Sometimes I wonder, truly wonder...where did the 'Girl in Me' go? Then, things happen as they did last night.
Here in my city, Winston-Salem, NC...I'm privileged to be a part of so many things...
- AIDS Care Service as a client and volunteer.
- Green Street United Methodist Church where I'm a member. Where WE, as a congregation, have taken a unified stand on marriage equality.
- Where I'm a volunteer with our Shalom Project Food Pantry and free medical clinic.
- POSSE..as division of our health department whose focus is on testing, education on prevention of all STIs. I go with them into the community, college campuses, clubs...wherever, to do testing and education on HIV and STIs!
- NIA Community Action...another entity that goes into communities doing HIV/STI testing.
- Southside United Health and Wellness, a community health center...I sit on there board as a resource regarding HIV/AIDS.
Most recently though, I've become friends with the phenomenal group, Forsyth County Entertainment Awards (FCEA). Ellen Leak heard an interview I did with ToshaMakia on our local 102Jamz radio on World AIDS Day 2012.
She was so inspired...that she wanted to highlight HIV awareness throughout FCEA 2013. FCEA is made up of a sister (Ellen) and brother (Cliff Leak) who provide a forum to lift up talent in our community...from hip hop to gospel...from song to dance...from silence to spoken word.
And because of a chance hearing of me telling my story on our local hip hop station, I am now sharing my story broader and wider than ever in my community. Many of the people that are in the various talent categories are already familiar with me thanks to my extreme social media on Facebook and Twitter. They have never ever shunned me, disparaged me...but have embraced and lifted up the reality that I bring about living with AIDS!
As advocates...we sometimes get frustrated, feel like we are beating our heads against an immovable wall. Last night though, at the Final Showcase of FCEA 2013 artists, I spoke briefly about living with AIDS, and that I am fearless in my battle to help others NOT become infected. That I go anywhere, anytime...sharing my story.
After I spoke, my faith and sense of purpose were renewed thanks to a particular artist performance. Expressive dance...a Praise to God, by Will EJ Furches. "The Battle is the Lord's" by Yolanda Adams. EJ expressed so beautifully, so powerfully...it talked about no matter what our trials and tribulations, God has a purpose for us. As I stood with tears flowing...I looked around the room, and had the realization...I was NOT alone. (To see the video, please click here).
Through EJ's dance...I felt transformed, like I received a message that says "Well Done, Wanda...very well done!"
Many think I'm crazy when I say that contracting HIV, and because of my own actions, now living with AIDS...that it truly has ultimately been the MOST freeing thing that has ever happened to me. Yet I feel free, almost invincible, in the work that I do to educate, to help defeat the stench of stigma, the isolation that too many living with HIV subject themselves to.
By teaming with SO many diverse groups, I am able to reach so many people...some who do not believe that "A Girl Like Me" is living with AIDS. To quote Louis Armstrong..."What A Wonderful World..." it would be, if indeed there was no more HIV!
As I was Inspired, I hope I have Inspired You!