Updated: May 8, 2022
Taking 3 days in silence to acknowledge World AIDS Day remembrance.
Often I hashtag #layingBRICKS when it was a time I was volunteering laying blankets while ACTIVE DUTY, stationed at Bethesda Medical Center now Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
During the times of “don’t ask, don’t tell” myself and many others were not able to take a stand in this country with anything involving the gay culture or LGBTQ rights of activism without scrutiny or fear of a dishonorable discharge.
While on active duty, I not only volunteered countless hours on my off time making the AIDS walk happen, but started the first AIDS Walk team at Walter Reed Medical Center to spread awareness on a military installation that just so happened to be the president's official hospital.
Unfortunately during that time, I made a lot of people upset on that particular base, with my stand to walk in the AIDS WALK in DC in full uniform. What many didn’t know, was my very first real FRIEND was gay and had recently died that same year, all of what I was doing came from a place of healing and closure. My intentions were in alignment as a result of his death.
This entire experience which appeared as being strong and resilient. Also taught me that I am human, I love hard. However when I’m passionate about what I believe in, it usually comes with taking a risk.
Sharing my story and “history” with one of my Onyx brothers (Papa Onyx) gave me the strength and courage to actually post this.
Thank you 🙏🏾 for taking the opportunity to allow me reflect. Thank you 🙏🏾 for being a Leather Brother who is willing to really take time out to listen and understand those around you.
Through our conversation I realize a deeper part of who I am.
I am always going to be the one to take a chance that others are not willing to take .
I am always the one willing to risk it ALL to help others.
I have and always will be willing to be of service to others, even if they don’t always understand my true intentions, because at the end of the day it’s more about what I did than what I didn’t do!
As I look at this picture, I remember how hard, and painful it was to leave a quilt I spent so much time and energy on creating for my best friend/brother on the ground for the world to view.
Then I reflect on the times I heard people saying negative and oppressing things about AIDS and the people who were infected or affected by this disease.
I still remember how hurtful it was to see and hear the hate stories from other quilt makers being angry about people who had taking time out of their lives to actually spit on some quilts laying there harmlessly. I remember thinking and wondering to myself, “How could people have nothing productive to do but, deliberately bring harm and shame to someone’s work of honor, all due to the lack of respect due to their own fears and insecurities.
As time moves on to the future, I still keep our community in prayer for healing within our community.
Master Eli Ra