AUTOGESTION DEL TRABAJO EN RED

En el 2012 aprendí, gracias a YouTube, a hacer jabones de glicerina y velas. En un principio lo vi como un hobbie, algo que me traía tranquilidad, y que de alguna manera aumentaba mi autoestima, pues mis manos estaban literalmente creando y transformando algo útil, lindo y a mi gusto. Experimente colores, olores, diseños, tamaños y formas, y poco a poco, fui creando un “estilo” personal. Este “estilo” fue lo que me llevo a preguntarme ¿yo compraría esto?”, y mi respuesta fue ¡CLARO QUE SI!”. Y la realidad es que me gustan las cosas hechas en casa por personas creativas y súper chulas, y pensé “yo puedo ser una de esas personas creativas y chulas a quienes les compran cosas hechas en casa”, y desde ahí, he utilizado estas manos para continuar creando siempre que pueda.

Con el tiempo fui aprendiendo a realizar otras cosas, como cremas y accesorios con telas africanas. Todo esto es lo que me apoyaba de vez en cuando a cuadrar la quincena, con los regalitos o detallitos hechos por mí para ahorrarme par de pesos, y además me brindaba y brinda la tranquilidad de saber que estoy apoyando de alguna manera a la economía local, pues todos mis materiales los compro en tiendas de Rio Piedras, de comercio justo y/o artículos hechos en Puerto Rico.

En muchas ocasiones, utilicé la venta de jabones y velas para recaudar algún dinero antes de salir de viaje hacia algún evento relacionado con el trabajo en VIH que realizo. Si, TRABAJO, porque invertir entre tres (3) a unas ocho (8) horas diarias, entre lectura y redacción de emails, redacción de informes, procesos de consultas, contestar mensajes en Facebook y en WhatsApp de todas partes del mundo, talleres de pintura, crear campañas, estar en reuniones presenciales y virtuales, pines, hacer presentaciones para que las usen en otro país, apoyo cuando alguien esta depre o no tiene con quien hablar, ir a dar una charla en una comunidad, traducir documentos, movilización de jóvenes, comprar para regalar espéculos a mis amigas, hacer conexiones entre jóvenes, adiestramientos, identificar lugares de tratamiento en otros países y muchas otras cosas, ES TRABAJO. Por eso se me hace complicado contestar cuando me preguntan si conseguí trabajo ya, y es que tengo trabajo, pero no es remunerado. Y en muchas ocasiones siempre hay gente para la cual nada de esto será suficiente, pues como activista, la gente siempre espera cosas de ti como si una fuese perfecta y no tuviese una vida con otras cosas que hacer.

Sabemos que para recibir financiamiento local, nacional y/o internacional se requiere todo un proceso legal y condiciones específicas como tener al menos una 501, entre otras. Por esto y más, además de que la cooperación internacional poco a poco ha ido saliendo de Latinoamérica (hasta que en algún momento no habrá casi nada), es que muchas de las redes de, por y para jóvenes viviendo con VIH, no recibimos ni un centavo por el trabajo realizado, que al final del día, es para beneficio de nosotros y nosotras, y nuestros pares. Por tal razón, desde el primer momento en el que fui escogida para participar del VI Encuentro de la RAJAP en Buenos Aires, Argentina, me puse a buscar financiamiento, y estaba casi segura, que la manera principal para conseguir el dinero suficiente para pagar mi pasaje, seria con la autogestión. Pero no una autogestión, mandando cartas para que me den dinero, autogestión tipo salir a la calle a vender.

Gracias a los jabones es que he podido pagar el internet que utilizo para hacer el trabajo requerido, y tengo que decir muy honestamente que hasta hace tres (3) días pensé que no sería posible recaudar el dinero suficiente para poder costear mi pasaje, ya que jamás es lo mismo $60.00 a $1200.00. Con el aporte de una quincena atrasada, me complace informar que GRACIAS A MUCHAS PERSONAS SÚPER LINDAS Y SOLIDARIAS YA COMPLETE EL DINERO QUE NECESITABA PARA COMPRAR MI PASAJE.

Esta experiencia ha sido extraordinaria, llena de aprendizaje y sobretodo me recuerda que la pasión y la voluntad son motores que mueven todo un mundo de posibilidades que solo las que tienen el coraje, la valentía y son lanzadas, pueden ver. Me siento muy agradecida y demasiado emocionada, porque para mí, esto es prueba de que hay mucha gente que cree y apoya el trabajo que se hace, y que a pesar de la situación económica actual, hay quienes apuestan a lo local y al trabajo comunitario, activista y feminista, y sobre todo cuando una se hace en función de la otra.

Fueron muchas noches amanecida haciendo órdenes, muchos regueros y desastres en mi casa, donaciones de materiales, dolores de cabeza agudos por la mezcla de olores, dolor en el cuerpo, alergias, sinusitis y estrés. En muchas ocasiones quise salir corriendo de mi casa, en otras camine hasta 45 minutos para ahorrarme los $3.00 del tren. Mucha energía, dedicación, mensajes y cositas que hacen que las cosas queden más lindas.

