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.
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.
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.
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.