I first realized I was gay in 1998, when I was doing my grade 10 at school. It was really difficult for me to accept this about myself. I tried to commit suicide. Then my mother and my stepfather took me to a pastor at church. I had to go through counseling sessions with him and he helped me understand and accept myself the way I am. Then, in 2003, I found out that I was HIV-positive.
It was really difficult for me to accept my HIV status. I told myself that maybe God had punished me because I’m gay. But then, after attending counseling sessions at the clinic, I accepted my status. The support that I’ve gotten from my church has also been really important. We even have a support group at church for people who are living with HIV.
I disclosed my HIV-status to my parents in 2004. And again, my mother and my stepfather were so supportive. My mother is such a beautiful person—she’s a prophet. She can tell you about your future. I love her a lot. If she weren’t here, I think I would have died after finding out my status. She’s the reason I’m living now.
I’m close with the rest of my family too. I started living with my niece in 2006. There’s a strong bond between me and her. She knows all of my secrets, I know all of her secrets, except for one thing: Who is the father of the child she’s carrying? Her mother, when she found out that her daughter was pregnant, said, “Bongi, that baby is going to be your responsibility.” I’ll be a father figure to that child. Yesterday my niece was at the doctor for a sonagram, so now I know she’s carrying my little boy.
When my niece first attended the antenatal clinic, I went with her and asked for her to be tested for HIV so that if she’s HIV-positive she can be enrolled through the PMTCT program. But I was a little bit afraid when she was away in the counseling room. I said to myself, What if she’s positive? How am I going to cope with it—me being positive, and her being positive? Fortunately the results came back negative. That means the world to me.
But I was angry. I said to her, “Why didn’t you use a condom? You know about HIV. Do you want to be like me? So make it a point, at all times when you engage in sexual activities you must use a condom. This must be the first and the last time.”
Even though my family is there for me, support from the community is really hard to get. People will insult you, saying disgusting words: “Look at this gay person who has AIDS. You want to spread it. We are going to change you and make you a straight guy. But you mustn’t infect our girlfriends.” My motto in life is: What other people say or think about me is none of my business. In the end it’s my life and I have to make the most of it.
I met my partner last year, and we have been together ever since. Our bed is very important to us. It’s where we share memories, where we advise each other, where we fight, and where we pray. It’s where our home is. He’s HIV-negative, and he supports me. He loves me, and I love him. We live a normal life as heterosexual couples do—we even hold each others’ hands when we walk in the street. We are just two guys who are in love with each other.