World AIDS Day: A Day of Mourning or Celebration?
In Houston, Texas 2005, I was working at an organization named AVES, which is no longer in service. I was the event coordinator, educator, and public relations person. If you had a question regarding HIV in English and Spanish, I was your guy. There were only 3 of us in all of Houston.
Being an educator was already included in my salary, so I would host guests looking to learn more about HIV. Getting calls from folks from all professional backgrounds was a regular occurrence. Having the local cable access channel was no different.
World AIDS Day 2005
George Íñiguez was a local director and producer who hosted a show at Houston Media Source and was looking for someone to interview for World AIDS Day 2005 and in Spanish. He needed the basic HIV 101, enough for him to host an hour show and take calls from the audience.
In the first 30-minutes, he realized that it was a bit much for him to remember, so he asked me to be a guest. He would ask me questions, and I would take the calls from the audience. I asked my boss for the okay, and he was thrilled to bring some attention to our small non-profit.
After about an hour of information, he asked if I would host and if he would be my guest. He would help sort through the caller's questions, help move the conversation along, and be the community's voice. I was thrilled to be hosting my first show ever!
Ready to be in front of a camera
On December 1, 2005, I made my debut as a TV host. I was so thrilled to be in a studio, in front of a camera, and ready to share all the information I had learned since I was diagnosed in September 2000. That was 5 years of life experiences, workshops, and pieces of training.
During part of the show, I was asked about condoms and how to use them. I had with me a presentation kit that I would carry with me everywhere. It had condoms, lube, and wooden dildos to use for demonstrations. I also had real dildos.
George did not know that.
El Señor de Los Condones
I pulled a dildo out of the kit and proceeded to place a condom on it. I could see Alex, the producer, running towards the table, ready to stop me, while George waved him off not to stop me. I could hear the camera person laughing, but I kept going.
The show ended, and I was eager to see if anyone I knew watched, how many viewers we had, and if I would be recognized on the streets. As if placing a condom on a dildo would automatically make me a celebrity on the Houston streets.
I was not an instant celebrity. In fact, it took a while for folks to know who I was. Once I was recognized, I was called "El Señor de Los Condones." Remember, the show was in Spanish. I was proud of the nickname. It meant folks had watched and were watching the replays.
Mourning or celebrating World AIDS Day
This brings me to the title of the article. Do I celebrate or mourn the day? Well, I do both. I remember friends, colleagues, and folks I never met that have passed due to AIDS complications, and I celebrate that this is the day that I became a TV host.
It took a long time to realize that I could do both, respect each one and give them their space. I still deal with survivor's guilt, but now I have a platform to talk about it. I'm very proud of how far I've come since the first show and recognize the influence of those that have passed.
I hope you mourn or celebrate the day. Either way, you are right. I'll be putting condoms on dildos. Wink.
Where you do land when it comes to recognizing World AIDS Day? Celebration or mourning? Share in the forums your take and reasoning with the community.
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