My name is Noquisi. I"m 22, Cherokee. I live in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I"m HIV positive. I"m an artist and a model. I paint, I do pottery. I"ve recently started to work with an artist supported by the Tulsa Artist Fellowship, which is a foundation that supports artists to live and work in Tulsa.
I"m really open about my HIV status, because I want to show that if a 22 year-old can be out, anyone can be. I"m trying to change stigma around HIV. Being open about it creates less stigma than being hush hush about it. I don"t want anyone to feel that being HIV positive makes you a dirty individual or even means something"s wrong with you. I"m trying to show the Native community in Oklahoma, and everyone in Oklahoma, that it"s not a thing to be ashamed of.
HIV is here in our communities. It"s not something that only happens in faraway cities. Here in Oklahoma, people don"t talk about being gay or HIV-positive, but I feel like it should be talked about more. In New York, I heard, they have billboards telling people to get on PrEP and where to find it. Here it can be hard to know where to go or how to access that medication.
The very first thing with any type of movement is you need to start a conversation. Before any big changes happen, we have to get people talking to each other. Destigmatization requires conversation. We need our friends and family to understand HIV is a chronic illness like diabetes. We do not need our HIV diagnosis to solicit some sort of moral judgment. I didn"t and don"t "deserve" it.
I still have to remind myself this is not my fault. I did not purposely do this to myself.