on the tears and my mother saying how proud she’s always been of me and that never had to worry about me.

If you recall, my father’s reaction was what I worried about more due to his past relationship with his family and HIV and coming to terms with my gay life. He was quiet, as usual, but after a few minutes he joined in on the question asking and showed his support for me. We shared beers later the next day and just talked about his diabetes and my HIV. What I’ve learned about disclosure is that each and every time I plan to tell someone I have HIV, whether or not I agree with it I have to cater it to the way they will handle the news. Sounds obvious? Not really- it only took me a few tries to get it right.

In closing, now that I told my parents my status there is no one I need to hide this from anymore. No one.


If you are an individual like I was who exhausted all the pros and cons as to whether or not to tell mommy and daddy that you have HIV, then this blog’s for you.

For me, if there is an even greater obstacle than dealing with my HIV status it would be telling the two people I trust the most in my life- my parents. I never actually said that out loud that I trust my mother and father the most in my life, but when it comes right down to it it’s the truth. I am very fortunate to have been adopted into a healthy, yet occasionally dysfunctional, household. My father was a hardworking provider who made a manageable income for my stay-at-home mother of three kids to prepare food for the dinner table. As my teen years arrived I learned to resent them just like any other adolescent would do. However, at the end of the day they are the two people I can always count on- no matter how many headaches my mother gave- and still gives me.

At first I convinced myself that NOT telling them was the right thing to do- that they have their own problems and I don’t want them to ever worry about their middle child. But as I spoke with my mother on the phone a few times knowing I was hiding this secret from her it began to dawn on me. What if something happened to me and I was unresponsive? Shall I leave it to a disconnected physician that their pride and joy was HIV positive? I can hear my mother already asking herself, “Why did he hide this from us? I could have helped him!” Would my parents think that they failed as parents because I was afraid to come to them with anything I had to tell them?

Let me give you a quick background of my old school Greek mother and Irish father. My mother is crazy- mostly in a good way, but sometimes in an eccentric way. I have a pretty good idea as to how she will handle the news. She will cry, be scared and worry about me. I say, LET HER- she’s a mother and she’s entitled to that. In time, she will realize that there is nothing to worry about. It’s my father who I am more concerned about. He is a very quiet, keeps to himself personality type of person who at the same time would bend over backwards for the people in his life. He doesn’t say much, but when he talks you listen. He had (and still has) a hard time with the fact that his middle son is gay. His brother, and best friend, was a gay man who died of AIDS in 1988. He’s supported my decision to go to college, to move to Florida-then back to New York, to pay for my DWI charges myself, to name a few decisions I’ve made over the years. But, for the first time in my life I have no idea how my father will react to this type of news. When I say, “I am HIV positive,” it will be 1988 all over again. How do I ensure him that everything will be all right and that there is nothing to worry about? I can send him all the internet sites and buy him books on HIV in 2010, but it may not make a difference- who knows. It will take a long time, but they will accept it and be supportive of me.

Parents are smart creatures. They know when something is wrong with their kin. When I asked my mother for my birthday for a watch that has an alarm on it her first response was, “are you on medications that I should know about?” Now that I think about it that was when I started contemplating telling the folks about me. When I was sick for two weeks (the first sign of HIV) my mother and father were right beside me in the ER and at home taking care of me. Maybe they already know.

I want to add that that I am eternally grateful for my parents teaching me what responsibility is. I have been working since I was ten, paid for everything from my first car to college all on my own and learning what it takes to be an adult. When the sun sets I know they will appreciate that I told them this news. This may make us a closer family when push comes to shove. I am not naïve. I am aware that many of you will disagree and feel that your family should not know about your HIV status. Many of you are living without family and I wish that wasn’t the case. All I can say is that you are neither right nor wrong in your decision. Everyone’s family history is different and for some it may not be the right time to tell them. For my family it is important that they know that I am here, I’m alive, and will be around for a long, long time.

Tune in to next week’s blog and I will let you know how it turned out!


The year was 1969- a year that’s forever frozen in LGBT history worldwide. The location was Greenwich Village, New York City. It was a hot summer night in June when we came out of the “closets” and stood against the corruption of the police and said we were not going to hide anymore. Windows were smashed, trash cans were burned, people were beaten and arrested, but that didn’t stop the now called “pioneers” of our community from getting their voices heard. These radical days mark a time period when anger and frustration lead us one step closer to our freedom- the freedom to be who we are today.

It’s a shame that I was not around at that time, but I am fortunate enough to know some of the gentlemen who were front and center of the Stonewall Riots. To hear them speak so passionately of their eye witness accounts today is such a treasure for me because I know if I was there I would be right beside them. It’s been forty years since the first Gay PRIDE Parade was held and I had wondered if my generation has become complacent and forgotten what so many of our brothers and sisters before us had to go through to allow us to parade around city streets in flashy rainbow colors and Speedos? Even more so, with my generation practicing riskier behaviors and taking HIV less seriously because of their “treatable-with-one-pill-a-day” attitudes, have we lost all context of the word PRIDE?

I’ll admit when I was in my early twenties I used PRIDE as an excuse to party all day and to socialize. Back then, I was still getting comfortable with the idea that I was a gay male. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to hold a guy’s hand in public without hesitation. Then, as PRIDE’s have come and gone my own personal attitude of the holiday became stale to say the least- until this year’s PRIDE. This year was the first time I was going to celebrate the events being HIV positive. I worried for days prior as to whether I can truly have a good time or was my focus was going to be on my HIV status? Can I remember that I am still a gay man who would one day hope to see a world where we are treated as equals?

