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Abdul-Aliy A Muhammad

Chanting From the Margins: When Blackness, Queerness and HIV Intersect

When I Refused My HIV Medication as Protest, Uncomfortable Truths Emerged
May 25, 2017

I learned so much about how people view autonomy when I went on a #medstrike. I stopped taking my anti-HIV medication to amplify the community demands that the CEO of a Philadelphia nonprofit step down, and although the combined and escalating efforts demanding the departure of the head of the Mazzoni Center were successful, and I was able to resume my treatment, I learned that people felt they were entitled to my body and health status. And that made me angry.

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In the Loaded Act of HIV Disclosure, Violence Is Often Unspoken
April 10, 2017

It is hard to consider how the impact of the state leads us to not hold each other and see each other. Being disabled or diseased or, in the case of HIV, infectious (or assumed to be) changes your relationship to the state. It changes your vulnerability to state-sanctioned violence. It creates or heightens trauma around what autonomy and closeness look like. I'm often reminded that I must fight harder to be seen as someone with a complexity that didn't go away when I become poz. I still have desire, need and a yearning for touch -- these don't go into hiding and shouldn't be repressed because of status.

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Not an HIV Poster Child: Why I, as a Black Queer Person, Left Non-Profit Work
April 6, 2017

I am not an HIV poster child. I will never be that. I am not a black queer man who has broken some proverbial glass ceiling, and I'm am not an aspiring professional. I say that to say: how I speak and write centers my blackness and queerness. How I dress is a conscious decision to disrupt narratives of respectability, and how I move my body is intended to take up, reclaim and move into my space. I could unfold for you all of the trauma that my body and mind hold, but that isn't productive right now. Black trauma is a crop; these oppressive structures live and thrive off our despair and bodies. If I screamed a thousand times about how my body had to hold anti-black violence, it would only be the beginning.

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Desiring Intimacy After an HIV Diagnosis, in a Time More Naked Than Sexy
January 14, 2017

It was so liberating when I rediscovered how to be intimate after my HIV diagnosis. I remember looking at someone I found attractive and daring to flirt again. I hadn't touched anyone in months and thought that just looking was now forbidden, for that was an invitation into the abyss of viral contact. I just remember being numb.

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Missing My Mother, I Recall How Stigma Stopped Me From Telling Her My HIV Status
January 10, 2017

My mother was such a beautiful spirit. We were so connected to each other, and I relied heavily on her as an advisor. She was bold and had the most informed optimism I have ever encountered. Her spiritual centeredness was probably the reason for this. She saw the world as distressed and hurting, but this was not her guiding light. Melody Ellen Beverly envisioned a world where we were all taller and more powerful than we knew. She saw humanity in everyone and made space for everyone in her heart.

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Who Loves Us When We Are Messy?
January 6, 2017

Today has been hard. My body aches and my heart is broken. I lost a friend, and I'm complicit in his death because I didn't reach for him when he fell. He worked tirelessly to be seen as valuable only to fall and be forgotten.

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Moving the Humanity of People With HIV Out of the Equation: How HIV Surveillance Traumatized Me
January 3, 2017

Bodily and environmental autonomy has been elusive for black and brown communities for hundreds of years. The targeting of our bodies is the history of our nation and the world, really. I can't remember not thinking about my movement through any space, what I should say and how I should dress as prerequisites for feeling safe(r), because I realize that attaining safety is a privilege I don't have. This is something that was not a major adjustment for me when I found out my serostatus was positive. I was used to being ogled at by the non-black community or targeted for who I am. The policing of my sexuality was also not something I had not known to be a norm. I remember having to find creative ways to either deflect or answer questions about my sexuality.

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Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil!
November 23, 2016

I was recently in a space where someone said that silence colludes with white supremacy and other constructs of oppression. It was a heavy blow for me, not that I'm silent most times, but there have been moments when I haven't spoken up, haven't said what I felt and didn't speak clearly or with audacity. There have been times when I've kept my thoughts, feelings, visions of work to myself and hoped that a moment would present itself to speak. The work that I'm talking about is work towards black liberation, the work to dismantle any system forged by oppression. To make a gestalt about what oppression is wholly, I think: any system that pretends to own narratives of a people; any system that feels that self-ownership isn't a thing; any system that, based on identities, can predict outcomes of health, incarceration, etc. If outcomes are so predictable, then something at the systems' baseline intends for those outcomes.

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For Black Boys Who've Considered Suicide When Undetectable Isn't Enuff
November 21, 2016

Over a year ago, I was asked to step into a role as facilitator of a group for poz black men.

The new director of the organization had surreptitiously changed the name of the group to "undetectable voices"! He had been challenged on this and kept pressing, thinking this name was his golden ticket to transforming programming at the agency. I had deep feelings about this, and disagreed with and talked with him about how problematic it was to organize a group around undetectable HIV.

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Chanting From the Margins: When Blackness, Queerness and HIV Intersect

Abdul-Aliy A Muhammad

Abdul-Aliy A Muhammad

Abdul-Aliy is a Black Magical Queer, Non-Binary Philly Jawn who was made well/raised well in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They worked in prevention for six years and currently organizes with the Black and Brown Workers Collective and facilitates anti-oppression trainings with the BlaQollective. They've pushed through with HIV since being diagnosed in 2008.

Find them on Tumblr.

Photo credit: Clint Steib/

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