I read somewhere that you can count your real friends on one hand and have a few fingers left over. I started to think, who then are all these people around me? I wanted to be around people who were HIV-positive like myself, I didn’t want my doctor to be my only source for support.
I admit I spend far too much time online and only communicating with others that way. I don’t get out much, mostly for financial reasons and a lack of transportation. I have incarcerated myself into ‘social isolation’.
I have joined discussion groups, I attend workshops, and today I will attend a bbq for my local ASO (AIDS Service Organization) but even then I feel I am attending because of some sort of obligation. I’m not going with an actual friend. I will though be amongst peers and acquaintances.
I do have a friend that takes up one finger on that hand. We met in high school over forty-seven years ago. We don’t see each other much now but I know I can call him up, suggest we do something and it will happen. I just feel I haven’t made that same connection with anyone else.
Well maybe there is one other person, my editor and mentor here on PositiveLite.com. Over the last four and a half years he has supported and encouraged me to try the things I only thought I could do and be successful with them. So, two fingers have been claimed and I do have some left over.
So what do you do when you realize you’re in a rut? You climb out and move beyond your current surroundings, if what you need, you haven’t foundyet.
Many years ago an acquaintance told me about an HIV-positive group in Toronto called OutNPoz that met one Sunday a month for a brunch. I thought I would check it out.
Unlike my next venture out, that first time didn't go so welI but earlier this year I learned it was being managed by someone new. I had received an email asking about my disclosure workshops, saying that they might be interested in doing one. I went to Toronto to meet with the gentleman in charge and we discussed it but then we talked about the new direction of OutNPoz. I thought it all sounded great; maybe there was something I might be able to attend instead of just the brunch.
"OutNPoz seeks to combat HIV stigma and normalize this chronic but manageable condition. We organize events and activities and allow people to meet in a friendly social environment"
I’m happy to report I have now attended two of their meet ups and have met some very friendly and welcoming people. There were even a few familiar faces, people I had met in the past. It was great to talk to them again. I felt comfortable enough to walk up to any of the groups and join in the conversation. This is something I’ve learned to do more of.
OutNPoz has now joined forces with the POZ-TO monthly dance (featured and promoted here on PositiveLite,com) and moved to an earlier time on the first Sunday of each month. The earlier time allows me to travel into the city, socialize for a few hours and I’m able to catch a bus home at a decent time. The host for this meet up is none other than DJ Relentless, a.k.a. Jade Electra, a.k.a. Alphonso King Jr. who is also a featured writer here at PositiveLite.com with Scott Nickerson from OutNPoz.
The new date and time for the social event, held at Crews & Tango’s, 508 Church Street in Toronto, is on the first Sunday of each month from 6 to 8:30 p.m. and if you wish to stay a bit longer you are more than welcome to. There is no admission fee but if you wish to make a small donation, the proceeds will go to PWA (People With AIDS) Toronto. Donations are collected at the DJ booth. The next dance is August 2nd.
The second event I attended was the Sunday Brunch at Bumpkin's Restaurant & Lounge, 21 Gloucester Street, Toronto. Start time is 12:00 and it goes to 1:30 p.m. The cost of this event can range from about $20-25. Spoil yourself.
All OutNPoz events are scheduled on “MeetUp.com”; you can sign up at the link below. If you have other interests, you can check them off and be notified of events happening in our area.
To sign up for a membership and be added to the email list for OutNPoz, a link is also included
If you feel that you’ve exiled yourself into social isolation like I was, you might want to check these and other options. It may not be something you can all the time because of financial limitations, like mine for example, but maybe we can get others involved, pool our funds and make it more affordable for everyone.