In the 1990s, my father discovered he was HIV positive and had unintentionally infected my mother. This is the first time I’ve ever written about this.
My dad didn’t want the news to get out about his HIV status because of the stigma at the time. He and my mom kept it a secret, even from me. It wasn’t until my mother was suffering complications from the infection six months before her death on Mother’s Day in 1999, that I would come to learn what had happened.
It broke my heart. My dad was devastated, because not only did he have that reality to live with, he outlived her by another five years.
I wish my parents had survived to see a day when the stigma of getting infected with HIV was diminished. It’s much easier now because of today’s antiretroviral drugs, especially for people who once had to suffer a stigma for catching such a disease. That’s why my father struggled with admitting that he was bisexual. While we didn’t always see eye to eye, I felt horrible that he couldn’t be himself.
June is a month when I’m celebrated as a father by four beautiful, grown children. It’s also Pride month, a time I celebrate with my daughter Abigail, who is queer. And I’m grateful for how much she is aware of her grandparents’ story.
City & State’s latest issue marks the breakthrough in LGBTQ rights made by the repeal of the “walking while trans” law. It means so much for a new generation. Hopefully it also gives peace to those who aren’t with us anymore to know that we’ve come this far.
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