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Pretending.

When I walk into the bar and see people turn to look at me; I’m always filled with fear. Bars. night clubs and wine bars by the harbour; when I walk in I am scared.

This was always the case in the wine bars in town, the locals pub and the busy straight nightclub; I always knew to be aware of myself. I am a skinny camp OBVIOUSLY gay man- at least, that’s what society tells me I am. I walk in nervously, hoping nobody is going to take issue with it; that they aren’t going to spot me checking their friend out, accidentally, as he stands at the bar ordering his drink.

I have come to know and accept the fear that a night out in a ‘straight world’ might, just might, be an unpleasant experience. Countless times, I have pretended not to hear the rugby-player type, burly bloke and his friends talking about the ‘queer’ sitting in the corner with a group of girls….I pretend not to be scared.

I pretend that my sexuality doesn’t make me vulnerable- or at the very least, make me feel as if I am. I have spent the last 11 years pretending that…it has become second nature.

Five years ago, I first walked into a gay bar in the Medway Towns. It wasn’t long before I knew the polite smile of almost every regular face there; at one point or another, I had exchanged words with almost all of the regular customers. In that place, at that time….I didn’t have to pretend.

I was free to be me.

Then I tested positive for HIV.

Quickly the whispers started…the discreet pointing, the ‘don’t-look-now’ glances started and of course…a few comments said just loud enough so I was able to hear. One night, for four hours, I pretended.

I pretended not to hear them.

I pretended not to see them.

I pretended not to notice them.

For four hours, I pretended I wasn’t hurt, devastated and scared.

I felt betrayed by every single one of the polite smiles that I had ever received, every conversation, every Facebook friend request I had ever gotten. I felt robbed of every good memory I had of that place. My safe space where I felt free suddenly became a place I wanted to run from.

In those four hours…a lot of courage came in the form of alcohol…and in my drunken state; I shouted as loud as I could
“YES! I HAVE HIV! YOU CAN ALL STOP GOSSIPING NOW! IF YOU WANT TO KNOW ANYTHING…ASK ME TO MY FACE!”

The long story short was that, after the initial shock, the people in the bar that had stared, pointed and gossiped…eventually stopped.

Almost three years later….I thought those days were long gone.

I was wrong.

I went out last weekend to a bar I had only been to twice before, and something was said; I don’t know how or why; but a rumour was started that night that I have AIDS. Not even HIV….AIDS. Instead of anyone asking me, talking to me or having the front to say it to me…I had to deal with whispering…again.

The entire night; I had to pretend I hadn’t heard what was said. I had to pretend I was having a good time. I had to pretend like I didn’t feel that the last three years spent accepting my HIV status myself, hadn’t been a waste of time. I had to pretend I wasn’t upset, confused or ashamed- I pretended that I didn’t notice.

As I had in 2012, I found courage from somewhere and decided I wouldn’t allow complete strangers to make me feel too ashamed to go out to a place that I shouldn’t  feel ashamed in! When I got there, the people I am talking about were not there. Friends started to arrive and I was starting to relax. I went to the toilet, and as I was walking back- I bumped straight into one of the people who I had heard reference AIDS in relation to me.

I pretended I didn’t want to blank him….I smiled, and he leant in for a kiss on the cheek.

I stupidly thought that maybe he had discovered that actually, I don’t have AIDS, and this was his way of reassuring himself that he wasn’t a bad person after all.

To say I saw him staring a few times would be a lie. To say I saw him staring more than a few times would be an understatement. I first noticed the ‘see that guy over there but don’t stare’ move…then it got more and more obvious. By the end of the night EVERY SINGLE TIME I looked across the bar, him, his friend or both of them were looking across the bar at me. I feel like I have to make it clear….this wasn’t a lustful stare by ANY stretch of the imagination- and it felt as if they wanted me to know that they were doing it.
I pretended….and pretended….and pretended some more.Twice during the night I had to go outside and stop myself from crying because after two and a half years of being proud to be an activist….they made me feel more ashamed than I ever have been since the second I was told I tested positive.

I wish I could have screamed at them;

I CAN SEE YOU!

I CAN HEAR YOU!

I DO NOTICE YOU!

The fact I have HIV is not a secret; and I am doing my best at the moment to pretend I don’t hate myself for having it…I just wish they knew just how much it took for me to go to that bar this weekend, and just how much what they were doing hurt.

It is the worst feeling in the world to know that the worst stigma I have faced because of my status; nearly always comes from within the LBGTQ community….How am I supposed to have pride in that?

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2015 in My Blog, Support Not Stigma

 

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I stand with Nigel.

