Site icon

+TALK: LIONEL MOISE

The following is a transcript of the conversation between Karl Schmid and Lionel Moise.

KARL
Life in the public eye with a big secret, I can relate. Up next.

Welcome to +Talk on +Life where we’re all about turning positive into a plus. And today my guest is a fellow colleague of mine. He’s at ABC News Radio as an anchor and correspondent. Lionel Moise. And he shared something pretty personal on World Aids Day. He revealed that he had been living with HIV for five years. Good to see you, my friend.

LIONEL
Very good to see you.

KARL
We’re a little bit of a month over the World Aids Day. It’s, you know, how has it all been going since you shared your truth?

LIONEL
This has been a whirlwind. The day that I revealed my status was very emotional. I was overcome with so much love and positivity from family, from friends, from complete strangers, who said the story touched them. As you can expect, it was also a little bit triggering for me. So I did have some time to kinda go through the emotions, but it really let me know that what I did was the right vision. So many people said that it helped them in their journey, and that was the reason why I felt I needed to share my journey in the first place. And I felt just a sense of community and camaraderie, and love from those I had revealed my status to before and those who had no idea that this was something I’ve been living with for five years.

KARL
Yeah, and I wanna get to sort of the outpouring and the messages of how you, you know, sort of unknowingly kind of helped people, but you said in the piece, “I’ve dedicated my life to storytelling, discovering the truth and being the voice for the voiceless, but today it’s time to tell the truth. I’m HIV positive.” What was it like for you in that moment to communicate those words and let that go?

LIONEL
It was scary, you know, because you don’t really know what to expect. And I feel like I had an experience like this before coming out as gay. You really don’t know how the other side is until you get to the other side, but I knew that if I needed to do it, it just needed to be done one day, and I felt that that was the appropriate day. I did not premeditate many days prior that I wanted to share this. I wasn’t even 100% sure that I was going to, and I just did it and pressed the button and went to sleep. And when I woke up, I honestly was overwhelmed. My phone was just blowing up all morning with messages and text messages and calls. And that was very comforting, but I kind of pressed send and, or post rather, and let it go and let it live as it should have on its own.

KARL
Yeah, that’s kind of the same way I did it, except I’d had a couple of drinks and half a Xanax and then did it. But like you, I really didn’t think much. I mean, it sort of, I let it go and that was it. And then the next day, really things changed. I know that in doing this, you were coming out not to just the world, but really to your family as well. There are a lot of people very, very close to you who you’d kept the secret from. What has the reaction being like there, and how are you getting through all of that?

LIONEL
It’s getting me a little emotional, even thinking about it now. Obviously my mother and my siblings have known from the very beginning. They were key to being a support for me, getting me to go to therapy, showing me that I was still loved, but I had some really close friends who had even been with me in the time that I was dealing with my diagnosis when it was very fresh, who I had not shared it with. And, you know, I was worried that my family and friends would be offended that I hadn’t said something sooner and that they were blindsided, but it was the exact opposite. If anything, you know, they let me know that had I said something earlier, they would’ve been there, but that they were proud of me. And I’m very grateful because in sharing this, I didn’t want it to be so much about, whoa, it’s me or only my story matters, you know, this is something that so many of us are going through and will have to go through until this is ended. And it’s important that we’re all a part of that journey. I feel like my family and friends were asking a lot of important questions about what the experience was like, what I needed, what I would’ve needed, what they could do for someone else, and that was really important to me, ’cause it opened up a conversation, which is what I think was necessary to be able to end HIV and AIDS. You cannot end something that everyone is afraid to even speak about or mention. You know, we talk about HIV like Voldemort from “Harry Potter,” he who must not be named. We never wanna talk straight about it and that’s something that’s really important to allowing us to empower ourselves to protect one another.

KARL
Yeah, I mean, that’s why we started +Life. It was all about talking about it. The more you talk about something, the less scary or unfamiliar it becomes. It sort of just makes sense. You kept the secret though for five years. What have you learned about yourself when you look back at that five years, from the day you got that diagnosis to the man you are today?

LIONEL
I’ve learned that I am strong, but I learned that I am not an anomaly that so many of us are dealing with so many things, HIV or not. So many health concerns, life concerns. Life just comes at you, and I’ve learned that it’s how you handle it and the outlook that you have. And so, you know, a platform like yours, turning positive into positivity, that is something that I had to learn the hard way with my diagnosis, but I feel that the positive outlook really helped me get to where I am today, to where my diagnosis is not something that is debilitating to me, it’s not something that I feel hold me back. If anything, I would not have wished that it happened, right? So I can’t change the past, but if anything, I’m enjoying life more now ’cause I’ve learned how precious life is when I realized my mortality. I wasn’t this invincible 20 year old, you know, like I was before my diagnosis. So I’ve learned to enjoy each moment, to cherish the time that I have with my family and friends, to use the platforms that I have to make a difference. I mean, life is short. Anything can happen at any moment, but one thing that is for sure is love we can show from now. And so I hope that I can show love and compassion to others who need it, and I’m so grateful for those who have been so compassionate to me, because I was handled so gently over these last five years. And I have friends who came into my life and didn’t know what I was going through. I didn’t know that I needed them, but they were showing me love, and looking back, I realized that I was surrounded and had a good support system, and I hope that we can do that for others who are going through the same thing.

