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.

  

The soul of two roses

published: February, 14, 2016 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Dating, Gay Men, Lifestyle, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Population Specific , Félix Garmendía

A Valentine’s Day post from our New York guy, hopeless romantic Felix Garmendia who looks back on his wedding day four years ago this week

The soul of two roses

Roses have been part of my life from the very beginning. I grew up and was raised by my maternal grandmother in Puerto Rico. Her name was, “Rosaura”, which in English would translate into, “The aura of a rose”. One of my favorite memories is playing around her rose garden. I remember one day in particular, when she taught me an important lesson about women and roses. Looking at a small rose bud, she said to me, “You see this rose? This is your little sister”. Pointing out a beaut

Art+laughter=healing

published: February, 02, 2016 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Art, Gay Men, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Population Specific , Félix Garmendía

New York's Felix Garmendia has a strong connection with art – and sometimes it has shown itself in mighty humorous ways

Art+laughter=healing

There are many ways to ease the adversities of illness. Many people use all kinds of things in order to improve the quality of their lives. Some things fall into the “spiritual” category, others fall into a secular daily life ritual.  We tend to surround ourselves with the kinds of objects that make us feel something, that prompt a reaction in us. If you are at home, look around the room where you are right now. What kind of feelings do you get? Can you see objects with a special “ene

My pact with life

published: January, 06, 2016 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Gay Men, Health, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Population Specific , Félix Garmendía

Pondering the imponderable: we asked Felix Garmendia, our new York correspondent, what would happen if the long awaited cure for HIV arrived.

My pact with life

I was asked, “How would your life change if there was a cure for HIV?”  When I tested positive for HIV in the 80s, the prognosis was death. The whole mood of the New York gay community was somber and bleak. I remember feeling a sadness in the air that seemed to permeate all of New York City. Decades have passed and I’m still here. It’s an intriguing question. How WOULD I react if, after all these years, a cure for HIV became available? How WOULD my life change? To answer this que

Cathedral of hope

published: December, 21, 2015 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Current Affairs, Spirituality, Lifestyle, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Félix Garmendía

Felix Garmendia asks "So, what’s a gay/humanist/atheist supposed to do at Christmas time? Every year I celebrate life. I celebrate intensely the miracle of being alive"

Cathedral of hope

Here come the HOLIDAYS - just like every year, loaded with splendour and the subtle yet ever present nostalgia of my distant origins on an island in the Caribbean. Most of my family still lives in Puerto Rico so Christmas always prompts feelings of wistfulness for the people, places and things of days gone by. My concept of this holiday has morphed from the absolute AWESOMNESS of giant aluminum Christmas tree with rotating multicolored lights (that I, as a child, just assumed had SOMETHING to

When in Rome, do as the Romans do

published: December, 16, 2015 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Gay Men, International , Travel, Lifestyle, Living with HIV, Population Specific , Sex and Sexuality , Félix Garmendía

On a trip to San Francisco in 1994, New Yorker Felix Garmendia visits “The Church of Phallic Worship and Orgasm”.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do

Adult Content Place: San Francisco  Year: 1994 Destination: “The Church” Attire: Leather (I know, not very holy of me.) It was a Friday night in San Francisco, the temperature was balmy, the city was vibrating with adventure and I was enjoying every second of it. It was my second time in San Francisco, and I was glad to be back. San Francisco will always have a special place in my heart, it was like a friend of mine once said, “Gay Disneyland”. After going shopping at the leath

Sex after HIV

published: December, 07, 2015 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Gay Men, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Population Specific , Sex and Sexuality , Félix Garmendía

Felix Garmendia says “We have all been confronted with the issue of when or even if to have sex again after testing HIV positive.” Here’s how he dealt with it..

Sex after HIV

I tested positive in the 80s, the dark ages of AIDS. I got tested in order to give my then boyfriend a Christmas present, a negative result. I was in an open relationship then. The news froze my libido for a while - the fear of the news, the way it was delivered on the phone by a nurse who callously sounded like she was telling me that I had a simple cold instead of a serious threat to my life. It was received while I was decorating our Christmas tree on the afternoon of December 19th 1989.

Learning to love myself

published: November, 11, 2015 Categories // Gay Men, Lifestyle, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Population Specific , Félix Garmendía

NYC guy Felix Garmendia says "Now, in my mid-fifties, when many people start giving up on many things in life, I have decided to take life by the horns and resolve my self-esteem issues once and for all."

Learning to love myself

In my long journey, I have encountered many bumps in the road. I can say now, as I’ve said in previous articles, that my upbringing, like many of us, was not very easy. I confronted anti-gay sentiments very early in my life - the kind that left a mark on my general mood and self-esteem.   I grew up in Ponce, Puerto Rico in the 60s; a very homophobic environment permeated the entire island.    Raising five kids, very close in age turned out to be a major chore, so I was sent to live wi

When to say goodbye

published: October, 14, 2015 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Lifestyle, Living with HIV, Félix Garmendía

New York poz guy Felix Garmendia on the loss of friends: “I don't mean the friends who have died, but the friends who drift away”.