La necesidad es la madre de la invención, y yo necesito agradecerle a Syndi, Abi, Katya, Ruthy, Ivette Rodriguez, Ivette Gonzalez, Cynthia, Maria Fidalgo, MaryMer, Wanda, Britzeida, Denisse, Mayra, Angel, William, Sarahi, Iveliz, Michel, Kriss, Norma, a mis proveedores de salud, el corillo del Consejo y muchas otras personas que me faltaron. Esto es posible gracias a ustedes, esta ha sido una de las oportunidades en la cuales mas he sentido el apoyo y agradecimiento.

Les mando un abrazo, y seguimos con la autogestión y buscando nuevos modelos de financiamiento creativo.

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Getting a Seat at the Table

The Monday 18th of July I had the opportunity to be in a panel named: Getting a seat at the table, young leaders share the highs and lows of leadership and accountability. This panel was a collaboration between Link Up, Athena Network and the participants where; Raoul Franzen, Mimi Melles, Jacqueline Alesi, Myo Thet Oo, Linda Mafu and myself. The propose of this session was to brings together a group of young people who are involved in such spaces, at the country or global level, including the Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) of the Global Fund, the UNAIDS Programme Board Committee (PCB), and the UNAIDS Dialogue Platform for Women Living with HIV. The session explored some of the strategies employed by young people to make the most effective use of their engagement; their successes in representing different constituencies of young people; how they remain accountable to the communities they represent; and, any challenges they have encountered, and how we have overcome these.

I was asked about what barriers to young people in their diversity face to getting access to decision making spaces:

1. Language.

We use language to create realities, we can build and destroy paradigms by using different words or even creating more options that we weren’t able to describe because we don’t have the correct words to do so, or just to make a distinction. So, when we talk about language we must know that many terms are new for different people, and young people who may just start doing activism or understanding the HIV (and HIV related themes) world. This way, when we use technical language, maybe from the academia, science or UN system, we can get a bit lost, and of course of participation will be affected.

Idiom as well, is a huge gap. My first idiom and language is Spanish, and many people still believe that is English. And it’s because my English has been improving since 2012, and also because I know that if I want to have a greater impact, I would need to speak a more common idiom and language. When we go to spaces like International Aids Conference, big part of the event is in English, when it’s supposed to be “International”. Translation can be a fundamental key for many people that don’t have the resources to learn an additional idiom, and can improve their participation. However, having translation not necessarily may solve all the issue, since we know that the translation is not 100% accurate, for example in Spanish I can say “hombres que tienen sexo con otros hombres”, which means “men who have sex with other men”, but maybe the translation may say “men who sleep with other men”. It may sound something not important, but when we are talking about declarations that will get the compromise from the governments, between “sex” and “sleep”, there’s a difference.

2. Economic.

This theme can have a couple of layers. We can start by thinking about the number of young people that participate in processes like the High Level Meeting, just for using an example. In this kind of processes you will have many people living with HIV and many allies that don’t live with HIV but somehow, their work is connected with HIV. So, it’s good to ask ourselves, when we talk about participation; participation of who, where and how? We have awesome youth advocates, but how this advocates are representative enough? It’s very common that young advocates who don’t live with HIV, are in this processes because they work (with a salary) in the NGO they
represent. On other hand, is also very common that young people with HIV representing NGO and Networks, are there because they got their participation funded, but in fact, their work is volunteer with no salary at all.

So, when your activism and/or political work is funded is easier to participate, because activism is your work and job, so the time you invest is not your limited and free time, instead, the quality time. Sometimes we go to a meeting or event that may be a week long, and those days are our “vacation” days, that we took from our jobs. But if you’re out of “vacation days” from your job, that week you won’t get paid, and not being pay for a week, can mean not having enough money for paying something as basic like your rent, and the rent is something that we may not want to stop paying.

Definitely working on the HIV response with a salary can allow you to organize better your time and resources. Also, you don’t need to choose between HIV work and your job that pays your basic needs. You can even have a job in a NGO that works something related with HIV or specifically with HIV, but your position doesn’t allow you to take a week of to the High Level Meeting, for example, again. Another example can be the internet access. With better access to internet you can follow better the conversations on real time, help you to build a stronger movement outside your country, gives you more access to information and to respond to the actual communications platforms where you may find a lot of young people you can engage with. If you work in a national, local or in the very grassroots is easier with no internet access, but if you want to engage in a different level, you might need to invest in a good internet access, otherwise, is complicated to follow up. When I say invest, I mean money. You can even go to a Cyber Café, but you will need to at least buy the coffee. This still a huge barrier, I think not specifically of young people but, a lot of activism.

3. Time.

Is much related with economic issues, but in this case is related to the engagement and expertise young people may have. The longer you are engage with the HIV response, more information and experience you MAY have. Even though young people are kind of experts with social media and accessing online information, there are some skills you get with the actual participation which gives you experience. Isn’t just only about having the info, it’s about knowing how, where and when to use it, and sometimes this skills comes with experience. A young person who had the opportunity to be in many spaces, will have more skills on how to use an info, that a young person with less opportunity to be in those spaces, even with the same info.

