I know a lot of people are wondering what in the world Brenda and I are doing opening up and talking about our NEARLY 30 YEAR private battle with HIV at this point? Why? We both feel called to be the messengers we believe I was spared to be.
OUR prevailing message is: KNOW YOUR STATUS! Brenda and I were recently floored to discover there is a new HIV infection every nine and a half minutes in THIS COUNTRY!
I thank God every day that we've reached a point in the country where kids think its no big deal anymore to be LGBT (Lesbian/Gay.Bisexual/Transgender). Problem is they also think that it's no big deal to be HIV positive either! Now that the fear is gone... so has common sense!
Keeping one's HIV in check, is a big deal to have to deal with on a daily basis!
Because people think, folks like Magic Johnson and myself, who seem to be doing so well after decades of dealing with HIV... that it is just a chronic condition and in some ways that is true. However that misconception has caused a lot of us to slip into an all too comfortable place about a completely avoidable infection that is anything but easy to deal with.
Nobody is talking about how expensive the drugs are or that they do not work on everybody. Nobody is talking about how one has to completely change their lifestyle, eat right with all meals planned around intense medications, exercise and having to take blood test every three months. Nobody is talking about how if you miss taking those meds, the virus morphs into something the meds do not work on any longer.
Although I’ve been a non-practicing bi-sexual since 1983, I also feel compelled to speak out about the harm homophobia has had and is having on our culture.
Bullying, what some consider a right of passage, leads to teen suicides, serious hate crimes, jobs as well as housing loss, the lack of communal property rights, the custody of children, pensions and insurance issues, hospital visiting privileges and even attendance to funerals, much less any say in the planning of how to lay to rest long time partners!
The complete equal right discrimination of an entire section of the American population has gotten all tangled up in religious beliefs and what some believe constitutes FAMILY VALUES. Tell me where is the value of disowning a child because he or she is gay? Where is God in that?
The young have let a lot of that old world thinking go, thank God. It is way past time for all those who profess to follow Jesus, to look closer at what he actually said and did in his short life here... to love, forgive and help one another along.
The far-right Christian organizations, base all their hate speech on a many translated passage in the Old Testament. Listed alongside the “man lay with man” verse are... God's other laws, like no eating of shellfish and pork, no marking of skin (tattoos) and piercing forbidden, committing adultery as well as blasphemy being capitol offenses, the required stoning of non virgins, and how those who judge... are AS guilty of the sin as the sinner.
How is it they so conveniently edit them out of their misguided sermons and hateful protest signs. We are all God’s children. I’ve even heard them denounce that! Semantics, names for the higher power within us all filtered through minds as small as the eye of the needle cause them to see only what they want to see... with a side of murder, mayhem and war.
This may be a dangerous path for Brenda and me to set out on. It could bring great peril to our comfortable lives, but we feel....if not us who? If not now, when?
WE all can stop this virus from infecting another generation by making an HIV test a regular part of our yearly medical check ups. If you do not have a doctor or are afraid for any reason of anyone finding out, Nashville Cares will test you free of charge, wherever you desire and will be completely discreet about it. THERE IS A NEW AT HOME TEST YOU CAN ORDER OFF THE INTERNET. $40.00 including shipping and handling. Google OraCheck.
Should you find out you are positive, you can stop it from destroying your immune system and know how to protect those you are intimate with.
HIV is not and never has it been just a gay problem. The last USA survey in 2010 for Nashville alone, listed 51% newly acquired infections were by gay men, but 17% were women. Largest infection rate 54% African American and 71% of them were women! 8% were Hispanic. HIV has touched us all and will continue to do so until we wake up and protect ourselves, as well as the ones we love.
The fact that Brenda has continually tested HIV negative in our 34 years together gives us the clout needed to speak with authority on this timely and extremely important issue. It is blood and semen born. Condoms and clorox are cheap in comparison... but then what isn't?
Sandy Knox, President of Wrinkled Records, my producer Kim Tribble, Brenda and I, went through over thirty years of my songs to put this PROJECT WITH A PURPOSE together.
I want to thank all of my co-writers listed below, BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, I want OUR music to speak for itself.
￼STRONG MEDICINE - by Jimbeau Hinson Cut-by-Cut
1. DANCE OF LIFE
(Jimbeau Hinson and Billy Dawson ‐ 3/7/11)
I wanted to open this CD with a fairly new song about life, the steps, the movements, the motions we all go through from making love with the one you love, having kids, growing old and beyond.
