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Queer, Poz and Colored: The Essentials

June 1, 2010

Brandon Lacy Campos

Brandon Lacy Campos

My name is William Brandon Lacy Campos (talk about a heck-of-a-name). I was born and raised in Minnesota (bet you could guess that from my picture), though I had a bit of a nomadic childhood that took me to the Philippines and Missouri with stops back in Minnesota in between. My menu of ethnicities reads like the roster of member states at the UN.

I grew up in extreme poverty, precariously housed, and my family received public assistance. I come from illustrious stock. On my mother's side of the family, I am a direct descendant of Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, and a cousin of Nathaniel Hawthorne. The former head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs under George H.W. Bush, Dave Anderson, is my cousin (I have never met him, and to his credit, he quit Bush's administration after one year).

Though my father's family were slaves, we have a family history that dates to 1709. The second black person, after W.E.B. Du Bois, to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard was my great-great-uncle, Carter G. Woodson, also known as the father of African-American studies and the man that brought us Black History Month. I even have a great-aunt that just celebrated her 50th year as a nun. Her name is Sister Mary Jerome. I am thinking about suing Whoopi Goldberg for those movies she made.

I went to one of the best public high schools in the United States, and I am a college graduate. I am a writer that has been published in a number of anthologies. I was the only non-Ph.D. candidate to co-author a chapter in a book that will be out this fall concerning queer history in Minneapolis/St. Paul. I have had a play taught at Macalester College, I have guest lectured at a number of colleges and universities, and I had my first magazine column when I was 21 years old.

"I am also queer, HIV positive, a recovering meth addict, and on occasion, a hot mess."

And for some reason, I manage to trick at least a thousand people a month to read the randomness at my blog.

I am also queer, HIV positive, a recovering meth addict, and on occasion, a hot mess.

I can't remember if I tested positive in 2002 or 2003, and for three years following testing positive, only three people on the planet, besides my doctor and the good people at the Minnesota Department of Health, knew that I was positive.

I developed my meth addiction AFTER testing positive. Following my first and most extreme paranoid episode, where I believed the FBI were on a flight with me from Albuquerque to Minnesota, I called every person I loved, including my mother, while crying in the airport, believing I was about to be arrested and taken to jail, and told each of them that I was a drug addict and HIV positive. I totally went over my minutes that evening.

I spent roughly six months in rehab at the Pride Institute in Minneapolis, and to this day, I struggle with recovery, as it takes about a minute to wake up your addiction and a lifetime to put it back to sleep.

"I have not always made smart choices concerning disclosure, including very recently."

And, did I mention that writing this blog for TheBody.com scares the hell out of me?

For the last five years I have been more or less out of the closet concerning my HIV status: sometimes more, and sometimes less. All of my friends and family now know about my status, but I have not always made smart choices concerning disclosure, including very recently.

As a person that has always prided himself on living his life out loud, HIV has been a regularly reoccurring mute button on the DVD of my life (I am totally not hip enough for Blu-ray). But, after a recent experience where fear, stigma, and silence kept my mouth shut about my status when it should have been wide wide wide open, I decided that the only way to permanently remove the mute button from my remote control was to jump on the opportunity to write openly about the experience, its possible impact, and the emotional fallout.

"I love sex (yep ... I am poz ... I am versatile ... and I have a healthy sex drive ... and I ain't afraid to talk about it ... or to demonstrate it ... especially for you ... and you ... and you three as well), and so I write about sex."

And then came along, through a chance meeting, the opportunity to write for TheBody.com. In a crowded bar, I offered up my HIV status and my status as a writer (sometimes that's a heavier diagnosis than the other one ... right up there with actor/waiter/model/Republican). I was asked to be a guest blogger for Pride Month, and then, cuz one of the staff drank the Kool-Aid (no pun intended), I was asked to be a regular contributor.

I am very happy to be a part of this e-family.

My writing tends to run towards the political and the strategically inflammatory. I love sex (yep ... I am poz ... I am versatile ... and I have a healthy sex drive ... and I ain't afraid to talk about it ... or to demonstrate it ... especially for you ... and you ... and you three as well), and so I write about sex. I write about race, racism, gender, queerness, movement building, and community organizing. Sometimes I write about the joy of bodily functions, but I will save that for my personal blog.

In the end, I write about the gifts, challenges, opportunities, and mysteries that make up this vida loca (thank GOD Ricky finally came the heck out) that we are all living together. Because, I found out the hard way, that I can't do this living thing alone. Nor do I wish to do so.

Thank you for this opportunity to share with you a bit about my world. You might need to take a Xanax after reading some of my posts, but I promise that I will do my best to be honest, real, and direct, and I hope you will do the same.

Send Brandon an e-mail.

Read more of Queer, Poz and Colored: The Essentials, Brandon Lacy Campos' blog, at TheBody.com.

Get e-mail notifications every time Brandon's blog is updated.


