All posts in The Poz+ Life of Patrick

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An Interview with Joshua Rogers: Pick Up (A Short Film)

So after sending Joshua Rogers, the writer/director of Pickup, a message on Instagram I was happy to receive a response from him.I am so elated that Joshua was able to take time out of his busy schedule, promotion of the short film and fundraising to talk with ThePozLife.  I have stated my frustration with the fact that we do not tend to see many movies out there depicting the HIV experience in this new era of the virus; therefore, this movie naturally excites me.  Check out my interview below and remember to head over and donate toward the cause of seeing a movie surrounding gay characters that are HIV-positive and portraying that experience comes to fruition

Final One Sheet

What was the thought behind doing a movie that was focused on HIV?

Joshua Rogers –  I’m always looking for unique stories that haven’t been told before. I started writing this particular one, about a gay man telling a potential partner that he’s HIV-positive for the first time, when a friend came out to me as positive and I realized that I’d never seen that on film before. I never saw it as a coming out story. The more we talked about his fears and struggles, the more I understood how interesting his story was and how important it is that it’s told. Just to clarify, this is not my friend’s story, but he loves the script and I have his full support.

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Trevor Thompson

Are any of the actors HIV positive?

Joshua Rogers – Two of the three major roles have been cast, and I honestly don’t know if they’re positive or negative. All I know is that they embody these characters brilliantly and both are extremely passionate about the project.

There is a severe lack of focus on HIV in a positive light within film.  How is your film and its cast helping to address HIV and have much needed dialogue? 

Joshua Rogers – The purpose of this film is to start a dialogue. I want people to relate to the characters and situations and walk away thinking about what they just saw, talking about it with their friends. I agree that there is a severe lack of focus on HIV in a positive light within film and we want our movie to put a stop to that. We want to reach the widest audience possible so everyone can see a realistic, honest, and heartfelt portrayal of an HIV-positive person who’s happy, healthy, and looking for love, just like everyone else. This is our positive love story.

Why is donating to your film important?

Joshua Rogers – In order to reach the widest audience possible, we need to make the best movie possible. A film that looks and feels like something everyone will want to see. It’s difficult to get this kind of film made in Hollywood, which is why we choose to raise the funds on Kickstarter. We knew it was a film people would want to see made. This way we can make sure from beginning to end, that the story is authentic and true to the subject matter.

What was the biggest challenge with the film?

Joshua Rogers – Raising the money is the biggest challenge so far. We’re filmmakers who know how to make a great film, but haven’t had to raise money ourselves before. We’ve all been working really hard to get the word out (the last day to donate is December 16, 11am PST) and we’re all proud of what we’ve accomplished so far and learned so much about fundraising.

What will the audience take away from Pick up?

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Brandon Crowder

Joshua Rogers – They’ll be taken on a journey few have been on before. They will be introduced to a character and a situation only a few have ever experienced. Hopefully they will come out of it with a little more empathy, a little more understanding, and maybe it will be a step towards stopping the stigma associated with HIV.

Is there anything you would like to mention or say?

Joshua Rogers – The reception so far to the script and to the kickstarter campaign has been incredibly humbling and encouraging. I’ve had the unique pleasure of hearing some really amazing stories from HIV-positive people from all over the world who want this film made. Thank you to everyone who’s donated so far and everyone who will continue to help us reach the goal! And thank you to everyone that’s reached out, offered their help, told us their story, and reminded us of why we started this project.

Also, I learned by reading a recent post by Josh Robbins from ImStillJosh.com (Friend to ThePozLife) that in early 2015 auditions for a third important role will be taking place out in Los Angeles.  So for those actors preparing their dialogues and stage presence good luck and may the odds be forever in your favor.

For more information on Pick Up check out their Kickstarter Campaign 

WORLD AIDS DAY 2014: CALL TO ACTION LIVE

As of 2013, AIDS has killed more than 36 million people worldwide (1981-2012), and an estimated 35.3 million people are living with HIV, making it one of the most important global public health issues in recorded history.So ThePoz+Life is calling for everyone to join us on November 29th at 1:00 PM EST via Google Hangout, YouTube, or ThePozLife.com for, ThePozLife: Nationwide Call to Action for World AIDS Day! For this to be successful we need you to share with your social networks, organizations and other news platforms.
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Join me on Wednesday to address Stigma

Join me on November 12, 2014 as others and myself will discuss how I have faced and overcome stigma in my personal and professional life.  Click here to register! This webinar is brought to you by the National Minority AIDS Council.
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NMAC represents a coalition of faith based and community based organizations as well as AIDS Service organizations advocating and delivering HIV/AIDS services in communities of color nationwide. Since 1987, NMAC has developed leadership in communities of color through a variety of public policy education programs, national conferences, research programs, capacity building, technical assistance and trainings, and digital and electronic resource materials.

