Dec. 2, 2020

Episode 12 (D)

Episode 12 (D)

We were honored to have D stop by.  In this episode we discussed with D life, addiction, and HIV status.

Transcript
Eric:

Hello and welcome to the Q lounge We are your hosts. I'm Eric

Gil:

I'm Gil.

Eric:

Join us as we discuss news stories and life situations. As they relate to the LGBTQIA plus experience, please visit us@theqloungepodcast.com and hit that subscribe button or listen wherever you get your podcasts. Hi, and welcome to The Q Lounge podcast. I'm Eric

Gil:

I'm Gil

Eric:

and today we are joined by D, thank you D so much for coming and stopping by. How are you today?

Gil:

I am doing well. How are you

Eric:

doing well as well go. How are you?

Gil:

Good. Much better now.

Eric:

So how's everything been going for you D.

Gil:

I've been going good.

D.:

work is a little weird

Gil:

with COVID, but both things are good. and I just, I know that as

D.:

long as I keep doing the next right thing, things fall into place and I haven't had any issues with that in a long time, with, worrying about what's going to happen next because I just doing the footwork, I keep doing the next right thing and, it all falls into place, so

Eric:

yeah,

D.:

I'm not concerned.

Eric:

how is, the COVID world treating you? How was life in a COVID world?

Gil:

it's a little bit different, not a lot. Cause, for the last five years,

D.:

at least for the last five years I was in school. So I really wasn't having much of a social life anyways, especially where I live.

Gil:

We don't have much to do here.

D.:

I'm in a smaller city in Florida and, there's just there's I could drive 90 minutes to Orlando or 90 minutes to West Palm. But other than that, there's just not a lot to do here anyway, okay. It hasn't changed a lot now. Like I'm not doing anything and I wasn't doing a whole

Gil:

lot before. So

D.:

work changed a little bit though. I was working full-time and our business slowed down enough that they wanted to move me down to part-time and I am in school again. So I just told them that, call me when you need me, but for now I'm going to focus on school. So that's a good thing, cause that's really what I wanted in the first place. Was for that to happen. And they were like, we can't do that. And then all of us did and now they can do that. So I just roll

Gil:

with the punches.

Eric:

Oh, nice. What are you going to school for?

D.:

To be an MRI tech.

Eric:

Oh, awesome. That's

D.:

great. And an x-ray technologist and I'm going to school to be an MRI technologist.

Eric:

Oh, that's awesome. That's great. glad to hear all that's going on for you. just a few questions we're gonna ask. what was it like for you to come out?

Gil:

it was kinda like consciously becoming

D.:

aware of something I had already known in the back of my mind for years. It was,

Gil:

I was just

D.:

like,

Gil:

Oh, so that's why I always look

D.:

at guys.

Gil:

Yeah,

D.:

it was funny. Cause when I was growing up, my brothers would always say, you're gay. if I like Madonna, Oh, you're gay. Or if I like Michael Jackson, you're gay. And so I think that kind of maybe put up some walls mentally that they wouldn't be okay to be gay. But when I did finally realize that I was gay, I was like, it's not because of Madonna or Michael Jackson that I'm gay it's because I like guys that I'm gay. That's why I'm gay. And so it was funny, but cool. And I really already had a lot of supportive friends. Like I had some friends that probably knew before I did, so it was pretty easy for me to come out to them and they were like, yeah, we knew,

Eric:

Oh, that's awesome. I think a lot of times our friends know before we do or see it before we accept it in ourselves.

D.:

yeah. But once I realized I was gay, I was able to go back to Even early childhood and realized that I was looking at guys in um not a sexual way because I was a kid, but at least I could tell that I was attracted to guys, more than girls. Like I, I enjoyed hanging out with girls. I did have some girlfriends. I remember when I was like even five. I remember I think

Gil:

we kissed

D.:

and it was like, Ooh, like that. And, But finally coming to that realization that I was gay, it really felt natural. It felt nice to finally feel that and accept it.

Eric:

Awesome. That's great. how did you realize that you were gay or part of the LGBTQ community?

Gil:

So I think that those

D.:

are two different questions. Okay.

Gil:

I'm going to, I'm going to look at

D.:

them a little differently because,

Gil:

let's see.

D.:

How did

Gil:

I realize I was gay?

D.:

I used to get that international male catalog and I was always checking it out for the underwear, my dad used to get penthouse and I would always look in the stories in the back

Gil:

I looked for the

D.:

layouts that would have the guys with them because almost every penthouse issue, there would be one layout that would have at least one guy with the girl. So I would always look for those. And it's funny because I still didn't actually get it. Cause I was still a teenager and I still didn't really realize that's what was going on. But yeah. then one day I just was, I honestly, I was, in the bathroom at my college and someone tapped their foot and he kept tapping his foot. And I didn't know what that was about at

Gil:

first. So I tapped my foot back and then

D.:

he, he wanted me to get down and. Let me, let him suck me. And, so I did and, I don't know how far I,

Gil:

how detailed

D.:

I should go here, but

Eric:

it's as detailed as you want. we have explicit content checked on our podcast,

Gil:

Okay, cool. All right.

D.:

and that was the first time I'd ever gotten a blow job from a guy and, I was like, okay, this is cool. and then I went down to key West with my dad and his girlfriend, and we stayed there for a week and I was checking out the gay bars. Cause that's where I wanted to go and they didn't card me. And, I ended up meeting this guy and that was the first time I was actually in bed with a man. And I remember distinctly thinking that night I was probably like 19 or 20

Gil:

and I'm

D.:

thinking, if this is wrong, I'm okay with that. this doesn't feel wrong to me. If this is wrong, then too bad. Cause it doesn't feel wrong. And, it was fun, I had a good time. but then as far as knowing I was a part of the LGBTQ community, which at the time was just, I think LGB, there was a guy that I was dating and we went to the, Miss Florida, female impersonator pageant. And I met so many people like that. it was an event, it was a formal event. People were dressed up and, it was just cool to be there and feel a part of all that. I felt like a tiny little minnow in a huge pond full of, big fish, but, But it was cool. I felt, like I was a part of something bigger than me, I felt like a part of the LGBTQ community. So it was neat. Oh, that's

Eric:

awesome. Yeah. I think it's pretty liberating when you actually get to that point where you accept yourself or realize that, yeah, this is me. And if, like you said, if this is wrong, then whatever. Cause it feels right and

D.:

yeah, exactly.

Gil:

Yeah. You think that the song, it was true?

D.:

it's funny when I first used to go to clubs,

Gil:

for the first,

D.:

at least probably the first year I used to vomit and I didn't know why, I didn't know what was going on. And I think it was just nerves. I guess it was so what coming out was like, I guess it was nerve wracking

Gil:

because

D.:

I used to vomit and then I'm sure it was from my nerves. And, and then I would just, wipe my mouth off, rinse off

Gil:

my mouth

D.:

out and then just gotta have a good time. But I, that out for something I had to get that, the nerves out and work them out. it was weird. Yeah, go ahead. No, that's all. it was just weird. Yeah.

Gil:

It is nerve wracking. The first time you go into, at least for me, like when I first went to a club and I was like, Oh my God, all these gays are here. Oh my God. I got, it was just so worked up and I'm like, I am so ugly. dressed into no, but you loosen up after awhile and it's definitely Oh my God, this is my people.

D.:

Yeah. So there was definitely a transition.

Eric:

Yeah. Like when I first went to a gay club, I went with a cousin and some friends and I was just like, Oh my gosh, I'm going to gay bar, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Like people are going to talk. Cause just having graduated from a Christian high school and having all that dogma fed into me and having the machismo personality and not so I didn't accept it until later in life. Anyways, I was just like, Oh, my gosh, there's all these people around. Oh, but they're playing Janet. I was like, I can dance and they're playing Janet. And to me that calmed it down. And then I love going to clubs because it was the one place I could truly just be myself and not worry about it. But I didn't realize that till later, like why I loved clubs so much, but it's because I could just honestly just be who I was. So yeah.

