In Kordofan region, we have a popular saying: “two people lookalike do not live”, meaning that if two members of the family share features and resemblances, one of them must die and one of them would rather live.
When I was seven years old, fate decided that my father died. As I accompanied my mother as a youngster, to any place or someone came across us on the street, the conversation would start with a question to my mother: “Is this your son?”
As my mother answered yes, that person spoke out and passed judgment that I must have killed my father.
As a child I, neither did I understand the old saying nor was I comprehending why anyone would say I killed my father. This created an indescribable state of terror and guilt in me, and I would start to cry and scream: ”I swear to God, I didn’t kill him.”
As I grew older I eventually learned what the saying meant and could read these situations for what they were. From being instilled with fear and guilt of being a murderer, my thoughts transformed and a belief set in that I will likely die from cancer like my father.
Fast forward, seminars and awareness campaigns were held in schools to raise awareness about the risks of having sex outside the framework determined by society and in the way legislated by religion. They were nothing but a huge support to the concept that STDs and particularly HIV are wrath and divine punishment for people who do not abide by the teachings and limits of religion, and of course the greatest amount of slander and blame belonged to members of LGBTQ+ community who are collectively reduced to the description of ”Lawaita” which means Faggots.
Since I am a luty(faggot) and I was very certain and convinced of my identity, the virus constituted an obsession for me. This was spurred on by people being televised in a very bad condition diagnosed with cancer and other diseases, at the time no treatment was available.
Some may ask, why does he call himself a faggot, while this word carries a lot of slander, condemnation and humiliation? My answer is simply that societies always tend to attach some value to certain vocabulary in order to subjugate some members of society or belittle them. Throughout history, many of the vocabularies with a negative meaning, the original meaning was mutated and dressed up with a positive meaning as a way to support certain purposes and establish specific concepts. This serves not only a linguistic function, where the recipient feels insulted and the speaker gains pleasure, but also gives the latter power and superiority. In one way or another, we are the ones who define the vocabularies and their strength and impact, whether it is negative or positive. Therefore, I do not allow or give a person the power and the privilege of insulting me by using words or any other means.
Going back to the sequence of events and my obsession of the virus, I always made sure to take safety measures before having sex, unlike some people who abstain from sex. Despite my panic about sex triggered by rape at a young age, sex to me is a way of deep communication between two souls rather than just physical contact. But it seems that sometimes one is not able to escape from his fears that have settled deep within him, as if he becomes like a magnet that pulls them in his direction whenever he makes an effort to avoid them.
When the doctor told me to wait for him in the office to tell me about the test result, I read the result in his eyes before he even declared it. To be frank I expected it, since of all people in the entire universe I believe I’m the one who is most obsessed with looking for symptoms of cancer and HIV.
I received the news coldly with internal denial. It’s part of my nature when facing crises and adversity. I can be colder than Antarctica, but may nonetheless melt later.
I remember I called my mother the next day. I needed energy, and she was always like a dynamo that generates energy in me and pushes me forward. However, I certainly could not tell her about my infection.
As soon as she picked up, the ice melted and I started crying hysterically. She was very worried and asked me: ”What’s the matter darling? boy, do not make me more worried and sad, I feel so much heaviness since you left to Egypt”
I answered her: ”I am tired and fed up with life, why does life not want to have mercy on me and hit me with all its might, why am I the one who always receives harm while I never hurt anyone? Why did I had to leave my country and those who I love? I am ok, don’t worry I just miss you a lot.”
The effect of HIV on me has not been as severe as other traumatizing experiences that I have lived through thus far. Surprisingly thanks to the infection, I felt a sense of belonging somewhere.
I came to Sweden and met the doctor, and a social worker who referred me to the Positiva Gruppen Syd organization. At that moment, I felt a sense of belonging. Although I have been to different places in Sweden but never had the feeling I get, every time I walk into Positiva Gruppen Syd´s office. I feel at home and among my family. I lived 28 years, deprived of this feeling. And believe me, I cannot put the beauty and depth of this feeling in words because it exceeds the limit of description. Possibly because I experience it for the first time.
This concept may be a little strange, even for me, but I consider my HIV status as a bonus, since because of it, I can feel things that I have been missing for a long time. In any case, HIV (this is in my own interpretation, and of course everyone is free to live the experiences and interpret them individually) is not harder than living almost three decades struggling just for being different than the rest of the people around you.