It never fails. As each question flashes across the screen, my mind races.
"Well...I don't think he used meth...how do I REALLY know?"
"He said he was negative, but can I be for sure?"
"Can people see me?"
"Should I use my real name?"
"Wait...How many people have I been with???"
I can't really compare myself to others in the gay community, however subjectively speaking, I don't think I'm overly sexually active. I do know the choices I've made and I chose not have shame around them, yet here I am shaking and sweating, as if I've never done this before. I've been a performer my whole life, entertained crowds of hundreds of people, yet waiting these 15 minutes right now is scaring the you-know-what out of me.
The dichotomy around this whole issue is that for the past 2 years, I've been working and volunteering with the HIV positive community. I've spent most of that time devoted to working on ending the stigma around HIV. So intellectually, I get this. My mind knows this process. During my time volunteering I've bonded closely with specific individuals that have moved and transformed me on an emotional level.
So... why? Why is it that every time I get tested, this fear won't escape from me?
That emotional connection of how my life can change in what is now the next 10 minutes, has my palms sweating and my mouth dry. I close my eyes, take deep breaths, listen to the universe, and take myself to another place.
I see the faces of all the HIV+ people in my life. I see them happy, smiling, inspiring others, and being unstoppable. It's at that moment I open my eyes and the first thing I see is a piece of art work on the shelf in the store. It just so happens to be a canvas of the original british slogan "Keep Calm and Carry On"
Seconds after I see this, I am called in to receive my results. My heart rate has gone down and I walk forward doing just what the sign said, because I know that whatever I'm about to hear -- there is love for me, there is support for me, and no matter what obstacles come my way, I will find a way to "Keep Calm and Carry On"