Gil:

It's free.

D.:

Very free. Yeah.

Eric:

So did you have any, Challenges coming out like any disparities, any family or social cultural challenges

Gil:

for the most part

D.:

with my family, things are really good, which I'm so fortunate for that. And I think for granted, So my

Gil:

brother had to move in with my

D.:

mom for a little while I was at college. And he had found my international mail magazines,

Gil:

I found

D.:

these magazines. I'm like, what are you talking about?

Gil:

And I even think he's found like something else, maybe, I don't know, but

D.:

it was all magazines for the most part. And he was like, I found these I'm like, I don't know what you're talking about. He's you're gay. I'm like, Okay. Yes, I'm gay. So then, he told me my mom, so she called me one day and I was waiting for my boyfriend, come pick me up. And she said, so your brother tells me you're gay. And I was like, Oh,

Gil:

that Gina, that I've been telling you about that. I used to date.

D.:

I said, that's actually, and I told her my boyfriend's name. And she said, Oh, And then my boyfriend showed up and I was like, okay, mom, I have to go, my ride's here. I got to go and I got off the phone. And so

Gil:

the next time she and I talked, she's You weren't

D.:

very fair to me. You dropped this bombshell on me that you're gay. And then you're like, okay, I gotta go. I'm like, you weren't fair to me because you asked me when I wasn't ready to talk about it. I said, you confronted me on something that I was still dealing with. I was still coming to terms with it. you are, you caught me off guard and I, that wasn't good timing for me. So not on me, that's on you. And, I think that was probably one of the first times that I stuck up for myself to my mom, but, I did. And then I had, this girl that I was living with and her boyfriend, they confronted me one time. They said, we found this letter that you wrote to a mutual friend of ours. And, they said, why didn't you tell us you're gay? I was like, cause I'm still coming to terms with it myself. And they're like, we feel very, betrayed that you wouldn't tell us, don't you think we would understand? I said, I'm still figuring it out myself. So how

Gil:

can I think that you'll

D.:

understand what I don't even get it, I'm still learning. And so that was a little weird and

Gil:

not too much longer after that, I

ended

D.:

up moving out, like things just got weird. And it's so weird because they're sitting here telling me that, we accept you and how could you not

Gil:

tell me this?

D.:

And yet it's because of their reaction to it that it strained the relationship, because they say they were so accepting, but yet they weren't really, allowing me to do it at my own time. that was a little weird,

Gil:

But

D.:

another thing that was really cool is my dad was, in school to get his master's for social work, to work. And he, when he had already started suspecting because of the key West trip, like

Gil:

we're rolling. We were walking down the sidewalk one

D.:

afternoon. And one of the guys that I

Gil:

had seen, I think the night before

D.:

he was making all these funny faces, it wasn't somebody that I was interested in. It was just a guy that I'd seen him. He was

Gil:

trying to make fun of me because I was

D.:

obviously trying not to make eye contact,

Gil:

And so he was being so

D.:

obvious about, Oh, not making

Gil:

eye contact.

D.:

my dad said, yeah, when we went to the keys, I could tell that something was up. he's I saw that one guy looking at you and stuff. And so he ended up taking a class called homosexuality in the family because he wanted to be able to be more comfortable. Himself

Gil:

with me being gay.

D.:

And he also wanted to be able to help others to be more comfortable with it too, with if they had, children who were a part of the gay community.

Gil:

I really appreciate that he did that,

Eric:

it's really awesome. I think that's wonderful.

D.:

Yeah.

Eric:

Yeah. I have an issue with people, outing other people or expecting, like you were saying that they were like, why don't you just tell me or come at you, combatively with this. And you're like, I'm a, it's my place to tell you, what's my place to open up. And like you said, if you're still dealing with it yourself, and coming to terms with it, How do you expect me to just come out and tell you candidly when I'm still trying to figure it all out. So

Gil:

it's, does it go with a manual? I think they assume as soon as you wake up one day, it's like gay and boom, all the knowledge of all the gay experiences happen. And, every scenario was like, I don't know, I just woke up. Okay.

Eric:

I got my free toaster, but

D.:

gosh.

Gil:

Yeah, because I remember that for me, it was all like a slew of questions. what about this? What about I'm like, Honey. I ch I don't know. I just figured this kind of out.

D.:

Exactly. one of my other brothers, he,

Gil:

seems probably

D.:

the most accepting about it. He's so I hear you're gay or something like that. And I said, yeah, he's okay, cool. And that was it until a few years later. he's very conservative. and

Gil:

I don't even know that he's

D.:

very conservative. He listens to a lot of conservative radio and so somehow it appeals to him in some way so the one day he, the point of that is that the radio shows and the news that he listens to, led him to believe that being gay is a choice. And so he said something about that to me. And I said, first of all, you're not gay. So how dare you try to tell me that, the way I'm living is a choice. I said, why don't you ask me, instead of trying to tell me, I said, I would not have necessarily chosen at that time. I told her I was able to tell them, I don't think I would have chosen this life because it's harder. it's more, it's more stressed, we have to learn to try and come to self-acceptance and learn to deal with, acceptance from others. And just society makes it harder for us to be gay. So I said, I don't know that I would have chosen a harder lifestyle. I said, I'm grateful. I'm gay. And I accept that. I still, but God made me this way. I did that. I said. And so he had brought up to me one day about that. like a couple of weeks ago he said something about your first guy crush. I was like, what?

Gil:

He's buck Rogers. He's I was like, I didn't remember telling them that there's like, whenever you talk about that. So

D.:

I think that was in the course of that same conversation. But yeah, cause he like Wilma Deering, I'm at a show, Aaron Gray. So I guess he recently started watching it on some channel. And he's he brought that up about your first guy crush. I was like, when did I talk to my brother about that?

Gil:

We don't talk

D.:

about stuff like that. And so I'm guessing that was probably around the time that we, that I might've told them that was, When I was also explaining to him how far back this went? It wasn't like at some point when I was a teenager or when it was under my early twenties or something, I thought, I think I want to like guys, it wasn't that it was like, go back to childhood, like to the earliest memories that I've got, yeah. My dad used to watch Hee Haw and I knew he watched it because of the kitties.

Gil:

And I saw

D.:

that

Gil:

and they would bounce across the, like they, the girls would

D.:

bounce across to these tiny little outfits and stuff like that.

Gil:

And I just thought, Oh, hee, but

D.:

it wasn't a sexual thing for me. It wasn't, or, it wasn't anything that I was necessarily attracted to. I liked guys from way back,

Eric:

I think, the whole it's a choice. Like you said I wouldn't choose to, make my life harder, to have to be accepted within myself, to be accepted from others, to have you tell me who I am is wrong. And so have to accept that as well. And to put myself out there to be bullied and harassed and beat, and. All that other stuff, who would actually choose that life for themselves for that course. So that's the reason why, I hate the word preference where Oh, your sexual preference will know its orientation because I'm not choosing this.

D.:

Yeah.

Gil:

Yeah.

D.:

and my mom one day said something about, like she just feels bad for me because, it's going to be a harder lifestyle. I know that with society, the way it is and stuff like that, it's going to be harder for you. And, That was when I was like, that was probably about 20, that was over 20 years ago, for sure. about a year or two ago, mom, can you take that back because

Gil:

you cursed me, you need to take that back I've been single for a really long

D.:

time. So I need you to take that back in and help me find a man here. Yeah.

Eric:

I'm in that, I'm in that club with you. I'm super single. So did you have any, personal struggles coming out, like surrounding your coming out or just after coming out that you had to deal with?

