Félix Garmendía

Félix Garmendía

"I was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico in the 60s. Living in Puerto Rico, and growing up there was a bumpy process. I was very aware of my homosexual identity at a very early age, so fighting the stigma was a very intense journey in my native island.

I love art. The Ponce Art Museum was my shelter since I was in high school. As my first job ever, I guided bilingual tours for locals and tourists from all over the world.

In high school, I was introduced to music and theater, after that, I chose to pursue a B.A. in theater at the U.P.R. ( University of Puerto Rico ). Rio Piedras campus.

In college, I discovered many things about myself. My sexual identity became established, my religious beliefs changed dramatically and my awareness of my role in society became the first and biggest challenge of my life. I became a proud gay man, an atheist and an activist. The political climate in Puerto Rico was very far away from recognizing any kind of gay rights so I knew that I needed a community that I could call my own, and be myself. After several years in Puerto Rico, in my twenties, I moved to N.Y.C. to pursue a Master’s Degree in Art Education and Art Criticism at New York University. I decided to stay in Manhattan. Here I found myself. I discovered my passions, causes to fight for, and the strong community that I always dreamed of. I became a passionate man with strong convictions.

After graduation I became a N.Y.C. school teacher. I taught art in the South Bronx, Spanish Harlem and Upper Manhattan for 15 years.

Sometime in my twenties, I was exposed to HIV. I tested HIV-positive and after a serious depression, came out strong and victorious. I became an AIDS activist. My passions in life became the gears that fed energy into my existence.

Very early in my N.Y.C. years, I became a staunch liberal. All my causes were related. I was trying to survive in a world where not everybody cared if I did or not. Politics made clear who cared for me as a human being.

That’s why I’m very vocal about my postings. Not because I want to convince anybody, but I do it for those who, like me, once needed some direction in life. I want to share the "real" me with those friends with similar beliefs or at least respect for my beliefs.

Today, I still live in Manhattan. I’m legally married to my husband Denis Beale and I’m disabled. My life is not easy, I have several health related conditions that are a real challenge these days. This bring me to another one of my causes. From personal experience, I believe in the legalization of cannabis (marijuana). 

I consider myself a loving, compassionate and spiritual person. I have no patience for bigotry, especially the kind of sanctimonious bigotry that wraps itself in prayer and fake compassion.

This is a synopsis of who I am. It would be really helpful to start introducing myself with my favorite warning. Warning: I’m human, far from perfect, passionate about life, the pursue of difficult answers, and the conviction that we are all equal."

Felix has been featured in The Huffington Post’s Queer Voices; see the piece here.

You can follow Felix on Facebook here or here and on twitter @PozHeart.

  

As long term survivors we have a duty to educate.

published: September, 05, 2017 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Social Media, Aging, Activism, Gay Men, International , Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Félix Garmendía

From New York, Félix Garmendía: "The years have filled my heart and mind with stories to tell the new generation of HIV positive people. Stories filled with HOPE, not despair..."

As long term survivors we have a duty to educate.

Today I was thinking about how the face of HIV has changed. I was telling my husband a story that I had long forgotten. In 1989, after 3 years of absolute celibacy, I found myself suddenly in a relationship with an HIV negative man. The terror of HIV loomed everywhere but I decided that, as scary as being tested was, I needed to do it. I tested HIV-positive on December 19, 1989 and had been in my new relationship for less than 3 months. Testing positive in 1989 was pretty much a “death

¡QuE viva la vida! (Long Live Life!)

published: August, 03, 2017 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Aging, Social Media, Activism, Gay Men, General Health, Mental Health, Health, International , Living with HIV, Media, Félix Garmendía

New York guy Félix Garmendía: "It’s not just another day, it is also one precious day less. I am going to make it count!"

¡QuE viva la vida!  (Long Live Life!)

I am finding it difficult to write at this moment in my life. Every time I try to do so, my mind goes blank. The reality is that for the first time in a long time, I am scared. I have noticed that there’s a feeling of sadness pervading my mood these days. The loss of friends by natural causes and by life choices, my elderly mother’s issues and the deterioration in my mobility all contribute to this feeling of malaise. I am having dreams that are very vivid and intense, where I am still

Life is a puzzle and death is its final piece.

published: June, 29, 2017 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Aging, Social Media, Gay Men, Mental Health, International , Lifestyle, Living with HIV, Media, Opinion Pieces, Félix Garmendía

New York guy Félix Garmendía: "Every day we have left is one more day to dare ourselves to love and be loved."

