June 7, 2013
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Positive since 2010
For me, HIV/AIDS is not just a personal journey, but also a matter of theology and social justice. As a married, heterosexual, black man, I represent a growing block of HIV infections, and as an ordained Baptist minister I have experienced the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS firsthand. I believe there must be a theology of HIV/AIDS because it’s not just about a virus or a set of physical symptoms.
HIV/AIDS is about people. It is about relationships. It is about intimacy, sexuality, vulnerability, pain, suffering, death, prejudice and bigotry. If theology has nothing to say about these human conditions, it has nothing to say about anything.
If you were to ask me "Where is God in the whole realm of HIV/AIDS,” I would say, he is there with those of us who have the virus, with those who are suffering and crying, shouting and despairing, longing and hoping. He is not above us sending this disease upon us. He is not beneath us passively allowing it. He is with us, not only sharing our pain, but also lending his love and his strength to help us endure. He is offering his forgiveness, not for us having HIV/AIDS, but for all our human brokenness.
This is why I have committed my ministry and my life to addressing the injustices associated with HIV/AIDS. Being born and raised in North Carolina, I have been a student of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's all of my life. The struggle for justice as it relates to HIV/AIDS has become this generations "civil rights" movement, and to borrow from one of the theme songs of the 60's movement, I share the following words to encourage us all:
We Shall Overcome,
We Shall Overcome,
We Shall Overcome Someday.
Down In My Heart,
I Do Believe,
We Shall Overcome Someday!
What three adjectives best describe you?
Determined to succeed, full of joy and excitement, full of love for humanity
What is your greatest achievement?
Becoming a father my children can look up to, and a husband my wife can not only love, but also depend on
What is your greatest regret?
Not being able to finish out my second term as NAACP President (Davie Co, North Carolina)
What keeps you up at night?
Knowing that somewhere in this country and around the world, someone is dying alone from AIDS. More than anything, I want to push for a safe society for those of us living with HIV/AIDS.
If you could change one thing about living with HIV, what would it be?
Access to support groups and social opportunities
What is the best advice you ever received?
Every morning before leaving for school, my dad would say, "Be yourself." The older I become, the more I understand the wisdom in those two simple words.
What person in the HIV/AIDS community do you most admire?
Not just one, but rather every person I have come in contact with who has been pushed aside by friends and family yet they continue to push forward. They are my heroes.
What drives you to do what you do?
The call of God on my life. His purpose was placed on me before birth and I know that if I am being my best, others will have a better chance at life.
What is your motto?
"To be Christian is to view the world through the lens of the cross, thereby keeping ones focus on human suffrage and struggle." –Dr. Cornel West
If you had to evacuate your house immediately, what is the one thing you would grab on the way out?
The book entitled, "The Essential Writings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
And my wife!
If you could be any animal, what would you be? And why?
An eagle so I could soar above the Earth and take in all the beauty of God’s creation
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