I often find myself feeling strangely separated from the world, from people. Not that I think of myself as being different or better but just at loss, lonely. I feel I have lost parts of me I can never regain, loved ones that’s hold pieces of my soul and because they have passed so have parts of me. Parts I can never reach, parts I don’t even know how to describe. Loss is a funny thing, one can be happy and at peace but still not ever fully be who they once were. A broken heart may mend but a broken soul can only grow and change and morph into an entirely different thing.

 

I long for nature and art, and the beauty in the pain, mending the hearts and speaking love back into a world that has broken me and I ask myself how is this that I feel such an intense need to love when I can never truly love or even understand. I crave being someone who ascends the material of this world, the regular, the norms, but I am a slave to them as well always feeling the scrutiny of others and striving to please those judgmental minds which condemn me. So I find myself stuck more times than not just trying to be, to live a life that is filled with substance and knowledge and growth. To maintain a balance that allows me to follow my heart.

 

Many times I open my mouth with the best intentions and I offend, without even realizing I have. But from this I grow, I change, I evolve, I try, I learn.

 

Why is it I feel so separated but yet so connected, why is it I can reach out and touch so many hearts or be brought to tears by the simplest reminders that there is love and decency in this world. That there are a great many people that feel disconnected as I do. Why are we constantly fighting what we feel is right, what we are told is right? Why do the ones we love sometimes create the biggest barriers to our success, because it is not the success they dreamt for us. Why is it we can question everything but at the same time be able to stop, still every thing and know what is right but yet we fight it.

 

There are so many questions that float through my head on a daily basis, thoughts that take me away from the now moments but make me appreciate them even more. Oh the irony of that statement, of that truth.

 

Every day I wake knowing how truly privileged I am to be alive, how so many times over I should have not been but for some reason I am. I am here, with all of my questions and my thoughts and my never ending quest to understand and learn, I am here. I go about my day and I do what I feel is right, I listen to my heart, to my gut, and I over analyze. But I am here! As my days turn to nights I ask myself “What did I do that I will regret, what didn’t I do that I will regret, and if I die tonight am I okay with that life?”. I find that often times I have stumbled, I have not always been able to make the proper amends, or fix the things I need to but I find that I can wake the next day and fight a war that seems to be imaginary to so many, that so many have forgotten because they are not gay, they are above that, they know better, it isn’t a real threat, they are complacent. Not that I am not often guilty of this myself.

 

But I ask then if this is my purpose, if this is my calling how do I go about doing what needs to be done to change this mind set. One can follow their heart all they choose but in this world money speaks louder than most any voice and if money is what speaks then what calling have I got without enough to initiate the change this world so desperately needs. The answer I find may baffle you or it may enlighten you to something greater

 

I know certain things that are absolutes

  1. It takes all of us

  2. We are all very different and that is needed for the task

  3. A group of passionate individuals with a mind set to change this world can do that

  4. Knowledge is the most powerful tool we have but arrogance is knowledge’s bitter sibling and we must not visit with it

  5. If we decide to rise above by becoming informed, by then taking that knowledge to the people and spreading it, and by deciding to be the difference we so desperately crave and passing that on we are the ones who ascend and become the change this world needs, it just takes one

 

If one at a time we chose to do this, to go into the world questioning instead of knowing we could do this and so this is my challenge to you, can you be that? Can you take this challenge on? Can you be the difference in the world that you crave? Whether your fight is poverty, tragedy, illness, desire,or ignorance can you become a part of a movement that can sweep this country and enlighten the people of this world? Can you choose to be the difference?

I have never been someone that fell into the category of groupie, I’ve never been very impressed by the fact that someone is celebrity or a name. I grew up around people who were talented painters, sculptors, musicians, writers, actors so the ones who rose or rise to fame for it are simply, in my opinion, celebrated by enough people that they definitely don’t need me to celebrate them. I have met many celebrities in my lifetime, attended after concert parties where most of the women would sleep with anyone just to say they slept with the person, and hobnobbed with some of the best. One of the most common threads that runs through the veins of a person who is famous or celebrated for their work is an heir of condescension and maybe it is not for the fact that they feel they are rare in their abilities but for the fact that they make a lot of money and made it through the world of fame and continue to be celebrated, politicians are something else entirely. So on my trip to the International AIDS Conference, the historical event it was and will be remembered as being, meeting some of the people who advocate for HIV and AIDS and have become or are celebrity for it was an interesting process that had me questioning some of the perspectives I held for a long time.

One of the nights that we were at the conference a good friend of mine Robert Breining, PozIAm, had kept telling me about this amazing guy, whom had broken ground by becoming the first person to ever disclose their HIV positive status on a national network during his run on the show The Voice. He had been so excited to meet him and he raged to me about what an awesome guy he is, so when he invited me to join him and a group of other friends for a concert that Jamar Rogers would be putting on at the Black Cat in Washington DC, I invited a couple of my gal pals and away we went in our cab coming straight from the conference. When we arrived we all grabbed some drinks and started to unwind from a long day, and began to mingle with many people we all know from our own work in advocacy and activism.

