Lots to be thankful for and lots to challenge us as 2017 opens.
Our L.A. guy Kengi says 2017 is sure to be a challenging year.
As I sit down to write this entry I do so with a heavy heart, but a spirit that is encouraged. I say this because my Great Aunt is still not doing well and last night I received word that one of her daughters, my cousin, has suffered a stroke. They both are recovering in separate hospitals. Your good thoughts, affirmations and prayers are greatly appreciated. I’m encouraged and even comforted because I know God, my creator, will provide what is best for them both.
So, I guess I should say Happy New Year to everyone. It’s hard to believe another year has passed. I’m now 48 years old. I have a new dog name Dixie. She’s a Terrier about one year old who has really ushered in new energy for both Dodger and Daisy. She has a super cool personality and she even walks on her hind legs. Dodger and Daisy took to her right away, but it took about three weeks for them to work out the pecking order. In their minds, they each are the boss, but have established a healthy respect for each other.
There’s so much for me to celebrate in 2017. This year will mark the tenth year of Project KengiKat, the outreach I started back in 2007 when I was homeless. For this year’s big tenth anniversary I am supporting three amazing HIV organizations here in Los Angeles that assist gay youth living with HIV as well as homeless individuals living with HIV. If you’d like to support the tenth year anniversary outreaches you can do so online here. There will also be a homeless lunch outreach.
Personally, this year, I will be celebrating nine years of LIVING with HIV. Looking back at my situation when I was diagnosed with HIV, a Tcell count of about 560 and a viral load over 50,000, homeless, battling for access to care and looking for a doctor who would listen and fully understand my situation -- so dramatically different from where I am now, with a Tcell count over 1250, an undetectable viral load and a doctor and complete care team I fully trust. The only part HIV plays in my life is the pill (Genvoya) I take every morning around ten a.m. Back then I was so concerned about staying in care and being able to access care, but today those things are no longer on my mind and HIV plays no major or even minor role in my life.
2017 also marks eight years since the end of homelessness. For 29 long, hard months I battled my way through homelessness and just when I think I’ve fully recovered and healed from the mental, emotional, and spiritual destruction that homelessness causes, there are still those days when I find myself in tears because I see something restored to me that I never even knew was gone. I’ve said before that four walls don’t end homelessness. Four walls are where the real work must begin and I’ve yet to find an agency that fully understands this and knows and is fully equipped with a trained and skilled staff to help folks move forward with dignity and grace.
My third and fourth magazine cover photo shoots are now firmly under my belt and I’m super excited to be working with the Black Alumni of USC, actor Ro Brooks and I will serve as the official photographer for FORD at the NAACP Image Awards Symposium for the fourth year in a row. For the first time, I will serve as the official photographer for the AAFCA Awards.
On the flip side, we’ve got our work cut out for us over the next four years with the new administration coming into power. So much will be challenged and in some cases, I’m sure much will be taken away. The ACA, Planned Parenthood, voter rights, civil rights, human rights and so much more will come under attack, so we must be prepared to mobilize and strategically plan for attacks on everything we hold dear.
Now more than ever, we need to stand together as Americans and those who love and support us. Now more than ever we must raise our voices in protest at the attacks that will surely come under this administration and we must be prepared and willing to fight a long hard battle to keep from going backwards.
2017 will be a year of great change for the better, not the worse and we must work hard to make it so.
- Tags: African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), AIDS, Black Alumni of USC, Bloggers, gay, Genvoya, HIV, HIV+ HIV-positive, human rights, Kenji Kat, LGBT, Los Angeles, NAACP Image Awards Symposium, personal stories of people living with HIV, Planned Parenthood, PositiveLite_com, Project KengiKat, Ro Brooks, Trump Administration