Voting is Necessary

1278188_10152310327582126_4025973683424660537_nSo today is Election Day in the United States. Voting is most importantly a civic right and in many nations is required by law. It is baffling how many people complain about government and are cynical about its system; however, have never been to a community meeting or directly engaged a candidate. Let’s be real, if you are a minority, living with HIV, enrolled in public assistance programs, or not seeing issues in your community being addressed then you need to be involved. From actually running for office to just putting the candidates on the spot by asking a question like “what is your view on increasing Ryan White Funding?” we all have to understand that in order to see better results in our community we have to be engaged on multiple levels. Being engaged by vocalizing our issues, voting and most importantly making our elected officials and governments (local, state and federal) accountable for their actions is essential. Too many times we vote people in public office based off of what we wish to see, yet never follow up until we are directly affected in a negative way. If I can wake up at 4am, walk my dog, drive two hours, vote, and be back at work then you can travel 10 minutes away and vote. It is simple yet not as tedious as you think.

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Check out my response over Facebook.

To find out your voter status and voting locations check out http://www.canivote.org

Remember you can find me out Facebook, Instagram or Twitter!

DC to Fredericksburg to vote #vote #decisions #blue #electionday #fredericksburg

A post shared by Patrick Ingram (@pluslifeofpat) on

Simply Cocoa

At the beginning of the year I did something that my parents continued to oppose and forbid me to do. Well during Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday weekend after spending some time to reflect on the New Year in my hometown of Hampton, Virginia I drove back up to Maryland and did it. No I didn’t partake in an orgy, decide to binge on a buffet or go on a shopping spree. Instead I picked up a bundle of joy, my puppy I later named Cocoa.

Cocoa

Cocoa

You see in the beginning of the year I was alone, down in the dumps and struggling with work. I can candidly say that at the same time I began to realize that it was harder to get up in the morning or even feel motivated to faithfully go to the gym. All of this began to take a toll on me caring about my adherence. So I knew something had to be done to address this issue. There are definitely plenty of reasons my little Miniature Pincher has helped me deal with my PTSD and also keep my life interesting.

Every morning I wake up to being barked or talked at, nudged, or on rare occasions a foul smell. The majority of the time I am working simply by her moving or nudging me and I immediately know it is time to wake up and give her a good walk. Our morning 1-3 mile walk does not necessarily only help her. By walking with her in the morning I have the ability to be physically active, have some time without my iPhone to critically think and most importantly get out of bed regardless of how I feel and be productive. Cocoa also plays a role in me taking my medication. Around 8pm on most nights I feed her and afterwards she sits at the edge of the kitchen staring at me. The moment I give her eye contact she immediately looks towards the fridge. You see I keep some of her dog treats on top of the microwave next to my pill bottles. On top of that surprisingly when I have horrible nightmares she wakes me up.  Cocoa also is the perfect cuddle buddy and keeps me warm on cold nights. This has been a perfect partnership to keep me adherent and happy. Little does she know how big of a role she plays in my life.1517595_10152348101883522_4986122712107354650_n

Pets can be a great responsibility and come with additional expenses but nothing can replace the love coming from them. Cocoa brings tremendous joy into my life. Her silly expressions and creepy stalker ways always keeps a smile on my face. Many of my friends and colleagues I work and advocate alongside constantly comment or mention my dog and how I am always talking about her via social media. To be honest she definitely works my nerves when she pees or poops in the house of gets carsick and throw up in the car; however, at the end of the day when we lock eyes or I walk into the door after a ten hour day or week away at a conference she greets me with unconditional love. This love alongside the love of my family and friends is what keeps me going on those very hard days.

YBGLI October Policy Hangout with Members of the CDC

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The Organizing Committee of the Young Black Gay Men’s Leadership Initiative (YBGLI) are pleased to welcome distinguished members of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the YBGLI October Google Policy Hangout on Air scheduled for Thursday, October 30th at 7pm EDT.

REGISTER HERE

Dr. Eugene McCary, Mr. Lamont Scales and Dr. Dawn Smith, MD are the panelists chosen for this discussion. These individuals are committed to engaging with young black gay, bisexual and same gender loving individuals about what the CDC does and can do for our community. Register and join us. Don’t miss your chance to ask CDC your compelling question and get answers.  This is a perfect opportunity to be engaged and be an advocate for the community so share this very exciting event and let’s make it a great turn out!  Besides, it’s not like you have an opportunity to engage members of the CDC about young black gay, bisexual and SGL folks.

