Life with Three Little Letters

Life with Three Little Letters tells the story of nine lives affected by HIV, and of the organisation that works to better them. Transcending the boundaries of age, race, sexuality, and socio-economic class, these individuals reveal to us a piece of their lives.
Told together, they illustrate inherently beautiful, yet profoundly troubling stories, stigma, fears, passions, dreams, defeats, and successes that come accompany a life touched by the "big disease with the three little letters."

In this scene, Victor, partner to the HIV positive Michael,  muses on what he would say to a parent whose child comes out as gay and his own experience of coming out to his mother.

I’d say, Okay, so you had a shock. You reacted. How long has it been? Do you think about him or her? Your son or daughter? Do you miss them? Wouldn’t you like to see them? Wouldn’t you like to give them a hug? Aren’t you curious? That’s what I’d like to say. Is this a knee jerk reaction, and would you reconsider your position? I’ve heard stories of people coming out to their families and getting kicked out of the house. I hadn’t been out to my parents yet and I was dreading it, terrified. I joined a support group where I got to know parents and kids who were really scared, and parents who were really great with it, who wanted to help other parents. I realised: don’t be afraid to do something that’s hard because of the reaction it may provoke, because that reaction is in the moment, and when people have a little time to think it over they come around.

When I came out to my mother, my father was already deceased, I remember we were on the phone and she said ‘well you’re not gay are you?’ and I’m thinking okay this is it, this is what you’ve been waiting for, and I said ‘as a matter of fact, I am.’ I thought it was going really good cause the verbal flood gates opened up, and it was a lifetime of built up things that all came out of my mouth. And the next morning I called her up… and it was bad. It was really bad. She was like ‘I didn’t sleep I don’t know what to do.’ And it was two years of this, two years of fighting with her and finally one day she said I don’t know why you chose this, and I said “mom, think it over! No body in their right mind would choose something this difficult. It’s too hard. All around. I would never have chosen this; it was the way I was born. I didn’t have a choice.”

So a few days went by and she called me, she said “you know I thought about what you said and I get it now”. She was a devout roman catholic, and she said “it’s the will of god that you’re like this” and I’m like, if those are the words you need to feel right about this: awesome. And ever since then we were the best of friends. We called each other once or twice a day. She loved my partner. And it was like oh my god this is what I wanted all my life and – this is where my tangent makes sense! – I was so afraid to take that first step because of all the bad things that could happen, I made it worse by putting it off. So it was worth the two rough years to get to this point. And that is what I would tell these people. Okay you’ve had some time. How do you feel? Do you not love this person? I said to my mother, I’ve said this to many of my friends, “I was afraid you wouldn’t love me anymore. And that, that was enough to just keep it a secret and build this whole wall around me.”

gabriella geisinger