This year I had the pleasure of having my POZ I AM Radio co-host Jeromy Dunn join me on stage. Can you believe that Jeromy and I have been hosting the show together for almost 4 years and never met face to face before this conference. So after registration and getting settled in my room I was off to meet my co-host for the first time. I went down to the lobby bar and had beer while I was waiting to meet Mr. Dunn. Then Jeromy entered the lobby. I excused myself from the conversation I was having and ran up behind him and gave him a hug. When he turned around it was like seeing an old friend from high school. It felt like I knew my whole life. After 4 years of talking on the phone almost every Sunday meeting Jeromy alone made the trip to the sunshine state worth it.
Fridays Brunch was at 10am. Then it was time for Activate U Advocacy Academy presented by Jesse Fry, Butch McKay and Rick Vitale. This is one of my favorites parts about the conference. The half-day event presented us with the latest information and techniques for effective advocacy to help shape the future of HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention. They taught us about the history and continued importance of HIV/AIDS Advocacy. They covered how to build meaningful relationships with your representatives. They also gave updates on important issues like the AIDS Drug Assistant Programs.(ADAP) Medicaid and Housing. This will kick start the advocacy in anyone. After Activate U we had the opportunity hear Kali Lindsey on NMAC covered the Epidemic from start to finish.I thought Kali was a great speaker. He made me make a promise to myself to never be silent in a room full of activist.
|Photo Credit Mario Ferri|
While on the beach I had some young ladies who were attending the conference
with their mother take this photo of me.
Harmonic Distractions sang some songs and even performed a few numbers using iPads as instruments. It was pretty cool. During their act I noticed they had 2 huge blow up microphones. When I saw them I knew I wanted to take a photo of Jeromy and I with one of them. During the dinner they also presented the Martin Delaney - Power of One - annual award to Mississippi Activist Robin Webb for his tireless efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Congrats Robin it is well deserved. Also during the dinner they announced that Tom Liberti is retiring this March, after 38 years of service to the Department of Health, and is Chief of the Bureau of HIV/AIDS. In this celebration they awarded him a fishing pole,hat and cooler to enjoy during his retirement. Thank you Tom for all your hard work you done over the years.
Saturday morning 8am came early. I got up had some breakfast and attended a session on Harm Reduction & Drug Interaction (HIV Drugs & Street Drugs) that was given by George Burges. I purposely went to this breakout because as an addict ,even with 10 years clean from meth, I need to remind myself how bad it was so I never go back. The breakout hit the spot.
Then it was off to find Jeromy to prepare for our presentation that was at 1pm. We brainstormed for a bit then headed down for lunch. Before we knew it we had to go back upstairs. Of course we went up to every table and shamelessly plugged our presentation that was in 30 minutes. Once we reached the last table we headed to the room to set up. This was the first time Jeromy and I were speaking together so it could of went 2 ways. Really good or really bad. Overall we got some great feedback form those who attended our session. We will of-course reflect and critique but I thought we did pretty good for first timers. What I love about presenting at the Positive Living Conference is getting to meet POZ-I-AMers. People who I chat with everyday and who listen to my radio show every week. Meeting all of them is what makes my heart smile. The 1 on 1 conversations with them are priceless. We even got a POZ-I-AMers group photo which is always fun.
|Photo Credit JT Talley|
River Huston. River is an HIV+ Comedian, Blogger and Safer Sex Educator. I spoke to her on my radio show before but never met her face to face. I was thrilled about the opportunity. Before she started I introduced myself and had a pic taken with her. Once she got on stage and opened her mouth she had us all captivated. She literally had everyone on the edge of their seats and laughing so hard that we were crying. I don't remember if I ever laughed that hard before in my life. I laughed myself a headache. My T-cells must of multiplied within those 90 minutes. She was just what the doctor ordered.