Finding Freedom through Language

I think I made a lot of my career off of being very bluntly honest. It felt like by keeping [my HIV-positive diagnosis] a secret, I was giving it power. And by not writing about it, by not talking about it, by not being open about the process — just about my life with it — then I felt like shame, and I don’t like shame.
— Danez Smith

Danez Smith was highlighted by the Wisconsin Alumni Association (University of Wisconsin-Madison).:

“Smith is many things: First Wave alum, award-winning poet, National Book Award finalist, African American, HIV positive, and genderqueer. Smith embraces their multifaceted identity, selecting words — down to the pronoun they use — that state something powerful. Smith, who prefers to be addressed with the pronoun they, says it wasn’t until attending UW-Madison that they found language reflecting how they felt. “

ArticleChris PaigeHIV-AIDS