World AIDS Day, 2022!

The Red Ribbon symbolizes World AIDS Day and HIV/AIDS awareness!

Proudly show that you are aware and that you care. Wear your red ribbon!

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Basic Facts About HIV/AIDS:

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

AIDS is a result of being infected with HIV.

HIV is not spread through everyday, casual contact.

A physician is needed to diagnose AIDS.

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Red ribbon = HIV/AIDS awareness and concern!

“It’s not who we are, but rather what we do that determines the risk factor of HIV infection.” ~ Red Cross HIV/AIDS prevention education ~

Follow protocols for reducing HIV infections:

Do not share needles, syringes or drug use tools.

Avoid contact with body fluids.

Treat everyone with care and respect.

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Since the first World AIDS Day observance on December 1, 1988. The date was first conceived in August, 1987, by James Bunn and Thomas Netter, two public information officers for the Global Programme on AIDS at the World Health Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland.

Each year, Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis have released messages for both patients and health care providers on World AIDS Day. They have also publicly offered prayers for a world living with HIV.

In the USA, the White House (presidential home) began observing World AIDS Day under the administration of President Clinton and the iconic display of a 28-foot massive Red AIDS Awareness Ribbon on the North Portico of the building. It was the first banner to prominently hang from the White House since the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.

Get tested! Know your HIV status!
Remember: a latex condom every time!

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A Red Ribbon on World AIDS Day!

Public Testimonial

by Rohan, the Nubian-Ikigai

It was in the late autumn of 1978 that I came into this world. My mom would always tell me that I was an overdue birth; as it I didn’t want to leave the womb. I see it like being cuddled up in bed. Who’d want to leave such a comfy spot? To this very day, that has still remained my all-time favourite activity.

So being born in 1978 meant that I grew up in the 80’s. Wow! What a decade! Madonna, Punk fashions, Hurricane Gilbert and skyrocketing food prices – if you’re Jamaican – and…AIDS!

Being an island didn’t mean that we were isolated from world issues, especially when your island is renowned for its culture, its beaches, its sunshine and sex. I saw all the AIDS prevention ads on TV: “AIDS kills,” “stick to one steady partner,” “use a condom,” and “you can’t tell by looking.” I grew up scared! I grew up being scared of actually growing up!

Throughout high school, we teens would laugh about stuff pertaining to sex and sexuality, there was little or no sex education in school and what we learned came from porn, the dancehall music or the local pastor. The radio broadcast the death of Freddie Mercury. I remember that so well because I was wearing a Queen t-shirt at that very moment! I heard of Arthur Ashe; in school we talked and laughed about the death of Rock Hudson – I didn’t know who he was at that time. But the dearest tragedy for me was when I learned that Olympic diver Greg Louganis was diagnosed HIV+. I was personally touched because I knew who he was. He was my hero, a gay Olympic champion! And, of course, during the 80’s and 90’s, they constantly reminded us of the growing numbers of new cases.

Greg Louganis, Olympic gold medal winner!

So as I fast forward a bit to young adult, HIV/AIDS was less and less stranger. It was now a reality. It had faces! And faces that I knew!

I made friends with people working in the local AIDS support association and the church I attended did volunteering and outreach. Being scared didn’t shield me from the harsh realities of my life. I wasn’t going to be spared. AIDS was not going to have pity. Not on this little island boy. No sir!… Familiar faces kept vanishing, boys I fell in love with kept getting sick: Julian, Everton, Fred, Frank. A church member was dying. I saw their faces. I saw their bodies lying on the hospital beds. I saw them agonizing. I saw them dying…I loved them. I loved them as hard as I could. I held them in my heart; it’s all I could have done.

There was only love, that’s what they needed, not pity or shame, but Love. I understood that. I had that gift.

Allisson was my elder. She and I were friends, we weren’t that close. She was the first child my dad got from his first relationship, so, we were as close as two half-siblings who were ten years apart could be. She had her life and her family: boyfriend, son and daughter. I checked in with her as often as I could. I still thank God for that last moment I spent with her. It was in the local store where she worked. Allisson was standing there behind the counter. She looked so thin, so pale, so not all together there. Nothing could have prepared me for that grim phone call I’d received a few years later…AIDS took my beloved sister.

Princess Diana: first person of prominence to casually greet a person living with AIDS.

To be honest I did my best to play it safe, but I also took my fair share of risks. I even slept with the enemy. Why I didn’t remember all those faces, all those bodies I saw, covered in sores, laying on those hospital beds? Why didn’t I remember the agony? I should have ran! But I didn’t…I wanted cuddles instead. It only takes one encounter. I slept with this guy twice in the Summer of 2005 I was diagnosed in the Fall of that very same year. Painful urine and a creamy white substance leaking from my penis made me go to the doctor real quick.

