AIDS Awareness Month 2017

I was born in 1967. Shortly after graduating, I came out to my family, and friends sharing that I was gay. I recall that I was around 18 or 19 at the time. Coming out to family was not fun or easy. I was grateful to have the support of those close friends that knew before I completed the “ritual” of declaring I am different, that I was gay, that you better keep your children from me, and a reminder that your marriage is in jeopardy because of my lifestyle choice.

1985-1986 I graduated high school, came out, listened to our President of the United States FINALLY use the word AIDS for the first time in public, all the while thousands of lives are lost to this Gay Cancer. As we go forward a few years, it was easy for me to attend a funeral of someone I knew, or knew of, at least 2-3 times a month, sometimes more. If someone we knew was getting thin, or had spots, we whispered “they are sick.”

I listened for the next 10 years to religious groups, political groups, and often out of state groups that knew nothing about the people who live in Nebraska, spread lies, incorrect information, and misleading information. These scare tactics worked so well. Protect your children, protect your marriage, protect schools, protect churches because we gays are common.

Today, society in general, has come to understand that many of those fear-based tactics, where not true, and were hurtful.

Tomorrow I turn 50 years old, as I reflect on where I have been, where I am at, and where this country has been, and where it is at, I approach the next 50 years with hope. Hope that the ads, information, and culture is one of compassion, inclusion, and equity.

As we celebrate AIDS Awareness Month, I thank employees, volunteers, and supporters of AIDS Service Organizations. Thank you for all you do. The work is not done. HIV can be prevented. The best way to protect yourself, and others is by having safe sex.

To my friends and chosen family living with HIV, I love you, I support you, and I want you to be the healthiest you possible.

Be good to yourself. Take care of yourself.
You are not alone.

Chaplain Royal