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Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Even Harder Coming Out

Happy Pride 2012
Thanks to a dear friend I've been sitting here in one of the first three cities to hold the first gay pride parade, in this city San Francisco it was a referred to a the gay sit in. So thanks Virgil for this trip which inspired this article about Coming out, not once, not twice, but for a third time.

Coming out or coming out of the closet is a gay persons right of passage, their journey, their choice to no longer feel the need to keep their sexuality private.  For me it was on Mt. Katahdin, located in Maine. I was a freshman at Unity College and my lesbian cousin drove up to visit me and she popped the question, she was the first person I told, the year was 1978.

My next coming outs plural was in 1996 when I diagnosed HIV positive and also Bipolar, the first one that hit me the hardest was human immunodeficiency virus infection , HIV.  I felt stained, I myself was unable to reach out for help at first as I was crippled, I stayed indoors for close to two months, minus the treatments I would go for, labs (blood work) to see how weak or how healthy my immune system was. I'm happy to say that thanks to new class of medications I've been healthy, good numbers, but the trauma of all this and the stigma of it all set me back.

You see I was a volunteer in the gay community around AIDS, HIV as a negative gay man.   So I've asked it, and I'm sure others ask it, if I/he volunteered in his community on prevention, on a help line, fundraising for AIDS walks and later AIDS rides, then how did I/he contract the HIV virus, the answer was the other diagnoses of Bipolar-manic depression

All my life I felt different, I felt charged, lots of energy, required little sleep, able to do so many things at once, and then I would crash into a wall and into a deep depression and not knowing why, and not on the medications I'm on today, I was self-medicating  due to psychological trauma that I got addicted to drugs and in that time period I contracted the HIV virus.

This isn't the same journey for everyone but for myself it was mine and I went back to connect all the pieces which brought me to my third and even harder coming out, that being an out spoken Consumer Advocate for both HIV and Mental Illness.  It's my choice, it's easy when writing, when speaking out, but it is very hard do to the double stigma from the very community I've embraced and continue to embrace, my community, the Gay Community.

So yes coming out a third time is the even harder coming out for me and I'm certain for many others living with HIV as today one in five HIV+ person is dealing with depression or like me a mental illness.  I'm the lowest in the hierarchy of the GLBT community, but it's progressing like everything else in the gay community, gay liberation, AIDS/HIV and the very much needed activism that opened the doors for generations down the road like me who are living with HIV/AIDS and today as I write this, 49 GLBT Community Centers offer Mental Health short-term care, support groups, and it's getting better as very soon in Manhattan long term mental health care will be offered, a trend I predict will continue as there is a need.

P2P, you are not alone, me the Bi Polar Bear wishes every one a very Happy Gay Pride.  I can be found wearing my Bi Polar Bear T-shirt (seen on my homepage) tomorrow at the San Francisco Pride Parade/March. 

Additional Resources:

NAMI-GLBT

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

CDC on Mental Health and MSM


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