Coming Out Positive: West Valley Looks at Living With HIV
By Avi Vieira
West Valley one•n•ten was caught between a celebration and a more somber reflection this week as it recognized both National Coming Out Day and HIV/AIDS Awareness Month. The evening kicked off with the group sharing when they first came out – be it to a friend, relative, or to themselves; and share how old they were. The ages ranged from 11, to 16 for the majority of the group, and tended to skew a little older for the volunteers. As the topic of coming out was discussed, the group learned the different ways one can come out: as bisexual, then gay; as transgender; or as having HIV. Much like coming out as LGBT, the anxiety, depression, rejection, stigma, and loneliness faced by those with HIV is just as agonizing.
The group was joined by two very special guest volunteers who shared personal stories and experiences of living with HIV such as the impact that it has had on them personally from diet restrictions, managing medication and its side effects, travel considerations, the impact their status has on family, and friendships as the right timing was worked out when to tell certain people. The evening ended with the group once again put to work creating HIV/AIDS awareness ribbons for the upcoming Phoenix AIDS walk on October 21st. A veritable mountain of ribbons was produced in short order, giving the youth something tangible to hold and remind them of the stories they heard; and remind them of the continued fight against HIV and AIDS.
*In other news: one•n•ten West Valley is changing its time and location: Starting October 16th, the group will be meeting on Tuesday nights, and starting October 23rd will be at a new location at 8607 N 59th Ave Suite #3A in Glendale. If you know any LGBTQ youth in the West Valley who may be interested, pass along this info.