D.:

I think one thing was like, it was, telling

Gil:

people, I think that,

D.:

especially like I remember telling my friend Lisa, when I was in college and,

Gil:

I think that was a little bit of a struggle.

D.:

she, wasn't the only one that I had to tell. She wasn't the only one that felt like it was a struggle. and it was all in my head, like I would talk to these people and they were also accepting about it. But inside, I was just like, I need to tell her this, or I need to tell him this and I don't know how to do it. So in my head, I had built this up to it, up to be this struggle. And it wasn't. but like when I,

Gil:

okay,

D.:

I was living in Tampa and it was a very, I felt like it was a much more accepting and open, atmosphere. And it might've been because I had a lot of gay friends. And so I felt like I had this big support, gay support. And when I moved over here to this tiny little city on the East coast of Florida, my dad said, you have to be careful because, it's not like. Other parts of Florida. It's a little bit more like the South here. So you might not want to be quite so open about being gay. And I listened to him and that's my fault. I shouldn't have listened to him because, I don't ever want to have to hide who I am and, I was like 35 at the time. And so to have had all this time and spend all this time working on who I am and accepting myself, and then, To be told by my dad. Who's supposed to be one of my supporters. Hey, be careful. don't be too open about who you are. That was a little bit weird. And then we moved to Albuquerque and my mom's Oh, it's the wild West out here. You gotta be careful.

Gil:

don't be too open about who you,

Eric:

we had another guest that said the exact same thing about moving to Albuquerque. Sorry, go

Gil:

ahead. no. That's well, so I guess that's a common thing, but I don't think of Albuquerque as the

D.:

wild West. and, it's a big city, and people were very accepting. so I don't like that let my parents' fears, dictate how I behaved. so yeah, I think that was a little bit of a challenge. yeah. Especially with all the work I've done on trying to just be who I am, and then to be told yeah. Be who you are, but, maybe don't be who you are here.

Eric:

Yeah, that's difficult. Yeah. I've been told that too, Oh yeah, it's totally cool. We're accepting, but don't tell this person or don't make sure you don't act this way in front of these people and really people need to open their minds. They need to free themselves of their own prejudices and bigotry. So

D.:

yeah. Yeah, exactly. And

Gil:

I don't even think that either of my parents.

D.:

They have both been accepting. So I don't think it was anything where it was like supposed to be, trying to push me back into the closet. I think they really said it out of, Genuine concern. And, even recently my mom said something about, you might want to watch what you say or what you do, now that, with the election coming up, cause this was a few days ago, this is before the UN and then, with Biden winning, I live in a Trump town, so she said, you know what? I want to be careful. So

Gil:

I don't know. I'm still wearing my watch, man. My pride watch band. and I don't think I'm going to take it off, unless it doesn't match my outfit. Yes. Every color it should match.

Eric:

I was just going to say that. Good for you.

D.:

so the other week, I was driving by an intersection. And when I first drove through the intersection, there were a bunch of Biden, Harris supporters and waving the flags and everything. And I was, it was just so cool to see that. And so I was beeping my horn and super happy. And then about an hour later, I drove through the same intersection and the only people that were left were Trump supporters. And, I told my mom, I was like, one of them started screaming and yelling at me. And, so that was weird. Yeah. So she said, why did he scream and yell at you? I said, I

Gil:

flipped him off, but still rightfully Trump. He shouldn't be

D.:

yelling at me and me no matter what I do.

Eric:

Yeah.

Gil:

Yeah.

D.:

I, so I guess that's why she was saying, I might want to be careful about what I do or what I say. Okay.

Eric:

Yeah. I don't know how I felt, but, how was it living in Albuquerque for you? How long were you out here for

Gil:

eight years.

Eric:

Okay. How did you like it out here?

Gil:

Okay. So the first four years, I really like, and then slowly after that,

D.:

I was really ready to be home in Florida.

Gil:

nothing against

D.:

Albuquerque, but I'm just, I've been in Florida most of my life and I didn't want to be even on the cold anymore. Sick of that.

Gil:

there's certain. Attitudes that I didn't want to be around anymore. but that, those are few and far between, but like even

D.:

just in driving, when people,

Gil:

if someone's

D.:

taking a turn and they feel entitled, even

Gil:

you can

D.:

tell that they're entitled even by the way they're driving their car.

Gil:

yeah, no, I'm not okay with that.

Eric:

Yeah. We often have talks because Gil is actually in San Francisco but he lived out here for brief half. Second, I think. And he were always just talking about like how the community's different in the larger cities as compared to Albuquerque is a small city or a large town. And so how the attitude here and the community is very stereotypical. Whereas in larger cities, it's not so much. So you have like more range and room.

Gil:

Yeah. And I think part of it too, is that,

D.:

I was ready to be home, so I was easy for me to start spotting all the things I didn't like. Yeah. Rather than really just be aware of the stuff I do. I do. there's plenty. I love about New Mexico. It's very beautiful. the desert has its own beauty that Florida just doesn't have, but then Florida has the beauty too, that the desert will never have. yeah. But,

Gil:

yeah, like it just overall,

D.:

by the end it was easy to just start looking at all the things that were different in that I didn't like, but, I enjoy visiting. and it's nothing against Albuquerque. It just, I just wanted to be home. So that's why I was really focusing on all the differences.

Eric:

That's totally understandable. I think you're one of our first guests who hasn't totally bashed in Albuquerque,

Gil:

there's nothing

D.:

wrong with Albuquerque. There really isn't it not at all. it's just. It's not home for me.

Eric:

It's not home.

D.:

Yeah, no. So

Gil:

that's totally understandable. Cause my, what, small stint I was living out in Seattle, it was same thing. It was like, it's close to being like back in the bay I grew up in the Bay area. So I was like, it's like home, but it's missing culture to me, culture, more diversity and better food and just better weather. And it's a beautiful state, beautiful city, but it doesn't quite. Match what I was looking for. So I returned home.

D.:

Okay. Yeah.

Gil:

I get that.

Eric:

Are there any stereotypes that you think you fit in the gay community or that you've been pigeonholed into?

Gil:

Okay. So

D.:

I am, HIV positive and, I do think some,

Gil:

I'm not,

D.:

so

Gil:

I'm not super

D.:

open about that because, unless I'm going to be sleeping with you, it's really not your business or unless you're going to be like, taking blood from me or working on me, medically I'm undetectable. I've been undetectable for a long time. The thing, what I don't like about that is that I feel like by me not disclosing that, it almost continues the stigma,

Gil:

because there is a

D.:

stigma about it that shouldn't be there,

Gil:

but,

D.:

but is there, and, I got it from, my boyfriend at the time, He and I had an unprotected sex and he was sleeping around a lot. He did a lot of drugs and I really didn't understand. I was very young and I didn't know to protect myself. And it's interesting because, I don't remember if it was before or after I had gotten diagnosed, actually it was probably before, I was coming out of a night, bar in Tampa called Tracks and they had a news crew out there and they interviewed me about, HIV in the community and stuff like that. And I remember talking about, Wearing a condom and the importance of it. And I ended up being on the news, and it's funny that, not

Gil:

too long after that getting diagnosed, but at least I was able to be a voice

D.:

for somebody. Hopefully I inspired somebody,

Gil:

but.

D.:

I don't know. I've been called old by people in their thirties and I'm like, really? I'm 49. I, that's not old. That might be older than you, but that is surely not old.

