STORIES FROM ASAAP

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STORY #1:

How would you like to describe yourself?

Before I got HIV virus, I had been working and enjoying my life. Everything was perfect that time. What ever I thought I got in my life. But life will never run in the same path all the time. My life turned into different path when I got HIV. I was so sick. I started worrying and I was so weak, isolated, sad, hopeless with my life. Felt like my life was going to stop any time soon.

What is a life experience you cherish?

I grew with the Buddhist religious belief. My parents taught me a lot. So, I believe these values. I never ever walk on a path which will affect others. I believe in karma: do good and good will come to you. If I do good in this life, my next life will be good. Walking with these beliefs, I received a lot from universe. I feel that I am a lucky person. I don’t have any regrets.

What role has ASAAP played in your life?

ASAAP gives me hope. After I connected with ASAAP, all my anxiety reduced slowly and slowly. In ASAAP support group meeting I got chance to learn from my peer experience and also shared my own experiences to the group. I enjoy being in the company of my peers. Having this kind of space gives me hope in my life. I don’t have family in this country. But my peers are my family. Whenever I need any kind of help, I just go to ASAAP to get help. They are my problem solvers.

I don’t have any anxiety and on top of that I am getting busy with my daily schedule. I spend my time doing the things which give me pleasure because life is short, I enjoy spending time with myself and help others too. I can say that I am a jovial person. I am living a peaceful life. Thanks to all who support me.


STORY #2:

Some people might know this little expression, being a West-Indian coming to Canada, people say, “You’ll never get anywhere in life, because you people, you dance three steps forward, two steps back.” Say it again, “Three steps forward, two steps back.”

Well I want to tell you one thing I’ve learned here at ASAAP that’s helped me is to be mindful of how I carry myself. I’ve added two more movements. Despite the challenges that may be, I’ve added, bend down and turn around, so here we go:

“Three steps forward, bend down, turn around, two steps back. Breathe. I’m now five steps ahead.”

Blessed are those affected and infected with HIV and AIDS, may you smile, and truly know happiness as you move forward in life.

 

STORY #3:
How would you describe yourself?
I identify as an Indo-Caribbean queer pha-advocate. I enjoy activism and working in the community in the areas of HIV, sexual health and sexuality. I was the public face of the HIV movement in Trinidad and Tobago and I ran an NGO that provided support for people living with and affected by HIV for six and a half years. I came to Canada in 2016 to do a couple talks on my work back home and then decided to stay and continue my activism and educational work here. One word to describe myself is: Resilience. I’ve been through a lot – having to come out about my queer identity back home in the face of homophobia, and dealing with an HIV diagnosis and disclosure issues. And then coming to Canada and starting a new life had its own challenges.
What life experience do you cherish?
There are many life experiences to cherish, one of which was the birth of my nephew. I am part of his life and he means a lot to me. I was there for my only brother when he got married, and at the birth of his child. My nephew and I spent good times together back home and the unconditional love he gave me was so precious.
How has ASAAP impacted your life?
ASAAP was one of three agencies I connected to when I came here, and through ASAAP, I was able to get engaged with the community. I was able to network with other South Asian members of the community. ASAAP has also encouraged my leadership skills, and has helped me find opportunities to do community work.

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STORY #4
How would you describe yourself?
I am a genderqueer Indo-Caribbean community worker and a student. I enjoy performing and have performed on stages with a troupe of dancers. My performances are all about defying normative gender rules and boundaries. I also love singing and dancing, especially to Bollywood music.
What life experience do you cherish?
When I was in Trinidad in primary school, every day after school I would come home and look for my grandmother – Nani, to give her a kiss and she would give me a kiss back. My grandmother has had a lot of influence in my life. She was the matriarch of the family, and I admired her leadership. I’d look for her every day and yell out, “Nani I’m home!”
How has ASAAP impacted your life?
Years ago – maybe 2005, I was organizing a sexual health event for university students in Peterborough, and that’s where I heard about ASAAP through the local AIDS Service Organization there. I didn’t know there was an agency that served South Asian LGBTQ communities. The staff at ASAAP were really supportive and came out to Peterborough to do a presentation and they brought along posters that were artfully done featuring brown people in various sexual poses half nude. I was really excited to see theses posters because it normalized my sexuality and affirmed my belief that queer South Asians should not be made to feel ashamed of who they are and how they express themselves. I’ve also marched with ASAAP at PRIDE back when there used to be a float.

 

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