October 3 marks 12 years of living with HIV for AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC)'s Director of Government Relations.
A Black man.
A Black gay man.
A Black gay man living with HIV.
I am all of those and greater than the sum of the parts. My intersecting identities. The things that make me who I am and who I want to be. The identities that have shaped my life’s experience, sharpened my vision, and amplified my voice. And dear God, I’m still here.
To be completely honest, I’m astonished that I am here. Because it wasn’t that long ago that I was afraid to look forward in my life. Living my life stuck in neutral. Running away from my own shadow in a dead sprint. Content with hiding my dreams and aspirations from myself and from the light of day. Allowing past traumas, hurt, and failures to uproot any new possibilities before they were planted. But dear God, I’m still here. Comfortable in my own skin and living my truth. Guarding my peace while putting one foot in front of the other.
To be completely transparent, I wasn’t supposed to make it through birth, yet I’m still here. I’ve previously tried to end my own life, yet I’m still here. I’m still here 12 years after being given an AIDS diagnosis and six months to live. Dear God, I’m still here.
This is the first part of an article originally posted on POZ. To read the full story, click here.