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Sonny's Blues

The other night I was paging through a short story, "Sonny's Blues," written by the renowned African American writer, James Baldwin. In the Story, Sonny tries to identify with his drug addict, dark, underachieving brother. The irony of the story is that during Sonny's immersion into his brother's dark world, he comes to the realization that all along, he too had been in the dark; understanding his brother brought Sonny out of his own darkness and into the light...
Then there is my darkness.

I first learned of my HIV positive status two years ago at a free clinic. I was 21 years old. Uninsured and ill, I dreaded hearing the HIV counselor reveal my test results. I felt utterly helpless and angered at life; I felt completely alone and black, as if I too were in the dark.

My CD4's were slightly above 300, but at the time I could give a damn, given my complete ignorance of the diesease. Surreptitiously, I took my partners medications without a doctor's prescription. By the time I was able to get insured my body had favored the medication and it reflected in my second test results. Unaware of my taking the prescritption cocktail, the doctor's were in awe and in a state of chaos wondering how I could be positive with such pecular lab results. They thought I had HIV II and were ready to treat me as such.

By that time I had to tell them the truth, which I subsequently did. After a scolding I was given my own treatment and went home that night and pondered my new identity as an homosexual Latino with HIV.

I found it arduous to identify as a man with a chronic diesease. Here I was completely healthy looking, attractive, muscular and young, in college embarking on what I thought would be a LONG life. For a brief time I tried hiding who I was by living a solitary life. I stuck my nose in the books only to look up when I felt no one was around to stare at me. I became depressed and wanted God to take me away. I had convinced myself that I was ugly, dieseased and unworthy of anyones touch, let alone aknowledgement.

I also had to deal with my hang ups about my culture. My Mexican family doesn't fair well with my homosexuality. My Machismo father, who once held me in high regard, sees me now as something to be hidden. He refused to come to grips with who I really am. His idea of a homosexual is, in his words, "a man who wants to wear a dress and take it up the ass". We havn't spoken in quite some time. What's more, I wonder what will happen when I do become terminally ill. Will I be alone? Will my family be afraid to hold my hand or kiss me on the forehead like they used to do when I was a boy. On the brink of suicide I had to reevaluate myself.

...then one day my perspective changed. I was watching a television program about a man who was HIV positive who had only 32 cells left. His name was Pedro Zamora. He traveled the country discussing his life, his diesease. During that time he even had a lover with whom he found happiness. Although Pedro died, he LIVED! Watching Pedro, I wanted to learn of his "dark" world and sympathize with him, but in the end I learned that I needed the light to shine on my own darkness. I started by wanting to live.

Presently my CD4 count is at 500 and my viral load is undetectable. I eat well and exercise religously. Although there are times in which I am sick, fatigued and even afraid, I don't back down. I have hopes of living life to its fullest and sheding some of my light to others who are in need of it. Maybe one day I'll become a writer!
Baldwin's story really allowed me to grasp the notion that every person goes through heartwrenching trials and tribulations . Some are great, many are small; however, we all have experienced or lived in dark places in which we had to reconcile with our inner turmoil and decide if we wanted to end up a VOID, like black holes, which nobody can see but can feel its wrath when surrounded by it; or to be the beacon that illuminates the night time sky with direction and promise for those who need a place to go.
I chose the latter


Sent via email June 23, 2002, California, USA.

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