Life is a puzzle and death is its final piece.

HIV has taught me several things. I actually believe that HIV changed my life forever with a mix of sad and beautiful memories of fighting for my life, after receiving a “death sentence” back in the late 1980s. I mean this literally, I was told over the phone that I had, at the most “6 months to a year to live”. Getting a death sentence is probably one of the most terrifying things I have ever confronted so far. The bleak circumstances surrounding my death sentence were very poignan

To the healing hands of my caregiver

published: June, 01, 2017 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Félix Garmendía

Félix Garmendía: "Thank you to all the hidden heroes behind the scenes, thank you to all that give the best they have to enhance the quality of life for those of us LIVING with a degenerative disease."

To the healing hands of my caregiver

As a long-term HIV survivor, I have realized that it’s becoming increasingly less likely that HIV will kill me. I just came from my regular doctor checkup last week. After 30 years carrying HIV, I am undetectable and have 937 T cells. I can remember when 937 T cells were enough for four people. I can’t help but think about those who didn’t make it. I am also reminded of the countless family members who lost precious loved ones. We were not allowed to have “spouses” then. The best ph

Greece: in the arms of the gods

published: April, 18, 2017 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Social Media, Gay Men, International , Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Félix Garmendía

Félix Garmendía tells of the special connection he feels with Greece.

Greece: in the arms of the gods

Grecia, Oct 24, 2012. I’m not sure if I believe in reincarnation. Sometimes it sounds to me like a punishment, sometimes like another opportunity to evolve. When I was a child I had a dream that recurred often. In that dream, I could not see myself but there were several things that were very clear. I was standing on a cliff high above a very beautiful blue ocean, there were white buildings that contrasted with the ocean’s water. I also remember a very comforting island breeze flowing t

Passing the torch in high style.

published: March, 20, 2017 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Social Media, Aging, Gay Men, Mental Health, Health, International , Lifestyle, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Félix Garmendía

Félix Garmendía recalls Bill, the man who taught him that self presentation is self celebration -- and that both are important.

Passing the torch in high style.

I used to see him very often in the neighborhood. I didn’t even know his name but there was something about this man that was very pleasant and captivating. My husband, Denis and I used to comment on how handsome and dapper he always appeared. He was a really sharp dresser, a very elegant man with a well-crafted retro sense of fashion. With his linen suits, alligator shoes, ascots, and meticulously crafted handlebar mustache, he was always a sight to behold. Every time he crossed our path,

Strategies for forgetting about HIV

published: February, 09, 2017 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Gay Men, Mental Health, Spirituality, Health, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Population Specific , Félix Garmendía

“What do I do to forget HIV?” asks New Yorker Felix Garmendia. And what do YOU do?

Strategies for forgetting about HIV

What do I do to forget HIV?  Interesting question.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say, “I HAVE HIV but HIV is NOT me”. We all have days when we don’t want to remember we are HIV-positive. When I am confronted with my HIV, I have learned to look at it in the eye and embrace the fact that we are deeply intertwined. I do this every single day. 1.  I DO IT when I wake up in the morning and have to wait for my HIV-positive husband Denis to help me get into my wheelchair. I have be

The secret in Johnny's eyes

published: January, 06, 2017 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Social Media, Gay Men, International , Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Félix Garmendía

As New York poz guy Félix Garmendía relates, sometimes a chance meeting can put us back in touch with what's best and most important about others and ourselves.

The secret in Johnny's eyes

I enjoy the holiday season but as a secular humanist (i.e. pagan, lol), I don’t attribute any spiritual weight to the season. Yes, I watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” every year and I also enjoy eating potato latkes with sour cream and applesauce on New Year’s Day. I do admit however that I haven’t quite figured out Kwanzaa yet. Even though I’m not particularly spiritual when it comes to this season, I’m all for the “tidings of comfort and joy” part of the season. A few days b

My 30th anniversary with HIV, my 55th birthday and my epiphany with Ursula

published: November, 29, 2016 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Social Media, Aging, Activism, Gay Men, Mental Health, International , Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Félix Garmendía

NYC guy Félix Garmendía says, "Sometimes, we have to learn to let go of circumstances in life that are tying us down or causing us stress."

