In 2002, like so many young gay men itching to spread their wings, 20-year old Ryan Handy moved to Toronto. He quickly made friends in the gay party scene, met a man, fell in love and began to experiment with party drugs.
Two years later, he was firmly in the clutches of a crystal meth addiction. One night while they were both rolling on ecstasy, his boyfriend, with whom had regular unprotected sex, finally told him that he was HIV-positive and knew it since before the two met. Handy stayed with the man for year after he tested HIV-positive himself because he was in love with him.
By November 2004, the relationship was over, Handy had kicked the meth addiction and left Toronto but he was still wrestling with his life-long demon: mental illness diagnosed as schizoaffective bipolar disorder, a condition that was exacerbated by the party drug addiction. He suffered then what he describes as a "mental break."
In February 2005, Handy met a man online. The two had unprotected sex. Handy says his mental illness had left him delusional and psychotic, that he believed he was a messiah, that he could cure HIV and that he had healed himself.
Soon Handy realized he'd made a mistake. After he told the man he was HIV-positive, the man called police. Handy immediately confessed and was charged with aggravated sexual assault.
He was convicted in November, faces up to 25 years in prison and was originally due to be sentenced on Jan 31. His sentencing has been delayed until Mar 27.
As a so-called victim of sexual assault, the identity of Handy's accuser is protected by a court-imposed publication ban. The man has refused to talk with Xtra on the record.
Handy, and other gay men facing similar charges, are branded as sex criminals and pilloried in the mainstream press. Their accusers, who freely chose to have unprotected sex, hide behind a tradition of publication bans that are intended to protect rape victims from further humiliation.
Xtra has declined to publish the identities of these accused men without their permission and cooperation but Handy agreed to describe his experience in a Jan 7 interview with Xtra.