Spotlight on Northern Virginia’s Rainbow Tuesdays Clinic

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Alexandria Health Department – Photo by Todd Franson

Rainbow Tuesdays is a clinic that I started to volunteer at when I initially started working in HIV.  This clinic is every Tuesday between 5:00pm-6:30pm and offers screenings for STIs (Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and Syphilis) and rapid/confirmatory testing for HIV. Hepatitis B vaccinations are also available as well. This clinic is run by gay, bisexual, queer, same gender-loving men and their allies.  I also find it amazing that the staff can also see individuals of the Trans experience!  Generally this clinic is not like others in the area (including some in DC that can get pretty crazy with line) and although it may not be directly off the metro you can navigate it by easily taking a bus, which will drop you just feet away from the Alexandria Health Department (7A or 7F from Pentagon Metro Station).

Debby Dimon, who is Nurse Supervisor at the Alexandria Health Department, oversees the Rainbow Tuesdays Clinic and provided us with some history. “Rainbow Tuesdays clinic started in July 2009 because of the Syphilis outbreak in Northern Virginia and the absence of stigma-free health care to meet the needs Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Same Gender Loving Men. It started as a screening clinic the second and fourth Tuesday of every month at Alexandria Health Department working in collaboration with the HIV prevention nonprofit organizations (Inova Juniper Program, K.I. Services, Inc. and NOVAM) with other organization serving on the Advisory Committee,” says Dimon.  Her personal goal is to provide syphilis testing and treatment for every gay/bi/queer/sgl man and Trans woman to stop the spread of the curable bacterial infection.  A special exclusive that we were able to gain was that Debby plans on providing Hep A/B/C testing in the new year!

The Rainbow Tuesdays Clinic Program is a partnership that fully engages the community to foster trust and awareness of services among of men having sex with men to encourage those at risk for HIV and/or sexually transmitted infections to seek services and refer others potentially exposed for services. If you are ever free, in the need for screening/treatment or want to know more about the Rainbow Tuesdays Clinic then stop by the Alexandria Health Department during clinic hours.

Three Years of Knowing My HIV Positive Status

10575284_684433221634225_7606948107668887114_oThis December 1st, it will be three years since I learned about my positive HIV status. Since then, the journey hasn’t always been easy. I have experienced successes and challenges—but I am always learning. During my days of being newly diagnosed, dealing with mental illness, contemplating suicide, and, letting others stand in the way of my true happiness, kept me from being comfortable in my own skin. After countless visits with my therapist and having better support from those around me, I decided to start the process of disclosing my status through storytelling online. Despite my own difficulties, I have chosen to be open about my status and by using new media and public speaking, I believe I am helping to fight stigma. By showing people what it looks like to live with HIV, I am using my journey to amplify the voices of others like me. (This process may not work or be appropriate for everyone.)

Disclosure

While many people choose to keep their status private, my positive HIV status is something that I openly share. Telling people that I’m HIV-positive is not the hard part–I can simply send them a text or direct them to my blog Exit Disclaimer or YouTube channel Exit Disclaimer. The most difficult part for me is waiting for their response, because that’s the time I start second guessing if I should have revealed myself in the first place. But by speaking out, I have found who Patrick Ingram is. I am proud of him and I am proud of his journey.

The journey is not easy at all because having to deal with rejection and absurd reactions from others come with the territory. I face many uphill battles of having to explain what it is like living with HIV in today’s technological age to sexual partners, friends, colleagues, family members, and other loved ones. Disclosure for me is always tricky because there is never a perfect way of doing it. The easiest way for me is to share my blog or just pose a question like, “I am HIV-positive, is that an issue with you?”

The waiting game for a written, facial, or verbal response is always the most anxious part of the entire process for me. Some have questions and some block me on social media and never speak to me again. What I have learned that if someone is not comfortable being around me because of my HIV status, then they were not mature or worthy enough to really get a chance to know who Patrick is. My newly found confidence, love for myself, and growth as an individual has helped for me to continue to live openly.

The Power of Friendship

Having friends who love and support me has been an important part of my experience of living with HIV. My relationships have renewed my faith in the power of vulnerability; because I know those relationships would not have blossomed if I were not open and honest. Once I shared my fears, it was life changing to be able to place my trust in friends who did not change the way they interacted with me. In fact, having my best friend, Davia, say she loved me and that she would be my biggest cheerleader helped me get my life back on track. It’s wonderful to be able to be who you are. My friends remind me that I am not alone. With them, I can speak freely and feel a sense of normalcy–and I know they are on my side.

