More to Me Than HIV

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More to Me Than HIV

First published in Gscene July 2020 For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library.For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library. For the project I spoke openly about my journey having being           Read more

More to Me Than HIV: GScene post Aug 2020

More to Me Than HIV is a project that aims to breakdown the stigma that has historically been attached to this virus.  When I saw my piece in last months Gscene to promote the More to Me Than HIV project, I was extremely proud, but a small part of me was filled with anxiety; but why should I feel this way? I have been on effective antiretroviral therapy since the Read more

More to Me Than HIV: first published in GScene July 2020

For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library. For the project I spoke openly about my journey having being             diagnosed HIV+ 32 years previous. Back then there was no treatment and a lot of fear and misinformation concerning how HIV was transmitted. As such stigma was rife, Read more

Jubilee library

Combating Stigma: More To Me Than HIV.

First published in Gscene Aug 2020

More to Me Than HIV is a project that aims to breakdown the stigma that has historically been attached to this virus. 

When I saw my piece in last months Gscene to promote the More to Me Than HIV project, I was extremely proud, but a small part of me was filled with anxiety; but why should I feel this way? I have been on effective antiretroviral therapy since the early 1990s, but having lived through the period before there was any treatment, watching friends die of AIDS, or from the toxicity of early medication AZT, those memories of uncertainty can still creep in and unnerve. 

With this in mind, I can imagine that for the group of people who HIV has not had a significant impact on their lives, when they hear the words HIV or AIDS they will recall the time when the only information out there was AIDS = Death, which was only compounded by the tabloid press who went above and beyond in spreading misinformation about how HIV could be transmitted. Perhaps because HIV is not part of their lives, this is their recall on what HIV is still about. It is this misunderstanding that perpetuates HIV stigma and one that needs to stamped out with re-education. 

The one thing that stops many people being open about their HIV status is the stigma, stigma that comes from outdated ideas about what HIV is and how it can be passed on. 

Let me make this perfectly clear, people living with an HIV+ diagnoses who are on an effective antiretroviral therapy cannot pass the virus on, put simply: Undetectable = Untransmittable.

People living with HIV, on effective treatment can expect to get older and get on with living their lives. Not that living with HIV doesn’t have a whole set of challenges, but having an HIV diagnoses should not be the defining thing about us, we are so much more than those three little letters and that is what is at the core of this project. 

We understand that to speak openly about our HIV+ status may be an uncomfortable step to make, but it is through this project we feel we can break down the stigma associated with HIV by showing that we are not ashamed by our status, it is something we live with but that is not a label that defines who we are. Through this photo project we will show that we are: determined, resilient, funny and capable, we are chefs, beauticians, builders, mother’s, fathers, grandparents, artists, listeners, musicians, carers, writers and so the list goes on. So for those living with HIV, we ask you to show us who you are beyond your HIV status; check out the website moretomethanhiv.life, upload three photos, one portrait of yourself and two photos that show another part of what make you, you, along with three, positive, descriptive words. Together we can combat HIV+ stigma and resign it to the history books where it belongs.

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World AIDS Day Event 2019

CF10EA0F-6CC9-4E72-AD82-DC10AE866B99_1_201_aIt was with some trepidation that I decided to put together a Project for World AIDS day at Jubilee library, my place of work. I knew from the onset that I wanted the event to be as visual as possible to get a bigger reach as possible. My thinking behind this had been that if someone saw a leaflet about HIV/AIDS most people who HIV was not part of their lives would walk by, but if there was something of visual interest to catch their eye, then a conversation could be built on from there. Eric Page organised to have the Brighton Hankie Quilt hung in the main window of the library, Romany Mark Bruce kindly loaned us a miniature replica of his famous AIDS memorial statue, Tay and the David Fray put together a video highlighting the history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Brighton, along with Romany’s journey in creating Tay. For my part I has intended to recreate a project that had run at Jubilee library before called, Living Library, where individuals living with HIV would sit in the library and members of the public could sit with them and hear their story. On the day my part of the event was set up in the Community Space at the back of the library along. Th space was set up for members of the public to join invited guests to talk about their experience of living with HIV.  On elf the star speakers on the day was a woman called Sue from Positive Voices. Sue spoke out positively about living with HIV in a way I knew I wanted too. I found the event very empowering, but knew I was still anxious about speaking openly about my HIV+ status. This become extremely apparent to me when a television reporter from Meridian TV asked if I would speak to the camera. I calmed up and became so unsure about myself, I was happy to spaek to the people who had come to the library, but could don’t bring myself to broadcast such news to a wider public. Thankfully one of the people who came and talked stepped in.

After the event I was so pleased with how collectively we had been part of the wider collective HIV organisations who put on events throughout Brighton to remind people that HIV is a still an issue that needs to be talked about.

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Love to Read

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There is a new project called Love To Read, whose main remit is to get people of all ages from all walks of life back into the habit of reading. There are many reasons why people have stopped reading, from busy lives to just plainly falling out of love with reeading. Have a look on the Love to Read website to find ways of getting back into a habit that once rediscovered can bring so much joy.

