Eds note: For just over a year SFGN published Ryan Dixon’s ‘My HIV Diary’ — a real time reflection of his hopes and struggles as he started his HIV medication. Here are his thoughts now.
South Florida Gay News has been at the forefront of local, state, national and world-wide LGBT news for the last five years. When writing for SFGN, I was given the opportunity to seek out the stories that I thought the readers would want to know about. The pages of this paper also gave me an outlet to be able to help myself and others.
Most readers know me for chronicling my struggles and triumphs of living with HIV. I started that 55 week journey with you all with selfish intents in mind. I've said before that I view writing as a sort of therapy. I started writing because I didn't know any other way to express the feelings I was having when I started taking an experimental HIV medication. I can now see how writing this diary has formed my opinion and perception on what is needed in the world of HIV. I've been told many times how brave I am for writing what I do. It wasn't until my most recent visit to Florida that the magnitude of what I've put to paper finally hit me.
The Sunday I was leaving to head back home, I stopped at the Alibi to visit a bartender friend. I saw SFGN Publisher, Norm Kent, sitting at a table having brunch with a friend of his. I walked over to say hello and Norm regaled his friend about my writing as well as some baseball quotes that I can always count on from him. The man expressed interest in maybe picking up HIV advocacy and I encouraged him to do so. I miss having a weekly outlet to try and help others and told him that it's up to others like himself now to continue the work - the same work I did - of others that came before me. Looking at this year's POZ 100, I was encouraged by the many young faces that I saw in the lineup. It makes me feel the public exposure that I brought upon myself for the hopeful benefit of others was the right thing to do.
National organizations are touting an AIDS free generation in the future. I know we can get there if younger HIVers step up and decide to do something. Bring HIV out of the closet. Yes, you might lose some friends or family and, God forbid, a few tricks but the end game is for everyone's benefit. Erasing the stigma of HIV that shockingly still exists is one step we all can make to hopefully see an AIDS free generation in our lifetime.
In closing, thank you for reading what I had to say for the little over a year that I wrote the My HIV Diary. If you think that my words have ever helped you, made you think or helped someone you know, don't thank me. Thank the people at SFGN who have kept this glowing beacon of your community and our culture alive. And most importantly, thank yourselves. Without the loyal readers, this publication would be nothing more thank ink on paper.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings