AIDS activist. On her visits to college campuses, several years after her life-threatening bouts with Pneumocystis pneumonia, she would run into students who had heard her speak when they were in high school. She was born prematurely in Chicago to two drug-addicted parents in When she was an infant, her paternal grandfather took her from her parents and raised her. By the time she was three, her father had been killed. She had no contact with her birth mother until she was Lewis-Thornton began her schooling in Chicago at Beethoven and Earle schools, but transferred to Chute Middle School when her grandfather and his wife moved to Evanston, Illinois. In high school, her living circumstances changed again. Despite the challenges, she graduated with her class, and after taking a year off after high school to work and earn some money, began college at Southern Illinois University. It was during her two years at Southern Illinois that her involvement in politics began.
Our Voices in the Fight: Rae Lewis-Thornton, the Face of Black AIDS
That might sound like a strange thing to say. But with Thursday, Feb. I always say the most important thing to know is that HIV is a preventable disease and the ball is in your court. Part of the problem is that women tell themselves: I don’t have sex like that. We don’t think about needing to be tested or asking a partner if they’ve been tested. This is all connected to the politics of respectability.
Rae Lewis-Thornton is an Emmy Award winning AIDS Activist. She rose to national acclaim when she told her story of living with HIV/AIDS in a.
It was when even White children with the virus like Ryan White faced ostracism. So a Black woman unapologetically sharing she got HIV through sex rocked the community. That the former political organizer has written three books, won an Emmy, become a minister, designed jewelry and educated millions as an AIDS activist since her cover story is remarkable.
The disease was already making Lewis-Thornton sick when the magazine hit newsstands. Yet the instant fame allowed her to fulfill her mission as an HIV activist. In between profiles for Dateline and a series on living with AIDS for CBS Chicago that won her an Emmy, she battled diarrhea, nausea and other complications associated with her illness.
With the advent of new medications such as protease inhibitors, which prevent HIV cells from multiplying, death rates for AIDS started declining. She began taking the medicine in John suit and poop slid down her leg. Kaletra gave Lewis-Thornton kidney stones and Saquinavir caused violent dreams. As her health improved, the marriage deteriorated. Lewis-Thornton had been molested by four relatives by her tenth birthday. At 17, she began caring for herself.
Most people infected at the time I was are dead. Lewis-Thornton had to rethink her own dating life after her diagnosis. At the time of her Essence cover she was a newlywed, but as her health improved, her marriage oddly declined.
But our work is not over. Join us in the fight for an AIDS-free generation. Read on to learn more about her decision to disclose her status, including excerpts from her interview. It was the Spring of and at age 23, Thornton was just starting her career as a political organizer in Washington, D. But a phone call from the American Red Cross brought all of that to a sudden halt.
She was diagnosed with HIV. And I’m here to tell you one is all it takes. Thornton withdrew into herself. The self-described divaand extrovert quietly entered a study at the National Institute of Health NIH and disclosed her status to a few select friends. Thornton could have become a statistic and her story could have ended there. But after nine years of silence, she felt compelled to speak out — on a national scale.
In , Thornton appeared on the cover of Essence Magazine. She wrote:.
Rae Lewis-Thornton: Still fighting AIDS at 50
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Magazine article Ebony. Growing up in suburban Chicago and intent on turning her life into a success story, Rae Lewis-Thornton was a self-described “all-American Black girl. Against stacked odds, she went to college and graduated magna cum laude before beginning a promising career as a political organizer. She dressed and carried herself like a fashion model and cultivated her sophisticated Black beauty. At 23, she was intelligent, self-reliant, and attractive –the type of woman men stand in line to meet.
Eager to embrace life and anxious to overcome its challenges, Rae was determined that someday she was going to be somebody. And then suddenly, 9 years ago, Rae was diagnosed with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and all her optimistic hopes and poetic dreams of a bright future began crumbling at her feet. Despite the specter of death hanging over her and thanks to a formidable will to live, the sun has not stopped shining in Rae’s life. In fact, she often tells people that “the day i stop living will be the day I die.
So Rae, who lives each day as if tomorrow is not promised, married Kenny Thornton, her companion, she says, and lover in the purest sense of the word. And she continues to caution everyone around her to protect themselves against AIDS–a worldplague that has no respect for sexual orientation, race, class or age. It’s been said that life is what happens to you when you’re making other plans.
On her own since she was 17 years old and the product of what she calls “a dysfunctional family”–both of her parents were heroin addicts, her father was killed when she was three and she was raised by her paternal grandfather’s wife in a sometimes difficult relationship–Rae was making other plans when she was diagnosed with HIV in , contracted through heterosexual contact, she believes, in her late teens.
Are You Sleeping With Someone You Love Or Someone You Want To Love You?
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Rae Lewis Thornton Dating
Art by Francois Henri Galland. I started thinking about this after I received an email last night from a woman with herpes who is afraid to date. When I was first diagnosed with herpes, I was afraid. I remember trying to get an ex-boyfriend to have sex with me and he flat out turned me down.
A candid conversation with HIV/AIDS activist and survivor Rae Lewis Lewis-Thornton, has now been living with HIV for 36 years and AIDS for Dating is dating to find a mate, someone that you can live your life with and.
But like a lot of folks surviving long-term with the virus, Lewis-Thornton has also had to learn about disclosure, acceptance and self-love along the way. Despite the admiration she received, stigma and pain still followed the young activist. Lewis-Thornton remembers when she married an HIV-negative man, people marveled that anyone would want to be with her. Then, when her marriage spiraled into abuse, she was afraid to leave it and get back into the world of dating with HIV.