On Saturday morning there was a knock on my door. I got myself up from the sofa, walked to the door, opened it and immediately my back was up.

Standing there was a young gentleman…with a UKIP badge on his lapel. I am quite open about my dislike towards UKIP and ‘most’ of its members. I am a gay man…there is a conflict of interests shall we say.

I looked him up and down, and in a very middle class fashion said;
“Certainly not.”

I slammed the door.

You see, my front door is in South Thanet- where Nigel Farage is running for a seat. The possibility of him becoming MY MP, a very real worry.

I have worked closely with my local MPs in Maidstone, in Brighton and here in Thanet. My activism has always been targeted at my local area; my route to make change happen has been with my MPs…my concern is my cause is one that Nigel has commented on before….specifically banning ‘HIV tourism’ – proposing people living with HIV shouldn’t be allowed to immigrate here. We would be the first country in the world to change back to that law.

I hadn’t known that it seemed Mr Farage was actually with the gentleman that knocked on my door; had I known I would have had a calm, open minded and grown up discussion to hear for myself where I stood; both as a gay man and someone representing the HIV community- or at least asking questions on the communities behalf. I am still very interested in doing this.

I have joked. I have mocked. I even sent UKIP an offer of FREE Equality & Diversity training through edUKate Training. Long and short; I am on the bandwagon that is opposition to UKIP- in specific the members that say stupid things.

I tell you all this because I want to make it clear; I don’t support UKIP and I don’t intend on voting for them. This is not a pro-UKIP post.

Today, I woke up and went in the kitchen to make my morning coffee. I scrolled through Facebook whilst I waited for the machine to heat up and saw an article shared by a friend titled;

“NIGEL FARAGE BRANDS HIV ACTIVISTS SCUM”

My attention had been grabbed. Here we go again….another UKIP golden moment.

I open the article and read about demonstrators storming a pub in Kent to protest against UKIP- OK, I’m not surprised or bothered….

Then I go on to read that this wasn’t a public appearance, rather a family meal. Nigel, his wife and their two young children; 10 and 15.

“Mr Farage was in the Queen’s Head in Downe with his wife and two younger children at the time.

Demonstrators first went to the George & Dragon, believing it to be Mr Farage’s local, before they found him.

They said they chased the family out of the pub and jumped on the politician’s car bonnet as he drove away.”
BBC NEWS WEBSITE

I search through every article I can find on this…because this simply couldn’t be true?

HIV activists….this behaviour? Surely not?

The more I read, the more it becomes clear that this is exactly what happened.

They stormed the pub looking for Farage; paid NO attention to what they were doing; that his children were there and began what I can only describe as a barbaric attack on an innocent family.

To terrify his children to such an extent that they went and HID from fear of their safety is nothing short of abhorrent!

As activists- BY VERY DEFINITION- we fight against ill treatment, stigma and hateful behaviours…THAT was not activism. It was not a ‘celebration of diversity’. It was an ambush.

Whether you hate UKIP or not, whether you hate their policies and proposals or not, whether you hate Nigel Farage or not…his wife and children are INNOCENT!

Here’s a statement I NEVER imagined I would say…

I AGREE WITH NIGEL FARAGE!

These people ARE scum- or at least, they behaved like it.

Even after the fact, they are attempting to defend their actions.

They should be ashamed of themselves….it is NOT OK!

Does association mean that that behaviour is justified?!

Is it then OK for their families to be subjected to the stigma attached to HIV, of religion, of race; as the stigma attached to being Nigel Farage’s children was to them?

Is it OK if someone terrorises their mum? Their children? Them?

Of course it’s not. It is the very thing activists are fighting against!

I cannot express to you just how sickened I am- how dare people attach activism to this disgusting attack..and let’s not pretend this wasn’t exactly what it was.

Using HIV, sexuality, ethnicity, religion or any other ’cause’  as a defence for attacking a INNOCENT woman and her children because they don’t like what their father does for a living….there is NO excuse.

Had this have been a random member of the public; you had better believe the focus wouldn’t be on his branding them as scum- but on the horrific actions of ‘demonstrators’- the only thing they are demonstrating is they care more about themselves and causing unrest than the cause they claim to have been fighting for.

I also want to make it clear that, whilst these people belong to a well known group- they gathered together to from this group alone…it seems it was not and is not condoned by the group they belong to.

I hope these individuals really feel the hatred they deserve for the choices THEY made in regards to this weekend- I just hope that Nigel’s children are OK, and can eventually put this behind them.

To them I send a message of love and support- and to Nigel’s wife who was bore the front of this whilst worrying about where her children had hidden- if they were safe.

To Nigel- I send a very clear message that as an HIV activist, as a gay man as a HUMAN BEING, I condemn this behaviour and am genuinely sorry that your family were subjected to this.

To anyone else; I urge you to think before you act. The effect of this weekend will last in those kids’ lives forever. Don’t be the reason that happens to another innocent person.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2015 in My Blog

 

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Mr Nandos

At 17, I decided it was time to ‘come out’; to tell the world I had accepted my sexuality. I had been with guys, but never by this point, had a boyfriend. Enter stage right, Grant….who didn’t return in act two!

After Grant, let’s just say, I explored my sexuality! I had a few guys I saw exclusively for no more than a month or so- but didn’t have a serious boyfriend until I was 18. This relationship should have come with a warning- it wasn’t healthy! I spent probably far longer than I should have done in it, but as they say, love is blind- and your penis makes you stupid!

Over the next 4 years, I went from relationship to relationship. Some were blissful briefly, some were me seeking to have a life of luxury and one that I wanted to last forever…sometimes. I had never really been ‘on my own’. As a person, I am somewhat of a chameleon; I adapt myself to suit those around me. Never to a huge extent but some people bring things out in me; others I feel like I have to suppress parts of my personality.

Having done this for as long as I can remember; it’s was inevitable that at some point I would forget how to be me, instead of a jigsaw made up of pieces of what other people thought or how I presumed I should be. This sobering realisation hit me quicker than a shot of tequila, and the hangover was more insufferable!

I decided I would do what I had always avoided….stay single, at least for a while.

At first, it was OK! I could go weeks without ‘grooming’ and no one knew or cared! I wore primark pants almost every day and was able to eat without worrying! I enjoyed my own company, and loved being able to watch TV and not be forced to watch documentaries about crap I wasn’t interested in! In short….it was bliss!

Then I got bored.

I started dating a guy- and when I say dating, I mean I was there whilst he wandered around shops, gazed into his fish tank and really only got his attention when I took my clothes off.

I got bored again.

I went back to my life of not shaving, eating carbs and watching repeats of Downtown Abbey….this time the period of bliss got boring far quicker! I did what every other completely sane and balanced person doe, and went on Grindr…gaydar….hornet….etc. etc. etc…..I was really bored!

Having spent most of my time on there ignoring faceless profiles and people that think saying HI 50 times is going to increase their sexual appeal to you….I got bored yet again!

The boredom of it has long since faded; and is now replaced with loneliness. The thing I didn’t foresee was that spending all this time on my own, I would become selfish and self-reliant. It’s also destroyed my once very confident and outgoing nature; and apparently it’s noticeable.

It has been a journey of rediscovery I guess; but it’s when you are so single that your best friends buy you valentines cards and you have date night with them, instead of someone you want ‘dessert’ with…it gets lonely.

The loneliness is such that; if I didn’t live with my pet-hating parents, I would probably have built up an impressive collection of cats by now! The thought of that makes my heart go warm….and I don’t like cats; I’m horribly allergic to them!

I am now at the stage that, I don’t know where a partner would fit in my life…and if I’d be willing to sacrifice the freedoms I have now- I feel like I am in a catch 22!

I want to be settled down, have the traditional gay life- Him, me, a teacup dog and extensive collection of candles in every room in the two bedroom flat with a balcony….I want it all!

I know I am not going to find it on a networking app, and I know I probably won’t find it in my hometown…but wherever it is, wherever he is….can someone point him firmly in the direction of my local Nando’s…I’ll be there covered in cat hair with a table for two!

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2015 in My Blog

 

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SEXUAL HEALTH CLINIC OPEN….no gays allowed! – Part 2

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Hey everyone!

Yesterday evening, I posted a blog about a sexual health clinic in Dover, that has a sign on the wall, that states the clinic will NOT treat men who have sex with men or sex workers.

I ended the post with very little information about the why; but the refusal to treat MSM and sex workers, is one that hadn’t been denied by the person I had spoken to.

I had spoken with a member of the East Kent NHS Sexual Health Service team, and explained what the sign said. I was then asked to forward a copy of the photograph that had been sent to me by a friend. I was told it would be looked into, and I would hear back from them.

Early this afternoon, I spoke with the head of East Kent NHS Sexual Health Services, Jinny Robinson. Having been sent a copy of my email, Jinny seemed just as shocked by the sign as I had been. It has become clear, over the last 24 hours, that this sign is not an official one and it’s placing on the wall of the Dover clinic- wasn’t an official direction.