Eric:

That's not old. And you honestly don't look that old either. So our listeners can't see you, but you look younger than I am so

Gil:

well, it's just weird to me that,

D.:

That that type of a stereotype exists, but I'm old. No, just not necessarily, what you're looking for. And,

Gil:

people seem to

D.:

on the internet, people seem to be, a lot more rude than they would be in person. and, one guy. Told me I'm old and ugly and I have no business talking to him. I said, okay, do is block me,

Gil:

did say,

D.:

luckily for you, I know that neither one of those things is true. but your words could be really hurtful to somebody who has not taken the time to really get in touch with themselves. You should really watch what you say because that's not cool. And,

Eric:

yeah, I think that our culture, I think society in general is very youth obsessed and I know definitely the gay culture can be very youth obsessed. Yeah. We were talking about in a couple of our episodes just about that whole thing. And now you have also like the whole daddy thing. And so it gets

Gil:

Yeah. It's once you hit 26 and suddenly you're in daddy mode, I'm like, Oh no, even if I'm old enough now it's not cute.

D.:

That's not my role. Is that what I'm looking to be?

Eric:

you were talking about how you are HIV positive. how was that when you got that news and what was that like? How did that change your life and everything else? I'm sure that was a big hit.

Gil:

Yeah. It's so I don't know if I'm like a sociopath, not in touch with my feelings or something, but I do, I did have a really

D.:

good friend named David at the time so let me start over or let me start from the beginning. I had this boyfriend that I was sleeping with and I ended up, obviously I was sleeping with him. He was my boyfriend and we weren't using protection and, I ended up with a really bad rash in my throat. And I went to a doctor and she said, I want you to go get tested for HIV. So my best friend and I went and got tested at the health department and he got a phone call that said, Hey, you're good. And then we came home to my apartment and I had a letter and

Gil:

said, you need to come down and talk to us. So he said that's probably not a good thing.

D.:

so I went down and they told me that I was HIV positive

Gil:

and, I think by the time that they told me I was already

D.:

in a state of acceptance about it, I wasn't happy about it. But I had gotten to a point where I probably, was accepting of it. I, I'd been sleeping with this guy and edit I'd sleep. I've slept with other guys as well. without protection. I was young and I'm not saying that's an excuse, but I was young and I just, I didn't want to use protection. I don't know why I,

Eric:

we've all been there.

D.:

Yeah. And The meds at that time, there weren't a whole lot of choices. And, one of the meds that they put me on was AZT and I just didn't like the way it made me feel. And, so that time got to be a little scary because I didn't know what my other options were. And I knew that, my doctors said I'm still healthy, but that it's very important for me to, for them to keep me healthy. So at the, this was back in 1994. And so the research showed that if they start early, and keep us healthy, then we'll stay healthy. keep us healthy with medications and healthy living. Then we'll stay healthy. And, I probably actually start taking better care of myself after I was diagnosed. eating right. maybe

Gil:

a little bit more exercise, maybe a little bit and just, working

D.:

on taking care of me. Yeah, they did find, a set of medications that worked well for me, work better for me. And,

Gil:

those were doing the trick

D.:

until I started partying and, I didn't start partying until I was like 27. And once I did, I eventually lost my healthcare, my, health insurance, because I lost my job. I could have gotten medications by going to the health department, but I was even missing my doctor's appointments. I forget about them or I'd call and cancel and they'd say, Hey, you were supposed to be here. I'm like, I canceled that. And I'm like, we don't have records. So my doctor stopped seeing me. They, they didn't want to see me anymore. when I finally, came around, my health wasn't great. luckily the meds by that time were a lot better and, I was able to get my health back on, back under control with minimal side effects and fairly quickly,

Eric:

Oh, that's good. I'm glad to hear that. Yeah.

D.:

And

Gil:

it's been smooth

D.:

sailing ever since for the most part.

Eric:

Oh, that's great. And how long have you been undetectable for?

D.:

let's see.

Gil:

I have

D.:

probably been undetectable for I'd

Gil:

say at least 10 years. Yeah. there was, When I started partying,

D.:

obviously, I was no longer undetectable. and I think I had been undetectable before. I'm pretty sure I was undetectable before that. but that wasn't like back then, like they weren't really looking at the viral load. They were looking at the T cells. but I do think I had gotten to be undetectable, before I started partying. And then, When I back in Oh five, when I worked on getting clean, my doctor didn't have me on the right medications. So it took them probably two years

Gil:

to get me to a point, actually, it

D.:

wasn't until I moved to Albuquerque and they said, you're not on the right meds. That would have been in Oh seven. Gosh, I've been probably undetectable for 12 years over 12 years.

Gil:

Excellent. Or because I know the stigma, especially from the early days when HIV came to the scene in the eighties and early nineties, it was negative. being in the Bay area, that's where we, we say we lost a whole generation of gay men and, we. They always do a big thing in the Castro once a year to commemorate in, just get that out there. That HIV is not a death sentence. Like it was before it's grown so much past it and slowly chipping away. But

D.:

yeah, but you survive.

Gil:

that's a huge thing,

D.:

Gosh, I was diagnosed over 25 years ago. How fantastic is that? That's

Eric:

a wonderful, that's great. And can you talk to us a little bit about, undetectable because I know, I don't know if I think the stigma is still out there. People don't realize that undetectable means pretty much non transmittable. I think that there's still some people that think, Oh, once you're positive, Oh my gosh. And it's just ignorance on society. And I don't think we talk enough about that aspect of it.

Gil:

Yeah.

D.:

Okay. Yeah, sure. Definitely.

Gil:

first of all, undetectable means, they actually changed the

D.:

definition, so for okay. So for about,

Gil:

maybe a month and a half.

D.:

Three or four

Gil:

years ago, I was

D.:

only because the fact that they had changed the definition, it was, had gone from being, I think it was under 75 parts per million. the virus in your blood, dropped it, they dropped it down to 20 parts per million, a virus in your blood. And as long as it was under that, then it meant you were still undetectable. and so just for that little bit of time, my doctor put me on new meds and, I was undetectable again immediately. but, What that means is that there's, such a small amount of virus in your blood that, you can't transmit it to somebody else, that undetectable equals untransmittable. and I think that's the word that they made up, but I'm okay with it.

Eric:

Yeah, I think so too

D.:

well, but it works. and It doesn't mean, go ahead and sleep with anybody. cause there's still, herpes and gonorrhea and chlamydia and syphilis, all those other, warts.

Eric:

Yeah.

D.:

Other things out there, So there's a lot of other stuff you could still get, but. yeah, undetectable means untranslatable. And I do have guys that I chat with who, won't meet with me because of the fact that I have HIV. They don't look at the fact that I'm undetectable. They look at the fact that I've got HIV and I've I'll have conversations with them. And some of them have said, I totally get it. I'm even in healthcare. I totally get it. and I just, I'm still not comfortable with it. So I have to accept that, if someone's not, if they're not comfortable with that, I can't make them be comfortable with it. All I can do is have them have a conversation and leave them with some education. there is still that stigma and

Gil:

It's disappointing,

D.:

I think it's human nature. we can't change people overnight, but if we have the conversations, we can slowly start to change minds over time.

Eric:

that's a beautiful way to say it. And what are your thoughts on PrEP? I know I can't take Truvada. I haven't tried Descovy yet, but I can't take Truvada because I actually ended up in the hospital with. They thought I was in liver failure. Cause my liver just did not react to Truvada. And

Gil:

and so that's an interesting point that you say that

D.:

because,

Gil:

I get

D.:

the idea of wanting to protect yourself by using PrEP. but a condom will protect you just as well. And why would someone do that to their body? Why would someone put a chemical in their body every single day, just so that they can have unprotected sex, but, Because Truvada is really harsh on the body. It can be very harsh on the body. Descovy is much easier on the kidneys and the liver, not quite so harsh. in medicine we talk about the benefits outweighing the risk. And so with Truvada, in my opinion, the risk wasn't worth it. Benefit. the fact that you could go into liver failure, you had, yeah. I, I've heard that before the other people, that just, it was harsh on their body. So with Descovy, it's not as harsh.