Experience isn’t necessarily related to age, but with opportunities and the time you spend in activism and participating. But again, if you don’t receive any remuneration, who much time can you expend to have more experience that improve your participation, and by the time you get experienced enough, you might have more than 30 years. The issue here is that, when you are confident enough about your experience and skills, and you have more than 30, the agendas and spaces don’t applies you anymore. This is why we need to engage a whole lot more with adolescents.

About time, is very important to keep in mind that the agendas must me dynamic and scrollable to follow a generation in their different development areas. For example, the UNAIDS 90-90-90 cannot look the same for young people, adolescents and adult people all the way until 2030, because now I’m 28 years old, but in 2030 I will be 42 years old. So, in 2030 I will be a different adult, than today’s adults, and if the agenda don’t respond to my generation, but only to my age, how effective can be?

During the International Aids Conference I had heard a lot about “young women need to raise their voices” and “young women must have a seat at the table”, but once I have my seat at the table, WHAT HAPPEN? Once our voices are up, WHAT WE HAVE TO SAY?

We are more than voices and seats…

Born with HIV & SRHR

During the LIVING Positive Leadership Summit in Durban, South Africa, I have the opportunity to participate on the morning plenary. LIVING 2016 was a two-day exchange, learning and empowerment meeting of people living with HIV. LIVING 2016 was designed to produce concrete results for action, so people living with HIV get the access, equity and rights they deserve. As such, LIVING 2016 delivered a common advocacy agenda on five top priority issues to the Community and specific processes and corresponding mechanisms for collective action on those priorities. I was nominated to give a presentation on Day 2, titled SRHR needs of young people born with HIV and GIPA: experiences of involvement in (high-profile) speaking opportunities, tokenism or meaningful engagement, during the morning plenary hosted by Rachel Ong & Lorraine Anyango. During this space, the needs of other populations were also addressed, with Cecilia Chung, Svitlana Moroz and a young women representing sex workers. Below my presentation:

WATCH THE VIDEO: https://goo.gl/z7Fg40

Hermanas y Hermanos. Sisters and brothers. I am very excited to be here sharing this amazing space of celebration. I am L’Orangelis Thomas Negron, from Puerto Rico. I was diagnosed in 1991, and then, the doctors said I only would live 3 more years, and 25 years after that, here I am, I’m 28 years old and still counting. I’m standing here being brave and strong in my mom’s memory and of those who came first, because brave and strong is the only way to be. Brave enough to be vulnerable and open myself to confront my fears and my contradictions. And strong enough to be unapologetic, bold and call out anyone, regardless the power position, age, race, gender and HIV status, to remember what do we fight for, because sometimes we forget who the politician is and who the activist is.

We cannot change our past and stories, but we can change the way we see them, we can change our narrative, and we are the only ones who have the power to change our lives. We, young adults who grew up with HIV, many times are invited to speak about our experiences in high level panels, this is what they want to hear from me: I lost my mom when I was 11, I was sexually assaulted, I was segregated, I took up to thirteen pills a day during my adolescence, I attempted suicide and I got other curable STIs. And how I have been resilient enough to made out of that struggle, a powerful and empowering tools not only for us, but for those who may come after us and need to be empowered. But I’m tired to repeat this and many more, in those high level panels and spaces, because I’m tired of inaction. I’m tired of being used as a token to arrive home and notice that after many years, many policies, laws and harmful practices haven’t change. To know that young adults who were born with HIV, are still dying because the available ARV alternatives don’t work or us anymore because we may have tried them all. To know that that many young people and adolescents are not able to enjoy their sexual and reproductive life, because growing up with HIV they were told “You are a mortal weapon”, “your child will be positive too”.

Our rights and dignity are still getting violated not only by societies, but by governments, health care providers and others, with harmful policies and practices, instead of ensuring the exercise of our human rights, including our sexual and reproductive rights. We need to talk about sexual and reproductive justice, because talking about rights is not enough anymore.

We are not symbols, and we are not the future. We are the present. We don’t come to this spaces to make anyone look good, and we cannot continue leaving decisions impacting millions of people, our lives and bodies, in the hands of the political will of governments and people in power positions. Identify your own privilege and use it for all, recognize in which shoulders your standing. Trust the diversity, trust young people, and trust in our political character, because we won’t wait anymore, we are not asking for permission to anyone. Having said that, what are a few of the many needs of young people who were born with HIV?