Whilst she wholeheartedly apologised for the sign that seems to openly discriminate against MSM and sex workers – the actual message behind it, that the clinic won’t treat the two groups which are considered the most ‘high risk’, still hasn’t been argued. I confirmed with her that the Dover Health Centre WILL turn MSM and sex workers away, advising them of other provisions that WILL treat them.

It seems that this, in my opinion, is blatant discrimination. It is disguised under a ‘tier system’ of GUM clinics. Dover only has a ‘level 2′ facility, whilst MSM and sex workers are required to attend a level 3 provision. Is the fact that it seems the same treatment is offered to heterosexuals and indeed gay women, ‘OK’ in officials eyes?

Katie Street, who lives in Dover, and made me aware of the sign didn’t think it was ‘ok';

As a straight person it really shocked me to find the sign in the clinic. I find that Many health services claim that they ‘treat everyone the same’, but this usually means that they treat everyone as heterosexual. Gay and lesbian people do not need special medical treatment, but they do need treatment that is fair and appropriate.

Dover Health Clinic would of made anyone from the LGBT community feel unwanted or that they shouldn’t be there. We live in a century now where we should be accepting of different people, and not discriminating anyone.

I hope that in the future and hopefully not to long away. That Dover will have a fully functional Clinic in which everyone including people from the gay community is accepted and where they can go to be treated if a problem occurs and not to be made to feel that they can’t go and have to travel.

I am assured that a full investigation will be started to discover why the sign is up. The fact that Dover and the surrounding towns and villages do not have an adequate sexual health provision is for me, the biggest problem at hand. This, for me, and for many people across Kent, IS the point. The wording of the sign is offensive and discriminatory…but in the bigger picture, irrelevant- It’s the fact there is a policy behind it!

If it is perfectly legal for MSM and sex workers to be refused treatment at ‘Level 1 & 2′ provisions, how many clinics are there across the country that are turning people away? This issue may not be as serious as it is in Dover; leaving MSM and sex workers having to travel to other parts of the county to receive treatment.

The closest provisions (Train Station to Train Station – not including additional bus journeys or walking) are as follows;

Folkestone
10 miles away.
Costing £4.80 if travelling by train.

Canterbury
19 miles away.
Costing between £8.10 and £14.90 if travelling by train.

Margate
23 miles away.
Costing £11.80 if travelling by train.

So MSM and sex workers have to pay an extra fee for a sexual health MOT? They have to travel to a clinic that’s “MSM-friendly”? It was hard for me to just accept. I wanted to hear from KCC- who are now in charge of public health for Kent.

I spoke with the head of Public Health at Kent County Council, who I had worked with last year. It seems that my phone call was an expected one – hardly surprising when the post has been read by thousands of people, who are now asking the same questions as I am. It was clear that there was an air of caution as to what was said, a sentiment I can completely understand.

I am told that there will be a press statement made on Monday and that I will receive a phone call from the head of Public Health at Kent County Council, to answer my queries directly. I have no reason to doubt that they will.

I can only hope that Kent County Council and East Kent NHS Sexual Health Services assure us that this provision will be ungraded to a ‘Level 3′ one, as soon as possible, so it’s brought up to 2015 standards and needs! To me, this outdated policy, screams segregation. Segregation is illegal, as stated in the Equality Act 2010.

How can this be going on in 2015? What about the people who cannot afford the train fares or fuel to travel for a sexual health test? How many people cannot access these clinics on the days and/or times that they run? How many people think they are ‘probably’ free of infection, so it’s not worth the hassle? How many people are seeing this policy as stigmatising, and are frightened, so don’t feel comfortable attending an alternative clinic? How many people, including those who aren’t ‘out’, feel too embarrassed to ask where the nearest “MSM-friendly” clinic is?

How many are being left untreated?

 
 

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SEXUAL HEALTH CLINIC OPEN…but no gays allowed!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Early last year, I received an email from the head of public health at Kent County Council; my local authority. It had come after the launch of the Train The Change: HIV & AIDS Awareness Training campaign that I had started with edUKate Training. Since the incident with Maidstone jobcentre, being asked my ‘opinion’ on HIV related topics has become somewhat common place.

I was presented with statistics that highlighted Kent as a county with a higher than average rate of new diagnosis; but more worryingly still, late diagnosis. Late diagnosis can increase the risk of treatment becoming difficult, as well as complications arising from HIV related illnesses. I was asked what I believed this was down to.What views I had on the subject. What I believed were the contributing factors to this.

Those of you that know me, know that I am honest and blunt; I don’t beat around the bush. At a committee meeting with KCC, IMPRESS health and various key members involved in the study,which is twinned with Picarde in France, who share very similar statistics, I was asked to present my thoughts.

