By BTL Staff
Five Michiganders are among HIV Plus Magazine’s “Most Amazing People Living with HIV in 2016.” Among the honorees are Brian KillsCrow of the Grand Rapids area, Patricia Clark of the Kalamazoo area, Bre’ Ann Campbell and Ari Hampton of the Detroit area and Todd Heywood of the Lansing area.
The honorees are among 75 U.S. residents selected by editors of the magazine for their work for those affected and infected by HIV.
Clark works at CARES in Kalamazoo as the team leader in that organizations care management. She’s also co-chair of Michigan’s chapter of the Positive Women’s Network. Diane Anderson-Minshall, editor of the magazine said she was nominated by five people for the honor.
“They all said she really fought for clients and went above and beyond to keep HIV in the public sphere, doing TV and conferences and presentations and just overall advocating for other people living with HIV,” Anderson-Minshall told BTL in an email. “That’s the best form of activism, when you’re pushing to help other people who maybe aren’t as lucky as you are to have weathered coming out poz in a small town.”
KillsCrow is a Lakota activist engaged in the Red Project of Grand Rapids. He’s working to address sexuality, substance abuse and other barriers contributing to HIV transmissions among native Americans, Anderson-Minshall said.
“To have someone like Bryan out there putting a face to what is a silent epidemic for Natives is really incredible,” she wrote.
Anderson-Minshall said Campbell’s story of the creation of Trans Sistas of Color Project in metro Detroit was moving. Campbell moved in with family, and used her savings for surgery to fund her program.
“As the wife of a trans person, I know how tough that must have been to give up the money you’d scraped together to make your body and mind congruent to the world and then use it instead to help other people,” Anderson-Minsall wrote. “And she kept going, even after initial failures. (She also started out her activism as an HIV activist, long before she was poz herself).”
Hampton took a painful start in the world – homeless, relying on survival sex, becoming HIV-positive – and turned it into a powerful testament to healing.
“He really amazed me this year but shedding a light on mental health issues for people living with HIV, because there’s such stigma against mental illness in the African-American community,” she said of Hampton. “We talk about mental health so abstractly sometimes that it’s just startlingly honest when someone says, ‘I struggle with depression.’ Ari is also one of those activists who as soon as he came out poz, he started working with other young men on HIV prevention for the Horizons Project.”
Heywood is a contributor to Between The Lines. He also presents HIV prevention lectures around the state on a regular basis.
“He talked about barebacking (in a homophobic college environment, that’s a no-no topic for gay men), about HIV exceptionalism, bullying, and transphobia, and then, when the time came, he chronicled his out assault,” Anderson-Minshall said. “It’s a brave act to admit you were assaulted, tied up, robbed of your HIV meds; and even braver to admit to the world it happened because you invited a sexual exchange with guys you met on Craigslist. As journalists and LGBT activists we’re trained to be “model” citizens so even admitting you arranged a non-conventional hookup is difficult, but to admit to an assault and it’s aftermath is pure soul baring and really inspiring. We need Todd’s brand of truth out there.”
The September/October issue of the magazine hits newsstands later this month.