  1. We demand access. Access to the variety and new ARVs that the privileged of our world have. I come from the children that almost ran out of options of treatment because we burned out all our therapies. We need to stop running out of alternatives of ARVs. We don’t need to change our therapy every time the pharmaceutics release a new one, because we don’t take medications for making the pharma industry rich, it’s about options, quality, access and rights. And you need to stop pushing us to take the medication without even asking us what’s happening, as we didn’t have any autonomy over our bodies. My age doesn’t give you any permission to run over my body. Empowering it’s about intersectionality, and recognizing that we deal with medication and sexuality, both, in our bodies it what give us the power and the right, not only to have access to information, but to make informed decision, even when they are not convenient.
  2. We must insist in sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice. We still need access to contraceptives, condoms, safe abortion and a comprehensive and positive sexual education. We still need to eradicate forced and coerced sterilization.
  3. We demand a positive sexuality. When was the last time that your health care provider asked you if you were enjoying sex? So many young people who grew up with HIV, start having sex before they even know they are living with HIV. Sometimes we are the last to know we have HIV. Our uncle knows first, our parents friends knows first, the teacher and even our neighbor know it first than us. And if by any chance we get to know it before adolescence, we could grew up hearing many negative messages about our sexuality and the risk we are for other people, that today, even when we have better evidence based information, some young people still fear of onward transmission, have difficulty in negotiating use of the male and female condom, or worry about being parents. We must promote gender sensitive, trans sensitive and LGBQI affirming sexual health literacy programmes for young people, including children in foster care.
  4. People need to stop infantilizing young people who were born with HIV, and know that we also enjoy sex, and we also want sexual pleasure. That not everyone is looking for love every time, but pleasure just for pleasure. We must break with the myth that anal sex is only for men who have sex with men, and oral sex only for women who have sex with women. And even with the culture of women just practicing oral sex to men, and not vice versa. Dear heterosexual men, we, women also enjoy oral sex, get in there. We must learn about the diversity of sexual practices and how to make them safer and pleasurable. We must start touching our bodies, to feel our bodies and recognizing how it really works.

We demand actions, we demand accountability, not only for governments and the UN system, but for donors and us, activism. If they don’t take us in account, we must create our own spaces, our own mechanism, we must be creative, because no one will do this for us, if we don’t start ourselves.

I still have many questions, since sometime it’s feels like many of the strategies are made to make us less infectious. How this agendas actually looks in a local scale? What does it mean for us in a grassroots level? How this plans may look in our bodies? And how we can implement this strategies with less funding? It’s horrible to know that frontiers actually define the quality of the treatment in one region. And it’s a shame that we have more studies in biological issues than in psyco-social matters, since mental health, stigma and discrimination are the main barriers for adherence.

We, young people who were born with HIV, need to reduce, until we eliminate, the self-stigma, low self-esteem & feeling ‘dirty’ or ‘guilty’. We must be peers, we must be mentors. And we must to eliminate the term “mother to child transmission”, since this is the only term on the transmission ways, that make reference to whom infected who, what increases the burden and discrimination for HIV positive mothers.

If we want to end Aids, we must think, what does this mean for each one of us? I don’t know what means to live without HIV, but not because I was born with it, but for the time I’ve been aware of its existence in my body. We must talk about the things that happens to us, otherwise, we allow them to happen, not only to us, but for other people.

Let us share our stories for the right reasons.

Personal is political, must of the times, that’s why we can’t be afraid to be reckless, bold and to leave the political correctness at the door sometimes.

In this last 16 years a lot has change. But this isn’t over and we cannot wait two more years for the next International Aids Conference, or five more years until the next High Level Meeting, or even fifth teen more years for the next Development Goals.

Young people who were born with HIV are still here. We are still here, we are not extinct and we are not going anywhere. There is not political freedom, without sexual freedom.

¡Seguimos en pie de lucha!

PURPLE BOX: The Body, The HIV & The Empowerment

There was a Purple Box in my closet. This box isn’t just purple, it has purple and white flowers printer. Inside I have at least one hundred pictures, and many films with more than ten years without being revealed. I can remember the moment when my mom bought this box, we had so many pictures albums and we needed to save space, so the box was a very good idea. After my mom dies, I save this box as a treasure, but not because the pictures, but because of the meaning that had to my mom, that wasn’t the same that I had at that moment. Now, I can share the meaning that the box have to my mom, and I place it in a visible space, where, whoever come to my apartment, can see it, because my walls are full of paintings and have no pictures in it.

I can’t recognize many of the faces on the pictures, because they were people that somehow disappear of my mom’s life before I can have memory of them. But they are in that box anyway. Many of those pictures are also on my dad’s side. Pictures that he borrowed but never returned, and I save them in my purple box. I have black and white pictures, also sepia.

It’s very interesting to know that those pictures where taken in a specific moment of the time, and that for people who are not involved, it’s mean nothing. But for those who are, it’s mean the world. It’s remembering a dead moment of our life and bringing it out of the dust of the corners of our memories, and suddenly we have the proof of the time in our hands. We are able to remember how we felt, how we looked, the stuff we used to believe in, the smells around us, and how much we have change. This is why, when Dazon asked me to do a Story Telling session at Women Now! I decided to make something else, as always.

So, I make a reflection on the key moments of my life and realized that, thanks to my purple box, I was able to see exactly how I look in every one of them. The mind blowing thing for me, is that I was able to track my HIV story, maybe more than 5 years before I was born. How? Well I found a picture of the man with whom my mom got infected, and I understood that she got infected during her adolescence, after the ending of the Vietnam War and an important economic crisis in Puerto Rico. One of the few things I know about that man is that he was a military. So there’s when my HIV story started.

