World AIDS Day (Another One)
Today, we honor and remember those we’ve lost over the last 3 decades to complications brought on by AIDS. We acknowledge those in the experience thriving with HIV as well as surviving with HIV. We, today on World AIDS Day, live to see yet another one. Another year of reflection, vision, and hope. Today, we are community.
HIV is nondiscriminatory. It is all inclusive, see. Even me, I (Miss Mikey), thought only certain folks could get HIV. Like seriously, “I heard he was sick.” “Look how skinny she is” “Damn they fell off bad.” “Make sure you hoes got enough T cells for the winter time.” “This milk ain’t never spoiled.” Yea. Me. All fuckin’ me. It was me too, December 19th 2012, the day I found out I was HIV positive. I couldn’t believe I became one of those people. I had become the things I spoke upon others, whether PHI was known or if it was something I heard. I still said the shit.
Stigma. Stigma lead me to my diagnosis. Stigma is a big reason people are still dying, yes still, dying from complications brought on by AIDS. Stigma has gotten me turned away from haircuts, makeup artists, and photographers. Stigma also stood in the way of love and hell, even an orgasm. Though through all of that, there have been medical advancements to where people can live longer lives. “They should be lucky to be alive. We lost so many people back in the day.” “Take your meds. It’s one pill. We used to have to take 15!” Yes, we’ve come so far but stigma, oppression, violence, access to care, funding, criminalization, and white supremacy still divide a community brought together by a chronic illness that “is no longer a death sentence”. One day, that will be true and I hope it’s one day soon.
I have lived out my dreams since being diagnosed with HIV. I was looking for purpose in the form of hard drugs, bottoms of liquor bottles, sex, and gossip years ago. I’m only 27 so yea, I started young. My choices created my circumstances and even after my diagnosis, I still chose happiness. In my happiness of knowing my status I have shared my status on stages across in the deep south and throughout the east coast. I have written books. I have mentored children. I have given speeches. I have performed monologues. I have shook hands with people who have so many letters behind their name describing their knowledge. They thanked me. I am thankful.
I also have family that loves me. I have friends that support me. I have community within my diagnosis. I said earlier that stigma stood in the way of a lot of things. But one thing stigma can’t have is my happiness. My community. Stigma will not shame my family into not claiming me as kin. Stigma will not ruin my love life or my sex life. But I would be lying if I said it is not a tough fight. It is indeed. But I am so thankful I have people by my side to fight this fight with.
Huey P. Newton once said, “The young will always inherit the revolution, the revolution has always been in the hands of the young”. The young mobilized on the stairs on the FDA. Held dead-ins in churches. Went to jail behind advocacy. Larry L. Scott-Walker said, “Respectability politics keeps advocates unproductive.” You already know we are going to fight like hell to get to an AIDS free generation. The only way to do that is through advocacy. Whether community, communion, the boardroom, the trap house, the strip club, wherever there are humans; HIV needs to be discussed as well as the preventative methods to keep people from being diagnosed as well as treatment options for people to live to the point where they can no longer pass the virus on.
For 30 years, World AIDS Day has been recognized by the nation as a day, a millisecond to the people who are not living the experience recognize US. It shouldn’t only be a once a year thing. This should be an everyday conversation because everyday people are living with HIV, living with AIDS, contracting HIV, and dying from complications from AIDS. Yes, people still die. I don’t wanna hear shit about “it’s not the same”. Loss is loss. Don’t undermine my loss of three brown boys in a span of 6 years. Today, I remember them. Today, I honor them. Today, I miss them. I fucking miss them a whole hell of a lot.
Becoming public with my status was to raise awareness that it could happen to everyone because it happened to me. I became public with my status to ensure that someone else out there that didn’t know where to go, knew they could come to me. Even through my transparency, I have still struggled with loss. It hurts like hell but that only fuels the fire and gives me a reason outside and bigger than myself to keep fucking fighting.
When I die, know I went out fighting.
I love you all.