My 30th anniversary with HIV, my 55th birthday and my epiphany with Ursula

I saw her for the first time a few months ago. “Ursula” was to become a faithful companion and friend – who happens to be a plant. At the beginning I was confused as to whether it was a Corn plant or a Yucca plant but after posting pictures of Ursula on Facebook my friends and I concluded that Ursula was in fact a Yucca plant. I then hit the internet to learn how to care for my new found friend. All the tips emphasized that over-watering is the biggest mistake regarding Yucca plants so

Three vignettes from the past with lessons for the future

published: October, 27, 2016 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Aging, Social Media, Gay Men, International , Travel, Opinion Pieces, Félix Garmendía

Félix Garmendía shares three stories from different parts of his life, each of which taught him something

Three vignettes from the past with lessons for the future

Anthony I worked as an art teacher in the public school system of NYC for fifteen years. Thousands of children crossed my path. I have many pleasant memories or let’s say, I choose to remember the pleasant ones. For my last ten years or so, I worked in East Harlem, NY. It was an impoverished community and the children were for the most part African-American and Latino. Today for some reason I was thinking about one of those students. His name was Anthony and he was a very special child. I

Home base or jail cell?

published: October, 04, 2016 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Social Media, Aging, Activism, Gay Men, Mental Health, International , Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Félix Garmendía

Our NYC guy,Félix Garmendía tells of the social isolation that often comes with disabilities and of what he did to beat that isolation back.

Home base or jail cell?

Isolation is a very common problem for a disabled person. Our lives changed forever the day we became disabled. Although I’ve been disabled for years, a turning point occurred when I became 100% wheelchair bound about four years ago. I have a progressive, degenerative neuromuscular condition called “Inclusion Body Myositis.” which primarily involves gradual destruction of the muscles in my arms and legs. Four years ago, I had a bad fall that rendered me unconscious and I ended up in the

My time in a gay paradise

published: August, 31, 2016 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Social Media, African, Caribbean and Black, Gay Men, International , Travel, Opinion Pieces, Félix Garmendía

You'll wish you were there as our NYC guy, Félix Garmendía, tells of his time in the San Blas Islands

My time in a gay paradise

Many years ago I visited The San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama. This was a very beautiful experience. As part of a gay cruise we made a stop to see the Panama Canal to visit the Kuna people who live on the San Blas Islands. They came to pick us up in their canoes and in less than 10 minutes we were in paradise. On our way there, we even saw a beautiful baby dolphin playing around our canoe, greeting us in a very charming way. Once we arrived at the islands, the Kuna people greeted us w

Living with HIV, depression, Inclusion Body Myositis - and my lily

published: August, 02, 2016 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Social Media, Gay Men, International , Lifestyle, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Félix Garmendía

It's sometimes possible for another living thing to support us just by being there, as our NYC guy, Félix Garmendía relates.

Living with HIV, depression, Inclusion Body Myositis  - and my lily

In the summer of 2006, I received a plant as a gift. It is a “Peace Lily”. The beautiful plant was a gift from the wonderful people from our local pharmacy when they found out that I had a bad fall that took me unconscious to the ER. In those days I was starting to show serious signs of muscle weakness and that fall put me in a wheelchair full time. The doctor sat me down and told me the truth. He told me that if I kept on falling my already brittle bones could get fractured very easily.

The Fire Island Invasion

published: July, 05, 2016 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Pride, Community Events, Activism, Festivals, Gay Men, International , Lifestyle, Living with HIV, Félix Garmendía

Felix Garmendia says, "This is how we do it in Fire Island. Happy 4th of July!"

The Fire Island Invasion

“Invasion of Normandy”= World War II “British Invasion”= The Beatles “Invasion Of The Body Snatchers”= epic horror movie “FIRE ISLAND INVASION”= ship full of men wearing dresses The communities of “Cherry Grove” and “The Pines” on Fire Island have been the summer playground for gay people for many decades and these historic “gay communities” are an integral part of New York’s vibrant gay scene. People from all over the world flock every summer to enjoy the be

Cult of Trump

published: June, 24, 2016 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Social Media, Activism, African, Caribbean and Black, Gay Men, Youth, Current Affairs, Newly Diagnosed, Women, International , Opinion Pieces, Félix Garmendía

Felix Garmendia addresses the angry bigot who would be president of the United States.

Cult of Trump

Mr. Trump Your vicious, virulent, incessant campaign message to the American people is based on instilling fear, loathing and suspicion of just about anyone who isn’t rich, white, straight, and male. You have been guided by nothing but your insatiable, pathetic, egocentric needs. You have become an expert at consuming the fear and ignorance of some Americans, only to regurgitate your hateful sexist, racist, homophobic, bigoted insulting rhetoric. You do this with the pride of a coward who

[12 3 4  >>