It Was Positive

By Elias Gonzalez, Achieving Together Partner

“It was positive…”

Those were words that changed a life. Before those words I was an anthropology student only interested in academia. Those words spurred me to volunteer, to work in public health, to study human sexuality, to advocate, to strive.

“It was positive…”

I still remember the rush of blood when a new friend I had only met about a month before came up to me in the bar and told me those words. He had gone to update his status at the monthly testing site that stood between El Paso’s two popular gay clubs. I remember talking with him into the night in a cramped car, not really knowing what to say, only that holding him was all I was good for in that moment. I remember the rush of not knowing, of mystery, off fear in both our voices and the humor that comes from big moments like that. It was a moment that made us compadres even now after years of boyfriends, degrees, elections and long distance.

“It was positive…”

 Years of movies, parental fears and caution, even public health messages taught gay men like me to be afraid of sex, to be afraid of touch and love. To worry if five partners is too much, or one, or 10, or 20…or 50. Fear and stigma and shame creep into our everyday talk, telling us who to date, who to love, who to cruise. Fear and stigma lead us to shame the use of an app or side-eye someone well into their triple-digits, or to question PrEP’s efficacy, to use the words “clean” to describe some people (us) vs. others (them).

Achieving Together means an end to the stigma, shame, fear and silences that rule our lives. To bring out into the open the discussions that happen in dark cars, in hushed tones in the middle of the night. To move them beyond the clinic, beyond the ASO, beyond the EBIs and the once a month nights in a dimly lit bar. To remove the fear and mystery and worry and replace them with determination, courage and hope. It means tearing down the old barriers and walls of the old systems that put profit over people, modesty over honesty, fear over celebration.

Achieving Together means turning the words, “It was positive…”

into words that are not only seldom heard because HIV transmissions are rare, but are most importantly a footnote in a long life filled with joys and strength and recovery and love.

Elias is an avowed sex nerd and geek who finds joy in learning different ways to improve the sex lives of LGBTQ folks and advocate for a more sex-positive society. He has been working in sexual health in some capacity since 2008 when he began as a humble volunteer with Planned Parenthood’s Desert Rainbow Center and on through graduate school and now as a coordinator for the M Factor in El Paso, TX. Elias serves as a Regional Co-Chair for the Texas HIV Syndicate and a member of the Achieving Together Steering Committee.

Achieving Together values community—in person and online. When you comment on Achieving Together please take care that your contributions are constructive, civil, and advance the conversation.

Achieving Together values community—in person and online. When you comment on Achieving Together please take care that your contributions are constructive, civil, and advance the conversation.