As the time for Jamar to perform approached Robert grabbed our little group and had us come straight up to the front of the stage area so we could ensure our seats. As timing usually is with me I decided to use the bathroom right as Jamar made his entrance and upon returning to the stage area I made my way back to the front with my group. Jamar had started to sing already and when he broke in between songs and started to tell a little of his story, me being not impressed by celebrity and having met one too many activist that are well not very active or who become some what complacent about making a difference and rather seek fame, I just had to ask him if he was for real, if he was genuine. SO… I decided to shout up and ask him if he intended to actually talk to us after wards or if he was just leaving, my friends about clobbered me trying to shut me up but Jamar looked at me and said, “she thinks I’m a douche, someone tell her I’m not a douche, she don’t know.” my response was of course “no I don’t know and that is why I am asking.”. He continued to sing and when he was done he came down and stopped to speak with me. If you have ever been to any events with celebrities you know how it is, they’re being pulled in a million directions and everyone wants a picture, but this man spoke to me for several minutes while he was being pulled in all directions. One of the first things out of his mouth, “I’m glad you called me out, I respect that!”, he then went on to pose with every person there, even a kid and he gave his number to people willingly.

Now the group of individuals that I was with included some major activist in the HIV AIDS world, Robert Breining, Marvelyn Brown, Maria Mejia, Daniel Bauer, Jeromy Dunn, myself, and some up and coming newcomers that are breaking ground with their work, Angela Krebs, Aaron Laxton, Eric Hill, and several behind the scenes workers Zeena Hazuri. Many of us have been celebrated in our own right, Marvelyn has been on VH1 with her book and is one of the faces of the Black AIDS Institute, Robert continues to run blogs, a radio show devoted to telling the stories of positive people, and a website (fb for poz people) Poz I Am, Maria is an international social media activist that has done things no one else could, and little old me well, I have worked with MTV Staying Alive, and I travel the nation speaking to college students, sit on a board, and I am the first (hopefully not the only) activist to come out of the state of Nebraska on a national level. To say this group is anything less than impressive would be the understatement of the century.

As I sat back and watched this group of people I realized that maybe our means, our way of and level of involvement may differ as much as we do as individuals but our goals are the same. To smash stigma and change the face of HIV, to stop just one person from becoming infected, to fight for the rights of the voiceless who are infected, to change the world view of HIV and AIDS is the common goal that we all share. Through our diverse means of doing so we have become leaders in the next generation of this battle, we have taken back the power from the people who would tell us to be quiet, we have owned our truths and no one can take that away. As I stood and watched everything going on around me, the outpouring of love so many people had toward this man, Jamar Rogers, who is really just a person at the end of the day not so different than so many of us but who found the strength to stand up and be proud to represent us in a way that no one has before. I didn’t see him as the man that millions of Americans fell in love with, the singer, I saw him merely as a man. A man who is genuine, a man that has more integrity in one little finger than most people have in their whole body. Looking at him in this new light, with this renewed respect for what he did on The Voice by disclosing his status I thought inwardly that every bit of fame or celebrity this man obtains is well deserved and not just because he is a phenomenal singer but because he is a refreshing break from what has become pop culture.

The group of us were given the unique opportunity to see into who he is as a man that night because we all got to go out and spend time talking and hanging out after the show. Still in the little group of us that went out he was being pulled in every direction and someone always wanted his ear. He handled the entire night with a grace and class that very few people exercise and he showed us the real person he is. More times than not I find myself feeling very powerless over many things because I want to change this world, to set it on fire, to see people just be themselves without the pretenses we so often have and because I live in a very conservative state that little, if anything, is done to educate about HIV I find myself constantly striving to knock down the barriers that have surrounded the issue of sex, let alone HIV or STD’s. I am renewed with hope through meeting this man that I know will use his celebrity to change this world and maybe one day that will reach me here and make it a little easier to break down the walls that are built high in my community, my state, the Midwest. I know that in meeting the talented, celebrated, and humble man that is Jamar Rogers that there is a hope for change beyond what I thought for some time to be possible because I know in him our community has an ally that will always help and from what I have learned of him he will stay humble in the process, now that is a double threat!Me asking Jamar if he will stay and talk!

So I have HIV, what’s next?

I have been continually asking myself this since October of 2006 and like so many other aspects of life I generally don’t know. I mean I have plans, I have goals, I have hopes and dreams and contrary to what most people know or understand about HIV and AIDS, NO I am not dying anytime soon, but what do you do when you have become so public with the fact that you have HIV that where you live you are known for it while at large you are just another person with a story, just another statistic, not known enough to be a spokesperson, or motivational speaker, or any other thing that actually pays the bills. So… what’s next? Well I don’t know, I do however know that whatever is next it will be an adventure just as everything since being diagnosed has been. From sitting at the table with some of the most influential people behind the scenes of HIV to speaking at Universities, being in commercials and plastered on billboards to my everyday life of being a mom and college student or just hitting up a party with condoms and lube. It is all a life I never expected and at the same time it is a gift to be able to live it. So I promise this to you the reader, I will always be real, honest and upbeat, I will give you details about my everyday life in the hope that it will educate the masses about what HIV actually is, and I will try my best to be witty, humorous, and smart. I will not always use perfect grammar but I will always be genuine and I will always be sincere and I will give you a no holds look into what it is like to be a woman living with HIV!

If you have any questions or comments please just be real and honest and I will be real and honest and NEVER worry about offending me because I would rather me be offended than you not be educated.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.