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Black Women With HIV Are Still Invisible

I appreciate Billy Porter’s story, but part of me wishes Black women were handled with this much care and attention

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I’ve seen the article.

And while I can appreciate Billy Porter’s story, applaud his strength, and recognize while fully understanding the level of transparency and vulnerability it takes to do it on a national level, a larger part of me wishes that Black women were handled with this much care and attention and extended this level of grace and compassion.

But we’re not, and many of us wish we were.

I’ve seen the article.

“This Is What HIV-Positive Looks Like Now”… for whom?

Not for Black women, the most vulnerable population of Black folks who are continually disproportionately impacted by HIV transmission.

Not for the hundreds of us who are literally fighting to end the invisibility of Black women living with HIV.

And definitely not the thousands of us who long for representation knowing that the last time a Black woman living with an HIV diagnosis graced the cover of a major publication was Essence in December 1994.

Part of me … looks forward to the day that the stories of women who look like are met with this level of acceptance, revelry, and respect.

Porter benefits from a very nuanced privilege within the LGBTQIA+ community that Black women navigating this chronic illness will never reap the benefits of. The two communities may share overlap with how they view those diagnosed. However, there is a level of understanding and (dare I say) acceptance that is lacking within the faction of the cisgender and heterosexual. Benefits that are increased due to his level of celebrity. Benefits that I know would not be extended had this been a Black woman.

So yes, I’ve seen, sat with, and digested both the article and the video interview. I celebrate the phenom Billy Porter is and for him pushing through the silence, stigma, and shame and giving his truth sound. I acknowledge the bravery and the need for representation for HIV+ Black gay men.

However, I’ll be remised if I didn’t honor the part of me that yearns and looks forward to the day that our stories, the stories of women who look like and show up like me, are met with this level of acceptance, revelry, and respect.

LáDeia Joyce

A version of this story originally appeared on LáDeia Joyce’s Instagram.

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LáDeia Joyce

LáDeia Joyce

They swear educated, sexy, pretty, and HIV+ can’t coexist. I beg to differ. I’m proof.

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