Gil:

I think

D.:

that's something where you can look at the benefit does outweigh the risk, but, People take it to an extreme and say, then I'm just gonna take this PrEP and then go out and be a whore, and think about the, The diseases that they're catching and the disease diseases that they're transmitting to others. So it does protect you against contracting HIV, but it doesn't mean that you're not going to catch something else and that you're not going to give it to somebody else.

Eric:

Yeah, that's true. That's true. I think I see a lot of that. I'm actually, while I was on Truvada and I think I was on it for three weeks at the most, and then my body like went haywire. but I had some experience where I wasn't completely careful and then things happen.

D.:

Yeah. And I get that.

Gil:

and I also, okay. So another thing, go back to my younger self.

D.:

If PrEP had been available back then, I probably would have been on it. I probably wouldn't have gotten HIV, because, I would have wanted to still have, I have unprotected sex, And it's interesting. Cause when I did go to the doctor, she told me I had gonorrhea in my throat. from my boyfriend, because of all the, whoever else you've been on with. And, that wasn't the first time I'd gotten gonorrhea from him and I've gotten chlamydia from him. he just, he slept around with a lot of different people. I wasn't partying at that time, but he was, and he was a big walking mess. And, I just, I was too young to know, to take care of myself. So yeah, maybe if it had been available when I was younger, it would have been a good thing. So like I said, it really does depend on, the benefit outweighing the risk and with Descovy. Yeah. The benefit can outweigh the risk and so I could see that, but

Eric:

It's another tool in the toolbox too. Like it's something else to help you like another barrier to help keep you protected, but shouldn't be taken for granted as the only

D.:

yeah. Yeah.

Gil:

and it's I think it's also. And it also definitely has its place

D.:

in a situation where somebody, where two guys are dating and one of them's positive and one of. Them's not because then again, there's that extra layer of protection that, okay, you're taking your meds and you're taking them every day to make sure that you stay undetectable,

Gil:

but also

D.:

you take your meds to make sure that if anything happens, there's any blips. You won't get it either. I

Eric:

think that's a good way to look at it. I think that's a good use for it as well. So you're talking about, partying and how you weren't partying at the time, but then later you were partying and you probably were not undetectable then, when did you start partying? What did that entail for you?

Gil:

Okay.

D.:

so I was in a relationship with a guy and,

Gil:

he

D.:

was very jealous. and very insecure and he didn't want me to talking to other people. Like I would be on the phone with my friends and he would hate it because of the fact that I was, I seem to be having more fun with them than I was having with him. These are people that I had known five years or more I, of course I was having great conversations with them because I know them for a really long time. So the longer we were together, the. Less, I would talk to my friends because I just, I didn't want to deal with the headaches and stuff like that. So when we broke up, I didn't really know anybody. Like I didn't have any friends. And I didn't know how to make friends. So I went out to clubs, and I met a guy and we were talking to stuff and, he's Oh, they're partying. I'm like, what do you mean? He's they're on drugs. I'm like, how do you know? And he's I can just tell I'm like, how can you tell, this whole thing was just completely foreign to me because I had drank and I had, and I was 27 at the time I had drank and I had smoked weed sometimes, but I hadn't really done anything beyond that. and I say, I hadn't really, I hadn't really, I never done anything beyond that. I had smoked weed and that was it. And I kept my drinking very much in check because my dad had been an alcoholic. He did find recovery. He found AA. And, he died with 27 years sober, 27 or 28 years sober, I think 27. so yeah. Yeah. And it was great, but I watched my drinking because I remember a few times getting very drunk and thinking, Oh, I think I drank, like my dad did, I don't want to do that. I don't want to be an alcoholic. So I would be, I was very cautious when I drank, And this guy is sitting here telling me, they're on ecstasy. I'm like, how can you tell? And he's look at them, touching each other and just all over each other. And it's they're, they're stoned. I'm like, how can you tell? And he's he's sitting here pointing all these different things out to me. And it's so weird because when I first came out, All I knew is people were, drinking and maybe doing Coke in the bathroom because he could tell, you'd hear the sniffing and they'd come out and be all wired. that wasn't my scene. And, cause that was what my ex was doing. And, inside, I didn't want to be around that. all of a sudden, I'm out of the scene for two years and everybody's like doing all these crazy drugs and I'm just like, what?

Gil:

And

D.:

Those drugs have been around for a while. but I think that they had actually found there a way for the most part to like Tampa, they were studio 54. I don't really remember ever seeing anybody on ecstasy or anything like that before that. I met a guy a few days later, or a week later, two weeks later. I don't know. I saw him dancing at a club. and he was actually one of the dancers at the club at hired. And I just, I love the way he moved and I just, I dunno, I just kept giving him dollars even. I was just, I was,

Eric:

I love me a good go-go boy. So

Gil:

I got

D.:

it.

Gil:

The

D.:

biggest thing was just the way he moved his body. He just was, he really was good and he was just so cute and he and I are actually still friends today. Yeah. And stuff was back gosh, long time ago.

Gil:

and

D.:

when he finished his study, he was like, I got to go home to Orlando. he's but he,

Gil:

I don't remember if we exchanged numbers. I don't think we did. I don't even remember if,

D.:

no, he has cell phones were a thing then, but, anyway,

Gil:

the following week,

D.:

I saw him. at a different club in Tampa. And he was like, searching the dance floor, like crazy, like looking at. So I'm standing by the side, just looking and looking. And I tapped him on the shoulder and I wave and I kept going and he reached out with both hands and pulled me back and he's

Gil:

like you, so it turns out he had

D.:

come over from Orlando to find me, which was pretty cool. That's

Eric:

awesome.

D.:

And so we just hung out that night and then we ended up going to

Gil:

Orlando and then.

D.:

I stay the night in Orlando and, the next night it must've been a holiday weekend cause I didn't have to work on Monday. So he's do you want a party? I was like, I don't know if that means it's you want to split a hit of ecstasy? And I said, okay, sure. Because at that point I didn't know how to fit in anymore, because of my relationship that had just ended. And then this guy, Joe pointing to me about how everybody in the club was doing drugs. I. I assume that's what you do now to fit in, because I didn't know how, I didn't know what to do. here's this hot guy offers me ecstasy and I said, okay. And I enjoyed it. I loved it. I woke up the next day singing I was singing Expose, you're taking me

Gil:

there.

D.:

And I don't even think I've

Gil:

thought about it that

D.:

way, but I was just, I did, I woke up singing. I had a really good time that night and I just. Felt accepted. And, like I fit in without having to try, I wasn't this a square peg in a round hole, I just was there. and it was neat and I enjoyed it. And then, I found out that my neighbors across the hall, to go to Orlando, once a month and do ecstasy. So I ended up, going with them. one weekend and then, the following month we went again and then I was like, do we have to wait so long? Can we do it again? And before I knew it, we were going like, every weekend and they were getting stuff and it was expensive. So I found a way to get stuff cheaper. And, I found a way to supplement my income and supplement my using and, I before I knew it, like I had tried just about every drug there is just about, I never shot anything up. and, I'm in narcotics anonymous now and I've got 13 years clean.

Eric:

Okay. That's

D.:

awesome. Thanks guys. Thank you.

