Thursday, March 31, 2011
I was an U.S. Air Force veteran from 1999 to 2003. I love serving my country and serving the people of this country. Even there are a lot of people that do not support war I’ve always thought that the supports of the troops that are fighting in the war are what and who’s important. But what war are we fighting? And are we actually in it together? The only time I felt that the military was truly united was when the, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy” ended.
In the military I had my ups and downs. The ups were I had great friends and I was accepted by a lot of people on base. Even though they knew that I was gay, a lot of my co-workers didn’t care. All that many of them cared about was that I did my job. That is all I cared about, all I wanted to do was to serve my country the best way I knew how, until one night that all changed…
One night in the summer of 2002 I was at the club off Florida Ave in NW DC called the 501 Club, which is no longer open. It was a great night of dancing, and hanging out with friends, but little did I know someone was watching me. I left the club a little earlier because I was way too tired to stay until the club closed. When I got to my car I hear a voice yell out at me, “Justin, hey yo Justin wussup man?” I looked up and it was my friend, Brown Sugar. I should’ve known he was bad news because Brown Sugar could stand for B.S. After some idle conversation Sugar suggested that we got to IHOP for a bite to eat. I eventually told him that I would love to eat because I was always hungry after the club. Sugar didn’t drive so I had to drive us there. He told me that he needed to get money from his house. I should’ve known there was something wrong but I was so naïve at that time in my life, I didn’t pick up on any kind of red flags. On the way to his house which he was directing me to, we had a good conversation he was the nicest guy. When we got to, “his place” I noticed that a lot of the roughhouses were dark and it didn’t look inhabited.
Sugar asked, “Justin why don’t you get out the car and come upstairs with me?” “I think I will stay in the car”. Then I looked at his eyes and I noticed something didn’t seem right, something was off about him and the way he looked at me. Instead of the light I once saw in his eyes I saw a shallow darkness. Sugar immediately grabbed the keys out of the car’s ignition. “Kiss me” he said. “I don’t want to, give me back my keys.” He persisted and said, “Come on baby, now you know I’ve been watching you for years. I’ve wanted you since I’ve laid eyes on you”. I said, “Listen I just wanted to eat so lets just go and eat and I can drop you home”. All of a sudden I heard a click, and looked down. He had pulled out a six inch knife on me. I was stunned and in shock. He then started to yell, “Now this is the last time I’m going to ask you, give me a kiss or I’m going to stab you”. I refused again and he punched me in the face, I was a little dizzy, he began to yell again but this time and held the knife to my neck. “Now pull down your fucking pants”. I actually tried to open the driver’s side door but he pull me back and began to hit me again and again. He hit me so hard that I black out for a bit. He put me on my stomach in the car seat pulled down my pants and proceeded to rape me. I felt empty inside as it was happening as if I had to numb myself to get away from the hurt I was feeling physically but most of all mentally.
After Sugar was done with me he told me to get out of the car. I refused. The I saw a bright light and the car next to us caught on fire. For no reason I couldn’t explain why it id. He yelled louder for me to get out. I knew in my head if I got out of the car he would steal it and then I would be stranded in Southeast DC. The part of Southeast that I was in was the ghetto and I would be alone. He still had the keys and got out the car he raced over to my side of the car and attempted to open the car door, when he put the key in the car door I knew that my chance to escape. I pushed the door open so hard and fast it hit his leg and he lost his balance and fell to the ground. I got out of the car and wrestled him for the keys, he bit me on my hand and I kicked him in the balls. He fell to the ground and I ran. I screamed and yelled for help but at that hour in that part of DC nobody seemed like they wanted to help. I saw some houses with lights on about a block away, so I ran to the occupied houses seeking help. I knocked and knocked on door asking yelling for help. Then I heard very loud footsteps coming my way, they were running, Then I heard Sugar yelled, “Get him he is right there”. I then stopped knocking on the houses and ran up the street. As I looked back I could see someone running after me with a knife. I was lucky to be quicker and smaller than he was. Sugar’s accomplice was a little overweight and he couldn’t keep up with me. I out ran him and ran and ran and ran. I ran for a long time across a community baseball field to a metro stop. There was a bus starting its early morning route. I stopped him and told the bus driver what had happened to me. He took me to the nearest police station. When I got there I felt like I was being interrogated even when I was the victim. After hours of questioning they said they had found a car like the one that caught on fire and my car that was sitting right next to the burnt car was still intact. They took me to my car to identify it and then took me to Howard University Hospital to see a Rape Nurse. I was cotton swabbed everywhere. They tested me for everything including HIV. After the whole ordeal I had finally driven myself home to Dover Air Force Base.