I was alone when I went to the doctor’s, I was alone when the doctor broke the news, I was alone when I went to the hospital to have his diagnosis confirmed. I was alone to face the stark reality that I was not going to be living a normal life. Oddly though, the news that I was HIV positive wasn’t as earth shattering. It didn’t have that devastating effect as I had imagined. I didn’t scream, or cry, or ask God why? Maybe it’s my way of dealing with trauma: in silence.

My explanation is that, growing up gay prepared me for days like these. If I could handle growing up gay in a homophobic society such as mine, anything else would be a piece of cake. I kind of figured that, somehow it’s kind of logical, sad way to think. I agree it’s a bit fatalistic: being gay isn’t a death sentence! But for me it was. So I imagine I was accepting my fate. My mom was right. A gay life is one of damnation and hellfire. And this was exactly what I deserved.

Since then, I’ve celebrated seventeen birthdays, visited six countries and changed two jobs. I have met my beautiful niece who is also living with the disease as she was contaminated at birth and I am currently in a stable long-term relationship. I am disciplined regarding my meds and my combat still rages more than ever. I can’t say that I have had to face discrimination regarding AIDS as not that many people know. I do my best to stay healthy, “Sound Mind, Sound Body.” I workout regularly and I combat negativity. I have grown to love myself, understand and own who I am and cultivate self-worth. I was young but now I am mature, I have seen my friends fallen by the wayside but I am still here. I had to learn gratitude.

Living with HIV is a daily reminder that I need to turn fear and trauma into triumph. I have had a new beginning, renewed hope. A fighting chance. I have to believe, not only in myself but in whatever higher power there may be. I need to believe that somewhere out there and also within, there is a greater power…love! Doesn’t love conquer all?

Rohan, the Nubian-Ikigai, our guest author!

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I am very appreciative of Rohan, the Nubian-Ikigai for sharing his personal testimonial with all of us here on ReNude Pride on the occasion of World AIDS Day, 2022. His courage and honesty is a remarkable and significant accomplishment that indeed reflects his dedication to dispelling myths and misinformation about being same gender loving (gay) as well as about living with HIV. He is a commendable guest author and I sincerely invite him to contribute whenever possible!

Naked hugs!

Roger Poladopoulos/ReNude Pride

Author’s Note: The next post entry for here is planned for tomorrow, Friday, December 2, 2022, and the proposed topic is: “Seasonal Signs!”

Unfurled Above Us!

Flying bold and bravely!

The headline photograph is the current Progress version of the GLBTQ+ pride flag that represents our community and our culture. Despite our novelty among the numerous movements in the civil rights world, we do have a history of different banners and what they symbolize waving above us. This “first Friday” of the 2022 GLBTQ+ History Month will examine and share images of these and briefly offer a story of the respective flag.

The Pink Triangle Flag:

The Pink Triangle flag!

The downward-pointing pink triangle was used by Nazi Germany as a badge of shame. It was sewn onto the shirts of homosexual (gay) men in concentration camps to identify and dehumanize them.

Homosexuality was made illegal in Germany in 1871, but it was rarely enforced. When the Nazi Party assumed control in 1933, it was made a priority in order to culturally and racially “purify” Germany. The Nazis arrested tens of thousands of GLBTQ+ individuals, the majority whom were homosexual men, whom they viewed as degenerate.

The early 1970s was when the gay rights movement began to emerge worldwide (after the 1969 Stonewall Inn riots) and various organizations reclaimed the pink triangle as an empowering symbol. It also serves as a reminder to remember the past – and to recognize the persecution GLBTQ+ people continue to suffer around the world.

The Lambda Flag:

Greek letter Lambda flag!

The Greek letter, lambda, was first chosen as a gay symbol when, in 1970, for the first anniversary of the Stonewall Inn Riots (SIR), it was adopted by New York City’s local chapter of Gay Activist Alliance as the emblem of their growing movement of gay liberation. Some identified the Greek letter with the representation of the word “liberation.”

In 1974, lambda was subsequently adopted by the International Gay Rights Congress meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, as their official symbol designating gay, bisexual and lesbian civil rights. Following this selection, lambda became internationally popular and recognized as representing the growing movement for civil rights for all people, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.

Lambda was first designated in December, 1969, as representative of the new gay liberation movement by the graphic artist and one of the Gay Activist Alliance’s founding members, Tom Doerr. Doerr chose the letter because in chemistry it was a sign for catalyst. Others argue that lambda denoted the synergy of the growing gay movement: the idea of the whole being greater than the sum of all its parts.

