• Remi

23 - BRAVE ?


Why is it important to be visible and why is it not brave in my case?

I had the chance to meet a very special person last week for the recording of his first podcast (click here).

The interview we had was so rich. I don't think I've ever given myself away so much to a stranger. I don't know yet what the editing will look like but I am very serene and curious...

Our exchange focused on making myself visible and the word courage came up:

"What could people say about your activism? That it is brave?"

I don't know why, but every time I'm considered like that I want to scream.

I want to develop my thoughts today on this notion of courage, which I think is not necessarily appropriate to my personal story.

Discovering one's seropositivity means learning to live with it and there is no one way to do so. There are as many solutions as there are people with HIV.

Sometimes the path is simple, gentle, because people are equipped to do it. Other times, the path is longer, more tortuous, more painful. Not all HIV-positive people are obliged to speak out, to make themselves visible. It is a choice that belongs to each individual.

I'm going to tell you why what I'm doing is not brave. As you have read on, you will have understood that the JOURNAL POSITIF project is part of a natural evolution of my "self" towards acceptance of my seropositivity. It is absolutely without constraint that I launched myself. Of course I would have preferred not to have to do this blog, it might have meant that our society didn't need it, but it goes without saying that the opposite is true.

This is how I would like my blog to be described: as necessary.

To say to me that I have courage is to say that those who remain silent have none. I find the term infinitely clumsy. I was the boy who didn't want to talk about it in society, I was the boy who was afraid to talk about it to his partners. Was I less courageous than I am today? No, I simply took the time I needed to make myself visible. I could also have not needed it, wanted it.

Lately, some public figures have been forced to talk about their HIV status to the press because they were threatened with being outed.

They were forced to break with the path they had taken towards acceptance. This is where we can talk about courage. Because exposing oneself under threat is not natural. It is simply cruel. It is likely that people like Conchita Wurst or Gareth Thomas benefit enormously from having made themselves visible, but this might not be the case either. I am extremely shocked that someone's HIV status can be used to manipulate them, but this is a perfect example of how our society still views HIV today.

Should I be ashamed, afraid? It's strange, it reminds me of the analogy I once made between being Gay or Seropositive.

When I decided to speak out I didn't know where it would lead me. I did it with my instinct and without filters.

I'm getting more and more angry about living and being subjected to your standards. Little by little I realise how unhappy these norms have made me, and long before I was HIV positive: because I wanted to have a Barbie when I was a kid and I never got one, because I was forced to play football when I didn't give a shit, because feeling bad about being me made food a refuge, because suicidal thoughts appeared (at the time) as a solution. This is how society made me. Today I am fighting to deconstruct all my neuroses, frustrations and to love myself. This involves a lot of positive actions for and towards myself but I can't get rid of my anger.

The battles will be long, because yes there are many to fight. So many people out of the ordinary decide to exist today and make themselves visible. Probably the explosion of social networks has acted as an accelerator of speech due to the frustration and the bad image that it reflects of ourselves. Fortunately, positive responses on Instagram are emerging.

I believe that one of the ways to fight discrimination, like serophobia and so many others, is simply to exist without worrying about the effect it will have on others. It's about respecting yourself, loving yourself and not hiding for fear of making others feel uncomfortable. Maybe it's finally brave to try to be yourself in our society ... I have so much admiration for all those people you call marginal, because they just decide that your codes won't stop them from being happy.

We are deconstructing these codes, little by little. You can't stop there.

It may be courageous, but it's necessary.

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