I had been wearing The Mask for many years.
I would smile while no one knew what was behind that smile.
The Mask was heavy, I could not take the weight anymore.
Then I decided to take it off, what many call coming out of the closet.
I wanted to feel free.
No more shame, no more lies.
Why does it have to be so hard?
Why did it take me so many years?
I needed time; Maybe you still need more time …
But don’t wait too long, you are missing out on things.
I know I am not alone to have gone through this.
So here is my call to everyone who is still wearing The Mask.
Take it off – if you want to fight HIV stigma;
Show your face – I know you are not a coward.
Aren’t you tired of hiding?
Aren’t you thirsty for freedom?
Take off The Mask, I’m begging you!
Be the hero and voice for the voiceless.
May your voice be heard like thunder on Mount Kilimanjaro.
Shout out loud – and say “No more HIV stigma!”
Isn’t it lovely to be yourself again?