Chapter (s) With Cedric Gum Vol 4: Being a Public Face of HIV.


Living with HIV and being one of the faces of a national campaign has been one of the most challenging tasks upon being diagnosed. Yes, being a beacon of hope and a source of inspiration to others gives me so much joy and fulfillment, but there are instances when people fail to realize that I am human; therefore, I am entitled to make mistakes. I will never be 100% reflective of the person that people have painted me to be as it relates to the campaigns that I've been a part of. Being known as “the guy from that campaign” has opened many doors in which I'm forever grateful for, but with opportunity comes more responsibility. One of my greatest fears.

Independence and responsibility are two things that I never truly grasped. Being the youngest of 3 by twenty one years, I never had to take things into my own hands. Everything was always given to me and decisions were always made for me. As an adult, I see how that particular lifestyle has hindered me in a sense.

Slight tangent. Yeah, I know.

Back to being a public face.

There are days I truly don't want to get out of bed. Not because I'm lazy or don't want to live life, but I get tired of answering the same questions over and over again. Don't get me wrong. I love being there for others and being a resource whenever possible; however, my story is pretty much public information and when people are constantly asking “how did you get it?” or the most famous question of them all...“why didn't you tell me?”, I start to become more and more tired of being a parrot.

But...as the saying goes, “I didn't come this far just to come this far.” There's work to do and growth that must happen. Complaining won't change it. I'm aware of that.

Get it together, Cedric!

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This is a Baltimore City Health Department's social innovation project in collaboration with various priority populations in Baltimore