This gay love story, like most other love stories, went through a devastating period of turbulent times during which my friend and his partner learned the importance of supporting each other. In the face of adversity, they proved that nothing will help you get over it better than being there for each other. They learned and showed all of us that a mere helping hand won’t cut it; support means being there for your partner every step of the way.
When a relationship is supportive, the hurdles that seemed like mountains can seem like ladders instead, easily maneuverable when one’s holding the ladder in place and the other is climbing it. There’s no hurdle you can’t get through together, and this story personifies that in its truest form.
Read on to find out how my friend and his partner reacted when they were struck with news that would put many into depression. This gay couple’s story should make you believe that with enough support, there’s nothing that two lovers can’t overcome.
A Gay Love Story, Marked With Tragedy And Resilience
“The bastard had been sleeping around behind my back” lamented my best friend. Sleeping around he was, but how that would soon be the least of their troubles was what was most unexpected in this true gay love story. Although infidelity is a part of it, there’s no denying the beginning was anything but joyous.
My friend and Tim had been dating for nearly 10 years. A chance meeting at a bar followed by a few conversations and drinks established that they could be something more than just good friends. Tim was 10 years younger than my friend and had been raised by a single mother. His appetite for life was unmatched, a quality my friend found endearing. Over time, he and Tim not only became lovers, but he also assumed the role of a friend, philosopher and guide.
That such a loving relationship could have room for pain, anger and disappointment would be unthinkable. And yet it had. Tim had lately begun to lose weight. While my friend and Tim saw it as a welcome change initially, I insisted that he consult a doctor since he had been wheezing and coughing. The doctor advised him to go for the Western blot test, which confirmed our worst fears.
Tim was not only HIV+, but he had developed AIDS.
The glimmer of hope that there might be years between testing HIV+ and confirming AIDS faded gradually. My friend sunk into silent despair, so did Tim. My friend turned to me for help, understandably, he was struggling with his own fears of the virus affecting him.
The horror of not having Tim around in his life anymore filled him with dread. Busting myths related to AIDS is not easy, and so I began to reiterate ways in which the partner does not contract the virus. I assured him those diagnosed with AIDS can live a long life, provided necessary precautions are taken.
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The initial shock and fear
You’d expect the gay couples story, like any other, to have a few minor problems along the way, only to learn that their relationship is not only stronger because of said problems, but they also end up happily ever after. But when life throws problems at you that scare you into thinking it’s all coming to an abrupt end, then that gay true love story — the one that made you smile — can go right out the window.
My friend and Tim found it all extremely hard to deal with in the beginning. But they realized, an honest conversation could be a great healer. Of the two, my friend recovered first and embarked on the most beautiful journey of life: hope. The first thing he did was to fix an appointment with the doctor to determine the course of medical treatment.
With the right medication, the Western blot count could be drastically brought down. Some lifestyle changes would have to be made. Tim would have to quit smoking since the lungs usually get affected first. A lower immune system would make it that much more difficult to fight infection.
Navigating the obstacles of living with AIDS
Living with a chronic disease can crush a person’s motivation. Tim, who once used to be exuberant and endearing, seemingly walking around with a spring in his step, now seemed to have had his soul sucked out of him. With support, and honest, open communication, things did get better. Learning more about AIDS definitely helped my friend as well, whose fears of getting infected now were significantly subdued.
The doctor patiently explained that AIDS could only be passed on through direct blood contact and if the blood in any way was directly exposed to air, chances of transmitting the infection were next to nil (and through body fluids like vaginal secretions or semen).
No other body fluid – tears, nasal fluid, saliva, sweat – could infect a person. Sharing food, water (drinking water from the same bottle) and towels, could not possibly transmit the disease. Sharing clothes, a bed, soap, etc. was absolutely safe. In fact, they continued sleeping on the same bed. No insect or bug can carry HIV and hence there would be no chances of getting infected by insects.
In other words, my friend and Tim’s life would go on as usual. However, with a list of do’s, came a list of don’ts. They could have sex only with adequate precaution like using condoms (though nothing fancy like ultra-thin). No sharing of razors or toothbrushes. Safely disposing of any item like cotton swabs, bandages, etc. used to clean blood. No sucking of blood from cuts. No oral sex without a condom, and no oral sex at all if a partner had bleeding gums.
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Battling the mental stressors
Prior to this visit, Tim had gone into a shell. He had once confided in me about his mortal fear (rather a suspicion) of having infected my friend and the difficulty of shaking off cheater’s guilt. However, the doctor’s visit was a game-changer. As a couple, Tim and my friend made an unspoken, unwritten pact, that they would treat it like any other disease and would not cry over it. Each issue would be handled medically, and not emotionally.
The relationship dynamics between my friend and Tim have changed too. They realize they are each other’s biggest strength as well as their biggest weakness, and hence equals in the relationship. Once in a while, Tim slips into depression for not having disclosed his condition to his mother and sister. All in due time, we assure him.
Tim and my friend have decided to take life head-on. For any of you, who might be in either of their shoes, know that empathy is as big a gift to the patient of AIDS as medical help. Do not compromise on either. Hopefully, of all the LGBT love stories, this one leaves a mark and lets all of you know that there’s no hurdle a couple cannot get past.