Gil:

but like we say that there's the yet

D.:

and one of the things I've I've never done is I have not yet shot up. And as long as I stay clean and keep going to meetings, I never will. But, for the most part I had tried just about everything and, like we wanted to try and find ways to stay up longer to party from Friday to Monday. And, it was a slow, downward spiral, but it was just like a toilet. you start at the top and you've got these wide circles, but by the bottom, it was a very tight, downward spiral. I had lost my job. I lost my insurance. my health insurance. I was losing my health. I was losing my mind. I was losing my friends. And I just didn't know how to stop. Like I couldn't drive my car anymore, because my license had been suspended and then I got caught driving on a suspended license, so they took my license and then, the plates were expired. My insurance had lapsed long before that. And, someone had broken into my car and all it took was some change, but they broke my window. And so it was like all these things. And I lived in Florida at the time and we were having a lot of hurricanes at that time. And so here I am. I had to like, tape my windows shut with like plastic bags and stuff. And it just, that was one of my finest moments. And, I can look back at that, that the partying was fun for awhile, but then it got to be fun with problems. By the end, it was just problems, and I gotten arrested and I'm grateful that I got arrested because I don't know if I would have stopped on my own. I wanted to stop, but I didn't know how to stop. And I would go like 30 days, without using and say, Oh, I'm not addicted. And then I would try and go 30 days. And it would be like, okay, my weed use, kicked up a notch or eight notches because of the fact that I wasn't doing anything else. And then I tried to go 30 days and I couldn't go one day without my drug of choice. And, I said, I guess maybe I'm an addict now. And I just said, okay. And I just kept on. Cause I just, I wasn't ready to stop.

Eric:

And, relapses often a part of active recovery.

D.:

I had my relapses, I had several, and I was even on house arrest,

Gil:

Okay. So I don't think I had

D.:

any relapses on house arrest. Once I got off house arrest, though, I would go hang out with my old friends in Tampa. we're down in Miami and every time I went to the same places, I would do the same things. if I was hanging out with the same people in the same places, I would go right back to the same things and,

Gil:

So

D.:

relapsing for me. just, and the drug use, it was slowly killing me in the inside. And I just, I didn't know who I was anymore. I could be in a room full of people and still feel alone. I would stay on my phone. I didn't want to be with, be around. I didn't want to interact with people. I was more interested in interacting with my phone and interacting with people and we didn't even have Facebook back then. It was just a matter of like I'd be on AOL chat rooms. I would be playing video games on my phone. I was escaping reality. I didn't want to be a part of anymore, And through working the steps in NA, I learned to get some self-acceptance. And I think that's one thing that a lot of us, who are gay in the LGBTQ community, we deal with self-acceptance we just don't accept ourselves. And some of us that profess so hard to be self accepting. A lot of times aren't like, we're just trying to convince everybody else that we are. And, and I felt like I was accepting of myself when I wasn't and,

Gil:

it took

D.:

working steps and really digging in, to find myself again and to learn, to love myself again, and to get a connection with myself, with my higher power and with the rest of the world, with my friends and with anybody with you guys, so when I would relapse, Every time I would relapse. I would tell my friends by the end of the weekend, I can't come see you guys. If I'm going to relapse every time I'd come see you. And then by the time it came time to go see them, I was ready to do it again, and I would wait a few months, but I was ready to party all over again. And every time I would do it, I would end up in front of the computer high, trying to meet guys online every single time. And, It was never different. I didn't meet anybody. I was still high and I still had that same empty feeling inside. so I'm sitting here chasing, relationships that just weren't there. one thing I like about NA is I can chase relationships that are there, they're there for me in ways that I can't even often be there for myself. So that's a really cool thing. But, I know people who relapsed, they don't make it back, they die or they just, they live a half-life and they're suicidal and their health just gets terrible. I, one of my friends, she went crazy. Like she relapsed, she seriously went crazy. She tried to attack my friend with scissors. It was bad. and actually that was a guy that I sponsored and he relapsed and he ended up dying eventually. And so that's a tough thing too, but I know it wasn't my fault. He died. Cause I did everything for him that I could, and it was actually several years after I wasn't sponsoring him anymore that he ended up dying he OD'd. but, and I actually know a lot of us that have OD'd because addiction is a life or death matter and. For those of us in a community that can be so judgmental of each other anyways, it can be even harder. cause gay people can just be some of the most judgmental of anybody cause we're not accepting of ourselves. So that's, makes it harder for us to accept others. it just can really be, a struggle on so many levels when you're gay and addicted. narcotics anonymous has given me a home. I've always felt welcome when I go to meetings and AA, I've gone to both fellowships, especially when I first moved over here. we didn't have NA, we only had AA, so I started going to AA meeting and I had people take me under their wing and I just, I felt a part of, for the first time, in a long time,

Gil:

the party

D.:

scene, even though I felt like I was a part of it, There was always that doubt of, are these people, my friends, or did they like the fact that I have drugs? And I remember asking my friend, Tom, once, am I your friend first and, or your dealer first? And he said, you're my dealer. And we're friends. I think he said it to be a Dick. because he, some

Gil:

of the stuff that I saw

D.:

him do to other people, was, Just purely spiteful and mean he broke up a

Gil:

couple, like two

D.:

guys that he'd known for years. I had a boyfriend, he broke them up on purpose. I only know what the whole background behind that was. I don't know if the guy had come between him and a relationship in the past or what, but, this was like 12 years later and he got his revenge. I don't know if he was just trying to be spiteful or not, but, honestly it really doesn't matter either. that's the way he looked at it and I, I was just like, damn, I didn't think that was very cool, but, that's where I was, my, one of my best friends actually considered me to be as dealer and not as friends.

Gil:

so

D.:

yeah, coming into NA was the lifesaver coming into recovery was a lifesaver. There is a drag queen that set me up when I got arrested and, her name was Divinity. So I, say that it was divine intervention that I got arrested. six weeks before I got arrested, I remember looking up at the ceiling and I said, God, how can I just go back to sleep again? Every night? That's all I wanted to do was be able to go back to sleep again. and I got arrested. And I slept a lot in jail. I slept a lot in jail. There was not much else to do yeah. So let's see.

Gil:

I the guys I sponsor now, one

D.:

of them is struggling so hard and keeps relapsing and, he's

Gil:

going through it so bad that just,

D.:

that enough is enough to keep me clean because I just see the struggles. And he just cries on the phone with me and it's just this soul wrenching cry to hear him, the soul wrenching cry that he has and I'm hearing him just tears me apart. And It just, it helps me to, it spurs me on to work on my program more and helps me to, try to be more understanding with him, when he does relapse. Cause I know he's struggling, addiction as a disease and people don't see it that way. Not everybody sees it that way, but. Yeah, it's a long as long as I remember that it is, and my medicine is recovery. The treatment is recovery. I always have a fighting chance, but until I forget that, or if I forget that, I need NA, or I'm not going to stay clean. if I ever forget that, then I'm in danger. You know what I mean? Danger of relapse. my sponsees has helped me to remember that it's a matter of life and death. that's

Eric:

a very powerful message. And thank you for sharing that with us. for people who don't know, what are the 12 steps?

D.:

okay, so a lot of recovery programs that are, like the fellowships out there that are not necessarily, rehab based or, behavioral therapy based, there's 12 steps and the 12 steps are, things that we do that help us to uncover, our human nature and, help us to look at the patterns, in ourselves that, Might be leading us to relapse, my sponsor. And I came up with this, that the 12 steps are a path to bring us back to a relationship with ourselves, our higher power and the world around us. we, do inventories, moral inventory of ourselves to see our good and our bad. we make amends. We, try to just live a better life and then try to help try to share it with others. So I can tell you it's

Gil:

all 12 of them if you want. But I think you just mean

D.:

in general, what are they about?

Eric:

Yeah. it's either way. thank you for that. so are you still reading your, I listened to your. Meeting that you sent me. Oh, okay. Yeah. Are you still, reciting, you said that your sponsor had asked you to read certain things every day and to make your bed every day. And.