Reader Comments:

Comment by: keya (seattle-pullman) Mon., Dec. 13, 2010 at 5:32 am EST
Hey. Thank you for sharing. Its sad to hear how you had to struggle. I'm really happy how you overcame allot of hardships. I thank you for sharing. Your story is similar to my life... I am a person born with HIV who had a very tramatizing childhood (abusive dad issues and knowing I had HIV since I was 7).. As of now, I'm attending college and hope to work with other HIV+ lgbt youth of color as a social worker or a teacher... I also identify as queer and I'm a black women.I really appreaciate you sharing it really help me realize that I'm not alone with my struggle and that I'm not crazy b/c lately been feelin that I have so many conflicting identities and try to cope with allot of stuff and reading this just made me realize that I can do allot of things like graduate and become a really amazing cool poet who works with young people :) thanx
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Comment by: Brandon Lacy Campos (New York, NY) Tue., Jul. 6, 2010 at 10:23 pm EDT
Mvuyo:

Family...thank you for your blessing. South Africa has strength...and it's people like you that will bring it out.
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Comment by: Mvuyo Nkume (easl london South africa) Thu., Jul. 1, 2010 at 8:23 am EDT
enkosi Brandon
i admire your courage, I wish South Africa had a brandon like you, here people are afraid to disclose, may jah bless you

thanks
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Comment by: Brandon Lacy Campos (New York, NY) Mon., Jun. 21, 2010 at 10:35 am EDT
Nyalie:

Stay strong. You are beautiful.

Yours,
Brandon
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Comment by: nyalie (selibe phikwe, bw) Fri., Jun. 18, 2010 at 6:31 pm EDT
wow.thanks for being so brave.i went through my body many time but never got the guts to open your blog but today out of bravery i did.so thanks for some of the words and hope we can keep the friendship forever.take and stay strong you inspire me to be me.god bless you always.
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Comment by: Brandon Lacy Campos (New York, NY) Tue., Jun. 8, 2010 at 11:28 am EDT
Ryan:

Thank you for reading, and it is awesome to know that there is another irreverent filter challenged person out there in the world....even if you are in the basement and I am about a block from the attic. I have posted some of my more recent and less pleasant experiences around living this poz life openly on my personal blog. But, even with the ugly...the beauty of living openly and pozitively is worth the effort.
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Comment by: Ryan (Melbourne, Australia) Mon., Jun. 7, 2010 at 5:19 am EDT
Hey Brandon, firstly, thank you for your candidness and willingness to share your life and your story. I have only recently been diagnosed poz, and like you have a very irreverent sense of humour. Unfortunately (like your parents!), I also have very little filter and make a choice fairly early on to be open about it, tell friends and family, and be myself. I'll be an avid reader of your blog, and thought it was important to let you know that your words are making someone smile at least half a world away (ok, three quarters - but whose counting, right?). Best wishes, Ryan
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Comment by: Brandon Lacy Campos (New York, NY) Thu., Jun. 3, 2010 at 5:25 pm EDT
Thank you, Rece. Dr. Bob is HILARIOUS! I have read a couple of his blogs, and they make me giggle.
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Comment by: Brandon Lacy Campos (New York, NY) Wed., Jun. 2, 2010 at 11:41 pm EDT
Dear Joshua and Gracie...you are loved in return. Thank you for reading.
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Comment by: Rece-1030 (St.Louis MO) Wed., Jun. 2, 2010 at 10:00 pm EDT
You are a breath of fresh air! I always read different blogs on The Body and your blog is a wonderful treat to read (aside from Dr.Bob..thats my Boo) and you got it going on. I am not poz but I have many friends and family memebers that are. I am always reading the new info on the fight against HIV/AIDS. I look forward to reading your blog !
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Comment by: Joshua Fennell (New York, NY) Wed., Jun. 2, 2010 at 6:28 pm EDT
What an interesting story ... You sure have done & seen a lot for such a young person. I salute you for being brave, light hearted, honest & an advocate for some of us, that do not have a strong voice.
Continue on your journey to find your meaning of life. You are much loved .
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Comment by: The Divine Grace (Asheville, NC/ New York, NY) Wed., Jun. 2, 2010 at 5:38 pm EDT
I couldn't be happier to see you contributing here! Your insight and ability to share it with strength and humor will prove to be an asset to this site!

A new visitor,

The Divine Grace
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Comment by: Brandon Lacy Campos (New York, NY) Wed., Jun. 2, 2010 at 2:39 pm EDT
Thank you, Greg! I come by my irreverance honestly, both of my parents were born without a filter, and what little I have is used only on holidays and Leap Years. Thanks for reading.
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Comment by: Greg (South Carolina) Wed., Jun. 2, 2010 at 12:20 pm EDT
Honestly speaking, it was your face that drew but your words (and personality) have peeked my interest. I'm truly looking forward to reading your blog. You're a bit irrevant and "off the chain," and I love it! ~Greg
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What Is Pride, Really?

What Is Pride, Really? Throughout June, we celebrate all that the LGBT community has achieved -- and acknowledge the walls we have yet to break down. We also wonder: Is "Pride" still a relevant concept in U.S. society? Is it still radical?

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What's Your Opinion?
Do you celebrate LGBT Pride in your city or town?
Yes! I'm out there every year with my rainbows on.
No! I'm over it -- Pride is for tourists, politicians and the newly out.
I would, but there are no Pride events or celebrations in my area.
What's Pride?