a year ago, there was this one thing i couldn't really write about, amidst all the entries i have posted before, where i bravely brought my insights, as well as some experiences, when it comes to love, sex, homosexuality, incest, illicit relationships, social deviances and even some of my radical political leanings (even though, i know that not all readers will agree or at least understand it); and that topic was all about HIV.
see, i may not be as sexually active as most people of my generation. but i am still scared (for the lack of better term) of that tiny and sheer possibility of still getting it.
but someone once told me that fear actually comes from the lack of understanding. we fear about something because we either don't know what it really is or we don't do anything to at least make ourselves be aware of it. but whats actually worst is that, most of the time, because of this fear, we (conscoiusly or unconsciously) create prejudices and discrimination against other people. and we only have our ignorance to be blamed.
so just recently, i have finally pulled all the guts i have to face it.
surprisingly, i have realized, that courage is not actually about conditioning ourselves to be brave, it is simply making ourselves be aware and open minded, in order to overcome that fear.
so i have i thought of posting this video that really moved and made me cry last night. a video, which i believe is worthier than any video that either tells my song of the week, my love life status or even my current mood.
so please, spare a moment of your time for this. who knows, you might find your own understanding and courage from it too.
(i even transcribed the video for those who have internet connections slower than molasses... hahaha. just kidding!)
This is a story of a 25-year old woman from the Philippines, who discovered a world of compassion, acceptance and commitment upon falling in love with a man with HIV.
The following images and outsourced video clips you are about to see are used to protect their identity.
Voice Over (Girl):
Every girl has a dream wedding, where its a perfect day.
She'll have her perfect dress and marry the perfect man. And in front of family and friends, make a vow to love each other; for better, for worst; for richer, for poorer;
in sickness and in health.
I'm Reese 25 years old from Cebu. 2 years ago, I would have been your regular girl next door; carefree and naive, with typical hopes and simple dreams. But all that changed when i went to Australia to pursue further studies.
I just think to a new place was pretty hard for me at first. Aside from the relatives, i was staying with, i didn't really know anyone else. No friends at all. So i ventured into chatting and thats where i met Brian.
We were both into anime, liked the same shows, loved the same bands. The connection was just undeniably strong from the very beginning. And getting to know more about each other, quickly grew to liking more about each other.
Two months later, we were inlove. We started talking about the future one day. Then his past suddenly became a concern to me.
He's always been open about everything. So I knew about how he have been with a lot of girls and stuffs like that. And we were also learning about STDs in school at the time. So I just asked him bluntly, have you ever got tested for a STD. He said, he have been cleared four years ago. But I still encouraged him to take the test again.
...came week later, and everything came out negative. But shortly after, he received a call from the clinic asking him to take another test. They said he might have HIV.
I was dumbfounded. I was shocked. I was everything. I didn't even know how to react or what to say. All i knew was that i already love this man. And was willing to fight this so called disease with him. So i looked it up and got as much as information as I could and taught myself about it.
The final test came back positive.
It was July and I called my mom and she cried with me. But she never spoke ill about it or about Brian. She didn't tell me to leave him, to find someone else or something like that. She was thinking in a way like, what if Brian was my son? How would i feel? What if my son had HIV and people would shun him? Or think bad things about him?
My other relatives on the other hand, reacted badly about it. They would call my parents and asked why they weren't doing anything to stop our relationship. They said it was suicide and that I was stupid for still being with him.
My friends had mixed feelings. They weren't totally against Brian. They were just concerned about the risks involved. About me, possibly getting HIV as well.
As for Brian's side, only his mom, sister and two friends were told about it. They don't want anyone else to know and they deal with it differently. By pretending its not there. Thats there way of coping, I guess.
So in a way, we were forced to hide Brian's HIV status. My family was really the only support system he had.
Its scary how people are so misinformed and so quick to judge. They don't know that its not a death sentence. And they forget that those with HIV are still people. People who get hurt. People who can still love and be love.
I remember hearing mass with Brian one Sunday. and the gospel was about Jesus and the leper. About how lepers were atleast stigmatized and isolated from society. But Jesus still have so much love and compassion for them.
I started crying. I cried so hard. Somehow it touched me and I knew then we have God in our side, that He'd give us strength through it all.
Three months later, another surprise. Brian and I were strolling down a beach in Sydney. Then with a mood ring in hand, he asked me to marry him. I couldn't believe he took my fascination for mood ring seriously.
Though as sweet as it was, I didn't really have an answer. i wasn't sure if i was ready.
I have been single all my life and everythings always been just about me. So I spent my last three months in Autsralia with Brian and his family. And then those few blissful months, I found myself wanting and hoping to just be there for him; to be strong for him; to help him get better; to always find a way to make things good for him. My life was no longer just about me, that's when I realized that I was already committed to this wonderful man and was ready to share the rest of my life with him.
Shortly before coming back to the Philippines, Brian brought me back to the same beach, and proposed once again. This time he had a diamond ring and I had definite answer.
When we consulted doctors about having children, we were told that as long as he takes his meds, we can still have a healthy baby. There are ways and we can even do it the natural way.
YES! we can do it. With some precautions here and there, we can still do it. So we really are just like any other couple, but with three additional letters that have changed as both, for the better.
I was very much still like a child before all this happened, with no goals and responsibilities in life. Now, I'm like a straight arrow with Brian's well being as my target. He inspires me and makes my life more meaningful.
As for Brian, he now has a healthier lifestyle, his vices are gone and he's gone back to the Lord.
I have always seen him as a fighter. But now he is stronger and a whole lot more positive than ever. So life is great. I love my fiancee and will be his coach, team mate and cheerleader in his fight against HIV.
Every girl has a dream wedding and i'll have mine this December.
It doesn't have to be a perfect day and I don't need a perfect dress. 'Cause I will have Brian, my perfect man. And in front of family and friends. Some naive, some understanding. We'll make a vow to love each other. For better, for worst; for richer for poorer; in sickness in health, as long as it we both shall live.
Brian and Reese are set to tie the knot this December 08. 2009 in Australia.