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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

This Is for Me!

By Rae Lewis-Thornton

March 30, 2011

Me after speaking; picture in <i>Washington Post</i> newspaper.

Me after speaking; picture in Washington Post newspaper.

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

I have never really asked for much. I have been a one woman show in these 19 years that I've been speaking. No big pharmaceutical contracts, no sponsors, just me on the grind.

Honestly, I never ask because my pride for the most part always gets in the way. Some days I think, who the hell do I think I am asking people for anything. Even after I watched Les Brown one evening explain why people needed to have each of his books and then watched people stand in line to buy it, I couldn't get my nerve up to ask. Some speakers even ask for things like first class tickets and double my speakers fee, but I could never ask for such an expense. I want the message to be heard, but yet I do have to live.

But more than my pride, I have always underestimated my ministry and impact on the lives of others. My ex-husband used to taunt me when he was angry and tell me that I was "married to my ministry, not him." I would just shrug him off because I understood that was his shit, his insecurity. Looking back, I'm glad I didn't let him influence my work ethic or my purpose. I just Kept It Moving no matter how his passive/aggressive personality tried to derail my work.

My good friend Luke tells me all the time that I just don't understand how life changing my work is. There's a part of me that is happy that I don't. Grateful that I have been able to remain humble on this journey. And don't get my Type A personality confused. It's the thing that fuels my work, but not my purpose. Shoot, you gotta have a Type A personality to talk about half the stuff I talk about, otherwise you would get crushed. For Real ... For Real ...

Speaking at Rainbow/PUSH national headquarters.

Speaking at Rainbow/PUSH national headquarters.

But I must admit, it's starting to sorta sink in. The emails and private messages I get on Twitter and Facebook speak volumes and are a testament to my work. I'm always so overwhelmed when people reach out to me and share the impact of something I have either written or said that inspire them to be better and do better. I'm humbled that God took my mess and made it a ministry.

But most important, I am living in my purpose! Many people live a lifetime and never even know their purpose. And others who know their purpose are paralyzed by failure and fear. My boldness to walk in my purpose is a legacy I am proud to leave.

With all of this said ... this one is for me! My next Diva AIDS Awareness Bracelet is for me! To honor my life and my work around HIV/AIDS. I have lived with HIV for 28 years and AIDS for 19. I have lived over half of my life with HIV. I have been speaking for 18 years; And in these years I have created a rich legacy. The first Black woman to tell my story of living with AIDS on a cover of a national magazine -- Essence, December 1994.

Essence magazine cover.

I received an Emmy Award in Outstanding Feature Series in Hard News for my first-person news reports on my life, Living With AIDS. I have crisscrossed this country telling my story with the prayer that it will help to change a life. Challenging stereotypes and myths around HIV/AIDS. To be a voice for the voiceless. And in the last year, I have done some groundbreaking work, using social media as a vehicle to educate around HIV/AIDS.

So here's to me and my work! Last year I honored Hydeia Broadbent with the Hydeia Bracelet for RLT Collection. I underwrote the cost and shipping of the bracelet and still gave her half of the actual price of the bracelet. I did it from my heart. Thanks to everyone who purchased the Hydeia Bracelet.

This new Diva AIDS Awareness Bracelet for RLT Collection is a special fundraiser for me. I am making 100 teamRae Bracelets. On May 22nd I will be 49 years old. My life is a miracle. By medical standards, I should have died 16 years ago. And make no mistake, at one point I was sick enough that I should have died. But God's plan was bigger then AIDS could ever be!!

The teamRae Bracelet is a celebration of my life and my work around HIV/AIDS. The cost is $49.00, one dollar for each year of life that God has blessed me with.

I am asking 100 people to purchase the teamRae Bracelet to support me and my work in a practical way. My goal is to sell all 100 teamRae Bracelets by my birthday on May 22nd. It's a lofty goal, but I believe that there are 100 people who will sow into my life and work in the next 54 days.

teamRae Bracelet!

teamRae Bracelet!

I am even asking my personal friends to buy this bracelet and proudly wear it to show their support for the work that I do! And wear this bracelet to challenge stigma and shame around HIV/AIDS. Yes, this is a fundraiser. And yes, there are many people who support me in many different ways. This bracelet, however, is a public expression of your support for me and my work and at the same time a practical way to support my work.

I am planning to make a collage of everyone wearing the #teamRae Bracelet. The collage will then be turn into my 2011 Christmas Card. Im excited!! I can't wait for you to post your picture wearing the teamRae Bracelet on my Facebook page or Tweet it to me so I can Retweet. Thanks Lovely's for all your support, #IcannotdoitAlone. I hope to see your picture in the collage! *smiling*

Post Script: Everyone knows that I love black. The #teamRae Bracelet is designed with 8 mm black onyx round smooth gemstones and a 12 mm round onyx center stone with rhinestones down the middle. The back of the bracelet has an 8 mm red rhinestone bead for AIDS awareness. This is the perfect bracelet. It has just enough bling. And it can be dressed up or down and worn with other RLT Collection stackable bracelets.

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See Also
More Personal Accounts of Women With HIV/AIDS

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Rae Lewis-Thornton Speaks

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 about Rae's social media activities.

Follow Rae on Twitter

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Visit Rae's Web site, Diva Living With AIDS

Learn about RLT Collection, Rae's line of AIDS awareness/fashion bracelets

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Speaking engagements: Inquire about booking Rae to speak at your organization or event!

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