When to say goodbye

As a long time HIV survivor, I have dealt with many losses, the loss of those that AIDS took away being the most painful. I watched countless numbers of injustices committed towards the HIV/AIDS community The day I was diagnosed, I realized my life had changed forever but I still didn’t know to what extent. One of the most common issues, but not spoken about enough in my opinion, is the loss of friends. I don't mean the friends who have died, but the friends who drift away. It could be bec

Luisa

published: September, 17, 2015 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Gay Men, Lifestyle, Living with HIV, Population Specific , Félix Garmendía

Our NYC guy Felix Armendia introduces a coloiuful neighbourhood friend and ally - and a recipe for Avocado Maragaritas

Luisa

When my husband, Denis, and I decided to move in together 15 years ago, we chose the upper part of Manhattan, NYC, as our new place to live. Washington Heights is far from the hustle and bustle commonly associated with Manhattan. Our immediate neighborhood is more like a charming small town with no shortage of kind and colorful characters. Mostly a Dominican/Jewish neighborhood, Washington Heights is a unique melting pot of cultures, a slice of the New York City experience. It is a beautiful

The Vigil

published: August, 25, 2015 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Activism, Gay Men, Living with HIV, Population Specific , Félix Garmendía

New Yorker Felix Garmendia and one of his favourite memories regarding his healthy years as an AIDS activist

The Vigil

Yesterday, I came across a very poignant picture. It was a picture, taken at a vigil that took place on Christopher Street, N.Y. within the first five years of the AIDS. epidemic. Those dark years when we were dying by the thousands and nobody seemed to care, much less help us. HIV was a death sentence, no meds, no knowledge, no hope!  I tested positive for the HIV virus on December, 19, 1989 after enduring three years of self imposed celibacy in order to avoid HIV. Little did I know, it was

I like living in a country where equality wins the fight over misguided religion.

published: July, 27, 2015 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Activism, Gay Men, Current Affairs, International , Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Population Specific , Félix Garmendía

New Yorker Felix Garmendia on the recent Supreme Court decision that legalizes same sex marriagee in the United States - and on how he deals with naysayers

I like living in a country where equality wins the fight over misguided religion.

In light of the historic decision of the Supreme Court of the United States regarding marriage equality, I have found myself tangled up in a serious conundrum. My initial reaction was one of absolute pride and a very deep sense of accomplishment. I was walking on clouds, and it was one of the happiest days of my life. I have been a gay activist since I came out of the closet in 1982. I comprehended the importance of fighting for my civil rights and I identified in myself the need to join tho

Dealing with multiple health conditions all at once

published: June, 30, 2015 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Health, Living with HIV, Félix Garmendía

Our NYC poz guy on wheels Felix Garmendia asks “How do you find the light at the end of the tunnel if you can’t find the tunnel?"

Dealing with multiple health conditions all at once

This piece has a purpose. It’s going to be a reaffirmation of life, a mantra of inner peace and a cathartic opportunity to exorcize the sadness and worries of some of us who are dealing with any serious health issues. I used the term “health issues” because at this point in my fight, the word, “Illness” hurts. That’s something that I have to come to terms with. I’m dealing with several health conditions at the moment. Some of them are under control, others are progressing. Depr

From darkness to light

published: June, 04, 2015 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Gay Men, International , Lifestyle, Living with HIV, Population Specific , Sex and Sexuality , Félix Garmendía

New York City poz guy Felix Garmendia describes growing up gay in Puerto Rico

 From darkness to light

As members of the LGBT community of a certain age, many of us remember how entirely different social life was in the 80’s. I have always wished I could have been in New York City then, although I’m tempted to suspect if that were the case, I would not be here now. Nowadays, everything seems so much more relaxed, even casual. Younger LGBT people are much more able to live openly in just about ANY neighborhood in New York City. The concept of the “gay ghetto” is becoming increasingly arc

Felix on wheels

published: May, 28, 2015 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Gay Men, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Population Specific , Félix Garmendía

New York poz guy Felix Garmendia writes about his life in a wheelchair and how it enabled him to reinvent himself.

Felix on wheels

Three years ago, after dealing with my “Inclusion Body Myositis” for 14 years, I landed in a wheelchair full time. A serious fall that left me unconscious for about 15 minutes, took me to the hospital's ER. I have a very vague recollection of the incident.  After talking to my doctor about the fall, he advised me to start using a wheelchair in order to avoid a serious fracture in my already brittle bones. Even though I had 14 years to get ready for the news, the wheelchair "pill" was a

The Fourth of July invasion

published: May, 21, 2015 Written by // Félix Garmendía Categories // Gay Men, Living with HIV, Population Specific , Félix Garmendía

New York City poz guy Felix Garmendia joins the Fire Island drag queen invasion as Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and says” Frida taught me that there can be beauty and indeed TRIUMPH in what appears to be a broken body”

The Fourth of July invasion

The communities of “Cherry Grove” and “The Pines” on Fire Island, have been the summer playground for LGBT people for many decades. These historical “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 beautiful nude beach, to cruise in “The Meat Rack”, (a wooded area connecting both communities) and relax in a magical, peaceful yet exciting little hamlet on a barrier island paradise, just hour

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