I don’t think I ever really had to come out of the closet. I mean yeah, for the first year in college I never really talked about it with my friends, but they all kinda knew and it wasn’t a big deal when I finally acknowledged it. I sorta came out to my Mom once by telling her I thought I was going to have a boyfriend soon, and she said it was fine as long as it didn’t affect my work. No shock or surprises. Clearly, I’m not used to coming out, cuz I’ve never really had to. People just knew. So it was a brand new experience having to come out and tell people that I have HIV.
The first people to know, aside from Red and his closest ex-bf, were my college friends, Pearl and Daisy, and my closest friend here in the city, Joy. I had told the 3 of them a few days before I even took my HIV test. I think I told Joy just before Red got his 2nd HIV test results, and I told Pearl and Daisy the weekend before I got mine. Pearl was really sweet. Like I mentioned in a previous post, she actually volunteered to come fly to where I live and be with me for the test. Daisy was the more emotional one and we cried over the phone when I was telling her the news. She was still a bit of denial and was hoping that the test was a false-positive, but through my tears I was telling her I’m really sorry Dear but it’s impossible for me to be negative if Red is positive, and I’m really sorry that I had to bring them this kind of pain. She said what are you talking about, it’s not your fault and I love you no matter what. We managed to laugh afterwards about how much we were crying considering that Pearl is usually the one who tears up real quick over emotional news and yet this time she was the strong one.
Joy was very supportive too but was also in a bit of denial at first. Like Daisy, she was also really hoping that the test was a false-positive. She said that it only struck her that I really did have HIV after I started talking about the CD4 and viral load tests that I would have to go through and while I was talking about all the things I had researched about HIV. She started tearing up and asked if I was planning to tell anyone else soon because she needed to talk with someone about my news. I said oops sorry I assumed that you would have already told your husband which I’m fine with, but yes you can talk with Michelle, Divine and Soxie, who by that point I had already also told.
Michelle, Divine and Soxie were among my closest friends from my last company, and though I really didn’t want to have to tell people over the phone or through text that I had HIV, I thought that this time the news was too important to delay especially for people as important to me as them. Michelle actually told me during my last trip to Manila that she had had a premonition that Red would get me sick, and I really thought that she was talking about the time when Red caught pneumonia. It took her a while to adjust to the news, and she still doesn’t like me talking about death. She asked me one time to tell our other close friends as soon as possible because she thought the news couldn’t wait and I replied by saying that it’s OK it can wait because I have no plans of dying anytime soon. She snapped back by saying fuck you no talking about death, you can’t die until I get my dream wedding and that’s not happening anytime soon so no dying you fucker. Hehehe. Divine was more calm and said I should tell our other friend Soxie because his ex-bf was an HIV counselor now. I talked to Soxie soon after and he was very supportive, even though he wondered why of all the times I could have chosen to tell him why did I have to tell him while he was listening to Amy Winehouse. Haha.
Among the other people I told was Freedom, my friend who lived with me in Country X. I wanted to tell him as soon as possible because before I found out that ARVs are free in the Philippines, I knew that they were much cheaper to buy in Country X, and I needed Freedom to get me the cheaper meds if I needed to start taking meds. He was so shocked by my news that he said he was literally shaking. He couldn’t sleep that day and had to miss work just to recover. The day after I told him he called me and said OK, are you gonna take back the joke now? Are you gonna tell me you’re not really positive? Hehe I laughed, sorry sweetie but I really am. He said OK so as soon as I get back to the Philippines I’m going to hug you and then slap you in the face for sleeping with Rameses (my ex-bf from Country X) bareback. Then we talked for a bit and I was laughing at some of Freedom’s questions. He said that during the time that they went swimming with Rameses do I think it was possible that Rameses spread HIV in the pool water and got him infected and I was like uhm no Dear that wouldn’t have been possible. I mean, Freedom is one of the smartest people I know but I guess knowing one of your close friends has HIV is enough to freak anyone out, so I totally understood where he was coming from. Plus he hadn’t had much sleep before we talked hehehe.
People’s reactions have been varied. Like it probably is for people when they come out as gay, coming out as HIV+ is emotional during the first few times you do it, and then eventually it becomes less of a big deal and people accept as just another thing about you that you’re opening up to them. I have yet to tell anyone from my family. That will definitely be a much more emotional experience, and I plan to tell them the next time I’m in Manila which will hopefully be soon. I’m planning to tell my sister first, my cousin next, brother after, then my Mom and Dad. I’m not too worried about my family rejecting me because I know that they won’t, but I am worried about how hurt they will be. In fact, the day after I found out I was HIV+, the reason I had to take a day off work was because I had an emotional breakdown just imagining what it would be like to tell my Mom. Still, the process of telling my friends has somewhat allowed me to prepare mentally to tell my family, so I’m not as scared of doing that as I was 2 weeks ago.
My hope is that eventually I can tell anyone and everyone without being afraid of what they think of me, because in the end what they think of me is of little importance. What’s more important is that the word gets spread that everyone truly needs to take better care of themselves, and that includes protecting themselves and their loved ones from HIV. I’ll end this entry by shocking you and letting you know that even before I’ve told my family that I have HIV, I’ve actually already told my bosses at work. That’s a story for another entry though, and I’ll hopefully be able to tell that story by either tonight or tomorrow when the weekend officially starts.
Take care, everyone. Stay safe.