Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I am Rylie, a 32-year-old woman of color (WOC). I’m a native Houstonian. I was raised in the inner city area of Houston, and currently reside in the Houston area. I’m employed by the University of Houston. I’m also pursuing a degree in human resource development.
In my current position, I assist students and staff, and provide positive support as well as resources for my students. In my spare time, I volunteer for a number of different causes and organizations. I’m also a board member on the Community Advisory Board (CAB) for Houston’s first and only organization for cisgender and transgender women of color, which is Save Our Sisters United (SOSU).
I’m extremely thankful to have such an amazing support system within my family. My mother is my biggest and number 1 fan/supporter. My mom is my heartbeat for everything that I do. She is the reason I do the work that I do. I LOVE MY FAMILY SO MUCH!
My stance for LGBTQIA and women’s issues and rights are very near and dear to my heart. I pride myself on being a voice for the voiceless people. I believe in leading by example and making change happen. Education on topics of importance within the LGBTQIA community, especially the trans community, is one of the things I’m passionate about. I’m grateful to be a part of the I am Life™ campaign because I want to help remove the stigma directed at people living with HIV. I want people to understand that we’re no longer living in the 1980s and 1990s, when no one knew what HIV was, where it came from, or if there was even a cure for it.
I want people to understand that taking PrEP doesn’t mean you’re promiscuous, but that you’re aware that anything can happen at any time. I want to be able to let people know that we’ve come a long way from 1959 when a man was discovered in Léopoldville in the Belgian Congo with an unrecognized illness. I want to educate people and inform them on the origin of HIV and let them know that right now, in 2019 and beyond, you can still live a long, healthy and full life. I want people to know that it is no different than any other illness, STD or STI.
I personally feel that PrEP is a great preventive measure to take when it comes to HIV. It’s very beneficial to African-Americans, Hispanics and trans people of color, because anything could happen and it’s good to always know that you are in control of your own health.
YOU SHOULD ALWAYS KNOW YOUR STATUS and getting tested is the only way. The sad truth is that there is a stigma attached to the term, “HIV.” Many people are often too embarrassed or scared to get tested, worrying and wondering, “What will happen next. Who will want me, now? How will this impact my life?” We have to destigmatize the negative association with HIV and that starts now with PrEP.