The story about my body can be totally different, because is about empowering and taking possession of it. But most of all, how I have started a process of recognizing my body, it changes and embrace my own skin, my material and organic self and those changes. The interesting thing is that, whenever you see me in pictures, you can also see the virus manifesting itself or not, and the social situations that something biological, put my body and soul through.

Part of my family is religious, and having piercings and tattoos, is something that is not that well seen, even thought, we all know that we can do with our bodies whatever we want to do. So, when it comes to the feminist slogan “My Body, My Rights” or “My Body, My Territory”, I realized that very often we lie to ourselves about it, in a very practical way. Power over our bodies is not just a slogan, it should give you the confidence to actually do WHATEVER YOU WANT WITH YOUR BODY. From cutting your hair, getting a piercing or tattoo to deciding to have sex and children or not, and even taking the medication.

So, more than a year ago, I did something very simple, but practical; I shaved the right side of my hair. Even though it was “in” at the time, for me it was empowering. I felt like for the first time I was actually deciding over my body, and how I eliminate something however I wanted, whenever I wanted. The next thing was getting a piercing in my nose, my first piercing ever. It hurt, but I looked how I wanted to look and not how I was supposed to look. Some of my friends said that I was becoming rebel, but for me it was materializing my beliefs and owning my own speech about my body. You don´t need to do something like this to prove your own self to you, but everyone has their own processes and ways. So, when I turned 27 I make a “photo shooting” of the parts of my body I didn’t like, and how a body with a 27 years virus can look. The hardest part, was publishing it because I was being vulnerable and sharing the insecurities of visible things in me.

After this, even my speeches has changed, I’m speaking of stuff that I never thought I would speak, bolder stuff. I even was pictured naked for a feminist calendar, and even thought I know that somehow I’m safe, showing that picture in WomenNow! in a room full of unknown people explaining the processes that I’m having with my body, was a huge deal. It was a huge deal, because, when we talk about the sexuality we forgot something very basic, our bodies. When we talk about young people who were born with HIV, we still get infantilized, even when were are not children anymore. People talk about young women and sexuality but they don´t want to see where that sexuality take place, the body. People talk about self-esteem as something abstract, but it doesn´t always need to be something abstract, it can be as material and physical as looking yourself in the mirror, naked, and being able to touch your body, recognizing it and remind you that it has change, and it always will.

The Purple Box allowed me to track how much my body, my virus and my life has changed. It allowed me to stop to think about my narrative, separate the different aspects and moments of my life to fill the blanks and spin a greater quilt of my story. Giving those multiples perspectives and layers to yourself is not an easy thing, even more if we look at our bodies as material and organic tools of resistance and history, and how this material and organic tools are territories. Territories that have been able to endure the virus, not only in a biological way, but in a social context. Also recognizing that the changes in our bodies are the proof of resilience, battles, history and that we had made it this far.

That Purple Box allowed me to do that and more; to revive some painful moments that I didn’t understand then, but now, with more understanding, information and context I’m able to heal, and remembering those moments as something that build a ramifications of paths for me to choose, so today, I can sit  here and tell you and whoever is reading this…

“SISTER, RECOGNIZE YOUR BODY, OWN YOUR STORY, EMBRACE YOUR POWER”

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For a couple of weeks now, I have been collaborating with the campaign #WhatWomenWant. I tweet and retweet many stuff, but never posted an original message. During this days I have been reading “What Women Want” so much that I actually start thinking, what do I want? Like, what do I really want? It was hard to think about it, because sometimes you have in your mind a lot of recycled statements and slogans that you just forget about what you want for you. But this last weeks I have been so full of the “High Level Meeting”, media, university, elections, work and economic troubles, that it was impossible to think about what I really want, and this is it:

What I want is the guarantee that I will be in peace, I want mental health. I want to feel that this is not the wrong decade to be a young woman. I need to know that I will make it, that I don’t actually need to fulfil anyone’s expectative. What I want is nobody pressuring me to be the perfect young activist, with the perfect mindset, participation and statements.

What I want is to be able to watch TV, without feeling that I’m not pretty enough. I like to eat and what I don’t want, is to feel that I need to apologize for it. What I want is sexual pleasure, without feeling shame about it. I want that my doctor ask me about it, instead of ask me about the condom use first. What I want is not to be seen as a high risk person if I have sex partners instead of sentimental partners. I would like to feel the warm of the people instead my phone vibrating because most of the human contact now, is on the social media. What I want is better data and evaluation systems.

What I want is that governments take responsibility for their mistakes and inactions. What I want is that the government to stop running over workers women. What I want is a stable salary. I which that my activism, passion and creativity could pay for my rent and university. What I want is to see my friend and her children economically stable. I also which that she doesn’t see me as a bad influence to her children, because of my support of LGBTQI’s Rights, and my agnosticism.

What I want is to have less side effect caused by ARV. I would like them to taste like pistachio, then I would be 100% adherent without any doubt. But seriously, I want to stop taking medication and what I want is a cure. I don’t want to feel afraid if I’m using marihuana. What I want is to walk down the street without looking behind me to see if someone is following me. I would like to drink without feeling unsecure.

