Hi, my name is Cheryl. I am the founder and executive director of Tilt. It’s a support and advocacy group for the transgender community. Young people are today coming to conclusions about their sexualities and gender identities at much younger ages. In 1969, gender non-conforming rights were nowhere. I would have just been considered an extreme gay man or crazy. To be even considered gay could cause repercussions that could ruin your life. You could lose your house, you could lose your job, you could lose your life. I was in a relationship in 1981 and was diagnosed as HIV-positive. Once I got over my anger, I went into the denial stage. I was hospitalized. The hospital’s patient advocate asked me, “Do you want to live or die?” That was the moment I decided to do something about this virus that had begun living with me. I don’t live in it, it lives with me. I was here first. I don’t think back on the past much. I’m too busy looking forward what I’m gonna do tomorrow. I’m Cheryl and I’m Greater than AIDS.
Cheryl is a trailblazer. She has been at the forefront of gender non-conforming rights and HIV for decades. Today she leads an organization that helps create more visibility for the transgender community through community building, HIV prevention and care.