Ricky | Philadelphia, PA
i went through so much. i went through hell and back. and i went so much in the latino gay community. the black gay community showed me so much love when i came out, didn’t talk about me. verses what i went though in the latin gay community. as i got older and i did the club nights, the hosting, the pageants and showed them who i really was – they commended me for it. they respected me for it. you still have those were “you have hiv?” even until now, dating-wise, relationship-wise, i cannot bring someone i am dating to a club when they can’t wait until the moment i walk away to the bathroom, so they can whisper (to my date), “do you know he have hiv?”
ricky: i tested positive on this day 20 years ago. I remember feeling scared and alone. It was a trans latina friend of mine who held me together. now it is my mission in life to do that for other varones who have just been diagnosed. our stories and existence alone ends hiv stigma. we have power chyle!
Ricardo Melendez, He/Him/His
interviewed and photographed by: louie a. ortiz-fonseca