Tony (the boyfriend) and I went to Washington DC on Tuesday, December 4th.
We were attending:
"The United States National Dialogue on the Criminalization of HIV Transmission, Exposure & Non-disclosure: The Role of States & the Federal Government"
A very long title indeed... nothing like the event title's SMART Youth comes up with!
To sum it up this was dialogue amongst around 40ish people ranging from doctors, lawyers, youth, and politicians, around HIV Criminalization Laws and Legislation.
I thought I would have to speak in front of people, like at a podium sort of deal, but that wasn't the case.
When it did finally come to my time to speak, I was in the audience and just answering a question from the moderator.
What I had prepared was so articulate, poetic, moving, and touched on all the topics I wanted to present and cover to the people in the space. I wanted to blow their minds!
But... I got so nervous I barely even remembered the question and basically said,
"Disclosure is hard and scary and I was so nervous when I was going to disclose to my boyfriend now that I wanted the world to swallow me and I was sweating and..."
Yeah... not the route I wanted to take but I guess I touched on enough of how pushing disclosure is easier said than done.
And... averted more attention on me by throwing my boyfriend (who was sitting next to me) under the bus by mentioning him.
When they directed a new question towards him about his feelings towards my situation, and his take on the topic of criminalization, he was slightly taken aback but he answered amazingly. (Probably since he loves to talk anyways)
But I was proud of him and maybe I can get him to write up a little something on his experience with our trip to DC and this discussion.
I might just send him to speak on my behalf for next time...
Overall, it wasn't what I expected, and I didn't cover everything I wanted to say, but I was there and gave a little insight into my background.
It was also Tony's first time to DC so it was a nice trip to take together. (Cue "AW")
What came out of this though is that the senators that were there admitted to just passing legislation without reviewing it throughly. Now they have to work even hard to change injustices that have been passed within the system.
It was nice to see people from all sides realizing that changes need to happen and they are willing to come together.
The best quote we heard that pretty much sums up the big picture of this topic is:
"We have not created an environment where it is a safe to disclose freely."
Until we have that, then we can push disclosure, but now we have other things to put into action before that step.