“I was living in Houston after dropping out of grad-school and I was very depressed. My life was not going in the direction I wanted. I was not going to make it to NY, a place I felt like I could be myself for the first time. I had asked for help from my family, but they just couldn’t provide what I was asking for. Finally, I arrived at the conclusion that I needed to toughen myself up and explore my dark side. I secretly began a very private spiral of destruction with alcohol, drugs, and sex. When I would get off work, instead of going to a bar, I would pick up a small bag of cocaine, a six-pack and a pack of cigarettes. I guess I was trying to satiate something as I repeated this ritual every night. I would get online and see if there were any guys close by to keep me company. One morning, I awoke to a stranger in my bed. My head ached. He slid off the bed and started to get dressed. I got up and asked him to show me his arms. No track marks. Something didn’t feel right though. I oddly walked him to the door to see him out.
I tested positive in 2013 and moved to NY! I was presented with a life or death decision: Do I live or do I continue to slowly kill myself and let this disease take me? Ultimately I arrived at the decision to live in spite of the disease. I had told myself a long time ago that I would contribute to the war on HIV/AIDS regardless of my status. It took a car accident to get me here, but now I’m a client at GMHC and I work as an intern for AIDS Walk NY. I am seeing a counselor, a psychiatrist, a doctor, and a nutritionist. My coke addiction was short-lived but I still see a group for that. I currently take Odefsey.
I was terrified of having sex with anyone who wasn’t positive and causing their seroconversion, but also of being rejected by my family and even other gay men. Some gay men still reject me and I haven’t told my family, but I can put it out of my head and meet other guys who understand or are going through something similar. I’m starting to re-emerge and be part of things again. I try to be honest about what I’ve been through. Maybe others can learn from it.”
Rowdy, 32, undetectable. Brooklyn, NY. Office Support Intern