There was only one way to find out. That Sunday afternoon I got my PRIDE outfit together, which consisted of nothing more than a white beater, suspenders, and cut up denim shorts, and headed downtown to the Village to meet up with friends and watch Manhattan’s 2010 PRIDE parade. For those not familiar, this particular parade lasts for several hours. I took many pictures of various floats and spoke with many individuals all of which share different ideas of PRIDE. Many of the marchers held political signs explaining current corruptions of government’s treatment of the LGBT community. However, I couldn’t help but notice that there were just as many signs that pertained to the HIV and AIDS community. These leaders were creating awareness to all on the importance of issues regarding healthcare, prevention, HIV and Congress, etcetera. A couple of cocktails and introductions later it dawned on me that I was having a great time! I quickly realized that my definition of PRIDE has not changed because I have HIV. If anything, it has enhanced its’ validity and I felt welcomed again in my own world- a world that is no longer suitable for 1969, but for the present day LGBT community.

I am still new to the HIV community, relatively speaking, but PRIDE has reminded me of my passion for wanting to make a difference in both equality as well as the treatment of this chronic illness. I want the world to know that I am an openly gay male who is NOT a second class citizen. I want the world to know that I have HIV and there is no reason to fear me. I want the world to know that Washington’s plan to cut healthcare budgets for government programs (such as ADAP) is unacceptable and I refuse to have my voice go unheard. I want to the world to know that I plan to educate the generations to come how to take care of themselves and live healthy lives. But most of all, I want the world to know that I’m here.

The Stonewall Riots is a reminder that even though we celebrate forty years of being openly gay that there are still battles to be fought in 2010. With the help of my generation it is time for me to give back what was privileged to us back in 1969- the freedom to be ourselves no matter who we are.


Before I hand out the party hats and favors allow me to introduce the man of the hour. My name is Christopher, I’m twenty seven years old, I live in New York City, and today is the six month mark since I was diagnosed with HIV. For some, this wouldn’t call for a conventional celebration as it would seem there is nothing to smile about and in the beginning of this journey I would have agreed with them. For others it would mean a time to celebrate the recent news I received from my specialist that my medications are working allowing for a stronger immune system. I can make a list a mile long of things that represent a six month anniversary in my life- whether it be good or bad. The truth of the matter is that my choosing to celebrate is not influenced solely on HIV and the direction it has taken inside my body- it’s about me, Christopher. Yes, for the first time in over fifteen years of ongoing clinical depression and my endless search for contentment has come to a close. I’ve learned to be honest with myself, and others, but most importantly have finally found the happiness within myself that I have been longing for.

For years I haven’t taken care of myself mentally and physically. I drank heavily and exposed my body to dangerous situations which in turn I believe is the reason I am in the predicament I’m in. It was as if I was searching for something that I simply could not find. Throughout high school and college I was the forgotten soul, at least in my mind. While my friends around me were building lasting relationships and were career-minded, I stood alone. In order to change that I thought I’d have lots of sex and was always be in “the scene”- That way people would recognize me and want to be around me more. Then, I started intercourse in ways that felt great but little did I know it was taking a significant toll on my health. At the time I didn’t think it mattered, however, at the end of the day I was the one that was alone in bed.

Then, the inevitable happened- I got sick. It was a long, hard battle that affected my close friends, my coworkers, immediate family and the demons within me. When the doctors said it wasn’t the flu or a cold I knew in the back of my mind exactly what it was. Two months later it was confirmed. After that I shut down from the world- even more than usual- for quite a while. There was nothing doctors, specialists, therapists, friends or anyone could have done to remove me from my downward spiral. Everything seemed hopeless and suicide was definitely an option for me.

Then, one day in May things just clicked. It was as if I snapped out of everything I was thinking since the mid 1990’s. I still couldn’t tell you specifically what it was, but I didn’t care. Yes, my doctor told me that the virus in my system was undetectable and I’m going to live, but I also realized what it meant to be a true friend to others and to be there for those that needed help. I realized HIV was only a small token in my life and that there was nothing wrong with me and there was no reason for me to try to be the center of attention because that does me more harm than good. It dawned on me that I am worth so much more on this earth than I really gave myself credit for. I had to stop putting so much emphasis on what I expected from me and what I thought others expected from me. After I put that thought into play I started to feel different about things. Shortly after, I began using my free time to volunteer work, making new friends and hearing what they have to say about their lives and creating “to-do” lists that constructively occupied my free time. The moral is that in order for me to be truly happy I had to surround myself with people and things that stimulated my brain- without sex and alcohol. It’s a large world out there filled with all different types of activities, and those activities involved human beings. Those were the human beings I wanted to get to know.

I know this all sounds obvious and cliché, but when you are going through rough times nothing seems to make sense to others other than yourself. It’s like someone trying to explain to you one plus one equals two and even though you know this to be factual it just doesn’t register in your head. I had to find happiness within myself and no one else can find it for you. Being diagnosed with HIV allowed me to learn how precious life is and how much I want to be here for my friends and my family. HIV negative Christopher is dead, recently HIV positive Christopher is dead. Christopher, on the other hand, is alive and well- and he couldn’t display any more smiles on his face than he has been these past few weeks. Today also marks the first day of summer, my favorite season. I know the direction I am heading in is more appealing to those in my life and those I have not yet met than the direction I was in before I was diagnosed. I know others that are going through this battle are not as lucky as me, but, if I can lead one person towards true happiness then I have done my job- which is what I think my purpose in life truly is. My name is Christopher, I have HIV, and now when I wake up in the morning, I smile.