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Author Topic: Tonight was the night  (Read 2590 times)

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Offline leatherman

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Tonight was the night
« on: November 21, 2013, 01:53:03 AM »
Tonight my ASO held it's annual World AIDS Day event. We always do our program in conjunction with Winthrop University. So we had to hold it early this year because of the late Thanksgiving and end of the semester. We ended up with a good-sized crowd, although it was smaller than the SRO crowds we usually get. This was our 4th annual Video Competition/Film Festival and this year we screened the MTV special "I'm Positive". Afterwards a discussion panel of 3 local PLWHs fielded questions from the moderator and audience about living with hiv. I've always been so proud that my ASO uses WAD, not to hold memorials but to reach out with some type of educational/prevention program.

Yours truly (aka Leatherman aka the ComputerTutor) produced all the video graphics, advertising materials and program. Yours truly was also rather annoyed by the panelists. A bunch of kids (20-somethings, and I have something more to say about this age issue in a minute ;) ), dx'ed farily recently, and blathering on about super-high cd4 counts and not having any OI's or any side effects or any ill-effects at all. :P Bleech!

Really though, I'm just kidding! Best wishes to all for them for being brave tonight by alleviating some silly out-dated fears and by putting forth the real truth about infection - dealing with it or avoiding it all together. I'm just jealous because I wish I had that kind of life story; but on the other hand, I'm really really just glad that none of them did have to experience the crap I went through.

During the planning stages of this event, when the committee discussed just who we needed to have on the panel (in front of mostly college students), even though I offered to speak, in this area of the South we needed younger people, and quite frankly, people of color. Clearly, me (a 50ish gay white guy) wasn't the best spokesperson for the crowd we were playing to. The Panel ended up with 1 early-20s Black MSM, 1 later-20s African-American lady (poz since 15), and 1 early 30s gay white male.

And that's how I ended up with a little bit part in the night. Wedged between the video and the panel discussion, came the "Moment of Reflection" - with the old white gay guy. ROFLMAO

I talked about the difference of having an educational program rather than a memorial. I talked, just a little bit, about how the early days were nothing at all like what we had just seen on the screen or what these panelists were going to say. I talked about all the voices that have been silenced. I demonstrated just how terrible that silence is by holding just a few moments in quiet reflection without a sound from the audience. Creepy - and very sad.

I told them my personal principle/guide/reson-for-living - no one should have to live like I had or like my partners had. I have had all these yrs of sickness, all these medications and side effects, all my friends and all my partners dead. I wouldn't wish this life on anyone. And certainly the fact that my partners were not standing there with me, showed that no one should have to live that kind of life that ends in an early death.

Now I wrote all that just to get to the weird coincidence of the evening. I realized as I worked on my speech that this very night when I was to be speaking to the crowd, this very night twenty-nine yrs earlier (1984 to be exact) was the very night that I first saw my Randy! (across the dance floor dancing to "Baby, I'm a Star" by Prince) It was love at first sight! Admittedly, there was an awful lot of lust that night too! And because I had unprotected sex that night, this is the very night twenty-nine years ago when I was infected with HIV. cue twilight zone music

Oh! My 21st aidsaversary (when I finally manned up, took the test, and was dx'ed with HIV - and also told it "teh AIDS"!) is coming up in just about a month. That diagnosis was the worst Boxing Day (12/26/92) gift ever! :(

Although it all makes me miss Randy and Jim more by thinking about these things (like that wasn't already a daily event), I was just amazed when the pieces fell into place. I mean, I have always been sure that it was Randy who I got the infection from; but I never really thought about the exact when or where. But as I thought about things while writing my speech, some of those older memories stirred up and suddenly the pieces fell together, and 29 yrs later I know who (Randy), when (11/20/84), where (Charlotte NC) and how (wearing nothing but a jockstrap and cowboy boots  8) ).

Thanks for reading to this point, you brave people. :-* LOL This was just too much to put onto Facebook and too many people there wouldn't even get it. I'm sure however that many of you here will understand when I say that it's kind satisfying to finally know exactly when I was infected.  ;)
leatherman (aka mIkIE)

All the stars are flashing high above the sea
and the party is on fire around you and me
We're gonna burn this disco down before the morning comes
- Pet Shop Boys

chart from 1992-2015

Offline hope_for_a_cure

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Re: Tonight was the night
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2013, 04:01:55 AM »
Thanks for all you do Mike.  Your hard work and commitment does not go unappreciated.  No matter what it is that drives you to do all of this, just know you are making a difference here in SC.  You ROCK dude!

Offline Jeff G

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Re: Tonight was the night
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2013, 07:21:43 AM »
Congratulations Mike , good to hear the event was a success . 
HIV 101 - Basics
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Offline mitch777

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Re: Tonight was the night
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2013, 05:05:17 PM »
Congrats Mikie! You are a warrior in this fight. Thank you. :)

33 years hiv+ with a curtsy.

Offline J.R.E.

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  • Posts: 7,539
  • Joined Dec-2003 Living positive, since 1985.
Re: Tonight was the night
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2013, 06:23:48 PM »

Congratulations Mike,   8)  Looks like you had a great and productive night !

Current Meds ; Viramune, Epzicom, 20mg of Atorvastatin, 25 mg of Hydrochlorothiazide.
Amlodipine Besolate 5mg-- Updated 9/24/2017

Diagnosed positive in 1985,.. In October of 2003, My t-cell count was 16, Viral load was over 500,000, Percentage at that time was 5%. I started on  HAART on October 24th, 2003.

 As of 9/18/2017,  Viral load remains <40
CD 4 @358 /  CD4 % @ 13

 65 years young.

Offline emeraldize

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Re: Tonight was the night
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2013, 07:56:20 PM »
It reads as if a enlightening night for all.

Isn't it interesting to put clues together late in your life?

And especially when it is about your life?

Offline leatherman

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Re: Tonight was the night
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2013, 01:08:53 PM »
Isn't it interesting to put clues together late in your life?
I'm actually very fortunate to have lived long enough now (52 is coming up in Mar and I still haven't gotten my welcome-to-50-here's-your-colonoscopy LOL) that I keep seeing these "coincidences" in my life.

I'm now back to being Southerner, now that I've lived a few years longer in the Carolinas than I lived in OH; but when I moved back home I had spent half my life in NC and half my life in OH. Twenty yrs to the date of when  I was on the steps of the Cleveland Cty Courthouse advocating for HIV meds, I was on the steps of the SC State House advocating for access to HIV meds. My partners were both born in July and both died in May nearly 14 yrs to the date apart and at exactly the same time of day 5:55am. During the "aidsy" portion of my life, every birthday that I went home from OH to NC, I was fine. Every year I didn't plan on the trip, I ended up in the hospital on my b'day possibly dying from PCP. The first health fair booth I set up and manned for my ASO was for the Strawberry Festival - which oddly enough was the 2 yr anniversary of Jim's death. The first volunteer of the yr award I got was on the 17th anniversary of Randy's death. And now this 29-yr gap between speaking at a WAD about being infected on the same day I was infected in the past.

I tell you what, life is pretty danged amazing and interesting - especially since I didn't die back when I was only 32. ;) ;D
leatherman (aka mIkIE)

All the stars are flashing high above the sea
and the party is on fire around you and me
We're gonna burn this disco down before the morning comes
- Pet Shop Boys

chart from 1992-2015

Offline Snowangel

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Re: Tonight was the night
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2013, 03:54:59 PM »
It sure is.  Great story, Leatherman!
Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important

The heaviest thing you can carry is a grudge..

One thing you can give and still keep...is your word.

One thing you can't recycle is wasted time.


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