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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

Romeo Is My OWN

By Sherri Beachfront Lewis

August 13, 2010

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Summer 2010 started off with a bang! I took a leap of faith into the "un-OWN" -- the upcoming Oprah Winfrey Network -- along with thousands of other hopefuls who pitched their show ideas online and at open casting calls across the country. After 143 million votes, the top online vote-getters were selected, and the rest remain to be seen. In other words, I'm still waiting to hear!

Maybe I'm crazy but I'm still thinking "maybe," because you never know. Truthfully it was such a blast to do! I made a great video with 2 positive friends (The "Un-Oprah Submission"), I made so I made so many new Facebook friends I had to start a new page, POZ Magazine featured me online, and I was honored to be July's Ambassador for Dab the AIDS Bear!

The "Un-Oprah Submission"

I was overwhelmed with love and support from the HIV community, the gay community, musicians and recovery communities. I received a recovery necklace, a key with a calendar with my clean time indicated with a small gemstone, along with appearances on a variety of podcasts -- from POZIAM with my friend and fellow TheBody.com blogger Robert Breining, to Rockers in Recovery Radio!

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To top it off I was asked to be on CNN Prime Time News with Phill Wilson, CEO and Founder of the Black AIDS Institute to talk about the new possibilities for a promising vaccine with Dab the AIDS Bear on my lap! Stepping out of my comfort zone into a new dimension had already proven to me "the joy really is in the journey."

On July 16, that changed. It was a beautiful Friday afternoon, my beautiful rescue dog Romeo and I go for our usual walk around our Hollywood neighborhood, often to get a smoothie and for Romeo to socialize with his buddies there. As we were halfway down the block I see 3 pit bulls sitting at the outdoor cafe at Baja Fresh on Sunset Blvd. I'm thinking maybe we should cross the street and go on the other side but just as I finished that thought one of the pit bulls got free of his pack and charged Romeo!

My heart stopped, I screamed and hit my knees trying to get my dog out of the pit bulls mouth. The dog owner ran to try and release his dogs grip off Romeo but to no avail. I was pulling Romeo, screaming "Get your dog off my dog! Get him off!" The crowd started to circle around us. Finally I got Romeo out, his trembling body and his little jaws biting at the air in shock, still fighting a dog that wasn't there. He bit my finger in the struggle to get him free; he bit my face in the midst of his own terror.

I had blood all over my summer white clothes, feet and sandals. Carrying my Romeo cradled in my arms like a baby, tears running down my face and horror at the condition of my Romeo, his skin hanging off the side, his leg I saw the pit bull pulling like it was a chicken leg for dinner. Running with Romeo in my arms people ran behind me, one woman yelling at me, "Don't let him get away with this! Get his name!" "I can't," I yelled back. "I just want to get my dog to the emergency."

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Reader Comments:

Comment by: juana (denver co ) Wed., Sep. 8, 2010 at 12:55 pm EDT
In moments like these is where we should unite and look out for each other. Someone should had gotten an ID from the owner. I pray to God that someone did; because I trully believe the owner of the dog should help with the bill.
Also please do not hate pit bulls they are beautifull animals. I have a pit bull and little dogs as well.
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Comment by: Merlin (Asia) Sat., Aug. 28, 2010 at 11:32 am EDT
Sherri, go back to the place where the attack happened and put up a notice for witnesses who may know the pit bull owner and try to find him to foot the bill and take action. This is NOT the time to let things be. The pits can kill other dogs in future.

Be strong Romeo. Love everywhere will keep you strong and heal you well. Kiss.
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Comment by: Henry (NYC) Fri., Aug. 27, 2010 at 8:26 pm EDT
Hang in there, Romeo, you have a GREAT mom!

Sherri, two words: you rock!@ I was in a similar situation as what you describe when I saw a dog making a beeline toward mine in a way that did not seem "right." I was able to nip it in the bud and nothing happened but it could have ended badly. I just left a donation.

PS: I was diagnosed 2 years ago and doing great. When I came across you online when I was obsessing during those first few months it really helped me cope and gave me hope that there IS life after HIV. You inspire me, thanks.
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Comment by: Erin (Los Angeles) Thu., Aug. 26, 2010 at 3:34 pm EDT
I am so sorry your dog was hurt by an irresponsible pit bull owner. Pit Bulls are amazing and beautiful dogs, but unfortunately many of them have bad owners - I stress this because it is not the breed that is bad. I wish all dog owners would be repsonsible, maintain control of their pets at all times and comply with leash laws. I also wish there was more enforcement of the leash law!
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Comment by: Julia M. (NYC) Sat., Aug. 14, 2010 at 7:43 am EDT
Its amazing how much joy Romeo brings into the world. Stronger laws need to be in effect for owners of attack dogs and pit bulls. Just as we advocate for bully-free schoolyards and classrooms for kids, we need to ensure bully free zones for our pets. The owners of the pit bull should be held responsible, in the same way that a parent should be responsible for a child, as you could have gotten hurt rescuing Romeo in this situation.
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Comment by: Dab Garner (Wilton Manors, Florida) Fri., Aug. 13, 2010 at 5:05 pm EDT
So glad Romeo and you are both doing better. Love the pic of Romeo being comforted by Dab the AIDS bear. I know how upset I would be if something happened to one of my kids.
We are honored to have you as one of our Ambassadors of Hope. You did a fantastic job on CNN!
Keeping you and Romeo in our thoughts and prayers.
Wishing you both health, hope and happiness.
big bear hug,
Daddy Dab
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HIV DIVA


Sherri Beachfront Lewis was diagnosed HIV positive in 1987 after a routine blood test for her marriage license. She was one of the first women to be diagnosed with HIV in the United States and still be alive and well. In the past 20-plus years, Sherri has worked with and coordinated numerous HIV/AIDS research and advocacy efforts. She's been a columnist for Arts & Understanding Magazine, a national HIV/AIDS publication, highlighting the stories of women living with HIV/AIDS. She has graced the cover of POZ Magazine and been featured in the Washington Post. Sherri has performed with Sheryl Lee Ralph and Patti La Belle at DIVAS Simply Singing, and with Broadway CARES/Equity Fights AIDS in her hometown of New York City.

Sherri recently reclaimed her entertainer's identity as Sherri Beachfront, an 80s pop diva, as the host of Straight Girl in a Queer World -- a series of 60 podcasts for Here! Networks in which she interviewed a wide range of fascinating guests between 2007 and 2008. Download and listen to Sherri's podcasts!

Become friends with "Straight Girl in a Queer World" on Facebook!

Speaking engagements: Sherri Beachfront Lewis is available to speak to groups. Contact Sherri about speaking at your organization or event!


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Interviews With Sherri:

Former Pop Star Sherri Lewis Talks About Living With HIV (October 2009)

This Month in HIV: Tips and Tricks for Coping With HIV/AIDS (November/
December 2007)

Washington Post Profiles HIV/AIDS Advocate, Singer Sherri Lewis (December 23, 2008)


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The opinions expressed by TheBody.com's bloggers are entirely their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of TheBody.com itself.

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