There are only a few of us left now. My counselor calls for me by first name only (thank you) and my heart revs as I stand up. Following him down the corridor everything becomes much more visceral like I’m on mushrooms. I’m taking in each potential last second as an HIV-negative person. We pass a man painting one of the offices. Will this be my final image before I freak out and threaten suicide in the counselor’s office like the guy in the pamphlet? Will the painter be seared into my brain for the rest of my life wishing I could go back to that time when I thought I was still HIV negative?
I examine the stamp in the “results” section of my HIV rapid test that reads “NEGATIVE-NON-REACTIVE.” I wonder how often the other stamp is used. My counselor tells me false-negatives are highly unlikely and, in fact, false-positives are more common. He asks if I want a copy of my results. Typically, I’m not one to keep receipts, but this time I want my paperwork.
I thank G-d, Bette Davis, and my friend Matty — all the people I imagine in Heaven looking out for me.
I leave with peace of mind. I will return in six months’ time.
Gay life ain’t no place for sissies. But it should be. The Unabashed Queer (Government Name: Matt Siegel) serves to affirm the vast array of queer identities. Originally from Atlanta, Siegel realized his independence above the Mason-Dixon Line at Northfield Mount Hermon School and subsequently, Sarah Lawrence College. In a marijuana- induced haze, Siegel came to Los Angeles and has found himself employed in the homes of Adam Carolla, Arianna Huffington, and Jill Clayburgh. How queer is that? Read Matt’s blog here.