I lived in a prominent southern city. I had a beautiful home with lavish surroundings. I shopped at the best stores. I drove an expensive automobile. I took interesting vacations. I had two dogs and two cats. I loved my family. I worked hard. I was a good, honest and generous human being. I had it all or so it seemed ….
Over the course of a year, I was tortured on a daily basis by my employer. My privacy was invaded. My life was corrupted. I was victimized with the stigma, discrimination and oppression of being a gay man living with HIV. My employment was eventually terminated. I never thought people could be so cruel. They put me through hell and got away with it. I was hurt and confused. I was full of anger and I wanted revenge. I cried everyday. I was terribly depressed. I even contemplated not being here anymore ….
Eighteen months later, I was bankrupt, uninsured and moving home to Kentucky. I now live with my parents. I am dependent on them for the most basic of needs. They live on a fixed retirement and social security. They, too, have been deeply hurt. Watching your parents cry and worry is more painful than anything you can ever imagine. They deserve better ….
I receive my medical care from the WINGS clinic at the University of Louisville. The clinic operates on limited monies from the federal Ryan White Care Act. The clinic staff is devoted to caring for people living with HIV and AIDS. They have always been professional, supportive and kind to me. I thank them for that ….
I cannot find comparable employment. I am 46 years old. I am well educated. I do not want to be a burden to my family, my state or my country. Life is tough and living with this illness only adds to the complexity. Many have lost their battle. They are still dying. Some still fight to survive. You see, I have been fighting this battle for over 20 years. I am one of the lucky ones. I am still alive ….
I am begging our elected political officials, religious leaders, corporate executives, neighbors, friends and family to continue to support legislation to increase funding for the federal Ryan White Care Act, especially for impoverished states like mine. We need your help, right here in the United States, now more than ever before. Help stop the spread of the disease, the human suffering, the dying and the discrimination ….
This I Believe …. Those with power will be judged by God on whether they choose to do great harm or they choose to do great good ….
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