What I want is that my dad doesn’t feel pressure because he need to provide to the family. I want him to be able to express his feelings. What I want is gender perspective on my nephew and niece’s classroom so they could be whatever and however they want to be. I would like to have more tools to provide to my friends living with HIV and wants to come out. What I want is acknowledgement of my multiple identities without having to choose between one of them. I would like that no one asked question to my ex-boyfriend when I was on the newspaper talking about being HIV positive. I also would like that my dad doesn’t have to explain anything when I’m on TV.

What I want is that the word “feminism” stop being seen as a bad word for many people. What I want is that every women be able to choose if they want to be mothers or not. What  want is that countries stop being so conservatives and recongnize Key Populations and the decisions that people make. I wish someday the term “Key Populations” became useless because they are no longer vulnerable or unsafe. I which I could trust on the politicians that are willing to govern my country, and I would like to think that at least one of them can resolve many issues here.

What I want is no age restrictions for adolescents and young people when they want to access to any sexual and reproductive health services all around the world. What I want is stop being seen as a menace for others people life while having sex. What I want is that the main reason for my treatment is my quality of life instead the reduction of the transmission. What I want is more people with courage on the power positions. What I want is not being a token for the international initiatives. I don’t want any more empty agendas and declarations for decoration. I wish my voice could actually change the harmful practices and laws. What I want is less politic position with religious influence.

What I want is less transgender women being murdered in the USA and Latin America. What I want is that the state stop seen the sex workers as criminals in most of the countries. I want that most of the people treat other people who use drugs with dignity. What I want is an end to stigma. What I want is more apreciation for the activist work. I wish I could live in a world without borders. What I want is more love, more peace, more freedom.

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Porque soy una mujer. Porque soy libre.

Porque soy una mujer. Porque soy libre, y si, media confusa.

Con mis altos y bajos, llevando ciertos  puntos medios a los extremos.

Estirándome, haciendo catarsis.

Disfrutándome la alegría, aceptando la tristeza.

Simplemente reconociendo mis emociones.

Porque me rio sola, y a veces bailo a escondidas.

Con un cuerpo perfecto aunque la publicidad y la TV diga lo contrario.

Gozando el ocio, dormir más de la cuenta, comer más de la cuenta.

Porque no creo en la madurez, sino en la responsabilidad y empatía.

Organizada, flexible, accesible, pero no siempre disponible.

Envolviéndome con la incertidumbre, dudosa, y arriesgada.

Misteriosa, clara, con pudor, sin tabúes.

Reservada, indiscreta. Clara, incomprensible.

Toda una contradicción.

No me puedes tocar, soy los rayos del sol, tu piel se puede quemar.

Me puedes sentir como a las nubes, suave, mas no detenerme.

Porque callo mientras observo, escucho con el corazón.

Hablo simple, directo, honesto, nada a la ligera.

Puedo ser cínica, antisocial, calculadora, sarcástica, victima y perezosa.

Perfectamente humana, frágil, fuerte como un roble, valiente.

Con muchos procesos, con pasos gigantes. Con espacio para mi, sin dejarme presionar.

Sin hijos, sin pareja. Compartiendo las flores del camino con quienes llegan a él.

De amores paradójicos, incoherentes, espirituales, de energías.

Porque soy bella y siempre fresca. Apasionada, viva, intensa.

Porque soy una mujer. Porque soy libre…

De nuevo aquí…

Aquí están, frente a mí. Por enésima vez. No se rinden, “compromiso” y “voluntad”. Cuantas veces he dicho “no voy a fallar”, y aquí estoy otra vez. Frente a ellas. No sé porque será diferente esta vez. No sé que me hace pensar, que esta vez tendré la voluntad de cumplir el compromiso. No se…

No sé si cuando me de dolor de cabeza continuare. No sé cuando me de diarrea lo pensare otra vez. No sé si cuando mi humor cambie, me rendiré. No sé si cuando suba más de lo que ya he subido de peso, me mirare al espejo y diga “está bien”. No sé si el cumplir día a día, me lo mantenga presente todo el tiempo. Y no sé si pueda estar con el presente todo el tiempo.

Recuerdo que alguien una vez me pregunto “¿Por qué crees que muchos perinatales se quitan?”. Imagínate, a los 13 el primer novio. ¿Con que madurez se supone que uno le diga a esa persona? “Oye tengo VIH, tú me gustas”. ¿Cómo explicas todas las marcas en tus brazos de pinchazos? A los 16, cuando eres aceptada en un círculo de amistades, ¿Cómo explicas que hay ciertas comidas que te caen mal al estomago? Cuando por fin tienes la oportunidad de probar alcohol, esa primera vez, ¿Cómo se supone que uno haga? Como se puede ser adolecente con VIH, si no podías actuar como un adolecente. Cometer todas las faltas y errores necesarios para pasar a la próxima etapa. Bueno, yo pienso, si sobreviviste a la adolescencia con VIH, ¡puedes pasar lo que sea!

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Adherencia. Esa palabra no me gusta, es muy larga y viene tan cargada, que dentro de una conversación civilizada no tendría lugar. La palabra maldita, más literal no puede ser, porque si es ad-herido a mi genética, ahí apilado debajo de mi piel, mis uñas y risos, y si es una herencia de la cual rara vez me quejo. La palabra “tratamiento”, bueno el médico trata y yo miento, pero ambos sabemos que no es gusto verlo, y no porque no me agrade.

