This is a story of a great friend.
Karl, a very talented person, was able to became a manager of different establishments even without finishing a college degree. He’s also an amazing choreographer and event organizer.
Karl was in the closet. It’s understandable because not only does his full-fledged Christian family dislike homosexuality, but for Filipino families, having a gay man as part of the clan is an embarassment. It is so because of the stigma attached to that word – gay.
When it comes to homosexuality, Filipinos will easily rationalize a little knowledge of science with religious beliefs. One ironic mixture of mentalities is that homosexuality can be genetically passed from one generation to another and that only Jesus can “heal” it.
If you ask me, I doubt the bigots know about the genetic studies on homosexuality. They just fear the thought of their own sexuality being questioned. After all, 99.99% of Filipino men are known to defend their masculinity throughout their lifetime as though they’d lose it any second.
Stigma – the scariest thing befell Karl: HIV.
Karl’s family used to be well-off. His father had a good job in a stable company and the same goes for his mom. Karl and his sister went to private schools. Life was good until his parents were invited and were eventually indoctrinated in a well-known Evangelical Christian church.
From then on, they participated in church activities. His parents quit their jobs and started spending their lives as “church workers”. His father bought a taxi to somehow earn a living. Knowing that his father’s income isn’t not sufficient, Karl decided to become the breadwinner of his family.
In early 2008, his father was diagnosed with stage four cancer.
Other than being addicted to blind faith and prayers, his mother, a patronizer of herbal medicines, used the money given by their relatives and friends for his father’s cancer treatment to buy such. It was already too late when their relatives and friends found out the money was ill-spent.
As if that’s not enough, medical professionals took his father’s illness as an opportunity and persuaded him to undergo chemotherapy. Undergoing such treatment when one is already a stage four cancer patient is suicide.
His father died months later. His mother, who had a history of psychosis, started having episodes.
Karl took care of his family. There were signs that he was infected but he indulged in self denial, trying to tap for a little hope that it’s not HIV, but something less depressing instead.
A month after his father’s death, he was finally convinced to take the dreaded HIV test. But this time it’s too late. His condition was terrible and the only thing that kept him up was sheer willpower.
Karl and his mother approached a relative, to ask if they could stay with them in Manila because it’s closer to the hospital they preferred. The relative decided not to take them in, and reasoned that there were kids in the house. It was the second family they approached who took them in.
Only a few days in Manila, Karl had a seizure and was rushed to the San Lazaro Hospital. It was his cousin who took care of him.
Discrimination exists in hospitals. A nurse who knew he was being tested for HIV was anything but kind. During Karl’s confinement, his cousin kept reminding the nurse that the dextrose bag had already ran out, but to no avail. The nurse didn’t care and only complied when blood was being sucked into the bag.
Karl died after hours of suffering. He wasn’t able to see his mother and it was only his cousin who was by his death bed.
The cause of death was sepsis of the blood and he didn’t get to know if he was indeed HIV positive. If the hospital had released the test result before his death, the word “HIV positive” would have been included in his death certificate.
He was cremated as suggested by their family doctor. He was only 29 years old.
Unprotected sex killed Karl.
Whether you’re in the closet or you’re out in the open, whether you’re bisexual, straight or transgendered, if you’re having unprotected sex, there’s a huge chance that you will get infected with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Karl’s story is another blow to the gay community. For almost 6 decades, HIV has “homosexuality” attached to it. And even if the HIV experts educate people that the virus can’t be acquired by being such, closed-minded individuals will still misinterpret statistics.
Even if we convince ourselves that it’s all right for HIV victims to come out and admit that they are HIV positive, the thought of people hating the victims, the continuous discrimination towards the gay community that they will bring this “plague” to everyone, the attachment of the word “immorality” to HIV victims while citing Bible verses, the people who defend and annoy you at the same time, the people who tell everyone that they’re all sinners and the HIV victims sinned but Jesus forgives all the sinners, the people who’ll read John 3:16 and claim that they’re not forcing anyone to accept Jesus will tell stories of eternal fire while the victims are dying, are all unavoidable.
I shared this story in an online community two years ago. Another truth I learned is that people hate HIV victims and they’re not willing to learn. They will believe what they want to believe.
Haters have called me “Fag defender”, “faggot”, “chickboy” (chick na boy pa), immoral, etc. And most of these people were born-again Christians – the evangelists who share the “gift of Christ” in cyberspace.
That’s life I guess. Those who usually profess their righteousness are usually the first ones to break it.