As part of my involvement with the project, Love to Read, I would like to recommend some of my favourite books, first up, Ray Bradbury’s, Fahrenheit 451Fahrenheit 451

Ray Bradbury’s iconic novel, Fahrenheit 451 first came in to being when he was living in a cramped house with his wife and new born baby daughter, he desperately needed a ‘room of his own’ to write. it was around this time that he was walking through the University of California, he heard the sound of typing in the basement of the library. it was there he discovered a room filled with twelve typewriters that people could rent for ten cents for half an hour.

(Did you know that all fourteen of Brighton and Hove’s libraries offer use of computers for registered library uses, the first hour is free (2 hours free for people on certain benefits) and £1 per hour there after.

Bradbury’s book touchers on the dystopia themes that have been explored in many other mediums of this type, from George Orwell’s, 1984, Aldous Huxley, Brave New World and Suzanne Collins, Hunger Games. (all of which are availible from Brighton and hove Libraries.)

The title of Bradbury’s book, Fahrenheit 451, relates to the temperature at which paper burns and it is book burning that is at the centre of this tale. Set in the future, where houses are fireproof, firemen are employed to seek out and burn any books that are found. Bradbury looks back on past history of both governments and religious authorities who have exerted their power and created fear over others through burning books.

The authorities in Fahrenheit 451 believe that books are harmful as they would make people question their existence and purpose in the world that is controlled through a banal feed of television programmes in which residence are sent scripts so they can interact with the shows.

The main protagonist, Montag, a dedicated firman and destroyer of books, meets a young woman called Clarisse McClellan who unlike the other residents in her neighbourhood notices the natural things in life and finds beauty in them, from a dandelion in the grass to the rain on her face. Montag finds these qualities most strange as he has lived a life of not feeling or thinking for himself for so long.

It is through his further encounters with Clarisse that he begins to question why he destroys books. His motives are shaken further when he, along with his team of firemen raid a house (neighbours are encouraged to inform the authorities if they suspect their neighbours are hoarding books). This is a direct echo of the Bradbury’s concerns he had of Republican U.S. Senator, Joseph McCarthy and his drive to encourage anyone to expose people deemed to be Communists.

On his latest mission, Montag is horrified to find that the person accused of hoarding books has not been arrested and taken to the local asylum. As the books rain down on her and are soaked in kerosene, the woman takes out a box of matches. in the mids of everyones panic, Montag steals one of her books and hides it in his jacket then runs as the woman commits suicide, setting fire to her belovered books as well as herself.

From here on in Montag’s eyes are forced open as he fights everything he had held as true and seeks out others who find passion beyond the mundane in books.

I would highly recommend this book for people who like sci-fi/dystopia novels and for those who have never given this genre a go before. The realism of the settings allow the reader to enter the world of Fahrenheit 451 with ease but will leave them wanting to explore many of the other brilliant novels by Bradbury.

For more infomation about the Love to Read project and how to get invloved please follow this link

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13 women. New Art Exhibition at Jubilee Library

The brilliant thing about living in Brighton is it’s  ability to continuously surprise you. Rather appropriately I stumbled across the temporary exhibition at Jubilee Library called 13 Women on International Women’s Day.  Each piece of work reflects the individual woman’s world, using a variety of mediums. Brighton as a town has never lived by the rules, and by having the exhibition within the Jubilee Library, is just another example of this. Within this setting the work reaches out to a wider audience and because of its wide open windows, it is almost impossible for anyone to not investigate the gold sequined chair (my favourite of the collection) hanging in midair by a gold link chain.

Curator Sarah Gillings says, 13 Women was born from the idea that ART can free you. Art is a powerful medium. Plans are afoot to extend the 13 Women show into an international tour, traveling through other and collecting new women artist along the way.  

Paintings, photography, poetry and ceramics make up this unique collection with each artist exploring the many sides of being a woman. since the exhibition opened at the beginning of the month, each artist has been a personal appearance, allowing visitors to ask questions and delve  deeper into the individuals artistic process.

those exhibiting their creations include, Moscow born, artist and designer, Olgar Foster. Foster’s beautiful painting, created using Acrylic/mixed media on canvas depicts a woman and child, which in turn reflects on Olgar’s own experience of “growing up and growing older; on being a mother; on a journey of love, inspiration, and sacrifice which is motherhood.

On the 13th March Brighton Artist Sarah Abbott will  be on hand to discuss her extremely arresting painting, Believe and Achieve, from Boudicca to Jodie Marsh. For those who have seen Jodie Marsh’s recent transformation from reality TV fodder, to her latest incarnation as a female bodybuilder will find Abbotts take on female power particularly interesting. “Female body-building always demands an opinoin. some may like it, most will a hate it, but you’ll want a second look. (Sarah Abbott.)

The exhibition is only on a short run and finishes on the 15th March, but hopefully it will prove popular enough to have an extended run when it returns in 2013. in the meantime do make a point of seeing these excellent creations and be sure to seek out the attending artists while you are there.

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Brighton Ourstory: The lavender Lounge.

Brighton Ourstory: The lavender Lounge. How bona it was to take a troll into town last Friday night to the Lavender Lounge and varda all those fantabulosa omi-polones and natter to a host of gorgeous dykes, glammed up trannies and bona Bi’s… Read more

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in Brighton & Hove, Human Rights, Leisure, LGBT, QueenSpark Books, Zhoosh Leave a comment