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Dubbed by a certain writer for a certain LGBT-portal as a “spokesperson” I have to quickly point out that:
1. I have never claimed to be a spokesperson for the topic of HIV, I’m merely another person sharing my life experiences semi-anonymously (I find that the reception to actual people with a face – or whatever’s not obscured – relating their experiences is greater than an organisation or faceless individuals behind pseudonyms).
2. I’m not ready, or even looking to become the next Paddy Chew – I ain’t nearly as selfless or “brave”.
I got a call from a friend this morning telling me, not only was I on the said LGBT-portal, my face was on it as a “click me” link as well. The writer had actually approached me for an interview, which I had declined. He said he would mention my work in his write-up. This however, feels more than a mention, as I’m the opening image to the story. It really brings to mind the 2010 reporter who went “fuck you, I got my story” on me… and people wonder why I refuse to do interviews and hold reporters with distrust, and instead speak on my own accord?
Make no mistake, I am wholly comfortable with my diagnosis, but while I have come to fully accept the disease I live with, not everyone echoes my stance. Such reckless reporting does not consider the implications with the individuals concerned, such as my current occupation’s reaction to such news if it were picked up by mainstream press. Also, I am a staunch believer in coming out at your own time. I fully believe that a HIV diagnosis, is a second “coming-out” for most gay men, and my stand on the issue is similar to the first closet you walk out from; it should be done at your own time. If you have to be dragged out of there, then chances are you’re going to find yourself sneaking into another recluse.
While I am keen on spreading hope, truth and humor as I’ve stated in my Twitter profile, I want to do it my way, at my time. This is exactly why I chose to write for an online-publication an entire continent away, and not one local or even regional. I thank everyone for the kind words and mentions saying how “brave” I am, but truth is, bravery and foolishness tread a thin line. I am not ready to come out of this second closet in full battle armor to take on a majority of people still mis-educated and holding dated and downright false notions about my disease. One step at a time, no point coming out now, in full battle-gear, to a fight I’ll probably lose today.
For now, my profile and all pictures have been removed, and I have requested for it to be pulled from the publishing site, and from my editor at the publication I write for. As I said.. dragging someone out of the closet can get them running back in. How’s that going to help a local community, already in need of activists?
Fridae editors has refused to withdraw the incriminating pictures which reveal my real name and profile photo the writer dug up from a Canadian HIV+ publication I write for, after explicitly stating my wish that it be removed, and having my editor write to Fridae to remove the screenshot (it was a screenshot of my profile from the site). The author has also responded, saying that this wouldn’t have happened if I agreed to speak and be interviewed by him. Also, my friend who did agree to the interview said he was not sent a copy to be vetted (as was previously agreed) since he would have objected to such identity-compromising information being published. Empowering Asia? I really think not.
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