On January 17, 2009, I celebrated my 47th birthday. For the first 23 years of my life, I lived without HIV/AIDS. For the last 24 years, I’ve lived with HIV/AIDS. I’ve now spent more than half my life being what I once tabbed “my generation’s worst nightmare” (death by AIDS).
It’s been over two decades since the day I found out I was HIV-positive in 1985 at the age of twenty-three (the same day as Rock Hudson’s Sexual 9/11). As I celebrate birthdays I once thought I’d never live long enough to enjoy, so too do I celebrate the impossible dreams and miraculous accomplishments of men like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Barack Obama.
In 1985, I never imagined living beyond the 12-18 months that was the life expectancy of a person with HIV. AIDS or no AIDS, I never imagined living long enough to see a black man elected President of the United States of America, let alone a black man five months my senior.
Thank you, Dr. King and President Barack Obama … I’d also like to thank science, my family and friends, my dog, my doctors, my health care workers and America for your amazing, impossible-dream-come-true birthday gifts.
Happy MLK Inauguration 47th Birthday to me!