by: Joe Varisco
About a month ago I found out that I am HIV positive.
Adaptation, embrace change. I found that in speaking this news I was liberated and empowered from the stress and paranoia of imagining what it might be to hide a status. I honor that this is a privilege afforded to me by many factors:
I am surrounded by a brilliant community, family and friends some of which now join me in this next chapter of health and medical education. I have access to some of the top medical care in the country via Howard Brown. I have a partner who is brilliant, strong and wonderful and a sister who keeps me firmly rooted and safe.
The other night I was with my bio-fam and announced this change in my life to them. This was one of my greatest fears. I worried about children being pulled away and angry father/weeping mother, but I was so sorely mistaken. My news was met with surprising kindness and patience. So often I forget. They remind me.
They remind me why I see the world the way I do. The potential of community. The power of surrendering. Surrendering to a lack of understanding and to the reality of privilege. They remind me of the sacred. They remind me of bodies in a space wanting to thrive, to love, to be safe, to dream and make mistakes and disentangle the way the world views us so we can see ourselves the way we want to, need to, love to.
They remind me of the silence that we hold for each other when we cannot speak, do not know how to speak, can speak no more and the beauty that lives there. They remind me of how our bodies map out our pain, remember it, emboldened on our bones so that we do not need to summon it everyday. It will be there to remind us of who we are, what we’ve lost and why we fight.
I have made mistakes. I have lost and neglected people, places, projects, etc. I know forgiveness. It is a daily practice to ourselves, for ourselves. We will heal together.
I hold this perspective in knowing that it is not the only way to see. I hold it because that is what calls to me. I honor what others see, how I cannot see. We make one another stronger for this. We are not alone anymore. Now lets make sure others know that too.
Reach out. Build relationships. Take risks and educate. Hold people accountable at home, in the office, at the bar, in public spaces. Hold people.
I will try harder. I will be better. I will remember.