a child I was never one to be
outgoing or extroverted. I was
rather very reserved and kept
to myself. During my teens I would
spend many days and nights locked
up in my room watching endless
hours of television. Some may
view that time in my life as sad
or lonely, but I found solace
and peace for the most part as
I would shut out the entire world.
I made very little friends and
hardly ever socialized. It is,
however, very opposite to who
I have become in the past year.
Those who knew me then see a very
different person before them now.
It started when
I took a job at a local gay and
lesbian community center doing
HIV testing and counseling. The
position required for me to be
out in the community socializing
and networking in order for people
to get to know me and the type
of work I did. It was a work in
progress, but unbeknown to me
and as a result from this, I changed
with one of my coworkers, we would
go out into the community and
do outreach (passing out condoms
at local gay bars/clubs) and HIV
testing at one of the venues.
Within a matter of 3 months, I
managed to establish a wide range
social network extending well
over a few hundred people. Of
course they were not all my friends,
but some were acquaintances, and
others, people I would simply
see around town and wave hi to.
This gave me the opportunity to
"come out of my shell." I began
to socialize and develop relationships
with people. I would meet one
person and that person would lead
me to one or two more, and those
led me to others, and so on. I
noticed that once one person trusted
me, others would begin to do so
also and become receptive to HIV
testing and prevention messages.
It really did make my work easier.
Today, I am
the type of individual who can
approach anyone and introduce
myself to and talk about what
I do for a living free from hesitation.
I enjoy venturing out into the
community meeting new people on
a daily basis who provide assistance
with the work I do at some level,
and I share this with others as
it may offer insight to how our
community provides endless possibilities
to enhance our lives. I love what
I do and hope that my small piece
is a contribution to the movement
to stop HIV/AIDS.