Living Positive

Author and musician Tim'm T. West talks about being an HIV-positive rapper, educating gay youths, his successful music career, and what he'd trade it all for.



TIM'M WEST live x390 (courtesy) | ADVOCATE.COM

You've been very successful -- books, music, you speak all over the country, and you have a respected voice in the community. Would you trade all of that to no longer be HIV-positive? That's a really good question. No, is the short answer. I would've never written Red Dirt Revival if I hadn't become positive. I would've never been producing hip-hop records if I hadn't become positive. This urgency forced me into some bravery around things that I didn't have before. It made me tap into these artistic talents and these other things about myself. I actually see my HIV status as part of my destiny. I am happy for the changes I made in my life because of it.

At the same time, I wish could've gotten the lessons I got from it and then somehow it could just disappear. There are aspects of the virus that bother me. When my throat is sore or hurting, I'm wondering if it's HIV-related. If I get a cold or a fever, could this be the start of something really big? Also, in the dating world, if I tell somebody that I am HIV-positive, despite all my other good qualities, are they going to turn their back on me? It has happened before. There are those things about HIV that I don't like. At the same time, I would certainly answer that question by saying I don't regret having it and my life is all the better for it. If I could keep those lessons I learned and these things I've accomplished and give back the HIV -- I would give it back in a heartbeat. For people who are negative, if they can adopt the mind-set where they are able to make some of those changes that they are putting off, almost like they were HIV-positive, I think it could be a benefit for them.

Tags: Music