"Enter": A Look into Matias' Identity and Activism

After his AIDs diagnosis, Matias began writing more explicitly about the reality of living with a terminal illness. His poems create a liminal space between life and death that allows readers to understand the depth of his suffering and emotions. Matias also hoped his work might spark change in his readers’ minds. He made notes in the margins of his poems highlighting issues of advocacy for gay men, and his published works advocated for more AIDS visibility. Later in his career, Matias advocated for more ethical medical practices for LGBTQ individuals and sufferers of AIDs and HIV. His poems clearly reflect a need for more ethical behaviors, and Matias addresses this issue to provoke conversations with future generations.

Identity and Activism in Youth

Untitled

In this poem, Matias mentions a homophobic classmate and recalls not being able to defend himself back in the day. It reveals Matias’ desire for change and acknowledgement of his identity as a youth, while also suggesting that Matias now feels proud of his identity.

Untitled, S1 F4 11

HIV Positive

This poem comes from the first draft of Matias’ book Dances with Disease and Family. In pencil, Matias mentions a conversation with a homophobic cousin. This note represents Matias’ personal battles for advocacy within his own family. He continually fought for recognition of his lifestyle, but did so through communication and poetry.

HIV Positive, S1 F11

AIDS Identity and Representation

Enter

This poem reveals how AIDS affects one’s mental health. The poem depicts an all-too familiar pattern for Matias as an AIDs suffer: needles and the drawing of blood. Matias attempts to feel hope, but he remains stuck in a liminal space between life and death.

Enter, S1 F7 09

Fifth Season

In “Fifth Season,” Matias describes feeling as though he is trapped as a result of his illness. The poem exemplifies his loneliness, fear, and isolation, while also ascribing a mystical spirituality to the experience of living with AIDS.

Fifth Season, S1 F4 25

First Hospitalization

Matias writes about the loneliness and other emotions he experienced while hospitalized as an AIDs patient. He lets his mind wander through thoughts of medicine, doctors, and his own a complex role in medicine. His prose invites us to experience the pain and fear involved in a hospital visit.

First Hospitalization, S1 F9 4 and 5

Declaration of an Activist

Author Biography

This short biography reveals Matias’ intentions as an author. He clearly states his hope that his poetry will transform readers through spirituality. This fact makes it clear that Matias’ spirituality extends beyond his LGBTQ identity and into his identity as an AIDs patient, seeking validation and respect for both.

Author Biography, S1 F17 30

matias_harvard.mp4

This is an excerpt of a recording of Matias and Dr. Lenny Alberts at a Harvard Poetry class. The students had been studying the ethics of HIV and AIDs and using Matias’ work as references. Matias speaks about his encounters with unethical doctors and reads a selection of his poetry reflecting on these experiences. Note: This excerpt has no sound.

matias_harvard.mv4, S3 F3