I told them that Kent’s sexual health services are a complete mess, and believe me, they are. Whilst gathering various bits of research, I thought I’d find out about sexual health services near me….the problem became very clear, very quickly.

To access sexual health services in Kent is nothing short of a near impossible mission! There are clinics around, but you have to find the clinic that is open on the day you need it, that offers the service you actually need and finally find out whether or not you need an appointment. Hoping the whole time that the service you need runs outside of usual working hours….which, more so that not, isn’t the case.

I presented this to KCC in my usual blunt fashion, and it seemed that, against the judgement of my mother, who had advised me to be gentle in my approach, it was an approach they responded well to.

Kent County Council, for many of us, is a force to be frightened of. It’s like the dark tower in our county, full of big wigs that delegate, demand and decide the fate of us lowly peasants on the front line that is day-to-day life. This seems to be slowly shifting thanks to a few very wise recruitment decisions. It seems to be ripping down the wall between local authority and local resident!

I told them that, whilst living in Brighton for a short time, the city’s approach to sexual health was the best I, personally, had ever seen. Whilst it seems Brighton has a high rate of HIV diagnosis, it has a low rate of late diagnosis. I strongly believe this is down to the amazing sexual health services they run.

The key to this was so obvious to me. One clinic alone, the Brighton Station Health Centre, runs from 8am – 8pm every day of the week. The people of Brighton know when and where they can access the service they need, and this particular clinic has no infection, protection or symptom requirement! Let’s not forget, this is just one of many services – Brighton are doing it right.

I left this meeting feeling encouraged that they had taken on board my advice. I was assured that steps were being made….It seems I was wrong to have gone away thinking that.

Less than a year later, I receive a text message from Katie Street, a close friend living in Dover, 40 miles or so away from me. The text read as follows;

Jayce, I need some advice as I’m not sure how to go about this and I know it’s discrimination against gay men. I know you’ll be the best one to ask.

I’m in the clinic, waiting to be seen, and I can see a poster saying
‘We are unable to offer testing here if you:
Have symptoms (unusual, pain discharge ect),
Have been sexually assaulted,
ARE A MAN WHO HAS SEX WITH MEN,
ARE A SEX WORKER.

I was of course, very taken a back, and asked her to send me a photograph of the sign, which she  promptly did

DoverHealthCentre

I was astonished at just how openly this clinic refused to treat MSM and sex workers; two groups that are considered ‘high risk’. I called the number and explained the sign that was on the wall in The Dover Health Centre. The person on the phone seemed unaware that the clinic openly discriminated against MSM and indeed sex workers.

She then went on to explain this clinic isn’t considered a GUM clinic, and that Dover doesn’t actually have one. Dover, one of the largest districts in Kent with a population of over 28,000; has no GUM clinic. So the place that delivers a sexual health service is selective about who they see, and the NHS and Public Health seem to be utterly unaware of this policy.

I’m left with the question of how many other clinics in Kent are refusing to see MSM and sex workers, and how are they getting away with it? I was assured I would get some answers in regards to the clinic in Dover – as yet, I haven’t.

The next question is, in a international study, involving a great deal of EU funding, scholars, professionals and committees….how has this escaped the radar?

To me, this points towards a very worrying answer – for Dover at least.

The answer to KCC’s and IMPRESS HEALTH’s question: Why aren’t people being tested for HIV?

Because they are being turned away.
Because they aren’t eligible.
Because they AREN’T allowed!

I await a response, a reason, an excuse…and will of course update you if and when I do!

 
 

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What’s new?

Hey everyone! I hope you are all well!

So we are 10 days into 2015, and well…this year hasn’t got off to the great start I had hoped for. Work pressure has somewhat increased….at the worst possible time of year. Budgets are all but gone for training…leaving my fledgling business struggling to cope….and more so, me struggling to cope.

I haven’t been in a good financial situation for a while now – with bills, expenses and a business to run….it’s not been easy. It’s frustrating that, living in an area known for its higher than average unemployment rate…I’m not in the best geographical place to get an evening or weekend job either.

I do have something in the pipeline that will end my struggle….although it seems more and more out of reach as each day passes!

I guess my frustrations are increased, and my anxieties heightened because I have FINALLY listened to my doctor and HIV specialist and given up smoking! I have been told for a while that I should for what feels like forever, but I guess, I never wanted to before. I’m not really sure what has brought it on, but I am glad to have been able to do it – and relatively easily too! I am using a vapour nicotine substitute to combat cravings, but since the 27th December, I have been smoke free!

