"I want to be nobody, but me"

"I am going to ride this horse, until I ride it out."

"Life deals us each a hand and I'm going to play mine out to the end."

Attitude matters for Daniel McCloud when it comes to deal with HIV/AIDS. As he put it, one can "get bitter or get better." He chooses the latter.



Daniel McCloud

Photographer: Andrew Hsieh

Journalist: Ankita Nigam


I eat 22 pills a day, my meds cost $12,000 every year, and my two surguries totaled $146,000. I'm also a two-time cancer survivor. I could write down a litany of shit that's wrong, but being HIV-positive is not who I am. I didn't get used to HIV. HIV had to get used to me.

My buddy John gave me my first impression of HIV/AIDS. He wasn't fat but he had meat on him, and within months he was fading away in front of our eyes. His face looked gaunt, his cheeks were sunken in. He had that HIV stare that tells you that you're on your way out. It was kind of scary. All my buddies were finding out that they had HIV too. It became alarming because there were so many affected by it. I would end up at more funerals than parties. When the nurse told me that I got it too, the tables turned.

I was scared but my spirituality and faith kept me going. Everyone faces challenges in life, and HIV was one of mine. Most people overreact, but I acted upon it and did whatever I could to find myself at a comfortable place.  Being close to Nature helped me. God created man, and if God picked up a handful of dirt and breathed life into it, then she and I are connected. People thought I wasn't going to make it. Looking at me now, I believe I handled this challenge very well. I would give myself an A+.

When I look at life, I have no regrets. Life doesn't owe me anything, not even change. During the '70s and '80s, I would have never thought that one could get sick from loving. I lived life my way and I had a good time. You always have those folks that make their comments, "Oooh he was fast! You heard, what he got?" They are the biggest whoremongers in the world. I was fair and realistic--I got married only on weekends! Monday, she went to her place and I would go to mine. How can people point their fingers at me, when they can't even stay with one person? I knew I couldn't, that's why I stayed for a while and was gone. At least I wasn't pretending.

I have faced the stigma that comes with HIV. I recognize the body language. People don't have to verbalize anything. You just get it. People think, "If I brush up against him, I am going to get it too." The logic to this is beyond me. However, you have to rise above it; it's ignorance.

As Rosalind Russell said, "Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death." Life deals us each a hand and I'm going to play mine out to the end.



Back To Porttraits