KARL
I love all of that. Yeah, you know, you also said, you mentioned that you felt like you lost the feeling of invincibility and the innocence that most of us have as youth when you got your diagnosis. You said that spark, the drive, the excitement all turned to darkness. So what was the turning point? What changed? When was the moment? Do you remember where you kind of, I guess, picked yourself up off the floor, and I guess it’s still a work in progress, right? ‘Cause I often am falling down. People think, oh it’s all great look. Yeah, but a lot of the time we fall down and we’ve gotta pick ourselves up. Do you remember that turning point moment for you?

LIONEL
Yeah, I definitely have picked myself up off the floor a few times. And as you said, it is a working progress. One thing that I said in my post that really resonated with me that my mom said to me is you are still you. And after my diagnosis I had a very difficult time looking at myself in the mirror. You know, I’m not a violent person, but I have thrown stuff at the mirror, I have broke down into tears, not being able to separate myself from my diagnosis. And I think the turning point was realizing that I am still Lionel, I am still worthy of love and life, and happiness, and I can still achieve and go after everything that I wanted to before, because I recognized that I had privilege in my diagnosis. I witnessed someone else in my family go through this and it was more difficult for them because we weren’t in a place where there was prep, we weren’t in a place where the gay community, this is a heterosexual person who dealt with it, you know, I feel like in the gay community we talk about it more. So partners or people that I have met along the way, boyfriends that I’ve had have been so compassionate to me, and that is not always the case for everyone else. And you know, just realizing that I am still me and I deserve to live a full life was something that really clicked for me. And I think in any traumatic experience, that’s something we have to all come to terms with. We’re not defined by our trauma or something terrible that has happened to us, you know. I lost my father, that was a really difficult time in my life. And I’m not only a fatherless man, you know, I have all of the love that dad gave me and all of the lessons and memories that we shared, you know and learning to kind of change the way that you look at it really helped me move forward, you know. Obviously there’s days that are tough, but most of my days are very lovely because I’m just focused on waking up in the day and enjoying that day.

KARL
Yeah, and if we look at your Instagram account, you’re constantly on vacation. So you look like you’re definitely enjoying life. I’m teasing. How do you think HIV has had a positive impact on your life?

LIONEL
I think it’s taught me to be more positive. So I went through a very severe depression after my diagnosis. I’ll be transparent with that because it’s something that all of us face. However, I have dealt with depression since childhood with no basis or reason. I’ve never been able to put to terms why I was so sad. And after going through this diagnosis and having a reason to be terribly sad and I had to go through all of that, I realized like, wait a second, like you’re waking up on the wrong side of the bed, like some people do not wake up. And the fact that I’m up today is a blessing, HIV positive or not. And I needed to learn to live and just enjoy the day. And so I feel like it’s really changed my outlook and the way that I perceive the world, the way that I interact with others. You know, we can get so busy in our life, and I’m gonna call that friend later, I’m gonna go see my mom tomorrow. And the pandemic has taught a lot of us this too, like, family matters now, and the time that we have matters now because tomorrow may not be here for us. And that’s really changed my outlook. I know it sounds very cliche, but I, like, wake up on my runs, and talk about my Instagram. I’m always posting flowers, but I’m literally like stopping and smelling the roses. If I see some flowers that I like, I’m gonna stop and take a picture. If there’s a kid playing in a family that I wanna talk to, I’m gonna talk to them, like most things are not as serious as we’re making them. We need to enjoy all of the little beautiful moments that we have.

KARL
Well, I will continue enjoying all the beautiful moments in our friendship that we have, and I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with us on +Talk today, and also for sharing your story and sharing your truth. I know it wasn’t easy for you.

LIONEL
And I wanna say this before we end, although I know you’re driving this conversation. I wanna thank you for this platform because by you sharing our stories and sharing your personal journey, you’re making it easier for people like me to share their stories. And, you know, the audience may not know this, but I texted you right before I revealed this status and you were nothing but supportive to me, and I hope that we can continue to have these conversations and not make it so taboo, so we can make this a thing that really is in the past.

KARL
Right. Well, thank you for saying that. That’s very sweet. That’s what it’s all about. We’re turning positive into a plus. Lionel Moise, thank you so much for your time. That’s gonna do it for this episode of +Talk. If you want more info on what we’ve discussed today, check out the website, pluslifemedia.com. And remember, you can like, share, follow whatever you want with us on social media. We are @PLUSLIFEMEDIA. Thanks for watching. See you next time.

Exit mobile version