I already consciously eat healthily and ensure that I am well nourished, so I guess the next thing I should do, is to start exercising! I used to go running, and was always a keen swimmer….so I am hoping the transition back into it will be as easy as the smoking cessation!

My quest for a bubble butt and biceps is my driving force! Vanity….maybe….but I would love to be able to look in the mirror and be happy with the reflection. Over the last two and a half years, I have become very insecure….masked i guess, but countless selfies…that I can assure you, is never just one quick snap!

I have also agreed to write a short blog for GtenMedia – my first post was published earlier this month; just introducing myself and giving a brief rundown of the last few years!

Not much else to say guys, so I’ll leave it there!

All my love, as always,

Jayce
xx

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2015 in My Blog

 

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2014 – The year that everything changed

It’s that time of year again. The time when i sit in front of my laptop and reflect on another turbulent year. It has, as is the case for every year before it, been filled with highs and lows, laughter and tears and another huge learning curve.

This year has been one of personal development for me. Giving up on looking for love and for companionship – this year I concentrated on myself. I put my efforts into work this year and have ended the year, professionally, in a great place.

It started this year by teaming up with my mum’s training company and developing ‘Train The Change: HIV, AIDS & Stigma Awarness'; a training campaign aimed to improve awareness and try to help in stigma surrounding HIV & AIDS. As always with these things, red tape is put in place and barriers thrown up in front of you. Sex and relationship education in the UK is, at present, not a mandatory part of the national curriculum – something that is being fiercely fought for by people across the country.

The launch of Train The Change seemed to put me in a good light with big organisations, none more so than the Public Health Department of Kent County Council. I was asked to attend an international conference and give my views and advice on how to tackle the above average rate of late diagnosis in my part of the country. It was something I thought long and hard about and cam to the conclusion it lay in three areas – three areas KCC are now focusing their efforts it seems.

I was then asked to join edUKate Training full time as the centre manager, and later bought shares and became the Managing Director. It had happened…I had become a proper grown up! This complete career change was incredibly exciting to me. It wasn’t my first time in the education sector, I once worked as a teaching assistant – but this time, it felt like something I would enjoy doing. It challenged me mentally, and I love to learn and to teach. Adult education seems to be a perfect fit.

The new pressures of work meant i didn’t have much time to dwell and to brood like I had done for the last two years, meaning mentally I was allowed to move on in my journey with HIV. I attempted several times to write a blog post ‘bowing out’ if you like, but the thought of walking away from blogging, which has essentially been my therapy for the last two years, was a decision that wasn’t easy to make.

I suddenly came to realise that, I wasn’t writing, because I didn’t have anything to write about. I started this blog pouring my thoughts and emotions into it in a world new and confusing to me. Over the two years I had been blogging, I guess living with HIV had for me, become just a normal thing – a non-issues. It was then i came to the conclusion, I didn’t need the therapy anymore – I had reached the end of my journey.

I spent four months ‘getting on with my life’ and, although I have friends that I talk to, I started to feel almost lonely. I hadn’t, as I felt I had with the blog, been able to sound off without reservation. It was after a pep talk with a friend urging me to return to it, that I decided I would return to it.

Earlier this year, I am sad to say, I was involved in a homophobic attack for the first time in my life. Walking home after a fun night out, ended with me having to go to a&e and have stitches. I did what I always do, put a front on it and pretend like I was ‘strong’. The sad truth of it, was that it had affected me deeply. I was worried about going out and avoided it for two months.

On my second night out since, I was again, attacked by a drunk. This time, it wasn’t a homophobic related one – I was just literally caught in the crossfire of another fight. This time, it really got to me. Both of the attacks have had their toll on me – so much so, I refuse to go out in my hometown anymore.

Earlier this month, I visited Brighton. It was a short visit but an eventful one as always. I was there to see a good friend of mine, and spent the day having serious talks, laughs, jokes and of course, a few cheeky drinks. It was a visit I thought would be a somber one, but wasn’t. I also visited an ex partner and cleared the air…a conversation that gave me a massive feeling of closure.

An incident happened in Brighton – an utter betrayal of someone I probably should never have given my trust. I won’t talk about it because I wouldn’t give them the glory of being talk about. It did however, give me the push I needed to finally write the book I have asked to write for the last two years.

It has been incredibly liberating, if not a little scary.I am glad I have finally found the courage to share the story before I was diagnosed. Whether the book is a ‘bestseller’ or not doesn’t matter to me, it’s almost like the missing piece of the puzzle and like the last step in my bid for freedom. I will of course keep you updated!

The biggest part of my year, I still can’t share – which is a shame. I am working on what started as a side project with work, but has turned out to be something bigger than I could ever have imagined. I am looking forward to being able to share it with everyone….but for now, I am not allowed!

