three women dance, the center one sings. HIV awareness ribbons weave around their arms and legs

Coming into My Own

Hello, everyone. My name is Jahlove and I'm living honorably with AIDS. I was born in September 1986, with my twin sister, in the back of a cop car in New York City. Living in a city that never sleeps filled with so much entertainment, you sometimes have no choice but to become an entertainer yourself! During the day I'm a health educator, AIDS activist, and youth advocate. By night, I'm a background dancer, androgynous model, and drag queen.

I use my entertainment as a platform to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and education. Until I became an educated consumer is when I became a powerful provider. Being born, famous I knew I was destined for greatness.

Growing up in a large family

​I was born and raised in the South Bronx Hunts Point area (yes hookers at the point area lol!). I grew up in a packed, two-bedroom apartment with my mother, stepfather and five siblings. I have three sisters and two brothers. My mother was building an army. If I ever had a problem with someone, I had a sibling in every gender and age to help me out. On my father's side, I have five brothers.

I knew I was born gay

Growing up I felt like the black sheep of the herd. I always knew I was born gay. My mother and sisters used to always take me out shopping with them. Telling me to pick out their clothes, shoes, even hairstyles to go with their outfits. When you saw my sisters, you saw me. I rarely hanged out with my brothers because they thought I was way too feminine to be seen with them. I thought how I behaved was normal and still do!

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My family members hooked me up with my first girlfriend, hoping I would see the light. I went with the program to keep my family and society happy. I never had an attraction for women like I do for men. I kept how I felt for men to myself because I didn’t want to get harassed by family members anymore. I was really feeling alone because no one knew how I felt on the inside. I became very anti-social in fear that I would be judged. This made me very angry how I couldn’t express myself without being judge, harassed or bullied. How could I be wrong for what I feel is right in my heart? I told myself when I enter into high school, all this would change.

The start of figuring things out on my own

​Being raised in a heterosexual, Latino, Catholic household, sex was never a topic for discussion. All my mother told me was to not bring a girl home pregnant. Which was cool, because I knew I wasn’t going to be having sex with any girls. My mother gave a lot of responsibilities to my older sister who basically raised my younger siblings and I. Going to my older sister for sex and sexuality advice was out of the question, because I knew as a young teenager, she was trying to figure things out herself.

So as I entered high school, I knew I would have to figure this out on my own. I wanted high school to be very different from junior high. I didn’t want to get teased for being gay or a virgin, and I wanted to become very popular. So I lied to my “friends” about being sexually fluid just to become popular and to get people to like me and it worked. I became very popular my freshman year: I was the guy that acted like he knew it all.

I was ready to live out loud

During my lunch period, all my friends and I talked about was sex and play spades. We talked about who in our school we were going to have sex with. Most of us never even had a sexual experience, but we faked the front so we could have a story to tell our so-called friends. I knew that I couldn't hold up this lie about having sex for so long without being seen as a liar. It was time for me to lose my virginity.

I knew I was home

One of my friends in high school introduced me to the NYC gay area called the village, also known as Christopher Street. There is where I saw for the first time in my life people living out loud and proud to be gay. I knew I was home. My friend was the type of guy who knew you were gay before you did. We started doing everything together. We even lost our virginity around the same time.

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