Some view the lambda as being synonymous with males exclusively.

The Rainbow Flag:

The Rainbow flag!

First publicly raised on June 25, 1978, in San Francisco, California, USA, the flag flew over the United Nations Plaza in honour of then-gay pride at the 1978 San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade. The original flag consisted of eight coloured stripes and was designed by Gilbert Baker and hand-stitched and dyed with the help of friends and volunteers Lynn Segerblom, James McNamara, Glenne McElhinney, Joe Duran, and Paul Langlotz.

The eight-stripe original rainbow flag was soon revised to six stripes with pink (symbolizing “sex”) and turquoise (symbolizing “art and magic”) eliminated as the colours and dyes were unavailable in flag fabric. Baker conceived the flag would empower his “tribe” and a “rainbow of humanity” motif would represent the movement’s diversity.

The six stripes and what the colours represent:

Rainbow flag and symbolic colours!

The six stripes on the revised rainbow flag symbolize values held dear and not the various people comprising the community and culture.

The Progress Pride Flag:

The Progress Pride flag!

The Progress Pride flag was developed by non-binary artist and designer Daniel Quasar in 2018. Based on Gilbert Baker’s 1978 Rainbow flag, Quasar’s redesign celebrates the diversity of the GLBTQ+ community and culture worldwide and encourages a more inclusive general society. The redesigned banner has increased the representation of discriminated minority identities covered by the GLBTQ+ umbrella.

Quasar’s creation placed black and brown stripes (emblems representing peoples of colour) and light blue, pink and white stripes (representing transgender, non-binary and intersex persons) in the shape of an arrow on the left of the Progress Pride flag. In Daniel Quasar’s words “…the arrow points to the right to show forward movement and illustrates that progress towards inclusivity still needs to be made.”

The black stripe has a double meaning as it is also intended for “those living with HIV/AIDS and the stigma and prejudice surrounding them and those who have died from the disease.”

Progress Pride body painted design!

The Progress Pride flag has been immediately an international success. On the evening of June 6, 2018, Quasar posted the design on social media and woke up the next morning to find that it had gone viral. It has been enthusiastically received by the GLBTQ+ community and culture all around the globe!

Naked hugs!

Roger Poladopoulos/ReNude Pride

Author’s Note: The next post entry here is planned for Monday, October 10, 2022, and the proposed topic is: “Coming Out Day!”

National HIV Testing Day!

Red ribbon = HIV/AIDS awareness!

The red ribbon adorning our bare practitioner in the photograph above represents or symbolizes HIV/AIDS awareness (knowledge). It is featured here as a serious reminder that HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Despite advances in medication, there exists no cure for HIV infection; however, with proper care HIV is now manageable disease with medical supervision.

Undiagnosed, HIV remains a serious health threat. That is the reason this day is important for all of us. In order to receive life-saving treatment, we must know our HIV status. Testing provides us the power to seek treatment and take the process that allows us to manage our lives.

Gain control over your life!

HIV/AIDS Basic Facts

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

AIDS is a result of HIV infection.

HIV is not spread through everyday casual contact.

Only a doctor can diagnose AIDS.

The coronavirus COVID-19 and variants have overtaken health news reports recently but HIV/AIDS remains a major and, if undiagnosed, often fatal infection. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises more than 630,000 AIDS-related deaths for 2020. Testing gives us the opportunity to reestablish and to regain direction in our lives through counseling, education, medication and treatment.

Take the test.

Know your HIV status.

Control your life.

Testing is knowledge and knowledge is power!

Even now, a significant number of persons living with HIV have no idea that they are even infected. This not only deteriorates their own health but also the health of others they hold dear. Knowledge of one’s HIV status and regular testing keeps all of us healthy and safe!

Become involved in the efforts to remain healthy. Get tested and know your status. Encourage your family and friends to get tested so they can protect themselves and others. Encourage them to get involved in HIV/AIDS prevention education efforts within their own communities. It has been a long, slow process, but we are finally seeing progress in prevention efforts!

During the many years that I was a volunteer HIV/AIDS prevention education instructor to the American Red Cross, I was always amazed at the number of certification candidates who revealed they had never been tested for HIV. I truly believed then – as well a now – that a test should have been a prerequisite for enrolling to seek certification.

Don’t be a transmitter! Protect yourself and others! Take the test!

Naked hugs!

Roger Poladopoulos/ReNude Pride

Author’s Note: The next post entry for here is planned for tomorrow, June 28, 2022, and the proposed topic is: “SIR: 1969!”

Pride Time!

