The International AIDS Conference is starting in Melbourne in a few days. I’m in a convenience store , wearing this T-shirt that says ‘HIV Positive’. There’s music playing, in a language I don’t understand.
“I like the music,” I tell the clerk.
“You probably can’t understand what she’s saying. It’s in Persian – Farsi.”
I hand over my purchases.
“It’s not true, is it?” he says, pointing to my T-shirt as I pay.
“Yes, it is true.” He makes a screwed-up smile, unsure whether I’m pulling his leg. A moment of silence. “Really?”
I tell him about the AIDS conference, and something about the importance of positive people being visible. Another moment of silence.
“You know, when I tell people I’m from Iran, they make assumptions about me, too. It’s good to meet you, my friend.” He shakes my hand and I leave.