When it comes to the task of having to tell a client he or she is HIV positive, Juan Carlos Loubriel has seen all the reactions you could imagine.
“Some people have tears, some are just in shock, others are very quiet and just sort of need a little space,” he says. “Sometimes you just need to be quiet and give them time to process it. It’s quite amazing how different human reactions can be.”
Thursday is National HIV Testing Day and Loubriel echoes the oft-heard advice that it’s good to be tested every six months.
Even for gay men who always use condoms?
Loubriel says yes in accordance with CDC guidelines.
“Knowing your status can help save your life and save other lives,” he says.
The 34-year-old San Juan, Puerto Rico native started in HIV prevention work in San Juan at a health department. His father, who was bisexual, eventually died of AIDS about 12 years ago inspiring Loubriel to stay in the field.
“He found out very late and at the time the medications weren’t very good,” he says. “I decided I was very passionate about the topic and really wanted to encourage awareness.”
He came to Washington about five years ago and has been at Whitman-Walker for four years. He’s engaged to Derek Neal and lives in Arlington. He enjoys working out and singing karaoke in his spare time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I have been out for six years. The hardest person to tell was my mom. She has been so supportive ever since I talked to her about being gay.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
I have so many different LGBT heroes who have fought hard for the rights we have today and who continue fighting for the rights we don’t have yet. Too many people’s lives have been taken just for being gay. They are my heroes.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Sometimes you can find me at JR.’s or Number Nine.
Describe your dream wedding.
A destination wedding on the beach.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
There are so many issues that I am most passionate about. I feel very strongly about the need for immigration reform. I am also very passionate about access to health care. I have become more and more passionate about politics because it can impact so many issues related to equality, human rights and our future.
What historical outcome would you change?
There are too many things that could and should be changed, but we learn from our mistakes and even from tragedies. Our history, the good and the bad, has made us who we are today: a more open and democratic society.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
When I was 17 years old I auditioned for a role in the play, “The Passion of the Christ” through a Puerto Rican theater company. I was chosen to play the role of one of the Roman Soldiers. Ricky Martin, who was just getting famous with his first solo album in Spanish, played the role of Jesus Christ. It was a great experience! I will also never forget attending a Whitney Houston concert in Puerto Rico in 1994.
On what do you insist?
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
To my Dad on Father’s Day, who passed away of renal failure brought on by his HIV: Missing you Dad … But in my thoughts … you are here … and you will always be in my heart. Happy Father’s Day.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Believe in Yourself”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Get married right away before my fiancé hears about it.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
We need to embrace all issues affecting diverse LGBT groups, including men of color, Latinos, etc. We need to speak with one voice. We cannot be divided by race, class, gender, religion or nationality.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
Love, family and faith.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
Pretending to be something you are not.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Being asked, “What do you do,” before a proper introduction.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
My fiancé gave me a “best boyfriend” trophy early on in our relationship. I keep that on my desk at work. I also won a “best actor” trophy in high school.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
I wish I would’ve known that being gay is not a sin, so I could accept myself at an earlier age.
My mom moved to Virginia 15 years ago with her husband and I moved to join them.