Tuesday, April 28, 2015

AIDS Walk New York

There are risks in the act of coming out. For example, I write this blog semi anonymously, not revealing my name and my former undocumented status to my present and past employers. I fear risking my career, my husband’s career and I am honestly not sure what kind of stigma it would have for my son. I am neither a DREAMer nor an activist. I am a writer and a mother. I seek to protect my son in all aspects, even if means cowardice in my own eyes. I am sure every parent can understand. That being said, there is power in “coming out”. 

I received an email recently from my cousins that are participating in the AIDS walk in New York City. The email said that it had been revealed to them just last year that their father, my Godfather, passed away from AIDS 20 years ago. They are walking to “promote education, increase awareness, improve care, reduce stigma, and build strong supportive communities for the millions affected by HIV and AIDS.”

I am very proud of them, their efforts, and the women they have become despite the absence of their father. I was a teen when their father passed. They were the age of my son. It was difficult to watch the demise of my cousin, the Kaposi's Carcoma on his skin, how his illness hurt our family by eventually taking him from us, and in the end not giving the real reason for his death outside of our family. My cousin was a physician and it was important to keep the cause of his death confidential. His wife is still a practicing physician. There were several explanations given to us at the time of his death and, of course, I do not know which explanation was the truth. I don’t know that anyone knows the true origin of how my cousin contracted this virus. It breaks my heart that in this day and age, one can survive and almost live a normal life with such a diagnosis. In the 1980’s, it was certainly a death sentence. Had my cousin gotten ill now, the outcome would surely be different. 

Other family members and I were not in attendance for his funeral although we were at the viewing. Being an Asian family, we were encouraged to attend the Long Island Math Fair and give our presentations, rather than see him laid to rest.  

I cannot imagine my young cousins, now in their 20s, finding out for the first time the true reason why they lost their father. I feel at peace that this truth has finally “come out”. It is my hope that they can also find peace and help a cause that changed the course of their lives just as I write for the cause that has changed the course of my mine.

I made a donation to their fundraising page. Here is the link to the AIDS Walk page should you also choose to support such a worthy cause.

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