I’m From Colombo, Western Province, Sri Lanka.

by Charles De Silva

I’m From Colombo, Western Province, Sri Lanka.

I was a chef working on a cruise line in Miami. Sailing the Caribbean, I was having the time of my life. Work was very hard. But that was it that kept me on my toes. I worked with 48 different nationalities and that was the icing on the cake as I loved moving around with the people of the world. I worked for 5 years and then it was cut short and it was down hill then…

Being gay was a problem as I was being followed by nearly every man who wanted an easy lay! But me being the old fashioned person that I am, I was not interested and shunned them away. I was more interested in a long-term relationship and with someone who meant something and not just lust.

But that was my downfall. Since I was not giving it to them I was gang raped by three of them and that was the worst experience of my life. I tried to forget it and get on with my life but it haunted me day-in day-out! Until something even worse hit me…

When I was back in my homeland for vacation, I found out that I was HIV-positive. But after a while I managed to get a job in Sri Lanka and it helped me forget what I was going through, but then the first ‘symptoms of HIV’ hit me.

My boss found out about my status and I was fired instantly. Then the routine followed job after job until I was out on the street on my own eating from garbage bins and surviving day to day. So I started doing work with PLHIV and also I started positive public speaking in forums to bring the issue to the forefront. It’s now been 16 years since I was infected, without medication!

I had three partners since 1997, and all of them turned out to be a disappointment as they wanted to get saved through me.

They all had jobs and were not HIV-positive. But they knew of my status before they got involved with me. But the last boyfriend took the cake as he lived with me for three years. I looked after him, finding jobs for him as he could not stick to one. I even looked after his family, sending one of his sisters to Japan for studies and his other sister for a temp job as she was studying at the same time.

I had saved a bit for hoping to start my own business at home, as doing sensitization and prevention work on HIV was a bit too much when you are living it every day. So I decided to have something else to take away the sting. So with a small loan from by brother and with all my savings I wanted to start a costume shop. But the day that I withdrew all my money, I had to go out for a sensitization programme and my boyfriend was at home. When I came back he and all my money had gone. Ten days went until I tracked him down. But he had not gotten the money as he says that he had lost it. Now in the meantime I had found out the lies that he had been telling me for the last three years and that was another blow. But I could not go to the police as I did not know what would come out. Homosexuality is a criminal act punishable by law. So I had to keep quiet and he took the upper-hand. This happened in 2007.

Now in 2010 I have met a wonderful guy who loves me and accepts me for who I am and my background, too. I was open with him from the start and he has opened up to me and we are now making plans to make fruit of our commitment to each other. The first steps of our relationship is to move in together and which we have now done, and are hoping for the best! I really feel this is the man I want to spend the rest of my life with as he shows so much concern and is also very open and direct, which is what I admire in him.

Wish us luck!

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