“A Day in the Life” the stage play was born out of a relationship I had in 1999. He learned that he was HIV positive two months after we met…
It was October 1, 1999 to be exact. I’ll never forget because that day also marks my youngest nephew’s birthday. I met him at a time when I was still pretty green about dating (men); nevertheless, my boundaries were set. I was firm with “rules” I lived by. Quite often I spoke in absolutes detailing what I would “never” do and what I “always” did. One of the things I said I would never do was date someone HIV positive. Today, I make every attempt not to speak using absolutes because the very things we say we'll never do we find ourselves wondering "how" or "why" it happened.
I had an idea of what I thought the “life” and being gay were before I actually submerged myself in it. I was clear that I wasn’t interested in just sex or love triangles. He, on the other hand, was pretty seasoned & seemed pretty fearless in the stories he told about his past. Obstensibly he remembered with delight as he recounted the "fun" he had participating in threesomes, sex parties or weekends in some city park, but behind that smile was shame. In that moment, right before my eyes, it was as if it dawned on him the cause & effect of his choices. His past had finally caught up with him. If I knew then to tell him "happiness doesn't just happen, it's a series of good decisions," I would have.
I remember him telling me, “I think all of us know [gay men] it’s gonna happen sooner or later…” I didn’t agree then, and I still don’t today. I’ve never imagined HIV as a part of my own reality.
That December, I flew home to Maryland for Christmas. I was originally going to stay for three days, but decided to stay a week because I needed to escape this new world I had found in Atlanta that I was having difficulty adjusting to. When I arrived in Maryland, I remember my mom asking why I looked so skinny. She had no idea that I had lost a good deal of sleep & my appetite was practically gone for fearing the worst for him. She had no idea of my new life or the battles I was facing in Atlanta, and I definitely wasn’t about to tell her; at least not yet.
When I returned to Atlanta, after the holidays, I was rejuvenated and equipped with a clear head about what I was dealing with. I was adamant about making it work & he was just as adamant about ending it. I had shed the person that was deteremined to “never” date someone HIV positive for a newer, optimistic version of me. I attended HIV/AIDS workshops whenever I could to learn the dos & don’ts with someone living with the virus. The more I learned, the more he pulled away. I had no idea the information I gathered at those workshops would be the backdrop for "A Day in the Life". He confessed on one occasion that he wasn’t going to tell me (initially) that he was HIV positive because there was no need to; we hadn’t been active. He went on to say, “I love you more than I love myself…I want you to find someone that isn’t sick…I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if you came home one day to tell me that I gave it to you.” He made the decision to walk away & never look back at that relationship. To this day, it's one of the most selfless things anyone has ever done for me...
He died January 2007.
I wrote “A Day in the Life” to celebrate his life & legacy, but also for every boy, girl, man, or woman that’s ever apologized for who they are because they struggle to understand what they’re feeling. This story & blog are dedicated to every young boy in small, rural cities that has few or no examples of progressive gay men, as well as those in a mental war with themselves. Lastly, it's for every brother that mistakenly believes HIV is part & parcel of being gay.“A Day in the Life” belongs to you.
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