My HIV Story: I became a Supplier of Illegal Narcotics
How I contracted HIV is a very easy question to answer: I just didn’t care about my well being.
How it affected my life is a bit more complex… I was living in West Hollywood when I received the news that I was HIV+. For three years, I wrestled with the fact that I’d more or less chosen death over life.
This manifested itself in not one, but two, raging and seemingly uncontrollable addictions that were already in the works when I found out I was HIV+: crystal meth and sex. Upon learning my diagnosis, I plunged even deeper into that world, even going so far as to become a supplier of illegal narcotics, AKA a drug dealer, to facilitate these addictions because, for all intents and purposes, and to repeat myself, I just didn’t care about living. Like I said, I was already in that specific frame of mind (partying with meth, having unprotected sex) when I contracted HIV — it was very easy to just give in to what was more or less a slow suicide, Of course, what was really going on during the period of my life was that I was assuaging the immense pain I felt at having contracted the HIV virus.
See, growing up a gay teenager in the 90s came with the deep-seeded misnomer than HIV diagnosis equated death. Once I got over that, it took me about four years, a move clear across the country (Los Angeles to Brooklyn), and an end to using crystal meth (something I was able to do without the aid of NA, psychotherapy, family support or rehab) to come to terms with the idea that by becoming HIV+, I had failed not only myself, but the gay community at large, Also, I was now a statistic. It was this understanding that led me to not want to be just a statistic. In other words, I had to find myself again — and I did so through writing.
For two years, I completely immersed myself in the therapeutic healing powers of the written word. It was during this process I realized I wanted to be someone who did more than write to heal himself, I wanted to write to heal the world. What were my issues that others might identify with? What hurdles had I overcome that other humans might need help in getting over? How could my existence and perspective change the world? Well, you can only heal the world if the world is tuned in to your healing, and what bigger platform is there than the film and television industry?
So, I put the pity party on hold and went back to college in the midwest, where I worked hard and completed my undergrad degree in two years. I also saved money and juggled multiple jobs (there were ten over the course of two years) so that I could arrive back here, In LA, and give myself a second chance. A second life in when I successfully manage life and work toward a career in film and tv, which, in my book, includes a graduate degree in screenwriting.
And that’s how an unstoppable pathogen known as HIV pushed me to become unstoppable, too.
What I wish those living without HIV knew about the disease, what I wish we all knew, what I wish I knew when I contracted it initially: living with HIV is not a death sentence. That’s why you often hear, “Living with HIV.”