“I was born in 1957 and, like many men my age, grew up in a Catholic country where being gay was considered evil by the church. was considered a mental illness.
Making noise in such a society was the real reason I turned to substance abuse. It was the only thing that allowed me to act openly and hide my sexuality, but what a price I paid!
He recovered from alcohol and drugs in 1994 and six months later volunteered at Other Place on South Main Street, Cork. It was there that I really became an activist. I participated in a gay men’s health project and also volunteered for a gay helpline, but left it behind this year.
Both the project and the helpline have really helped me come to terms with my sexuality like I used to. I was told that my closet has swing doors.
In 2007 I was diagnosed with HIV and realized I had options. Either live in shame in your HIV closet, so to speak, or open up and work to improve your life and the lives of others. myself. Growing up as a gay man taught me that living with a secret is lifeless. Because if you carry secrets around in your head, you’ll just survive more than you live. At that point, that was enough for me to really open up and be visible about my HIV.
At that time, to my knowledge, there was no support for people living with HIV in Cork. So I went to Dublin and joined a group called Positive Now and started a support group for people living with HIV called Positive Coke with some friends. There was a local NGO here in Cork (Peter Street Sexual Health Centre) that had a support group, but like many other NGOs, no information was given about them. I found out about them in 2009, two years after discovering I had HIV.
Long story short, the support groups weren’t happy with their services.About four years ago, we left and started our own group, working hard for people living with HIV. When Simon Harris was Minister of Health, I attended many meetings with Simon Harris, mainly being part of the ACT UP Dublin activist group working to improve HIV services. As an LGBT rights activist, I am constantly busy raising awareness about HIV treatment and prevention.
Now retired, he served 21 years in the military before retiring in 2011 due to cancer. I had already been living with HIV since his 2007 and both of these conditions were challenges I faced and overcame. That’s because you’ve been working on self-acceptance and self-esteem for quite some time before either happened.
In 1984, he studied for four years to become a priest, but quit before becoming a priest. In the meantime he began a degree in philosophy, but was unable to complete it. I always wanted to finish it, but life got in the way. So, after being completely cured of cancer, I went to UCC as a mature student and got my degree. I majored in the study of contemporary world religions and minored in philosophy. I was active as a gay man at his UCC, but I was also open about his HIV status. I was a peer mentor while in college and I must say it was a great time.
If you’re gay, I always say that almost any new situation can mean coming out. Straight people don’t have to think about coming out and revealing themselves, but that’s part of being gay. I think it was coming out to myself.
Until then, whenever I told someone that I was gay, I really wanted approval and validation from the outside. Once I accepted myself and confided in myself, I no longer felt the need to declare myself to anyone. Only when I started working on it did I start becoming the proud gay man I am today.
So if I could give any advice to young gay men, take the time to ask for support and help. You’ll never be happy as long as you seek acceptance from the outside, so take the time to get comfortable in your own skin until you can open yourself up. Realize that there is nothing wrong with The mental health issues young gays have to deal with are not caused by being gay, but as a result of societal views.
I am currently working on a new project called Before the Rainbow… and After. It aims to use art to explore and investigate the lived experiences of older gay men. It’s one of the best I’ve ever attended. When we started the project, we had no idea what the finished project would look like, but it grew as a result of many great conversations we had with each other. The result is a great film, a book full of colorful images and text, and his T-shirt.
This theme can be summarized by considering the phoenix rising from the ashes. We may have been ostracized in society, viewed as evil and criminal, victims of abuse and discrimination, but we not only survived, but despite all odds, I found a way to be myself.
We are no longer victims or survivors, we are thriving. We are the resurrected phoenix. ”
Before the rainbow…and after It was announced last night in Cork. Art publications and visual poetry can be found online, along with songs written and music by two of her project participants. gay project
As told by Arlene Harris