Paul: halfway to destiny!

Paul is the older brother of Aaron – my spouse. Paul is also a practicing Roman Catholic and was born almost three years before Aaron. While an early adolescent, my Aaron was exploring both his nudity and his sexuality, Paul continued to adhere to the dogma endorsed and taught by his church.

By the time that Aaron reached his fifteenth birthday, he had already accepted and announced to his family and close friends that he was gay. Just prior to his high school (secondary) graduation, he disclosed his preference for social nudity. Paul remained comfortable and compliant in his religious exercise.

Relaxation!

When marriage equality became legal in the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2014, Paul had already “come-out” as bisexual to Aaron and I. Once that was accomplished, he gradually began attending clothing optional gatherings with us. Just prior to our actual marriage (August 15, 2015), Paul acknowledged his comfort with his public nakedness (social nudity) and amended his sexuality status to exclusively same gender loving.

For the past several years, Paul has lived with the same partner, named Sudhir. Together, they’ve created a very informal bare practitioner community near where they live in the western part of this state. Now that the coronavirus COVID-19 seems to be in recession, they’re planning their first potluck pride picnic on land owned by an acquaintance they share.

Skinny-dipping!

Aaron and I are leaving Arlington tomorrow and going to visit them and be with them as they host this Pride social event. The owner has a small lake on the property so, weather permitting, we can all skinny-dip and picnic while we socialize together. It should be a summer fun-time (hopefully) for us all!

Please refer to the author’s note below for the next publication date here!

Take care and stay bare!

Roger Poladopoulos/ReNude Pride

Author’s Note: The next post entry here is planned for Monday, June 27, 2022, and the proposed topic is: “National HIV Testing Day!”

Our Paths Crossed…

Rodney Lamont Lofton

A Tribute to Rodney Lofton

September 9, 1968 – March 14, 2022

The date was Wednesday, March 16, of this year. At university, a colleague brought in a newspaper from where I lived with my, the city of Richmond, Virginia. He entered my office without knocking and opened the paper and laid it across my desk. I turned from my computer screen and glanced at where he pointed with his finger. A memorial obituary for an acquaintance of mine – Rodney Lofton. He had died from complications with lung cancer on Monday, March 14, in Phoenix, Arizona.

He was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in November, 2021. He was pronounced with HIV in 1993. A Richmond, Virginia, native, he returned to the city of his birth after living in New York City for several years. It was while living in New York City that he learned of his HIV status. He immediately became active in HIV+ awareness, education and services not only in Richmond but in Washington, D.C., as well.

Rodney worked to revive and then became a member of the City of Richmond Human Rights Commission. He served two terms in that position.

Rodney served on various boards and commissions nationally and throughout the states. His service in the City of Richmond, Virginia, and for the Commonwealth of Virginia (the focus here for this post), was both beneficial and profound. He was the very first African-American to serve as a senior staff person at the community GLBTQ+ advocacy group, Diversity Richmond. In this capacity he was vice-president and then deputy director. He was instrumental in opening doors previously closed to persons of colour in the former capital city of the old Confederate States.

In his time, he created the Black and Bold Awards to honour the contributions that Black GLBTQ+ persons made to the City of Richmond and to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Later, he created a similar award programme for the Latino community.

Rodney Lofton posing beside his portrait at Diversity Richmond!

In 2015, Rodney was the recipient of the OUTStanding Virginia award presented by Equality Virginia to a person who dutifully positively represented the community in the public eye.

Among his numerous volunteer efforts, he also actively participated in the Red Cross HIV/AIDS prevention education programmes. I will deliver more on this topic in the second part of today’s post here.

Rodney Lofton was the author of two books. The first book entitled The Day I Stopped Being Pretty: A Memoir was published on October 16, 2007. This memoir chronicles his life journey from childhood to adulthood in honest and riveting detail. He relates his bad times, good times and all the moments in between. He bares his soul and affords us the perspective of a gay Black male recognizing his uniqueness in the unfolding world of the “New South.”

Rodney Lofton’s first book.

His second novel was published two years later on June 30, 2009. His second book entitled No More Tomorrows: Two Lives, Two Stories, One Love. Lofton’s second book is a novel relaying the bromance and drama of two contemporary same gender loving men and their relationship. Both titles were nominated the year of publication for a Lambda Literary Award.

Rodney Lofton’s second book!

The current City of Richmond City Council unanimously passed a Statement of Tribute in early March, 2022. It was signed by Mayor Stoney and delivered to Rodney in Phoenix, Arizona, shortly before he died. In the statement, City Council noted: “Rodney served for many years as a local and national GLBTQ+ leader and compassionate voice.”

