Influencer to Advocate

Social media has given many of us a chance to tell our stories. People engage with us because we offer ourselves. We give you a peek inside our lives when we post our thoughts, pictures, and videos.

We share our stories on platforms like H-I-V.net and Facebook to connect with others. What I am finding is that the people we inspire in turn find the courage to tell their own story.

Online Black and queer communities

Twitter has become a gathering place for Black, queer communities. It is a space where, by following others with similar interests, we are able to form bonds and post content that is relevant to us as a Black, queer community. It is a space where Black joy, the celebration of Black bodies, and social conversations happen.

It has evolved into a community where we are interested in what the fine boy or girl next door is doing while on lockdown, or how did everyone react to the last episode of How To Get Away with Murder? It is also space where Black sexuality is explored and talked about as well.

The use of these public, online spaces

I am finding that, in these public spaces, our influencers are finding the courage to tell their fan bases that they are living with HIV.

I feel like this is a huge step forward for our community. It really does endear me to this person’s message even more because they are truly being themselves and living in their truth. What is even more beautiful is that the community is really coming out to support.

A social media influencer disclosed his HIV status

On one person’s Twitter feed, fans were showering him with kind words and encouragement while others were disclosing their statuses in solidarity. It was this person’s evolution to eventually being an HIV advocate for his community.

From influencer to HIV advocate

He opened his DMs (direct messages) to people who had questions about HIV and most importantly he still engages in the community actively. There most definitely was some stigma present in some of the comments, but the overwhelming majority were positive. In his case, disclosure was freedom for him and the online community held space for him. That was a beautiful thing to see.

When a post like this comes up in my feed, I want to stop and check-in on what our communities are feeling and saying. And I think, as a whole, our mindsets about HIV are trending to be more forward-thinking.

Advocates for HIV prevention and education

My biggest concern, though, remains with one common thought I’ve heard from my peers on social media. "If I get it, then I get it and I’ll take a pill." Far too often I feel like people take this approach. I realize that it’s a choice, but I truly love you enough to say, "Use the best protections that you know how so you don’t have to be on medication."

As much as bareback sex is great, take a second and think about how you might protect yourself and your partner. It could mean using extra lubricant, mutual foreplay, using PrEP, or condoms. Having something at your disposal will help you keep enjoying the pleasure of sex and intimacy for a long time.

Connecting with online communities

As stigma declines, I think more educators from all walks of life will start to come forward and be able to connect with people in their communities. These are the people who can lead the charge in HIV prevention and keep our communities healthy and sexy!

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