This is Brad, whom I believe is a sheltered homeless. I met Brad earlier this summer when I was walking down Burrard. At that time, I was merely passing out sandwiches and had not yet much courage to talk to people in depth, but Brad’s friendliness encouraged me to introduce myself and ask him about his day and name. His welcoming demeanour and, more tellingly, warm and firm handshake conveyed to me a man of an optimistic nature. He had some food in the bag beside him, as people had been generous that day, but was still glad for the sandwich as he could save it, if not only for himself for later, but, if I remember correctly, for others. When I apologized for only being able to offer a simple blueberry-and-apricot jam sandwich, he assured me how happy he was to have received it and thanked me. Seeing how apologetic I was still, he reassured me in a joking manner by telling me he had peanut butter at home for which he could finally put to use on the bread, which made me laugh. The brief, yet easy conversation led me to muster up my courage to ask if he would be willing to help out my cause in raising awareness, to which he responded by offering to pose for me. He improvised and we had a mini photo shoot that focused on him and the sandwich. His consent and enthusiasm were in the hope that it would help others on the streets as well as to show his appreciation to the local bakery that helped me help others 🙂
When I first saw the sign that told that Brad had HIV, I was admittedly a little worried that he may not be receptive to talking with me, given the discrimination people with STDs face, which may make them wary of strangers. However, Brad was open and warm, and did not hesitate at all to shake hands with me, which encouraged me to explain to him a little bit about what I was doing to ask for a photo. Personally, I was grateful for having met Brad, however brief, and was glad that I gathered my courage to talk to him. This is especially so because, to be honest, I had never met anyone with a STD before – or at least someone who is open about it – and despite having the scientific understanding about it, was unsure of how I would involuntarily react to them emotionally (e.g., would I unconsciously betray myself and show discrimination?). Therefore, I surprised myself when I took his hand automatically and felt no different talking to him than with any other human being. My only regret was not having spent more time with him to get to know this positive person a little more so that I could better share his story.