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Meet Ryan

 RYAN

I am a Senior at the University of Michigan studying International Studies, Global Health. I am currently applying to graduate schools to earn my Masters in Public Health in hopes of becoming a Project Manager for sexual-minority youth prevention programs. To me, HIV Equal means that we all have a status, whether it is positive, negative, or unknown, we all have an equal status. With that being said, my status is DEVOTED: to abolish the stigma associated with being HIV+ or LGBT-identifying. Fortunately, I did not receive any discrimination or backlash from my friends when I came “out;” rather, I was told, “Oh, Ryan! We all knew that!” Though that is also not the type of response I would like to be told, it was better than being ostracized or bullied. Unfortunately, in the last week, I was bullied based on my sexual orientation. While riding the D.C. metro, I was cornered by three young men who desperately, for some odd reason, wanted to know if I liked boys. I am not ashamed to be public about my identity and I proudly stated that I had a boyfriend and that I did, in fact, like men. After my response, my shoulder received an intelligent response of one young man’s spittle. I did not retaliate, nor did I speak back at the young men; instead, I strutted off the metro with dignity, yet also anger, as I was faced with the misfortune that stigma against LGBT-identifying individuals is still present. Sadly, not everyone is able to embrace those with opposite ideologies and I pity them for their rudimentary intellect. Regardless of my interaction with the insolent young men, I am still devoted to ending the stigma and continuing my work in LGBT health.  #hivequal #iamhivequal