Pero aquí estoy, una vez más frente a mis medicamentos. Mirándolas, ahí limitantes. Observándolas, ahí esperando. Revelándome, sin fundamento. Cogiéndoles odio, ellas ausentes. Gritándoles, sin obtener respuesta. Aceptándolas, hipócritamente. Pensativa, sin salida. Lista para moverme, ellas inerte. Con la mente fría, decidida, pero a ellas le da igual.

Es un mal. Es necesario…

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Salud vs. Seguridad

Esta es una pizca de la historia de esta chica con quien tengo muchas “conexiones”, y es que esta isla es tan pequeña que “fulanita es prima de la cuñada de la sobrina de la vecina de una amiga”. Mucha gente se conoce entre sí o alguien que tú conoces conoce a esa persona. Ella vive con VIH y la conocí en la clínica a la que asisto. Resulta que es familia lejana de alguien y fue jeva de un chico a quien “solía” conocer. El chico, por abusador fue preso. Allá adentro se entera que tiene VIH, y ella más adelante también. Ella ha podido superar el episodio, pero claro, los primeros años en lo que te acostumbras a vivir con VIH, mas tus hijos, no es cosa fácil. Ella rehace su vida, encontró a un hombre que la ama, a ella, a sus hijos, y no tiene problemas con el VIH.

Hace poco me encontré al chico con quien se infecto, me da lástima decirlo, pero se ve muy mal. Deambula de vez en cuando. Y cuando deambula, lo hace cerca de donde está la clínica. Hace un tiempo que ella no va a recibir servicios, y me preocupa como pueda estar su salud. No importa lo que le pueda decir, la última decisión es de ella. Me imagino que no debe ser fácil ir a recibir un servicio y encontrarte con quien te contagiaste allí mismo. Debe ser una sensación horrible, y más aun si fuiste maltratada. Solo de pensarlo de me aprieta el pecho. No imagino como pudiera ser, tener que ir a escondidas, o hacer actos de Houdini para poder acezar a tus cuidados de salud, que no necesariamente es al caso de ella. Tener que estar siempre acompañada por seguridad, cubrirte hasta las seretas para que nadie te vea, que a mucha gente he visto así. Ni hablar de las maromas y los mil lugares para esconder medicamentos que, toma más tiempo buscarlas que tomarlas.

Como anteriormente dije, es vital que cada mujer se apodere de su salud, y más, de su vida. No se puede permitir que las mujeres dejen de recibir sus cuidados de salud por miedo. Y no para ahí, muchas mujeres con hijos, casadas y trabajadoras terminan abandonando el tratamiento, porque entre una cosa y la otra de quien menos se ocupan es de ellas mismas!

Pero entonces me da coraje! Mientras estuve en Washington vi casos de mujeres, además de los documentales, que caminaban al menos una hora diaria para ir a buscar su medicación, y otra de regreso. ¿Entonces de que estamos hablando? Y no es que sea conformista, pero veo todos estos servicios tratando de ser “mejores” y hacernos la vida más fácil, sin embargo lo que también debe mejorar es el interés, la voluntad y el apoderamiento.

En cierta medida, las OBC han mal acostumbrado a la comunidad, y la comunidad se ha dejado acostumbrar, y una vez acostumbrados no es muy fácil hacer algo diferente. Se crean espacios seguros y de aprendizaje, para la gente, y si es de conocimiento común que es importante, y se le reconoce como algo valioso. Pero, sin un detalle, casi nadie, o nadie, asistirán; INCENTIVO. Hoy día si no incentivas a tus participantes, no asisten a esos espacios que tanto valor saben que tiene. Al menos comida debes tener, y me pregunto si será posible que en algún momento la gente asista aun sin comida, sin ningún atractivo adicional que no sea la causa, la urgencia y la necesidad de organizarse. Si no crees que esto es así, simplemente ve a un retiro o campamento relacionado a VIH, lleno lo veras. Ahora, ve a una protesta…

Me pregunto si no existiera el estigma, aquellos que dicen que “no tienen miedo”, pero que es innecesario que se sepa, ¿lo dirían? Me pregunto, si las mujeres dicen que ellas son primero, ¿porque dejan su salud para lo último? Me pregunto si ser joven y no revolucionario es un error hasta biológico, ¿nuestra juventud esta defectuosa? Si la salud no la puede comprar el dinero, ¿cómo es que los países más pobres son quienes más afectados están por el VIH?

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#JustSaying

Solo digo que estoy preocupada, pero no hay porque alarmarse. Si según nosotros los boricuas, con todo y el desempleo, la criminalidad rampante, la salud mental por piso, el estatus político, y la gente que “nos representa” haciendo el ridículo, somos el país más feliz del mundo, y la madre del que diga lo contrario. Cada cual tira pa’ su lao’, y muy pocos en una misma dirección, y cuando vemos algo injusto sucediendo está resuelto con el “ay bendito”, claro si la intención es lo que cuenta, ¿pa’ que hacer más?

