One of the many side effects of taking ART (antiretroviral treatment) is having lucid dreams. When I started my treatment this Feb 2020, I could see my mutilated body laying down on the bed, drowning in my own sweat, amidst the viscous darkness of my room. It was like my soul decided to leave my body seeking to assuage the toxicity of my being. Terrible nightmares that startled me, woke me up confused and threatened. I became erratic at night perplexed unable to discern from reality; I became half ghost. ART feels like a ray of sunshine that gets dwarfed by an eclipse of the soul.
The price for ART is intangible and the consequences on the body are irreversible. The body is alive and functional whilst the soul is being tortured alive. In this series I want to depict that feeling of desperation, a scream, the anxiety. A sensation of an empty space that slowly begins to decay the entrails of the host. This series seeks not to be optimistic or pessimistic, instead it should be a journey into those dreams and into that air grasping instance. To induce an emotional response of sympathy.
I think for us to cure humanity overall we need to stop labeling human conditions. Instead of saying queer health, we should just say human health. Labeling oneself creates a sense of division and separation from the rest and that’s how stigmas spread. Those who are attracted to the same sex suffer from the same health problems to those who are attracted to the opposite sex. Instead, I think we should focus more on our humanity. Understanding that we are all the same and being human is what we all have in common can be the best vaccine against any virus or disease. Many deaths could have been spared we were more accepting of each other.
Sergio (He/Him) was born in 1991 into a very humble and fragmented family of five, in a remote town located in central Mexico. In this town agriculture, Catholicism and machismo drove peoples’ behavior and relationships. Sergio was raised primarily by his mother and one of his older brothers; his father was a migrant who lived in the States and only visited his family for a week once a year in the summer. In 1996, two of his brothers migrated north with his dad leaving his mother miserably desolate because she thought that perhaps, she would never see them again. She had raised four children on her own but now once again her shoulders were heavy with the burden of raising a five-year-old boy. Sergio’s mother was viciously attacked by depression for years to come which also affected him. He remembers seeing local priests come to his house to try and heal his mother with thousands of “Hail Marys”. Once they even visited a witch’s den to see if she had been hexed. Sergio felt guilty of his mother’s desolation, his only escape was to draw stick figures on the dirt all day until he fell asleep.
Sergio was bullied at school, at his grandmother’s, even in his own home not only for being overweight but also for his coy mannerism, unusual for boys his age. Religion and machismo were the law of the land for the townspeople and they stuck to it through the generations. Little boys were supposed to behave a certain way and so were girls, something that Sergio never understood because he felt different than the rest. Early on in his life he learned to relinquish his emotions and became a shell of oppression and sadness. Everyone in his side of the town knew his name but he always felt alone, like how a kitten must feel inside someone’s house where they cannot understand whether the kitty is hungry or scared or cold or simply lonely. Like the kitten, no one could quite understand Sergio, thus they rejected him; even his own relatives abused him.
At the age of nine, Sergio and his mother migrated to the States where he was going to face a new bundle of obstacles that changed his life forever. The language barrier, oppressed emotions, and poor social skills were the reasons why Sergio was yet again being bullied and mistreated; despite of the promise, his dad made him of a better life. The journey to Texas was not difficult but the assimilation process was daunting. Imagine the kitten barely able to see, taken from his cat mother, inside a 3-by-3-by-3, dark, cardboard box. The hopeless kitten mewing for his mother but all he hears is human laughs of joy though the kitty terrified for his life. That was how Sergio felt every day through his teenage years. Alone, overwhelmed, lost, and confused, always seeking acceptance and sympathy, often in forbidden places.
Ms. Smith, one of his teachers in middle school, introduced Sergio to the world of collage. From that point on Sergio found an outlet for his emotions; without having to say a word, he could say a whole lot. Sergio exploded with creativity often earning awards and recognition. From a very early age, Sergio loved to create things with his hands especially little brick houses and melted wax figures. This was the reason why Sergio decided to persuade a profession in the arts field once he graduated high school. Sergio attended Tyler Junior College for a year than at the age of 24 moved to Arlington, Texas to enroll in the architecture program at the University of Texas at Arlington. Due to financial hardships, he changed his major after three years to Fine Arts where he focused in photography.
Sergio’s journey has not been easy but today Sergio is working on finding his inner self through art, rescuing the kitten from the box.