Coming to Dallas from a small town. I felt invincible. I felt like I was ready to take on the world. I wasn’t quite ready. I was shortly diagnosed HIV. I just came out last year to my family said I was gay and now for all this to be happening. It was a tough pill to swallow.
I initially planned on this being a battle that I fight on my own but I prayed about it and the next day I told my whole family. My whole family knew my situation, what I was going through. I set them down and made them realize, this is not me. It doesn’t define me.
At the end of the day I’m still Ocie, I’m still Uncle Ocie, I’m still your brother, I’m still your son. I always tell myself everyday after getting diagnosed, “This is a minor setback for a major comeback.” Because I knew that it was just something that was going to be in my way temporarily. I knew that it wasn’t going to be about a battle that was going to defeat me.
So the most helpful and beneficial thing that I got out of this was my guardian angel, Otis. I was having the worst day ever and I can I can tell you this day like it was yesterday. I had tears running down my face snot coming out my nose and he just walked in the door and said, “Hi I’m Otis. I’m your new peer advocate.”
And ever since then like not only do I feel like I have a brother that’s fighting this fight with me but I know that I have a friend that I can call on anytime. It’s important for me to speak out because I want to be the Otis in somebody else’s life. I want to make a difference in somebody else’s life so much that they can look at me and say “Look you saved my life if it wasn’t for you there’s no telling where I’d be today.”
Ocie shares his story of coming out as gay and HIV positive to his family, and how support networks – including his entire family and a peer advocate – have helped him on his journey.