Gil:

Oh, yeah. Oh yeah. Gosh, that was a long

D.:

time ago that he first asked me that. Yes. we have something called the Just for today. It's a daily meditation and I do read that every single day. keep it my bathroom

Gil:

every morning. and then I also

D.:

get it on my email and I share it to a couple of recovery groups that I'm a part of on Facebook. And one of them, we have 1600 gay men in recovery and it's pretty cool. And. I, one of the guys I sponsor, he spoke at one of our meetings the other day and he told them all about how I had started this group. And it's funny. Cause I don't think about the fact that I started this group that has 1600 guys in it. I just think about the fact that, I'm just, I'm giving back what was given to me. Like I don't think about it in that way. So when he said that, I was just like, I'm torn because it's humbling and it's great to be a part of that. but at the same time, it's just, it feels good to be able to have, to be able to reach that many people and help them. and yeah, I make my bed every day. If you can

Gil:

see it's here behind me, it's made, I don't make my bed, what I'm doing

D.:

on sheets day. And then I wash my sheets and then make it at the end of the day.

Gil:

And then another thing, like

D.:

my, my current sponsor, he had me telling myself I'm enough and that was really powerful, just to tell myself every single day for two weeks, all day long, I'm enough. and I encourage anybody who's struggling with anything, addiction, or just not feeling like you're enough and not you're struggling with self-acceptance. just remind yourself, remember that you're enough. I'm enough, none of us are junk. We were all put on this planet for a purpose and, we don't always know what that purpose is, but, as long as I know that I'm enough, it doesn't matter. And I just have to do my best every single day.

Eric:

I think that's a really important message. And thank you for sharing that. I know I suffer from depression and so I have to give myself affirmations many times a day just to make it through sometimes more than others, depending on where my mood is. But, yeah, I think an important message.

D.:

you're enough. Don't forget it.

Eric:

Thank you. And so are you. Thank you.

Gil:

Thanks.

Eric:

What lessons have you. I know you've given us a lot already, but what lessons have you learned from everything that you've been through? And,

Gil:

so I think one thing is,

D.:

I don't regret the past.

Gil:

getting arrested, made it much more challenging

D.:

to

Gil:

get my

D.:

x-ray license, to be, I. He made it a lot more challenging because when they pulled my background, the school didn't even want to let me in. And when I show them that I had already been pre-screened and approved by our national organization, that made them reconsider it a little bit.

Gil:

And then when I called and said,

D.:

I was told by the president of another national organization that you guys can't deny me coming in because of the fact that, addiction is a disease and you are persecuting me for having a disease. and or discriminating against me for having a disease. So when I said that

Gil:

and left that on a voicemail, they all of a sudden called back and said, Oh, look, we managed to figure out a way to,

D.:

accept you in another program. So I thought that was interesting, that they managed to find. A way around my background, but then once it came time to actually get my license with the state of Florida, I had to go through all of it again. And I had to, write a letter and then the lady wanted to talk to me about it. And I had to recount it all with her. And I almost cried on the phone with her several times. And she said, I don't see any reason why we can't accept you. You know why we can't give you a license? And No, I was just so grateful, but so I don't regret my past, but at the same time, I don't recommend to anybody else to go down that path. if I could do it over again, I probably would have done some things differently because, it, it definitely has made a lot more challenges, but at the same time, I wouldn't be who I am today without my past. So I don't regret my past, but I use it as a tool to help me to do better today. to help me not to give up, I, at times when I want to give up, because I've been through a lot and never given up and every time it seems like there's always an extra hoop for me to jump through or 10 hoops for me to jump through, but I don't give up no matter what, I just keep going. And, So as far as that goes, if anyone's thinking about giving up just don't give up five minutes before the miracle happens, because you never know when that miracle is going to come, but if you give up, you'll never get it.

Gil:

and I guess

D.:

another lesson is, just, if you're in a relationship and things start to not feel right, Then have a conversation with your partner. like I had that jealous partner that,

Gil:

wasn't willing to

D.:

let me have my friends and that's not a good relationship. That's not healthy. It was a very unhealthy relationship. And I remember when I broke up with him, I told him, I said, I'm not happy in this relationship anymore. He said, I'll do whatever I need to do to make you happy. And I'm like, that's not healthy either.

Gil:

That's not a healthy relationship for

D.:

either of us.

Gil:

You should be happy.

D.:

I should be happy, but neither one of us should be doing something to make each other happy. We should just be happy together. And if we're not, then we need to, or separate ways. And I think that's another thing that's important is, finding your own happiness and staying true to it, without it sacrificing your own happiness or someone else's, and your own truth, don't sacrifice your own truth for somebody else.

Gil:

Anything, another one is don't do drugs. If you haven't started don't

D.:

I don't recommend it. I,

Gil:

I had

D.:

a really

Gil:

great time,

D.:

we would go to circuit

Gil:

parties,

D.:

in Orlando and Chicago and

Gil:

Atlanta and Dallas. I had really good

D.:

times down in Miami, of course, down at Miami. I had a good time. I had so much fun. so like I said, I don't regret the past. but at the same time, it's it definitely created some wreckage just like when you, when I talk about the risks and the benefits, it's so did the, did the challenges I'm dealing with today outweigh the benefits of the fun I had back then? so I don't even know, but I know that, like I said, it's made me who I am today, so I don't regret it.

Eric:

I'm glad it's all sound

Gil:

advice, especially for people younger listening and are like, Oh, I have a question about this. Especially like a relationship advice and stuff like that, or, yeah, they're new to the scene.

D.:

Yeah. I was young and I was, sacrificing my happiness for my boyfriend's happiness both times, and the one I didn't even want to be with them from the beginning and he just kept on and kept on and kept on and kept on. So I finally said, yeah, and he was the jealous one, the other one. he, I don't know. I just wanted, I wanted to be with him so badly and I just, I don't know why, I was young. Yeah.

Eric:

And we're young and impressionable, so

D.:

yeah.

Gil:

one thing I want to throw it out. the one that gave me

D.:

HIV,

Gil:

I had always wondered what happened

D.:

to him. Like he disappeared. I found him on Facebook a few years ago and we talked a little bit and then he disappeared and I thought, is he in jail again? Or is he dead? and

Gil:

about a little over a month

D.:

ago, he found me. And he's

Gil:

Hey,

D.:

baby, it's my birthday and I'm stuck. Can you send me $70? I need a tire. He's like my tire blew. And I was thinking this motherfucker, I haven't talked to him yet years and he

Gil:

has the nerve.

D.:

And, I just said, no,

Gil:

I thought of all the different things that I could say.

D.:

And, like after

Gil:

all you've put me through,

D.:

but I didn't say any of that. I just said, No. And he said, boy, I'm just fucking with you. I don't need money for a tire. He's I don't even live in Florida anymore. He was like, I'm just messing with you. I was like, wow.

Gil:

So it was funny,

D.:

but it was frustrating, and then a few weeks later, or a week or two later, he said, he asked me for 25 bucks and I was like, no, And he's Oh, I already pulled that on you. Didn't I'm like

Gil:

if I can't find somebody

D.:

or my mom or somebody about twenty-five dollars from he's there's a problem. He's don't worry, I'm working my own jobs. I've got my own money. He's I just thought it would be funny. I was like, yeah. First time was funny the second time. Not so much. Yeah. we, I guess bro, we're able to have a friendship today.

Eric:

Oh, that's good. That's great.

D.:

Yeah, I like that.