Rodney Lamont Lofton is survived by his husband, Faron Niles.

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A Personal Thought on Rodney Lofton:

As teenagers, my identical twin brother, Alex, and myself – once we understood our same gender attraction – would frequently visit the riverside park in our city, especially the “gay beach” area where we could “hang out” with our own kind. Twin and I liked the fact that we could be clothes free here while on summer vacation from our residential Deaf school. This was where we met Rodney. He and Twin became friends while Rodney and I remained acquaintances – we’d pass notes while together but that was the limit of our relationship.

Fast forward to the middle 1990’s. Due to the HIV/AIDS crisis, I became a very active volunteer in prevention education with my local chapter of the Red Cross. I worked primarily with teenagers and young adults in outreach efforts to raise knowledge and understanding among their peers. As a Deaf instructor-trainer in the Red Cross HIV/AIDS curriculum, I was frequently sought by the national organization and the various local chapters for advice and service.

I served as a co-chairman on the programme to create, develop and implement a focused curriculum for teens in HIV prevention strategies and techniques. This two-year project culminated with a four-day training conference involving 150 teenage training candidates and the project developers/educators. The name determined for the project was Teen Voice. This provided me the opportunity to renew my acquaintance with Rodney Lofton.

For the duration of the educational sessions, Rodney and I were room-mates at the facility used for the training. At nights after our sessions, we passed notes while naked in our shared room and smoking our cigarettes, expelling the smoke through our open window. Because of our note exchange, we kept the room lights on. At the reception at the end of our programme, one of our co-instructors commented privately that he enjoyed watching the two of us smoking nude in our room at night! We both shared laughter at our “exposure” at the Red Cross Teen Voice conference!

Over the nights and notes, we developed a casual friendship and an understanding of our roles within the Red Cross HIV/AIDS project. We also recalled days at the riverside park in Richmond hanging out nude and skinny-dipping in the river.

The Memorial Service

Memorial Service announcement!

I attended the above memorial service for Rodney. Twin wanted to attend but had a professional commitment that he needed to participate. There was no interpreter present so all I could do was observe the mourners present. It did me good to be there and offer my sentiments internally.

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A shared past and our shared nudity!

Rest in peace, Rodney Lofton!

Naked hugs!

Roger Poladopoulos/ReNude Pride

Author’s Note: The next planned post entry here is for Monday, April 18, 2022, and the proposed topic is: “April Appeal: Nakations!”

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, 2020

In the USA, as well as several other countries, today is designated National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This is the event that empowers the African-American community to accept a major role in the prevention and treatment of HIV within not only its own community but throughout the world as well. The devastating impact of HIV on the communities of color here in the USA emphasized the need for definitive community action!

Continue reading National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, 2020

Prevention Pill for HIV

Having spent last week’s USA Thanksgiving holiday with Aaron, my spouses’ family, I was strongly urged by his older brother, David, to write an informative posting on the “prevention pill for HIV.” I encouraged David to create a draft for this entry here today which he diligently undertook. This posting on ReNude Pride is a product of our joint collaboration and in advance I express my appreciation to David Peterson for all of his assistance.

Continue reading Prevention Pill for HIV

World AIDS Day, 2019

Today, Sunday, December 1, 2019, is World AIDS Day all across our globe. It is the day when it is appropriate for all of us to wear a red ribbon – if a bare practitioner (naturist or nudist) such as my spouse, Aaron, and myself, paint a red ribbon – and proudly display to everyone you encounter that you recognize the importance and significance of the date. The quality of life living with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) has improved but we do not have a cure – yet!

Continue reading World AIDS Day, 2019

USA: National HIV Testing Day!

Today, here in the USA, is National HIV Testing Day. On this date, the public is encouraged to take advantage of the numerous opportunities, nationwide, to take a few moments and to be tested for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Many health departments, local pharmacies and other health-care institutions are offering free HIV tests to any and all. Many people are volunteering (myself included) to work so that our organizations can offer testing to as many as possible with a minimum wait for results!

Continue reading USA: National HIV Testing Day!

February 7: National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Author’s Note: This posting is offered in anticipation of February 7, and National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. It is published beforehand to allow readers to explore developments and opportunities for involvement prior to the actual date. 

In the USA and several nations in the Caribbean, February 7, annually, is observed as National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a day for the communities of African descent to focus on the disproportionate (unequal) impact the current HIV/AIDS crisis is having on the various communities of African and Black heritage. This date is observed to bring the different communities and institutions together to explore ways to combat HIV infections and to replace ignorance with facts and knowledge.

Continue reading February 7: National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day