A Guiding Hand

Experience has taught me that having a guiding hand is valuable not only for my own journey, but also for addressing the challenges that the Black LGBTQ community faces. I am fortunate to have many inspirational mentors in my life–from a very good friend who helps me to reflect on my experiences, to an elder letting me cry on his shoulder and vent my frustrations. Prior to becoming HIV positive, I had one mentor, Calvin who constantly checked on me and empowered me to be the best person I can be. He was one of the first people to know my positive status on December 1st (World AIDS Day) and continues to keep in touch with me to ensure that I am taking care to ensure I take the necessary steps to keep the virus in check. Calvin and my other awesome mentors in my life are amazing in ensuring the journey is less of a struggle than a hardship.

I have also recognized that the work of organizations such as the Young Black Gay Leadership InitiativeAIDS.gov, the National Minority AIDS Council’s Exit Disclaimer Youth Initiative to End HIV/ AIDS in America, National Youth HIV&AIDS Awareness Day Exit Disclaimer, and individuals in communities have provided a lot of support to gender and sexual minorities of color. For example, the Elite Project in Birmingham, Alabama Exit Disclaimer is a safe drop-in center for the LGBTQ community in an otherwise conservative southern city. This center provides prevention services, entertainment, intellectual conversations, professional and personal development, and–most important–a place to be one’s true self. Centers such as the Elite Project are needed in every community across our nation to provide the same support, friendship, and mentorship that has helped me get through.

Taking the time to reflect on my journey since learning of my status is an important part of my experience living with HIV. Over the last three years, I have learned a great deal about myself and about living with HIV. Disclosing my HIV status has been difficult at times, but the support of friends, family, and the community has been very valuable in my journey.

I hope my reflections and story can inspire others to support people they know who are living with HIV and, for those with HIV to remember that they are not alone. For now, my goals are to: continue my daily work to educate others; break down the stigma by speaking out; serve as a resource for people who are newly diagnosed; educate myself more on issues that affect the Black community; and continue to seek self-improvement.

For the original piece on AIDS.gov click here

– See more at: http://blog.aids.gov/2014/09/three-years-of-knowing-my-positive-hiv-status.html#sthash.e4xr7zsD.dpuf

HOPE-DC Celebrates 26 Years of Social Support in the DC HIV Community

Providing Social Support to the HIV+ Men’s community since 1988, HOPEDC celebrates 26 years of service with a celebration in Arlington, Virginia on September 20th, 2014.

 

On September 20, 2014, the Health Options and Positive Energy Foundation, Inc. (HOPE DScreen Shot 2014-09-03 at 2.21.40 AMC) will celebrate 26 years of bringing together the HIV+ community in Washington, DC. The celebration will be marked by a social much like the very first gathering that initiated the HOPE DC community.

In keeping with a tradition now more than two decades in the making, the HOPE DC anniversary celebration will be hosted this month by a generous foundation couple in a private home located in the Arlington, Va. Details are available upon request.

The HOPE Foundation’s informal group originated in 1988, during the darkest days of the AIDS epidemic, when a small group of HIV+ Men met at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital during clinical trials of life-saving treatments. They decided to bind together for mutual moral support away from the hospital and began hosting private social events throughout the district. The clinical trial is long since history, but the fellowship that they started is still going strong.

In 1996, the informal group became a non-profit 501C3 organization called The HOPE Foundation. Over the years, the group has grown to over 1400 individuals. The gatherings are now regular events called “The Monthly Social” where HIV+, and poz-friendly, gay/bi/trans/questioning men can meet and provide support for each other in the greater Washington/Baltimore area.

The group remains active today, as the need for moral and peer support for HIV+ attendees has not changed. Over the years, services and support offered by HOPE DC have proven to be essential for the health and well-being of each Social attendee. The focus of the group is primarily directed to single gay men with HIV in the Washington, DC area, but all are welcome.

“We celebrate the dramatic medical breakthroughs that have turned HIV into a manageable condition, but we are deeply aware of the Social challenges of living well and responsibly with HIV,” explained Jim Garza, Vice-President of the HOPE Foundation. “That is why, after more than 26 years, we are still here and will continue to be here as long there is a need.”

About HOPE DC 
HOPE DC is an all-volunteer non-profit organization that serves the HIV+ Community in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area. Services provided include the Monthly Social which offers a stress-free gathering that fosters mutual support, as well as and website to share articles, information, links and resources about living with HIV, and also occasional public seminars or lectures. we also have monthly Brunches, Bowling nights, and Day Trips. The HOPE DC philosophy is that by providing such services, they help HIV+ gay men foster a greater self-esteem and sense of community and that this in turn fosters the responsibility and behavior that helps diminish the spread of HIV.

The Group is funded by Generous Donations from Brother Help Thyself and Whitman Walker Health and has meetings and informal speaker series at the DC Center.

To learn more about HOPE DC visit http://www.hopedc.org or Like us on Facebook.

For more information about the event please visit http://www.hopedc.org.