Michael Zieff (Corey)

b.1956

Born on National Coming Out Day, and always been gay.

Life for me is about learning, making connections with people and organizations.

Self taught as an artist affords me the opportunity to work outside of the box at times, since without any formal training, every modality is a new experience.

I began working with leather over 20 years ago, when I realized that if I had something to do with my hands that the times when I was not well, there would something else to take my mind off whatever I was dealing with at that time.

Even though I have been through a lot with HIV / AIDS, including surviving internal KS in 2000, there are no visible scars, and most people have no clue as to where I, and many others have been.

Upon losing my two bestest friends in 91, a day a part of one another, in a pit of depression , I somehow found out about Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY. I applied for a volunteer position and was accepted. Of course all the while not disclosing my status. There I learned about healthier eating choices, organic foods, massage , meditation, and other holistic choices.

I still do the self massage with a tennis ball technique that I learned there, its simple and very effective.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs helped thru the chemo for the KS.

Today - I am exploring a relationship with someone who sees more in me, than I do in myself.

Society is not like it was when I was growing up, and it is my desire to somehow bridge the gap of isolation, depression ,and stigma with empowering community connections but unfortunately have not found appropriate contacts or venues in CT in the 3 1/2 years I have been back.

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HIV translates to "HONOR your INNER VOICE" to me, I don't reveal my status to everyone in the real world, but I do to many in the gay world. I think its important to let people know, so that there is no mystery. I am proud to be a long term survivor , whatever that means. Unfortunately in the process of sharing my status in suburban CT it often causes people to run away, I suppose its part of the pragmatic New England persona, but I think its time to not be in the closet about my status, after all , I am not engaging in intimate contact with these people just trying to make some connections, be honest, and hopefully make others aware that its alright to disclose your HIV status, as I have heard "you are as sick as your secrets" .

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