De momento hay a muchas personas, más que antes, pero nunca las suficientes, que quieren un cambio. Todos opinan, todos dicen “yo haría esto” o “si fuera a mí”, pero rara vez hacen algo, como dije, la intención es lo que cuenta, y es que somos tan buena gente… Entonces, esperan a que alguien haga algo, y en este país que la imaginación es infinita, muy pocos imaginan que ese alguien pueden ser ellos. Desconozco si será algo genético y ya lo traemos en la sangre desde nuestros antepasados, si es parte de la mentalidad del colonizado, o si realmente es que ya se nos perdió la parte humana, pero cuando un programa de bochinche y chabacanería, es el más visto… ¡Que te puedo decir!

La cosa es que en relación al VIH, no es inimaginable que la participación es muy poca de parte de los positivos y prácticamente nula de los negativos. Solo digo que me pareció muy curioso, el hecho de que, cuando asesinaron al publicista muchas persona, incluyendo a varios de la comunidad gay, salieron en su defensa. Sin embargo, cuando asesinaron a una mujer en Peñuelas por tener VIH, nadie se quejo, nadie hiso ni dijo nada. Ni si quiera en la mayoría de los grupos feminista, fue visto como un crimen de género. Y es que me resulta muy interesante, como es que cuando una mujer sale positiva, para el “hombre”, ella es la culpable. ¿Con cuántos estuviste putiando? ¿Con que cabron me las pegaste? Pero no te atrevas a decir que estuviste solamente con él, porque estas insinuando que él o usa drogas o es gay, y no es necesario recordarte que la pela va.

Por otro lado, la mayoría de las mujeres piensan en “me infectaron”. Pero eso me suena a “no había nada que pudiera yo hacer”, lo que significa 0 responsabilidad. Que conste, no hablo de culpables, si no de responsabilidad y el poder de tomar una decisión. Pero como la educación sexual de este país es 5 estrellas, y nos ponen la abstinencia como gríngolas sin poder mirar otras alternativas, te enteras de que existe un condón femenino en universidad y si tienes suerte. Pero claro, solo digo.

Es por eso que digo, que es necesario que las mujeres se apoderarse de su sexualidad y más, su salud. Porque usar condón en el matrimonio, no es cosa de infidelidad y desconfianza, es cuestión de salud, de vida. Una mujer con pareja, usualmente, piensa que una relación “estable” es sinónimo de seguridad, y muchas dejan de ser ellas, para ser de otro, y ni tiempo tienen para cuidar de su salud, ni disfrutar de su sexualidad. Esto incluyendo a las VIH positivas, que muchas veces olvidan que también tienen orgasmos, y por completo de que somos seres sexuales además, y que igual tenemos derecho a los “one night stand” o a un “fuck-friend”.

Pero… “Just saying”, no me hagan caso!

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Para el 2013, Acción!

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Más o menos para esta misma fecha en el 2011 mencione que mi resolución de año nuevo sería “seguir viviendo”, y definitivamente eso fue lo más que hice. ¡Mi 2012 ha sido mental y espiritualmente súper intenso! Mi despedida de año 2011-12 fue patética, mejor dicho, triste a pesar de que el 2011 fue un año de muchos cambios. La diferencia entre estos dos años es que, en el 2011 los cambios fueron a mí alrededor y en el 2012 los cambios fueron internos. He aprendido mucho, y mientras más aprendo me doy cuenta que menos se realmente. ¡Declaro que el 2013 será un año de ACCION! Y debo comenzar desde ahora.

Varias veces comencé a ejercitarme. Baje de peso. Aumente de peso. Hice nuevos amigos. Perdí un amigo por el VIH. Fortalecí amistades, y me reencontré con las viejas. Participe de varias protestas. Me convertí en una revolucionaria y media rebelde.  Pase por varios procesos de transformación, desde Desarrollo Personal, Mentoría, Curo de Sogas, Firewalking y mi Avanzado. Me inicie en la Orden del Manicato, me uní como bloguera a Ovarios de Acero y tuve una exposición fotográfica. Visite la Isla de Guilligan, Vieques e Icacos. Comencé a tomar clases de Yoga, deje de tomar clases de Yoga. Me apunte en un Gym, deje de ir al Gym. Tuve varias plantas y una nueva mascota, mi Pitón Calypso.

Viaje a Washington, y conocí mujeres de diferentes partes del mundo. Vi a todas mis primas que hace mucho no veía, y todos sus hijos. Me hicieron un reconocimiento especial y salí en un reportaje en uno de los periódicos más populares del país. Me volví media artesana, aprendía hacer jabones, velas, cremas y velas para dar masajes. Fui asaltada en dos ocasiones. Inicie un proyecto, REDES. Me cuestiones muchísimas cosas. Me compartí bastante hacia otras personas.

Ha sido un año muy satisfactorio, y entre alegrías y tristezas, balanceado. Me he lanzado, con miedo, pero sin dejar que me domine. Y como dije anteriormente, EL PLATO PRINCIPAL APENAS SE ESTA COCINANDO.