Author: Metro

Start Your Recovery

Start Your Recovery offers relatable information for people who are dealing with substance use issues — and their family members, friends, and co-workers, too. We know that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the challenges faced by those who misuse alcohol, prescription or illegal drugs, or other substances, and we aim to break through the clutter to help people at any stage of recovery. Click the logo above for more information.





This page is a resource listing available to those who may be in need of services. It is not affiliated with Metro.

Meet Ken

My name is Ken I’m 27 years old gay man, originally from St. Pete, Fl. I have lived in Tampa for 2 years and I enjoy clubbing with my friends, chilling and having a healthy sex life lol.  About 5 years ago a group of friends and I made a pact or a promise rather that we would always protect ourselves in this gay lifestyle, well for some reason or another we didn’t all hold true to our promise and one day a very good friend of mine informed me that he tested positive for HIV.  Hearing that news changed my world completely and forced me to reevaluate my personal life and the promise I made.  During all of this I started a relationship and my new bae is also very health conscience, so between those two occurrences I knew that condom less sex was officially over for me! The one thing that made me a little unsure about condoms was my high sex drive.  I knew I was prone to have sex at the drop of a dime and most times without a condom handy, so to keep my promise I started planting condom seeds everywhere!  My car, bedroom, living room and even my work place became condom sanctuaries and for four months things have been working out well.  I can finally say that I am a promise keeper!

Meet Tori


I go by Tori; I’m a 25 year old gay male who LIVES for the ballroom scene. Being on the scene gives me my entire LIFE! One day a major ball was held in Tampa. Admission was $30, but free if you got tested for HIV. Naturally my friend and I took advantage of the savings and got tested. There were a few times I had unprotected sex with different guys, so I was a little anxious to get my results. In fifteen rapid minutes our lives changed forever. My results came back negative, but my friend’s came back positive. Shortly after finding out his results be became extremely ill. I was very supportive through some of his hardest times. Being his friend, I promised him that I would always wear condoms and that I’d try my absolute best to not allow myself to contract HIV. Using condoms every time I have sex is hard because some guys I meet complain about condoms not fitting. When this happens I suggest different sized condoms, and I even add a drop of lube inside the condom for more pleasure. I’ve kept my promise of using condoms for seven months, and my mind is at peace knowing that I’ve reduced my risk so much. No matter how fast you are, something will always slow you down!

Meet Elaine


My name is Elaine. I’m originally from North Carolina, I now live in Tampa, FL, and I’m a proud Trans woman! In 2009 I was diagnosed with HIV; and well… it didn’t really affect me, and taking meds was out of the question. I lived in a small town called Denial, and I was fine living right there! I continued to go about my daily living and clubbing, like nothing had happened, but in all actuality my body was going downhill. One day to my surprise I became extremely lethargic, out of breath, and I passed out. I woke up in the hospital to find out that my lack of obedience to my doctors resulted in me being diagnosed with toxoplasmosis. Now, although my new diagnosis wasn’t directly from my HIV status, it was a close enough call for me to realize the value of my life. I immediately began an ART regimen, and with my family and doctor’s help, things got better. In truth, I have days that I miss taking my pills, but I must say I’m doing a better job of being consistent. For the past three months I’ve been batting at 100%. I had to do better because that was a close enough call for me!

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

Steven B. – “Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself”

St. Pete resident, freelance street photographer and aspiring pug owner, Steven B. has been a friendly face in the St. Pete gay community for a solid decade. First appearing at Georgie’s Alibi, you might recognize Steven as the little Latin guy with “that hair” and the camera, snapping photos of the night’s highlights (delights and frights depending on how close last call is). What you might not know about Steven is of his passion for activism of community and LGBT issues, as well as youth and young adult mentoring. We got a chance to catch up with Steven to talk about the Affordable Care Act, why it’s been a game changer for him and his advice to the new 20’s-something crowd.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a hot button topic right now. What has your experience been like, and what made you think you should enroll? When I was younger and living in Miami, taking care of myself, my health, my sexual wellbeing was the least of my worries. I made morally questionable choices and engaged in things that legit could’ve ended up badly. Because of my past choices there are some lasting imprints on my life and the only reasonable way to take care of myself was to get insurance. I’ve had ACA insurance for a little over a year now. It’s been pretty great.


Was there anything else that influenced your decision to enroll in the ACA? Hell yeah. I’ll be honest, I caught an STD once. Who hasn’t right? For me, that was the kick in the ass I needed to make me stop and think about what I was doing. I was living in NYC where you would think getting help or free services would be easy; wrong! There weren’t many options or the places would be far, and you’re guaranteed to wait a long ass time. I love Tampa Bay and St. Pete, but free services here are also limited. I figured that having insurance would broaden my options to get care, to get routine checkups and testing for STD’s, HIV etc.

Did you have any challenges trying to enroll in the ACA, or with keeping up your motivation to maintain routine health screenings and HIV/STD testing? If it’s your first time, understanding health insurance is like learning f*cking Greek lol Luckily I got help from my boyfriends Isaiah and Google, who are well versed and experienced with the ACA. I have a primary care doctor for my general health, but for my sexual health needs I wanted to find LGBT culturally competent care. Metro Wellness is the first place I ever got tested for HIV. They are on point with this, Hep C and STD screening.  I’ve been going there for well over a year, and I don’t go anywhere else for it.

It sounds like you have a good plan in place for taking care of your physical & sexual health. What would you like to tell guys your age who might be going through similar experiences? Perspective changes after you get your first STD lol Listen Linda, your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s are right around the corner. Value your physical and sexual health. For me, it’s made a positive impact on my mental and emotional wellbeing which is interconnected and equally important.  If you need help navigating health insurance, use your social support network and research online. If you’re mature enough to engage in things or sex that might put you at risk of HIV or STD’s, then be responsible enough to yourself and to others to get tested routinely. There are a lot of things that can be replaced in life but your body isn’t one of them. Lastly, when you see me out and about, “Pose for the camera, click, click, click”!

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