Each year on February 7th we recognize National Black HIV Awareness Day. Activist, acclaimed author, and friend to lodarian.com Terry Angel Mason shares his story of living with AIDS with Black Wellness Magazine Real Health. Mason also address HIV stigma and the damaging messages he learned from the church and what he's done to escape the bondage of religion in order to live a more authentic life in harmony with God as his total self.
"I was diagnosed not with HIV but with full blown AIDS ten years ago. When I was diagnosed it was a complete shock to me because I'd tested regularly and my responses were always negative. So when I was diagnosed with full blown AIDS and with just 95 T-cells...you could imagine the shock," says Mason.
"I was diagnosed when I was literally pastoring, and my first response was to hide it. It just wasn't the kind of thing you wanted to tell somebody...you have full blown AIDS and you're a pastor. But I decided I wouldn't hide it."
In His Own Words from Real Health Magazine:
Imagine, sitting in church for years, surrounded by hundreds of people (lonely and feeling rejected) hearing sermon after sermon, hating who I was and what I was, on the brink of suicide and a nervous breakdown. I was convinced that God detested the most important part of who I was and I felt trapped in a condition not of my own doing and hell-bound.
Now, here is the good news! Something happened to me, even in the midst of all this madness, I took the preacher at his word and developed a personal relationship with God. Now this presented a huge problem because the Creator that I came to know intimately, never condemned me for being gay and to my recollection, never even made a big deal out of it. This was quite a contrast to what I was hearing over the pulpit. When I felt rejected, He bathed me in the warmth of His love! When I was tempted to give up and end my life, He convinced me that I had everything to live for and assured me that He had a marvelous plan for my life!
In 2001, when I was diagnosed with full-blown AIDS, He never abandoned me, even when others said that my affliction was most certainly the result of my rebellious lifestyle and was without question, the wrath of God in full manifestation in my life! While I must confess to making some bad decisions while in my early 20's and 30's (that exposed me to the HIV virus), there are consequences that we ALL must face as a result of bad choices. God made one thing crystal clear to me: He loves me, wanted me well and wanted me to make choices that would not put me or anyone at risk of contracting any type of disease. This is the message that I pass on to everyone each time I have the opportunity to share my story. I tell people that the fact AIDS exists is no one individual's fault, but it is our fault, if we don't act responsibly and protect ourselves and individuals with whom we are intimate.
Watch Real Health Magazine's interview with Terry Angel Mason here.
Terry Angel Mason is an ordained minister, activist, and author of Love Won't Let Me Be Silent and the forthcoming They Say That I Am Broken. Read loldarian.com's review of Love Won't Let Me Be Silent here.