A former partner involved in LGBT and human rights advocacy introduced Humphrey Gorriceta to, yes, LGBT and human rights advocacy – “I was able to see and become aware of the concerns faced by (LGBTs, as I) joined out of town activities and mobilization, (and did) some volunteer work like production work and minor graphic designs (for the group),” he recalls.
The “part-time participation” was, for a while, the extent of Humphrey’s participation in LGBT advocacy.
At least until after 2008.
“I was diagnosed to be infected with HIV back in 2008. It was after I started on anti-retroviral medication that my HIV related health situation started to sink in. I realized that since I will be HIV positive for the rest of my life, I might as well be productive with the remaining time I have,” Humphrey recalls. “I didn’t know exactly how… I want to believe it was because of divine intervention, but I woke up one morning and realized I feel fulfilled doing advocacy work against HIV/AIDS and help the LGBT community (as) my line of work.”
And so an advocate was made.
Humphrey is now the spokesperson of the National Federation of Filipino Living with HIV and AIDS (NaFFWA).
“Working and living as an advocate gave me a new purpose in life. I learned to be humble in all my dealings and it taught me to care even to those people not related to me. I learned to look at things objectively and see the goodness in every person and situation and find a way to magnify that goodness,” Humphrey says. Becoming an advocate “affected my life in ways I never imagined it would. I used to manage an art gallery and living a lucrative lifestyle. When I decided to became an advocate, I lost all that but gained something better. I learned a lot of things, I heard a lot of inspiring stories and, I’ve seen the different faces of life.”
Humphrey admits that “full-time advocacy/volunteer work don’t pay as much as a corporate job – that’s one of the challenges I faced when I decided to take on this responsibility,” he says. Adding that “I also have to get used to working outside of the regular corporate schedule and environment.”
Facing these challenges, nonetheless, was manageable “by redesigning my spending habit and prioritize only those basic and what is important. I also learned to live a healthy lifestyle that enabled me go through the fast paced, changing the schedule I have. In general, with the determination and renewed purpose at hand, I was able to manage these challenges.”
It helps, of course, that Humphrey has “a very loving family. My family has always been supportive with what I do, as long as it’s productive and does not do anything not good towards others. They are very vocal about their feelings towards what I do. They feel that what I am doing is good and that I am helping educate people about HIV and AIDS. They always encourage me to do well with my work and continue to be a good example towards others. They always remind me how proud they are of me that I did not resort to hiding my HIV status and I was able to manage to find a purpose on the adversity bestowed upon me.”
Humphrey adds: “However, like every concerned family, they never missed to remind me that I should still take care of my health, be mindful of what I say and how I treat other people, and that I have a big responsibility towards myself and others.”
“There are a lot of things that continue to be challenges for me. But the one I consider as most challenging is dealing with people who see my good and sincere intention as something deterrent to their own purpose. I work to help people but there are those who see me (and the people who I work with) as enemy/ies,” Humphrey says.
This is disappointing, true, ditto “the discrimination that exists within our community. If dealing with the stigma and discrimination from the society is difficult enough, imagine how challenging it is to manage the same concern within the HIV/AIDS and LGBT community.”
As an advocate against HIV/AIDS, Humphrey believes “we have to focus on educating as many people as we can on the issues concerning the seropositive community and the LGBT community. Doing this will help eliminate stigma and discrimination that most of our friends in the community are experiencing. Eradicating stigma and discrimination will help our community live a safer, healthier, and more productive life. And this will definitely have a ripple effect in the progress of our nation.”
Humphrey, nonetheless, remains positive. “It inspires me to see people in our community sharing, helping and working to reach the same goals. I’ve always believed that there is more love and hope in this world than we think there is. This thinking helps me continue to have the drive to keep going and do better with my advocacy work,” he says.
SEEING THE GOOD
At 34 years of age, Humphrey, who says “I am half way through my life,” acknowledges that there are “a lot of things… I am proud of. But the one thing that tops my list (of achievements) is having been able to come out with my HIV status, and (starting to) work to help eliminate the stigma and discrimination experienced by the positive community through educational advocacies.”
Humphrey adds: “I plan to continue doing advocacy on HIV/AIDS. I aspire to be able to go around, travel here and abroad as an inspirational speaker, helping people realize how great they can be and the heights they will reach if they put their hearts and minds together.”
And after all is said and done, how does Humphrey want to be remembered? Simply, “as Humphrey Gorriceta, the Poz guy who believed that hope is never lost and did what he can to make this world a safe, healthy, and better place to live in for people living with HIV, the LGBT community, and their family and friends.”
And, yes, he has already started attaining this.