Medal Winner Bob Leahy
PositiveLite.com editor Bob Leahy with his thoughts on what it means to be honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Awards like this - trust me - inevitably cause us to think back and wonder how we got to this point .
My life has been an odd one. Pre-HIV it was mostly boring, lacking in direction, meaning or reward. These were the banking years, stuck in a high-flying job that I disliked immensely, one whose only merit was that it paid well. But, as I’ve often remarked, all seemed to change for the better once I was diagnosed. True, it didn’t happen right away, but after a few months of confusion and terror, I set forth on a path of volunteerism that instantly appealed to me.
Black T-shirts and Doc Martens were the activist’s uniform then. I liked that. Such a nice change from a suit and tie.
Right from the start, the tasks I took on tended to find me rather than I found them, but they have, despite my repeated efforts to distance myself from the disease, been all–consuming. Like it or not, I’ve pretty well lived and breathed HIV for nineteen years. But – and this is what has made it worthwhile - all my work has been governed by one criteria. That is “only do what you love”.
These last few years in particular, in the editor’s chair at PositiveLite.com, have been some of the most enjoyable and rewarding of my life. All of which leads me to suggest we don’t really need a medal for doing what we love – but it sure is nice to get one!
So I’ve been humbled and honoured to receive the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. Simply put, it’s the best thing ever to happen to me. My partner, dogs and I are truly delighted. Well, not so much the dogs – they rate receiving treats a tad higher than medals – but Meirion, by partner of thirty-one years, seems really, really proud.
We will be going to Ottawa together to accept my medal at the Canadian AIDS Society’s gala in November. I have never been so preoccupied with what to wear in my life!
This is all quite emotional and I get quite teary eyed at just the thought of it. Denise has said the same thing. I’m not sure how I’ll survive the presentation without crying madly all over the podium. So gala organizers – please bring Kleenex. Lots of it. But know that it will be tears of happiness, not the other kind.