It shouldn’t be like this
My HIV prevention advocacy started along the time that I was coming to terms with my sexuality. In 1994, while awaiting the results of my Nursing licensure exams, I answered the call of an NGO for volunteer telephone counselors to staff its telephone counseling service. Prior to this, I had no gay friends–only gay neighbors and gay classmates. Within this organization, I formed friendships with other gay men for the first time.
One can say that my self-awareness developed at the same time that I developed as an AIDS advocate. In the last 18 years, I would have jobs outside of my advocacy (such as a writer for television, editorial assistant for a newspaper, and book editor, etc) but I would always return to my civil society/ development work.
Currently, I am trying to start anew my writing career, but I feel no need to leave my advocacy behind. Especially now, when the HIV/AIDS epidemic is growing in certain population groups in the Philippines.
Fortunately for me, my homosexuality was not a big issue to my family. Of course, it took them quite a while to come to terms with it; but none of them ever gave me a hard time. No threat of bodily harm came to me; not even verbal abuse. Unfortunately, this is not the norm for many gay men.
As this infograph says, it shouldn’t be like this, but for many gay men, this is their reality. What can we do to change this? There is so much work to be done, as individuals and as a community to call and advocate for structural, behavioral, and attitudinal changes that will reverse this situation. Are we ready?