I’ve been in hiding for about 20 years. I actually came out in the early 80’s to most of my family and by the time I was 23, had come out to everyone close to me. I moved to New York City when I was 19 with the firm belief that a wonderful life was ahead of me. What I encountered was the AIDS epidemic. I was pretty shy so my chances of contracting HIV in that time period proved to be nil. I was going to college and working and I remember thinking that my life would be complete if I met the right guy. I did meet someone in the late 80’s and I look back on this time with a lot of nostalgia as well as regret. I was a very mixed up person, not so much about being gay, which never gave me much worry, but about everything else. My place in the world, who I was.
Eventually I left NYC for a small town in Ohio. The next big thing to happen to me was alcohol. I had started drinking in my early 20’s and by the time I was in my early 30’s it had become a problem. Most of my problems in this life haven’t stemmed from being gay so much as from being an alcoholic and all the other side issues that come with that. I remember being so scared of HIV/AIDS back when I was living in NYC. The AIDS crisis of the 1980’s really mirrored my inner turmoil at the time, though it took me a long time to figure that out. It took me a while to figure out that I was so frightened of close personal relationships because of past abuse. The irony is that a little less then two years ago I met my partner, who is HIV positive at an AA meeting. It’s odd how the three things that gave me so much anxiety and grief over the years are the three things that are giving me a lot of happiness now–my recovery from alcoholism, and my relationship with someone who happens to be HIV positive. So now in my late 40’s things seem to be coming full circle, as the saying goes.
Right now my partner and I are in a long distance relationship, but I plan to move within the next year, so I’ll definitely be coming out of hiding. Living in a small Midwestern city hasn’t been all bad. I met a lot of really great people here, but I believe it’s time for me to move on. The only regret I have now is that I did not keep in touch with my first partner. I found out in a roundabout kind of way that he had died of a heart attack in 2007. I still don’t know where he’s buried.