Tags: #dance, advocacy, african-american, AIds, black, catharsis, health, hiv, hiv positive, hiv/aids, LGBTQ, living with aids, living with hiv, NMAC, poz, pozlife, The Poz+ Life, thepozlife, thepozlifeofthomasdavis, world aids day, youth, youth scholars
TO DONATE PLEASE GO TO: https://nmac.z2systems.com/campaign.jsp?campaign=1&fundraiser=42702&team=13&
Catharsis: A World AIDS Day Event
Date: Monday, November 30, 2015
I am Thomas John Davis an NMAC Youth Scholar
To kick off World AIDS Day I am collaborating with The Lula Washington Dance Theater with an event entitled “Catharsis”. The goal of this event is to raise awareness around HIV & AIDS by using performance art as the ice breaker to start conversations between parents, youth, artists, and advocates about disclosure, support, getting tested, and what living with HIV is like. The event will feature professional dancers and testimonies from people living with HIV as well as their allies.
Target Audience and Importance
The doors are open to everyone but the focused group is Parents and their children. I’ve chosen to focus on these two groups in particular because that’s where the information needs to start to make a change in how we talk about HIV when it comes to prevention. Children follow what their parents know weather they are aware of it or not. To lower stigma and increase the flow of valid information into a child’s life we have to also give parents the information so they are informed and up-to-date. By having youth attend with their families we are giving them an opportunity to ask questions about what they saw and to give them information that may be updated from what their parents know. This way the child and parent are getting information together.
The agenda for the evening
The event will start out with a quick “what do you know about HIV?” to figure out where the audience stands. This is meant to be a brief but informative section that will transition into the first performance. The first piece is about the challenges two friends face when one of them discloses that he is HIV+. This piece will be followed by a testimony from an ally who saw a family member pass away from HIV related complications. The second piece is about a patient going to the clinic to get their labs drawn for the first time. This piece is followed by a testimony from Thomas Davis and what it was like to be told that he was HIV+ and what he did from there. The final piece is a duet followed by a testimony from a sero-discordant couple and how they navigate their relationship where HIV is concerned. After each testimony/story questions and conversations are encouraged.
When it comes to talking about HIV we tend to find the same conversations happening over and over again and as necessary as these conversations are we need to find more innovative and engaging ways of presenting them. Using dance as a way to communicate and tell a story is a great way to educate and inspire people. You are able to escape the idea that everything you say needs to be “Politically Correct”. It’s a way for the audience to experience a story rather then having one talked at them. To show this one of the pieces being shown is filmed below. This is a story of the struggles a couple goes through when HIV is introduced into their relationship. This piece is about the anxieties of the waiting room and was used to start conversations about testing, doctors visits, support, and dating. Do you go and get tested with your partner? When was the last time you two talked about your sexual health to each other? If one of you was positive would the other stay? All these questions and many more are asked in the heads of these two individuals as they wait.
The Long Wait
Choreographed by: Thomas Davis
TO DONATE PLEASE GO TO https://nmac.z2systems.com/campaign.jsp?campaign=1&fundraiser=42702&team=13&
Tags: advocacy, advocates for youth, african-american, black, black voices, DC, discussion, hiv, poz, pozlife, thepozlife, USCA
Adrian and Thomas share their thoughts on USCA 2015! Can’t wait for next year!
Once upon a time I was in a very successful relationship. A partnership in where I thought that person was utterly perfect for me. Sure we had our arguments but the thing about it was that we were able to put our issues aside and agree to simply disagree. He was as slow and our relationship moved at a glacial pace in the beginning. We went on multiple dates, hung around each other’s friends, had long hours of deep meaningful conversations, and truly fell in love with each other. We had both been through very abusive relationship so when we found that trust within each other it was unbreakable. Then I found out my diagnosis and overnight things started to change. I was being blamed for putting him at risk, I had to watch him go on PEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) before I started my own medication, seeing our sex life decrease tremendously, and just a new negative energy making its way into our relationship.
Things soon folded during the fortnight of Valentine’s Day and I was left all alone and untrusting of guys. Sure I dated, had sex and even thought about having a relationship; however, there was no spark or X-FACTOR in terms of having the same feelings I had before. Flings would last for a week or month but it honestly wasn’t anything I truly valued. I guess you can say love at first sight is a bitch. Well back in May I really decided to put myself back out there and really date. It’s discouraging to think that someone could be the one for you only to find yourself waiting by your phone or be given the run around. With my new job I thought it would be perfect to date and just have fun with guys from around the world (take the word fun how you want).
Surprisingly I’ve found that guys from other countries are willing to hang out with me, go on a date, chat etc. More importantly they understand HIV and know of the ways to reduce chances of transmission even without the availability of PrEP in some countries. Real talk even having sex abroad and in places that are a little more liberal and willing to have productive conversations about sex and HIV/STI status (say California, NYC, Miami) creates for a more enjoyable and less worrisome experience. It is already difficult having to disclose your status but then having to receive 30 texts and calls after the deed is done about concerns about transmission, STI status and if one should go on PEP If they are negative just turns me off from hooking up in the first place. It is enjoyable not having to answer 100 questions or give a brief HIV 101 course prior to going on a first date or into the first round of sex with a stranger.
With that said I recently found a guy I am very interested in. Although I like to now keep my personal life more protected I will say that I am happy that someone is enjoying me for me. It is refreshing to just be able to remain who I am without having to change my appearance or demeanor for someone else’s enjoyment. I have talked about the importance of staying vulnerable and affirmative before and this too is no exception. In life we all go through troubling times and it can seem like you have no one around to hold you or care; however, keep your faith, family and true friends close. Being lonely is no joke. It can suck seeing your social media friend booed up or being that third wheel. My advice is just continue to stay your authentic self, don’t compromise just to be cuffed (cuffing season is among us) and most importantly work to improve you. We all should have a set of short-term and longterm goals that we are constantly working toward. Where are you at when it comes to achieving your goals?
