I hope your week is going well. Things always tend to get busier as it gets closer to fall and I am feeling it. I’m most looking forward to that first cool Saturday morning before all the football games start coming on. I’m not much of a sports fan, but I have woken up Sunday morning without a voice from participating in ~the culture~
This week we’re talking about queer southern art, the importance of talking about your HIV status and yes, I did promise we’d talk about Kacey Musgraves’ new album. The film was fabulous and I thoroughly enjoyed the fashion and fun cameos, but I was a little underwhelmed by the whole concept. I was expecting a divorce album, and it was mostly just… cute? How do y’all feel?
Artist Colette Bernard wants you to know the South is no ‘lost cause’
When Colette Bernard left Lafayette, La., for New York City, Bernard, who uses they/her pronouns, saw it as their great escape — from the small-town, Southern lifestyle that they felt never really fit.
Bernard wasn’t in the city very long before they felt the twinge for their southern roots as strangers turned their noses up at the mere mention of their hometown.
“I would introduce myself as someone from the South and the immediate reaction was disgust,” they said. “I started deconstructing those feelings and asking myself why it was making me so angry. It’s because I know better. There are people in the South that need to be advocated for.”
Bernard’s TikTok account, which has garnered more than 290k followers for their “Art Explained” series, became a space to create art highlighting disregarded communities in the South, such as the LGBTQ and BIPOC communities.
Recently, Bernard designed a blue enamel crawfish claw pin to raise money for Hurricane Ida relief efforts.
Your Voice: Sharing others’ stories showed me my HIV diagnosis wasn’t a death sentence
Each week the Honey newsletter includes a column from women and LGBTQ folks in the South, in collaboration with See Jane Write. We’re always looking for more stories from you. Click here to learn more about how to get published.
By Montee Lopez
In 2017, I launched a project with The New Tri-State Defender in Memphis, Tenn. called “Positive While POZitive,” designed to give insight into the lives of HIV-Positive people living full lives after learning they were infected with the virus which, left untreated, develops into AIDS.
My brainchild was born seven months after I tested positive. December 16, 2016 is a day I will never forget. It was an unwanted Christmas gift I couldn’t exchange.
In the months prior to launching the project, I dealt with my new reality mostly alone. Receiving the results. Learning of criminal penalties attached to the virus. Getting access to treatment.
That first and future doctor appointments — I did those all alone. I knew other people were probably going through similar things. I needed someone to talk to about this, someone to share their experiences with me.
Then, it dawned on me—I’m a journalist. I listen to people’s stories daily. That’s how I make my bread and butter.
From there, I started my research about HIV/AIDS assistance in Memphis. I wanted to talk to people who could connect me with others willing to share their truths and realities with not just me, but potentially the world.
One of the first people I interviewed was Mrs. Mildred Richard-Edwards, who’d been diagnosed with AIDS after her HIV infection nearly 20 prior. Through her personal testimony and work with HIV services, she proudly told me she “sold life.”
That’s what she did until the very end. To my heartbreak, she died in May 2021.
I went on to interview several other people, many who happened to be Black cisgender heterosexual women. This circumstantial detail made the project even more poignant; a disease once reduced to being a gay man’s problem clearly became a straight Black woman’s issue as well.
The Junk Drawer
- Kacey Musgraves’s ‘Breadwinner’ resonated for women who out-earn their partners (The Lily)
- ‘No one wants to get sued’ Nearly half of the doctors at Texas’ largest abortion providers stopped working after the state’s new law went into effect. (The 19th*)
- Facebook knows Instagram is toxic for teen girls, company documents show. I know this one is behind a paywall, but it’s worth asking a friend for a WSJ login. TLDR: “Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression,” a slide from an internal Facebook presentation said. 6 percent of these users in the U.S. traced those feelings to Instagram. (The Wall Street Journal)
I feel like we could all use a little less internet news and maybe just something wholesome and good to send us off into the rest of our week. Did you know “firefly tourism” was a thing? Well it is and people travel to Appalachia to see lightning bugs and this piece has some gorgeous photos. (The Washington Post)
That’s all I’ve got for today.