Eric:

So what kind of things do you have going on

D.:

now? if he didn't know I'm an x-ray tech, and I really enjoy that. I'm studying to be an MRI technologist, and I will finish that in April. amazing. I'm making more money than I've ever made. I don't know. I probably made some pretty good money when I was selling drugs, but I never really, looked at how much I was making it just, it was about the drug, but, I'm making more money legally than I've ever made in my life. And I enjoy that. and if it hadn't been for the. commitment that you learn and the dedication that you learned in narcotics anonymous. I don't know that I would have done well in school, but for the four years that I was in school, I only got one B and that was beyond my control. That was in our first clinical semester. And my clinical instructor ended up having to leave because she had to have back surgery and so a different lady. They graded us and she's I just don't believe in giving A's for your first semester of clinical rotations. And Other than that I got straight A's, and, I don't react the same way I used to, I'm able to take a step back and, Evaluate how I want to react rather than just jumping in there. And, like I did with my ex I was able to evaluate how I wanted to respond rather than just jumping in there. And that has really helped me, at my clinical site. It has helped me at work. And I was working full time as an x-ray tech and because of COVID, like I said, I think at the beginning, they had to drop me down to as needed or part-time, and right now I'm just, I, I need to focus on school. So I've got some other work that I've already picked up. and I've got another job that I, work part-time I got two jobs right after I graduated school and I kept both of them. So one of them, I was working. Once or twice a month. So I'm able to pick up some extra shifts there. And both of those are an x-ray. I, also got involved in some, direct sales jobs. I saw something called Norwex, which I love it's. It's all about, clean. like environmentally conscious products. So that just speaks to my heart. And then I also, sell pampered chef and that speaks to my belly,

Gil:

both of those.

D.:

I'm resourceful today and I'm able to stay resourceful within legal means. and, keep this thing moving forward and, in what five and a half months I'll be graduated and I'll be a, I've been an MRI tech.

Gil:

I'll still keep doing, the direct sales jobs most likely because the one,

D.:

environmentally conscious, movements really speak to my heart have ever since I was a little kid. So to be a part of that is just huge. It's something bigger than me. And if I can help others to do that as well, then that's great. It's like NA, I'm able to give back and I'm able to, also with the environment, I'm able to do my part, to try and help, us to live healthier lives more naturally and not have a negative impact on the environment. And, What else do I have going on today? I bought my first new car back in March.

Gil:

Congratulations.

D.:

Thanks. That's the first time I ever bought a brand new car, I had bought one that was only like six months old. and then, when I was in Albuquerque, I bought a car that was like two years old and neither one of them had high mileage on it, but this one had 27 miles on it. Oh, yeah. And I really like it. there's been times when I, when I come out of a store I'm like, Oh, that's my car. It's really cool. I, I like it. And,

Gil:

I'm still single part of that is by choice,

D.:

because I'm not willing to compromise myself today. my exes have shown me what I don't want in a relationship. But, at the same time, it should be nice to have somebody to share my life with. So maybe once I'm graduated and

Gil:

I'll tell you what

D.:

I don't ever want to go back to school after this, I,

Gil:

when I first went back to

D.:

school back in 2015, it was cool. I got into it. And then I went right into my x-ray program and then I took about a year off and,

Gil:

it was so

D.:

difficult to try and get back into the mode into that study mode. And,

Gil:

But,

D.:

I'm just doing it because I know it's gonna, it's going to give me a better life. And, I have an opportunity. My mom's let me live with her right now while I finished school. so I'm taking advantage of that and I'm going to, get my license, an MRI, do what I really wanted to do when I left Albuquerque. There was, two big reasons why I left. One of them was that I wanted to go back to school to be an MRI tech. The other one was that I wanted to have some more time with my dad before he passed away. So he ended up passing away in May of 2016. So I had almost a whole year. Of, getting to reconnect with him, and reestablish our relationship. and then, I had to do two years

Gil:

of pre-recs two years of Ray

D.:

radiation or radiology school, a year off to try and get some finances back in order. And then now I'm, Going to be an MRI tech soon. And what's good about this is I'm able to at least stay working while I'm doing that. So my, my credit, by the time I got out of the x-ray school was really bad. I had gotten up to mid to high seven hundreds. And it was like five something. When I got out of x-ray school. So I've built that back up. I'm

Gil:

almost to 700

D.:

and,

Gil:

just,

D.:

credit doesn't necessarily equal a good life, but it helps.

Gil:

Yeah.

Eric:

Very true. Yeah. True after school, I had to build up my credit.

Gil:

Yeah

D.:

know,

Gil:

things,

D.:

life is good today. I still go to meetings. I still sponsor guys. I'm. Dependable at work, I'm honest. they know that, they can trust me. So I like that. that wasn't me 15, 20 years ago.

Gil:

Congratulations. everything you've done. like I said, the journey has been long and windy and a lot of cliffs here and there, but like I said, you kept pursuing through it and that's just, that's excellent. That's you know, people definitely look up to that is like their stories. There's good stories. Not everyone, falls into the pan and never gets up.

D.:

No, he kept fighting. Exactly. And one thing that helps me to remember that I haven't survived all my toughest days to give up, I

Gil:

guess

D.:

maybe I want to put it, I've survived every single one of my toughest days to this point. And I can survive today. Yeah, no matter how bad it gets.

Eric:

Yeah, definitely.

D.:

That's for anybody out there, if you've survived every single one of your toughest days to this point, then you can make it another day too.

Eric:

Absolutely. And do you, we had another guest on, and we're talking a lot of similar situations and they're talking about like the fear of asking for help. And so many people are scared to ask for help and had he just asked for help sooner. It would have been like right there, but we're so against asking for help in a lot of ways.

Gil:

The

D.:

first time I got arrested, I asked my friends for help and they were able to bail me out. The second time I got arrested, which is okay. So I got arrested like the Monday after my birthday or the Tuesday after my birthday. And then the following year I got arrested again the Tuesday after my birthday. And this was of course after, already asking God for help and saying, Hey, how can I go to sleep? So I was like, okay, I get it. I get it. There's a sign here. And there's a pad. I don't need to be hit over the head by with a two-by-four. I, I guess it depends on who I'm asking for help. when it, when I was in jail and I just didn't know what else to do, I didn't have any problems asking my friends for help when I was in jail. The second time my dad was a drug court counselor by then, and I felt really bad about having to tell them that I had gotten arrested. And then I had to tell them this isn't the first time I got arrested. This is the second time I got arrested for drugs. that was, it was challenging. but I knew I needed help.

Gil:

I

D.:

think part of it depends on who I need to ask the help of and what the situation is. So if I'm at work, and it involves patient care and it's something I don't know how to do, I'll ask for help. cause I don't want to have, I don't want to do the wrong thing with the patient. I don't want to cause any issues for them. it's taken a long time to learn, to ask my mom for help. but I do now, It's funny. I can ask her for the help on big stuff. It's the little stuff that sometimes I used to have a harder time asking her for help, but I've gotten better about that. I've also gotten my mom's probably the toughest person for me to say. I'm sorry to also not because I'm not sorry, but because I just, I think part of it is because then I have to admit that I had hurt her. And so I don't like that. I hurt my mom. So when I have to say, I'm sorry to her it's tough, but, Yeah, a lot of us have issues asking for help, but today, it's not so difficult.

Eric:

that's good to hear and thank you so much for stopping by and being so open and honest with us and with our listeners. We really appreciate it. I think everything you've shared with us just shows a Testament to your strength and character, and I'm so happy for all your successes and. It's just thankful that you are willing to be a part of all of this. So thank you very much.

D.:

Thank you so much. And you so much for having me.

Eric:

Absolutely. You're welcome back anytime and thank you to all of our listeners and we'll catch you next time in the Q

Gil:

lounge.

If you or anyone, you know, or love is suffering from substance abuse. Or has any mental health issues? Please call the substance abuse and mental health service administration. SAMHSA at +1 800-662-4357 that's 1 800-662-HELP

Gil:

Thank you for joining us. We hope you enjoyed your time in the Q lounge. If you have any questions, comments, suggestions on topics, or you would like to be a guest or contributor, please email us at info.TheQlounge@gmail.Com or through our contact page at theqloungepodcast.com while you're there hit that subscribe button or listen wherever you get your podcast. If you would like to further support us, hit that donation button

Eric:

until next time live in your authenticity.