Tags: Back to my roots, flight attendant, LGBTQ, living with aids, living with hiv, Patrick Ingram, pozlifeofpatrick, thepozlife
So in life we as humans are constantly growing and evolving. It’s an attempt to better us and strive to achieve the unthinkable. So many times I have caught myself being ok with the status quo and being surrounded by those individuals who didn’t have my back or best interests. Being diagnosed with HIV in 2011 really forced me to go through a sort of metamorphosis and reassess my life.
Recently many folks have been asking, “Did you go and decide to end ThePozLife.com?” The truth is that I decided to do some serious soul searching and adult decision-making. Believe it or not I used to fly before for a regional airline; however, I was sexually assaulted on an overnight and that scarred me so much flying and overnighting in hotel rooms were never the same. That night in Chicago I learned to stop being so naïve and trusting of others. Since then I had gone to working within the for profit sector before transitioning to non-profits and finally a state health department. Since being diagnosed with HIV I have been seeing a mental health professional, discovering who I was, pushing myself to go outside of my perceived limits, and then going back to accomplish my dreams. While working in the HIV field I honestly became disgusted and annoyed. I felt as if I was in a remake of the movie Mean Girls and was among folks who were in the market of making themselves “famous and notarized,” by their work rather than letting the work speak for itself. I found myself surrounding by cliques of academics, community mobilizers, social media gurus, and socialites and began to lose my identity and purpose. That was not Patrick. I was far from my roots of just posting long ass YouTube videos where I’d vent and just aimlessly talk. More importantly I lost focus and connection on the actual experience of living with and moving through life with HIV. I was now in a place where I was talking at people rather than sharing my experiences. Am I bitter how individuals in the field treated me? Yes, however I have had so many great experiences with a handful of folks who have given me so much more than a clique can; therefore, the positive experiences outweigh the negative ones.
It’s very frustrating to work among people who had no passion or drive to really touch people’s lives. More importantly among people who use HIV and people living with it as a tool to gain personal profits and increased social status. I had a coming to Jesus moment where I had to really think about my future. Did I really want to wake up one day 60 years old and had been totally committed to ending the epidemic of HIV that I was not able to pursue my dreams, work within my dream job and primarily being surrounding by people who were in the same situation. Or did I want to break back into a dream job that I loved doing where I could utilize all of my talents. At that point I was close to a decision to go back to being a flight attendant.
The final straw that broke my back was being at a conference in Atlanta earlier this year where someone tried to tell me to look and carry myself a certain way when around people of power and influence. I was very confused at to why I would be invited to become part of an organization but then forced to change to be the ultra conservative, suit wearing, name throwing, and inability to have humility that they had. It wasn’t my thing and seeing how particular folks can be really changed my perspective on the colleagues in the field I worked with.
Since leaving I have not heard from many folks in the HIV and Public Health field and if I have heard from them it is honestly for something they want. I am not writing that to complain but to let you know that in life you come across people throughout your individual journey to greatness and you may not take them to you. It is ok for them to come and go. This is simply apart of the human experience. It is so important to focus on your dreams and the necessary people you either have to knock over or get through to get to the finish line. The other important thing is to make sure that you keep those valuable friends and allies on your side. These folks will support you when you are up or down in the dumps.
Being a flight attendant for one of the greatest airlines in the world is a blessing. The experience of living with HIV within a Fortune 500 company is different but I am ready for the challenge and blessed that I am able to share every moment I can with you. Remember living and with HIV is a unique situation. We have many ups and downs the others will never know about. I just keep my faith and positivity that things will work out. This ideology has not failed me yet.
“Im going back, back, back to my roots
Where my love can be found and my heart rings true
Im going back, back, back to my roots
To the time and the place, coming back to you.” – Rupaul
Tags: advocates for youth, gay, Gay Love, how I found out I was HIV positive, LGBT, LGBTQ, living with hiv, men, Patrick Ingram, people of color, pozlifeofpatrick, thepozlife, where in the world has patrick been
Tags: advocacy, advocates for youth, african-american, AIds, hiv, poz, testing
Today is National HIV Testing Day! a few of the NMAC Youth Scholars came up with a challenge for the day called “The 60 Second Challenge” The purpose is to get the message out of HIV testing to as many youth as possible. The rules are simple. When nominated you go and get tested for HIV (this is not about the results) If you decide that you would rather not get tested you are supposed to make a video showing us what you can do for 60 seconds (or what you chose to do for those 60 seconds instead of getting tested). If you already know your status you are encouraged to make a video of what you can do in 60 seconds and challenge others to know their status. Simple. Easy. Fun. Please feel free to participate in the challenge and share with your friends!
Tags: advocates for youth, african-american, AIds, being diagnosed with hiv, black, community, disclosure, discussion, education, facebook hiv, gay, hiv poz, thepozlife
National Youth HIV AIDS Awareness Day Youth Ambassador Thomas Davis Hosted an event “Positive Transformations” sponsored by REACH LA. The event brought together several performing artists and organizations from around Los Angeles to educate the community on HIV & AIDS. Focuses were on several subjects from HIV testing to life with HIV. The event was a great experience and a great start to what will hopefully be an annual event. Thank you Reach LA for sponsoring, Lula Washington Dance Theater for hosting, Advocates for youth, Tasheena Medina for Producing, and all the artists and organizations that participated! A huge thanks to Tigersnooze Productions for shooting and editing footage of the event!