It’s the Only Scholarship for HIV Positive Scholars, with Less Than 30 Days To Apply

The HIV League, a New York-based nonprofit is currently accepting applications for the 2019 HIV League Scholarship, which will award up to $7,000 to a handful of deserving post-secondary part-time and full-time scholars living with HIV. The deadline to the submit is January 31.

The scholarship initiative appears to have been around for at least two years and has awarded scholarships to six fortunate individuals out of over 720 applicants since 2017, including people as young as 17-years-old and as old as 64-years-old. It is also reported that the applicant pool represents a diverse group in terms of racial, ethnic, gender and sexual identity. Nicole Begay, a 2017 HIV League Scholar writes:

I am so proud to be doing what I do and pursuing my dream of becoming a designer. It has been a struggle throughout these past four years of high school, but I have learned how to stick with what I love no matter what people say and to be determined, motivated, and persevere through anything. I believe that anyone can do anything as long as they put their best efforts forward and never give up. No one can stop me from pursuing my dream except for myself.  –hivleague.org

According to the statistics backed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services along with Secretary’s Minority AID Fund, it was approximated that in 2016 over 39,000 Americans had been newly affected with human immunodeficiency virus, otherwise known as HIV. Roughly half of young adults age 13-24 with the diagnoses were unaware that they had been infected.

The HIV League was founded in 2015 by Daniel Szymczyk, a 2014 graduate of Appalachian State University. Daniel is also a youth counselor who is heavily involved in a number of capacities in servicing the LGBTQ+ community and people living with HIV.

A few important things to note include the fact that the HIV League Scholarship is reportedly the only scholarship initiative of its kind and scholarship recipients are given the option to decline public recognition.

For more information on the HIV League Scholarship, visit http://www.hivleague.org/scholarship/.

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downloadJiell Richardson is a web designer/developer, fat yogi padawan, and blogger based in Washington, DC, USA.

Shameless Plugging!!! (1st Edition)

I interrupt everyone’s regularly scheduled weekend plans to ask for your support for a dear, dear friend.

Fellow UNC Asheville alumnus, Yaw, is set to attend the Queer Youth Leading in The South (QYLTS) Action Camp , and it looks like he needs our help.

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Surround yourself with people who don’t themselves TOO seriously.

Yaw and I met when he was a freshman in college. He went from being a mentee, to being my best friend, to being one of my biggest role models (seriously, this guy is the coolest). Since being out since 2013, he has educated and dedicated himself to social justice work and simply couldn’t contain himself when he told me about his invitation to QYLTS Action Camp.I am truly proud of the man he has become (and still coming to terms with him being much cooler than me). This summer is only the beginning of a long list of great things to come from my good friend.

I ask that you please help my friend make this opportunity a reality. He is accepting donations here.

roh wishes you the best, Yaw!

 

Yaw’s campaign https://www.gofundme.com/2axqung
Information about QYLTS Action Camp http://qyltscamp.org/
A great article written by Yaw https://76crimes.com/2016/02/05/akwaaba-welcome-says-ghana-but-not-if-youre-gay/

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downloadJiell Richardson is a web designer/developer, fat yogi padawan, and blogger based in Washington, DC, USA.

HIV And The Case For Men In The Closet

I’ve come across two major thought camps of homophobes, with one being, not surprisingly, anti-everything-that-isn’t-heterosexual-and-or-heteronormative. I wont’t waste time on a multidemensional explanation for such a shallow group of people. The second group, however, manages to be only slightly more interesting, in that they are homophobic at the core, but they’ve somehow designated themselves as diplomats. This group may consist of the people you will hear saying, ” If you’re gay, just be gay! It’s these men on the down low who are causing problems.” More on my issues with this in a minute…

Homophobia in the black community is a deep dark rabbit hole of opinions and miseducation, but for now, I’d like to focus on the subject of closeted gay men in relation to the subject of HIV/AIDS. People of all levels of anti-gayness  will often use the spread of HIV as a justification for their ostracism. But mainstream and even “black” media does an excellent job of demonizing closeted queer men in addition to misrepresenting LGBTQ people (including not respresenting them at all). With total disregard to how openly gay men of color are judged and mistreated in society (and even within the gay community) and no consideration for how still very uneducated even the most educated of black people are on social issues that aren’t viewed as a “black issue”, people are still baffled at the idea that a man would go so far as to marry a woman to cover up his homosexual inclinations. It’s 2016 and people still practice skin bleaching! But I digress…

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently reported that half of all black African-American men will be diagnosed with HIV. I appreciate objective material that presents fact and encourages people to use the information to work toward more education and positive change. But I’m a pessimist (yes, I know..sorry). I am not convinced that the people sharing articles about 50% of gay black men having HIV care about the health status of the gay community. Assuming that folk actually read past the shock jock-y headline, these types of articles will likely be shared to say, “Hey! See? These gay people are at it again.”

Just as poverty in the black community isn’t as simple as “black people are lazy”, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the gay community isn’t just “DL brothers” effing things up.

(Cheating on your spouse or partner ain’t cool no matter who is doing it, but that is a matter of character, not sexual identity.)

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downloadJiell Richardson is a web designer/developer, fat yogi padawan, and blogger based in Washington, DC, USA.