"The first time I had sex with HIV" – Aire de Santa Fe



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The first time Nathaniel Hall had sex, he contracted the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). He was 16 and recently declared himself gay.


Fear, shame and self-hatred have kept his diagnosis hidden from his family for the next 14 years.

Last year he "came out of the closet" for the second time in his life and wrote a play about his What is growing up as gay and seropositive.

Nathaniel, 32, of Manchester, expects this one-man show to stimulate a conversation about depictions of HIV in popular culture.

Tell me how it was to know that I had the virus when I was still a child.

The "summer romance" with an older man

I knew he was gay when he was between 13 and 14 years old.

Nathaniel Hall playing the piano
"He told me he had been tested and that his health was good … At 16 you really do not have the ability to challenge that."

2003 was a very different time than today. Not even (to say that) was an option at school. Everything was secret … It was very difficult to find out who else was gay.

And then this man came into my life. I was 16 years old, he was older than metwenty years.

Suddenly, this older gay guy paid attention to me and This made me feel validated, approvedIt was very intoxicating. Then we began to see each other.

This relationship did not last long, actually. just a few months.

It all happened in the summer, in the transition between high school and college, a summer romance, so to speak. Then we take separate paths.

I was diagnosed with HIV and when I told him I received messages from his friends, who were older than me, telling me that I was just a silly boy, I was making it up and things worse than that.

What I really wanted was that the test be done and that he received the necessary treatment so that he would not pass it on to another person because most infections come from patients who do not know they have the virus.

But I never knew if he really knew. He told me that he had been tested and that his health was good … At 16 you really do not have the ability to challenge that.

"As if I had hit a bus"

I had just turned 17 when I received the diagnosis.

NATHANIEL HALLNathaniel when I was a teenager and a more recent photo

I remember that the clinic staff was very kind to me and I really do not remember much more besides receiving the news.

So I remember going home and feeling like I had to make a decision.

And I did it quickly, the decision was: to enter my room and close the door and Do not tell me what was happening to me..

I felt like I had been hit by a bus because when I try to evoke it, I feel a physical sensation of being rolled with enough force.

I remember crying. What they told me was very different from what they say today in the same situation.

Certainly, we were not at the time when the AIDS epidemic began, there were remedies available and they were good and improving.

But they told me that. the prognosis was close in 37 years old. So in fact, having that number in mind was very difficult to digest.

I received psychological counseling from my university, I felt supported and I thought everything was fine until at the end of last year I had a small crisis.

"I think the shame has controlled me"

I think shame is the best thing. It is really the only disease that is endorsed with a moral judgment and to some extent to which we adhere to our own judgment of value.

I was gay and one grows in a heterosexual world. You hear that you are morally wrong or that what you do is dirty and that's why you should be ashamed. And I was becoming very aware of that.

Then you hear warnings like this "Gos be punished"

It was as if, at that moment, these prophecies were fulfilled and this caused me a very overwhelming feeling.

To the point that I got the feeling of shame.

Read more Every 5 hours a person dies of HIV in Argentina

I remember when I was in school, the only example of a gay relationship we had on sex education was a video in which a gay man was dying of AIDS.

It was a completely outdated class, and so those messages I got as secondary or what I was doing were wrong and immoral or whatever, they did not come from my family, but they came of all places.

They sank with time, and suddenly I became this stereotype.

So I guess the shame really controlled me.

"I did not recognize myself"

I think the key moment was when, after a party, I was not sleeping for two days.

NATHANIEL HALL

At that moment, I realized that drugs and alcohol … not necessarily that they had taken over my life, but I had abused them in a way that did me no good.

No way was it a heavy addiction or something, but I was self-medicating with alcohol.

I was just trying to Get Rid Of The Anxiety And Stress Of Bintensitywhich has accumulated over the years.

I realized that if I did not do something about it, it could become a serious and real problem.

Something had to change.

I needed to tell my family. I had tried many, many times before, but it never happened and never left to tell me.

So I began the journey of doing the play. I started to write and to understand things by writing.

So I decided to write a letter to my parents and my siblings..

It took me one afternoon to write down everything I wanted to tell. I told myself that I did not need to send, that I needed to write and see how I felt.

NATHANIEL HALLNathaniel received dozens of messages of support after the premiere of the work.

But after doing this, I felt quite calm. So I just slipped them into envelopes right away and sent them out before I could change my mind.

I did so because many times before I had tried to tell him and never succeeded.

And I also thought that doing this four times in a row would cause me a strong emotional impact.

To be honest, the answer did not impress me.

It was, a bit, the same as many gays feel before they leave the closet. This fear of what could happen, but they all texted me and they called me and they were completely quiet.

They only regretted that I felt I had to keep it a secret for so long.

My mother came the next day and we talked.

My big concern was that they were upset because I had not told them and because I hid something so important.

But my mother said, "I'm upset because my son was struggling with it for so long alone"

It was scary. There was internalized homophobia that many gay men feel and then shame, a layer upon which fear has accumulated, and all of this, together, is really powerful.

Even if you have a really loving family, it's hard to tell them.

"I used to get up every morning with a knot O heart "

Not that, suddenly, everything was settled. But writing and working on the project has led me to some difficult places and this has been difficult.

But I felt much lighter and much more able to deal with things and anxiety which has accumulated.

Every morning, the first thing I felt was a fear in my chest, something that oppressed me "

I used to wake up every morning with a knot in my heart, on my chest.

I used to think that this had not affected me, but after telling my family, I freed myself a bit and thought,My God, you lived with this almost overwhelming anxiety."

Every morning, the first thing I felt was a fear in my chest, something that oppressed me, and I still feel when I talk about it.

But since I started this trip, admitting the crisis that was happening and some of the bad decisions I made and making up with thisI do not need to be the perfect person I was trying to be.

And that was very liberating.

Source www.bbc.com

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