While I was in the Air Force I started dating a Marine named Anderson. We met in a very cute way. I was working at the Military Post Office and Anderson came in to send a package to Germany. I sat there and flirted with him and then he asked me out. I was so happy because a lot of my friends on base thought that Anderson was so handsome and hot. Anderson was 5’10, clean cut, muscular, almond doe-eyed milk chocolate skinned man. He was so hot just about all the females on base wanted him and of course a lot of us brothers too. So Anderson and I went out to dinner and then took a walk on the boardwalk in Rehoboth beach Delaware. When he dropped me home I saw there were flowers at my door. I looked at the flowers with embarrassment. I looked at him and said, “I’m so sorry I have no idea who sent these flowers to me”. “It is okay baby, look at the card”. I looked and it said, “Thank you to a wonderful date that I have been looking forward to and many more – Anderson” I blushed and he asked me out on another date. I gladly accepted. After that we went on many more dates. But I noticed a change in him. He would call me stupid sometimes and tell me to shut up. He started isolating me from my friends and my family. He would monitor me wherever I would go. Calling me at odd hours of the night and e-mailing me to make sure I was a work. The scary part was I wasn’t safe on base or anywhere else. Since he was military too he could follow me anywhere I went, and did. When he first hit me he then cried and promised it wouldn’t happen again and I believed him. He actually said one time while he hit me, “I do this because I love you”. He said a lot of things when before or after he hurt me that resonated with me. But the only thing is that I couldn’t ask for help. I couldn’t ask anyone in my chain of command. They would have thrown me out dishonorably for sure. I didn’t know what do to. The last and final altercation we got into I decided to fight back. I told him I would be in at around 2AM because my friend Chris and I were going out in Rehoboth Beach. After the club Chris’ car was parked at my house, he was tired and was drinking so I drove him straight home, then I drove myself home. The time was about 2:15AM when I got home. I walked into my apt and then the lights came on by themselves. It scared me I turned and there Anderson stood looking mad as hell. “Where were you?”, he stated. I was shocked. “How did you get into my apt?” I asked. Before I knew it he had punch me in the face, “He said answer my question and what is that little bitch Chris’ car doing in your driveway?” We fought but I was not match for him. He beat me that night for getting in 15 minutes later than I said I was going to get in. The next morning I woke up and got us coffee in the morning. I was in the kitchen, when it dawned on me that there is nobody that can help me but me right now. I ran to the kitchen and got an old frying pan and woke him up. I told him to leave my apt. he refused and after counting to three I hit him with the frying pan. He got up and picked up his clothes. We fought again but this time we actually went through the glass front door of the apt. We both were bloody but he ran to his car. A week later I started getting notes on my car stating, “I like when you wake up in the morning. I like when you rush to get in your car - Anderson” with the note there was a picture of me getting ready for work and getting in my car. I couldn’t believe it Anderson was watching me all the time and he wanted me to know it. I then left him a note on my car stating, “If I catch you anywhere near me, my property, family or friends, I’m going to take my new M9 and put a hole in your head”. After that he left me alone. Years later I saw him at a club in Baltimore. He saw me and he avoided me like the plague.
I felt alone even though I had many friends I couldn’t tell them about this. I couldn’t even tell my superior about it. Why? Because of the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy”. If I would’ve told my Commanding Officer about this I would’ve questioned on why I was at that particular club. Who was I there with? Who else do I know who goes to that club? They would’ve made me feel like I was the victim. For the military in this case, it’s about how you got in the predicament you’re in. The military’s old policy on homosexually hurt a lot of people. I just hope that the scares of others will heal with time.
Here is my interview with The Guys At brunch
Thursday, March 17, 2011
On February 27, 1966 Alison Gertz was born to a prominent family in New York. When she was 16 she had her first sexual encounter. She was infected with HIV. At the age of 22 after being sick and spending several weeks in the hospital Gertz doctors couldn't understand what was wrong with her. At this time HIV/AIDS was known as a Gay or Intravenous drug users disease, so she was not tested, at least at first. Her doctor then tested her for HIV and the tested came up positive. This young beautiful women who came from a prominent New York family was diagnosed with HIV. It was shocking and she became one of the first women known to be infected with the HIV virus and also to be public about her HIV status. When Gertz found out that she was positive she began to speak to young people about protecting themselves against the HIV virus, she became an HIV activist. During Gertz' time as an activist, she was voted Woman of the Year by Esquire magazine, received the Secretary's Award for Excellence in Public Service from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, and a film based on her life starring Molly Ringwald was released called, "Something to Live for: The Alison Gertz Story" or another title is, "Fatal Love". In the song "Life Support" from the rock opera RENT. Members of the group in the beginning of the song say their names. Jonathan Larson used the names of his HIV-positive friends as the characters in this song. At the beginning of the song, one character who refers to herself as "Ali" was named after Gertz. Sadly Gertz died from AIDS complications on August 8, 1992, she was only 26 years old.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Well I have some exciting news to share with all of you. I have written a children s book about HIV/AIDS. I decided to write this book for all of the HIV positive and negative children. I was trying to show that despite a child's HIV status they want to be treated like every other kid. They want to play, jump and have the ability to relate to other children. People should not treat HIV positive children any different than a child who does not have HIV. They want the chance to have a normal upbringing just like ever child on this earth. I have a soft heart for children and maybe one day my husband and I will have one of our own. Children that are born have no choice about whether or not they have contracted this horrible disease. SOME of us that are adults did have a choice to protect ourselves from HIV/AIDS. It saddens me to think about what these children might have to go through when thinking about being born with HIV/AIDS then having to deal with growing up with HIV/AIDS. Children can be cruel sometimes. I just h this book can reach children while they are still young and teach them NOT to be afraid of children who are infected with HIV/AIDS
You can find the book here
The books first review
There is nothing more difficult for a child than keeping a secret. In this heartwarming tale a young boy is forced to keep a secret from his friends and schoolmates. The need to tell someone - anyone - becomes so great that he almost loses his best friend. Finally, after talking to someone, he is given the chance to share his secret. His life is forever changed, as are the lives of those around him.
Having a secret is a difficult enough to cope with and understand as an adult, let alone a 6 grader!
I Have a Secret handles this dilemma with a relatable sense of frankness, and with doing so ends up inspiring children and adults alike to be compassionate and courageous!
Love the art work too.
- Sven Paardekooper, author of Sorry, Not Dead Yet!