2014, whilst eventful, has been a very a great one. Thank you for sharing it with me, and for your unconditional love and support. I wish you all a very happy, healthy and safe new year!

All my love, as always,

Jayce

xx

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 31, 2014 in My Blog

 

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Refocused. Recharged. Returned.

Hey everyone!

I was sitting in my office two weeks ago. Coffee in hand, post it notes scattering the desk, head all over the place.

I am concentrating all my efforts at the moment on my new project. It is something a world away from anything I have ever done before – but as with other things I have done before…it’s a huge challenge that is going to an uphill battle. It will be worth it if I get it right – which means the battle is ultimately worth the battle scars.

I was discussing it with a lady I know, who attended the launch of Train The Change – expressing to her about the self-doubt I have cast upon myself. She reminded me of the start of my journey. The battle with the job centre. The struggles I have faced in stigma. The creation of the TTT campaign….and short of shaking me…she did everything to convince me that I could use these experiences to drive the new project.

She asked about this blog – and what I was doing with the activism side of my life. I explained to her that I had taken a back seat, and felt my journey,or rather my struggle, had come to an end. Something I explained to you all in August. I also told her about something I had been feeling for a while before I stopped blogging.

I had felt like so much was going wrong for me, I used my blog as a way to get all my bottled up and reserved feelings and emotions out. This,whilst it had helped me – wasn’t so positive for those reading it. I felt like in doing this, I had become stale and uninteresting – no longer relevant in what had been such a huge part of my life.

She stressed to me that whilst my struggle was over, and my journey to acceptance had come to end; you guys would want to what happened next – where the journey had led me.She also said that people had been supporting me – and whether or not my posts were all about living with HIV or not – people would still want to read…and that she and her family had missed my posts.

I thought about it for so long, and realised that for so long I had so much support and love given to me….and to disappear, whilst I needed the break, was unfair i guess?

From the bottom of my heart I have to thank Tina Kydd for that conversation. Not only did it help with me with my work struggles and doubts…she gave me the courage I needed to come back to what I honestly LOVE doing!
So I have decided that, I would start writing again! I just hope you guys will enjoy reading it!

A few little updates to start I guess!!

I am still living in Kent, with my wonderful parents! The house is a little crowded with Mum, Stepdad Steve, Sister Gemma and her boyfriend Mark and my niece Ellie and myself, all under one roof! It’s nice to be in a full family home though I guess!

I am the manager of a company – and I LOVE my job, and as soon as I can tell you more, I’ll let you know what the new project is! All i can say is, it’s huge!!

I am single…been that way for a while! I have been on a few dates and recently met with an ex partner for drinks and briefly thought it would rekindle, I have since decided it’s not the right thing to do. History tells me it’s not right for either of us.

Whilst it’s nice to go on dates, I rarely go for date two. I have no interest in one-night stands or purely sexual encounters. I am at a point in my life that I just want someone to cuddle up with and share my life with. I want to meet someone that actually makes me happy, and that I’m not going to realise 6 months down the line, isn’t compatible.

I do have a date on Saturday with another guy. He seems very nice so far, and I remain optimistic that the date will go well!

Well….for now, that’s enough rambling!!

I hope you are all well!!

All my love, as ALWAYS

Jayce
xx

 
1 Comment

Posted by on December 7, 2014 in My Blog, Support Not Stigma, Train The Change

 

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HIV – Am I over it?

Hey guys.

I’m sorry it’s been so long since I have posted…with work, a (now ex) partner and lots of other commitments, I simply haven’t had the time.

Updates are small, and some insignificant – but I have had a few emails to ask where I am and to let you guys know I am ok.

Work has been crazy since I joined full time as the centre manager – which means a LOT of work and long hours! I am enjoying it…just wish the pace would slow down a little!

I briefly got all loved up and him and I were happy for a few weeks before things started to fizzle out and I decided it was time to call it a day – ending entirely more pleasantly and quickly than my last breakup!

I am missing Brighton and my friends there like crazy and hoping that next year I can move back and move my work there!

I have started writing – this time not for a blog or magazines etc…but for a novel.

It is nice to write about a character, rather than myself for a change! I will of course let you know when it is finished and hope that I can realise my lost childhood ambition of publishing a book.

I have also been approached about sharing my own journey in a book form – but as yet, that is a decision I need a lot of time to think about – again I will keep you posted!

Now, this post is one I have been struggling to write for a while…but it’s things I need to say and to get off my chest. I am a little upset about it – but it brings about a positive change in me, and I hope you guys can understand.

