Antron Reshaud is a poet and author of Bohemian Rebel: Naked and Exposed. Vol 1 and the forthcoming The Rising Vol 2. He has been featured on CNN and in Southern Voice. A native of Gainesville, Florida he now resides in Atlanta, Georgia. This is his story.
Darian: Did you recognize from an early age that you were different?
Antron: I knew that I was different. I didn't know what it meant to be gay...I was four. I didn't know what that word meant, I was just being Antron.
Darian: And who was Antron at the time? Was he effeminate, quiet, shy, or was he outspoken?
Antron: I had a lot of feminine tendencies, I still do to this day. I was really shy, definitely not as outspoken as I am today.
Darian: So when was your first sexual experience?
Antron: Consensual I would say when I was twenty. Non-consensual when I was seventeen. I was raped by two guys in this field in my neighborhood. I remember coming home from the pool and they were teasing me and I just ignored them. I just remember hearing one of the boys say, "you got something to say faggot"? And I could feel their footsteps getting faster and I'm getting faster. And then I feel something sharp hit the back of my head and it started bleeding. They were throwing rocks and beer bottles.
I started running and then I tripped over the flip-flops I was wearing and the first thing I felt was a kick to my stomach. I tried fighting back but they were just too strong. The next thing I know my hands are being bound and I hear the sound of a belt buckle coming undone. He pulls his pants down and then proceeds to pull my swim trunks down and spreads my legs, and just basically inserted his dick in me.
I screamed and every time I would scream they would hit me in my face or kick me. So I was getting hit and getting fucked at the same time. And when they were done one of them spit on me and started laughing. When it was over I just remember holding myself trying to figure out what just happened.
Darian: Did you know the two guys who raped you?
Antron: One of the guys I knew because he lived in my neighborhood, the other guy I didn't know. I remember walking home and I was beat up and previously my mom and I had an argument about my "gayness", and she wanted to make a t-shirt for me to wear to school that said, "I'm a fag please kick my ass" to try an embarrass me.
Darian: In hopes of changing your mind about being gay?
Antron: Yeah. And when I came home all bruised up she said, "see that's what you get for being gay".
Darian: Did you confirm your sexuality for your parents prior to the rape?
Antron: No. I couldn't say the words because there's a lot of island influence in my family and they're very religious. My mother used to threaten to have my uncles come over and whip my ass if I ever came out. I used to ask God how could he love and hate what he created all at the same time.
Darian: So was it hard for you to participate in consensual intercourse after this happened?
Antron: I didn't want to have sex at all and then I met Jordan. My relationship with my mother was on the rocks and she put me out(of the house) so I went to stay with Jordan. He was the first person I told about my rape. I remember this like it was yesterday. I was studying for mid-terms and he stormed into the house and he was like, "I wanna fuck"! I said no! We got into this big argument and he started hitting me and throwing me around the room and then he raped me too. He's actually the person who infected me.
Darian: Did you have any idea he was positive or did he know?
Antron: Actually that's why he was so mad. He'd just found out he was positive. He was infected by this girl he was messing with who was having sex with this guy who was on the DL. So when he found out he was positive he wanted to take it out on someone else so he intentionally infected me. I didn't find out about being positive until a year later.
Darian: So their were no early symptoms?
Antron: No I was completely fine. I didn't get sick. I didn't suffer from night sweats or anything.
Darian: So I'm assuming you eventually went to get tested.
Antron: I actually donated blood and The Red Cross notified me. A healthcare worker came to my house and sat on my couch and gave me my results and I just cried.
Darian: What year was this?
Antron: This was in 2004. I was nineteen years old.
Darian; So who did you go to for support?
Antron: I didn't have a support system. I didn't want to tell anybody. I didn't even want to admit it to myself. HIV had become my scarlet letter.
Darian: So how did you move from a place of denial and fear to a place of acceptance?
Antron: That's a good question. A part of me felt like people needed to know that HIV is nothing to play with. Talking about it was my way of educating myself and others.
Darian: Do you think about death?
Antron: It's almost like I'm not afraid of death anymore because I've confronted it. Everyday I have a choice to live or die and I choose life.