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#HearOurStory - www.hearourstory2014.com

3 Nov 2014

Bradford's Story - HearOurStory

By Bradford McIntyre

Photo: Bradford McIntyre, HIV positive since 1984.

My name is Bradford McIntyre. I am a proud gay man, born in 1952, in Sarnia, Ontario. I was raised with a foundation of love, unconditional love, provided by my parents, sister and brothers, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Growing up in the 50s and 60s, there were no terms such as gay or LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning) but my family and I knew that I was gay. I never came out and never needed to and my being gay was understood by everyone.

At that time, there were plenty of derogatory words used to describe and directed at people, who were gay. Queer, fruit, queen, fag, faggot, mo and homo were the negative words used to describe homosexual men and were directed at me as a youth.

When I was nine, I had a boyfriend and by the time I was 12 years old, I knew that I was a homosexual. I remember clearly the conversation that I had with myself on my way to clean a gay man's apartment. It was a job I did for a few gay men in town and provided me with money to go rollerskating on weekends. I suppose that I was more mature than my years in some ways since I understood from such a young age, what a homosexual was and that I was a homosexual. I knew and I was proud. Some people didn't like me and called me those terrible names but I told myself that it didn't matter. I felt that if people took the time to get to know me they would like me. It wouldn't matter if they found out or were told that I was a homosexual.

It was unpleasant; not being accepted, names yelled at me, and being chased (thankfully, never catching me as I could run faster). In high school, my locker was located on Tech Alley. Each day, boys would keep a look out for me and when I went to my locker, they would all grab me. They called me queer and homo and grabbed my hands and arms to make me touch their crotch area and to make it appear that I was doing it. Sometimes, they ambushed me and shoved me in the men's showers. Although I endured names liked faggot or queer and was harassed, none of it caused me to feel bad about myself. My family and friends accepted me and what I experienced made me stronger. From an early age, I learned to stand up for myself and not to hide, who I was.

I wanted the same things my brothers and sister, aunts and uncles, mother and father, grandparents and others desired: love, marriage and happiness. I wanted to fall in love and one day to get married. Early on, I knew love and how special it was to be embraced by someone you loved, whether a man and woman, woman and woman or man and man. For most of my life, marriage was definitely not in the cards. Same sex marriage was not legal.

In the summer of 1970, I met Jerry in Kitchener, Ontario. Jerry was from Toronto and a student in a co-op program, at the University of Waterloo. My sister lived in Kitchener and I would go by train or hitchhike to Kitchener to visit my sister and friends. I was eighteen and had quit high school and Jerry was 23. We dated and I introduced him to my family. I informed my parents that I wanted to move to Toronto and live with Jerry. My mother did not want to see me leave home and I knew that I would probably have a difficult time moving so far away from my family. Sadly, at the age of 48, my mother died of a heart attack, in August 1970. After this happened, I left home to live with Jerry and his family in Toronto.

I wanted to return to high school and complete my education. In Toronto, I would require a legal guardian of a Torontonian taxpayer or pay outright for my schooling. My father and Jerry arranged a guardianship through a lawyer in Sarnia. Jerry and I went before the Supreme Court in Toronto. In Her Majesty's Surrogate Court in the County of York, on the 18th day of September, 1970, Jerry was appointed my legal guardian, until I was 21 years of age. I still have those guardianship papers. I remember that at the time, for us, it was like we were married. Jerry and I were together from 1970-1973.

I always dreamed someday I would be able to get married legally.

Today, I am married happily and legally to a wonderful man. Deni and I met on January 22, 2000. After living together for a year, we decided that we wanted to get married. Same sex marriage was not legal in Canada at that time but our marriage was about our love and our spiritual connection, our bond. There were gay folks getting married even though it was not legal. On June 2, 2001, Deni and I were married (Covenant and Blessing) at St. John's United Church, in Vancouver, BC. There were 13 in our wedding party along with our 70 guests, who were our family and friends. We didn't have the acceptance of our government but we were a part of the pioneer movement of gay people getting married, wanting acceptance and change to legalize same sex marriage.

In 2005, Canada became the fourth country in the world to legalize same sex marriage. Deni and I always talked about getting legally married after the law was in place but it wasn't until our tenth Wedding Anniversary that we did anything about it. On June 2, 2011, Deni and I renewed our vows. We were married legally at Barclay Manor, in the West End, by the same minister, who married us in 2001.

Deni and I are a sero discordant (Positive/Negative) couple, in a long term, monogamous relationship. I am HIV+ and Deni is not. I have been living infected with HIV for 30 years (since 1984). While I never hid my sexual orientation, I did hide the fact that I was HIV+ for nearly a decade due to the fear, stigma and discrimination. I isolated myself from family and friends and waited to die. After years spent scared and alone, I decided to get on with my life.

For the past 20 years, I have been out about my living infected with HIV, publicly identifying myself as HIV positive, locally, nationally and internationally; an advocate creating HIV and AIDS awareness and fighting stigma and discrimination. I volunteer my time and I participate in HIV/AIDS causes and events through all venues: television, radio, internet, newspapers, magazine interviews and documentaries, conferences and local, national and international speaking engagements.

In 2003, I launched my website, Bradford McIntyre Positively Positive Living with HIV/AIDS ( www.PositivelyPositive.ca ), which gets over 125,000 hits per month and has reached 16 million in 176 countries. In 2012, I was honoured to receive the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for excellence in the field of HIV/AIDS, in Canada. In 2013, I was recognized for my activism and volunteerism by the Vancouver LGBTQ community, presented with a PRIDE Legacy Award (Vancouver Pride Society), for Sexual Health + HIV/AIDS Awareness. I dedicated both awards to people infected and/or affected by HIV/AIDS and to all the people we have lost to AIDS.

People everywhere are entitled to the same rights and freedoms. We will not end the stigma and discrimination around homophobia, same sex marriage and people living with HIV/AIDS, unless, we recognize these are Human Rights issues and the integral components necessary for social acceptance, in order for everyone to move forward, living our lives free to be who we are.

Bradford McIntyre
Vancouver, BC

https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/hearourstory

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Source: #HearOurStory

HEAR OUR STORY
We believe every person should be able to achieve their full potential, free from hatred and bias. From equal marriage, to safer schools, Egale is working to make the world more accepting and inclusive.

The #HearOurStory campaign is our response to the need for a stronger LGBTQ voice worldwide - because there's still work to be done.
hearourstory2014.com

Egale - egale.ca
Egale
Egale Canada Human Rights Trust (Egale) is Canada's only national charity promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans (LGBT) human rights through research, education and community engagement.


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