It has been a long time since I have written on here. I know I have really neglected this side of my life recently. Not just online, but generally activism and even really discussing it.

Over the last few weeks I have started to realise that, for me, being positive just isn’t such a massive issue any more. I have just, kinda got used to it.

This time two years ago, I was in a relationship with a very sweet guy – but the relationship hit an iceberg when I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t tell his parents. I, then, was incredibly ashamed of my status – I felt like they had a right to know who their son was with….me. A guy living with HIV.

Fast forward two years, to my now recent ex. The fact his family didn’t know about my status, about my activism, about my blogging or Train The Change…didn’t bother me in the slightest.

I had finally seen what the first guy had meant by – they don’t need to know, it’s not essential.

Whether his parents, or indeed my recent ex’s parents found out and reacted badly – even then, for those guys it wasn’t an issue – it would be something the parents would have to come to terms, and deal with.

Going out clubbing and meeting guys this time last year – before they had even began to get to know me – I would jump right out and say ‘BY THE WAY, I’M POSITIVE!’

Whether it was my status or my blurting it out that contributed to the rejection I faced – I will never know.

Again, fast forward to now – When I go out, and speak to a guy I like, it’s just not relevant. I no longer fear they will see it as if I have somehow deceived them.

Long gone are the days where I loathe myself for the mistakes I made to get me here – and hardly ever do I get days I pity myself because of my status. Which, a lot of you will know – very different to two years ago.

It’s so hard to adjust to the thing that consumed my life completely for 18 months to suddenly become just another part of me…but, having said that, it’s an adjustment I am happy to make.

What the future holds for me as a blogger – I’m not sure. I will always fight against stigma…that will never change.

I no longer feel lost, confused, upset, angry or any of the other rollercoaster of emotions that made me start, and continue to write about my journey. I feel like I am at my destination….and it’s good to finally be home.

All my love, always

Jayce

xx

 
5 Comments

Posted by on August 20, 2014 in My Blog

 

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Crumbling

Hey everyone.

I hoped I wouldn’t be writing a post like this again, however, I have been ignoring it for weeks, and I have to let it all out!

Generally, things are ok, so why aren’t I?

I moved back to my parents house a few months ago, and I love my parents. It’s great being here, after years of being apart, some of that time we weren’t even talking…so I really enjoyed the closeness we had begun to have – no more so than that of my step-dad, to whom I never imagined I would have the bond I have now.

I started working with my mum with the Train The Change course – and she asked to become more involved with edUKate training – of which I am now the manager. That was a massive boost for me, and of course I was very grateful.

We had the launch that was great, and I have even been asked to get involved in even bigger things to do with HIV…it’s what I have been working towards for over a year…so why do I feel so down at the moment?!

One part of it I guess, was being torn away from the friends I had made in Brighton….with the exception of just a few, I have no friends here, and I miss the social life I had….and with every day that passes I yearn more and more for that – especially my closest friend Zoe, some days it actually hurts how much I miss her.

I spent all my spare time with my friends in Brighton, and had such a great time with them!

Here…I work…work…and work…. In my spare time, I still work, simply because there is nothing else to do.

I go to bed at night, alone…which is getting to me now more than ever….and I lie there in the dark and most nights cry because of the loneliness that has steadily gotten worse.

I has got to the point now, where work feels more like a lifeline to distract me from how I feel when I stop….and over the last few weeks, it has ripped away my motivation to do my work…not just to my best….I mean at all.

Things keep happening in my life that raise me up, and I feel like I can get out of bed in the morning…then they are either ripped away at the last minute, or just fizzle out…

I am trying to be upbeat about it….and I really am…things are essentially going better than have for me for a long time.

I just feel like day-to-day I’m going through the motions. I’m not doing anything I enjoy, not having a meaningful life outside of my work.

I have so many unresolved issues that seem to be cracking the surface of this new life I have….and these problems are starting to see daylight through the shattering of the façade that has been subconsciously put in place

I don’t for a second want to get in to the mental state I was last year – but something needs to happen, to change or to improve with me to prevent that….and I simply don’t know what it is….I don’t know how to help myself, which makes it even harder to ask others for help.

I’m feeling like I am failing with the Train The Change project – which has times where it feels like it’s about to have a huge snowball effect…then stops dead.

I have put everything I have in to that – and for it to fail…it’s killing me.

Being an activist has been the only thing that has given my life any meaning….and when things don’t go how I hope they will….it breaks my heart, and everything seems to be affected it.

I will do what I always do, and smile through it and be ‘strong’….or at least try!

Jayce x

 

 
4 Comments

Posted by on March 31, 2014 in My Blog

 

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