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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

Never Doubt Your Place in This Space!

By Rae Lewis-Thornton

July 25, 2013

This piece originally appeared in Rae's blog, Diva Living With AIDS.

Last year this time I was trying to raise money to go to BlogHer. I knew it was an important conference in the life of a blogger. Thanks to some of my biggest supporters, and friends I've met through Twitter, off to the Big Apple I went. I met a lot of sponsors and a lot of bloggers.

I got a lot of "freebies" from companies that wanted us to blog about their product. I got a lot of helpful hits on how to make my blog better. But when I left, I had not met one person in BlogHer's leadership nor had I secured one sponsor for my blog.

In the year following the conference I came up with some Aha Moments. For sure my blog is a serious content blog. For sure it will remain first person. My blog is my journey, my life, my opinion, my laughable moments, my good, bad and ugly. My blog is about my life, when I shit on myself and when others shit on me. I'm OK with the path that I've taken because my gift is my life. Ironically, my life has also been my curse. It's been such a painful journey for me from birth to 51, but yet God has given me that extra; the stuff that makes me keep going when I want to quit.

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I had resolved that I may never get a sponsor and I'm OK with that. I'm OK because my blog is not about making money, it's about enriching the lives of others. I share my life with the hope that someone will keep going, will do something different, something better about their lives.

So lo and behold, I was knocked out of bed one morning when I received an email from BlogHer asking me to be the closing keynote speaker for their HealthMinder Day! Shut Up!! I mean someone else thinks that what I do is worth sharing. WOW! So tomorrow I will have what's called a keynote conversation. Interviewing me in front of hundreds of bloggers will be Jeannine Harvey, the social media director of the powerful organization Onemoms.

We will discuss my groundbreaking work in social media and how I've used social media to advance the issues of HIV/AIDS. We will talk about how I've built my brand though my authentic candor and transparency. I'm honored to have been asked to talk about what I do and why I do it. I've said it over and over, I came to social media when my speaking engagements dried up with the dead economy because God still had work for me to do. Social media was a free forum to continue to challenge stigma around HIV, educate and give hope.

I'm proud that I've been able to grow with the 21st century. I've been criticized for my candor and transparency. I've even been criticized for my overall use of social media. Tomorrow is worth every negative conversation about me and my work. I'm honored that BlogHer has recognized my groundbreaking use of social media and I'm excited about giving other bloggers some insight on how to grow their brand through the use of social media. I'm honored to be among the list of keynote speakers. U. S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is the opening speaker.

What I know for sure is this simple: If you follow the path that God has chosen for you, God will make room for your gifts. Never doubt your place in this space called the universe.

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See Also
More Personal Accounts of Women With HIV/AIDS

 

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Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton is an Emmy Award-winning AIDS activist who rose to national acclaim when she told her story of living with AIDS in a cover story for Essence Magazine. She has lived with HIV for 27 years and AIDS for 19. Rae travels the country speaking and challenging stereotypes and myths about HIV/AIDS. She has a Master of Divinity degree and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Church History. Rae has been featured on Nightline, Dateline NBC, BET and The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as in countless magazines and newspapers, including Emerge, Glamour, O, the Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Jet, Ebony, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, to name a few. She earned the coveted Emmy Award for a first-person series on living With AIDS for Chicago's CBS News.

Rae is an active user of social media -- read "Long-Term HIV Survivor Discovers the Power of Twitter," an article on TheBody.com about Rae's social media activities.

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