(Jimbeau Hinson, Kim Tribble and Jon Michaels –circa late`90’s/early 2000)
This song has been recorded several times. Ty Herndon had two singles released on two different labels. Tracy Lawrence, Michael Peterson, Chris Golden have their versions, as well as a new group, One Night Rodeo, who recently recorded, as well. I think it is one of the most beautiful things to have ever vibrated through my vocal chords.
(Jimbeau Hinson and Jack Williams ‐ 1984)
The idea for this song was born in 1983 when they finally announced that HIV was sexually transmitted. Brenda and I promptly settled down to a life of monogamy two years before they even developed the test for it.
(Jimbeau Hinson and Cathy Shostak ‐ 1984)
This was written in London. Duane Allen of the Oak Ridge Boys sent me there to work on a techno‐pop project. There had been yearlong whispers of an ill wind; we just didn't know it was about to all but blow us away‐‐ years away from meds...when love was, and even today... still is the strongest medicine.
5.NOT YOU AGAIN
(Jimbeau Hinson and Kim Tribble ‐ 1987)
As friends were dying around us in mass, Kim and I wrote this thinly disguised story comparing a bad relationship to what Brenda and I were dealing with at the time ‐‐ when every bruise, cough, rash, fever could be the first knock on the door.
6.WHEN YOU GIVE UP YOU’RE GONE
(Jimbeau Hinson and Eddie Alexander ‐ late`90’s).
This is a song of fortitude that Eddie and I wrote in the late `90’s. It became my mantra, after almost dying in `96.
(Jimbeau Hinson – Written originally in 1985; rewritten in 2012; Rik’s song)
This song was inspired by my first close friend to fall, Rik Fishel. I stood by his bedside and watched with horror as full blown AIDS ate him up bit by bit for two years... thinking, “I’m standing in line for this?” The first verse is almost verbatim ancient Italian philosophy. I wrote this song for Rik, bought him a Walkman, put it on his lesion‐covered head. He wept saying, “Jimbeau, that is the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard.” It was played at his service as well a most of our dear friends we lost along the way.
(Jimbeau Hinson, Ken Somerville, Barry Somerville‐2004)
This was a song I felt driven to do, expounding the great lesson from coming back from the beyond. We are here to live this life... to live it well. To treat everyone as if they are me... because when I crossed over and melted back into the all of everything... one with God again... I realized...you are me... here and now and always.
(Jimbeau Hinson and Kim Tribble ‐ 2012)
In 1985, my whole life changed with the prick of a needle. The blood test came back positive for GRID (gay related immune deficiency, what they called it back then). I can honestly say it is one of the most negative things to have ever happened to me. The fact that Brenda has continuously tested negative, is proof of HIV being completely preventable. I lived to sing about how I survived being positive.... by being positive.
(Jimbeau Hinson and Kim Tribble ‐ late `80’s)
I first recorded this song on my "American Romance" CD. I thought it was to be my swan song. While recording it, I broke down and went outside to collect myself. As I sat there on the concrete steps of Jay’s studio, I kept thinking the song didn’t say enough about the music and the laughter that had been such a big part of my life. I wrote another verse and Kim and Jay fixed the track to give me room to sing it. Twenty something years later, I am singing it again with no fear, no anger, just hope and the peace of knowing there is so much more to come after this life. My desire is for the memory of this walk to not be crippled by what could have been, but to be remembered with a smile for what it was... joyous.
11. WAITING AT THE GATE
(Jimbeau Hinson, Ken Somerville, Barry Somerville and Diane Durrett –1997 or ‘98)
I recorded this song on my "A Dozen American Beauties For My One and Only Rose" love song CD and decided to redo WAITING AT THE GATE to tie up the end of this record. It is all about the amazing soul deep love I have been so blessed to have with my Brenda... and how a man is usually always waiting on a woman. I can already hear her disclaimer about ME being the perpetually late one. :)
After wasting away to skin and bones twice, I am proud to say I am miraculously non‐detectable today!!! I believe the power of a world of prayers combined with Brenda's great love underlined how badly she wanted me back... and God answered her prayers. Look out world, here I come... loud, proud and out with it.
KNOW YOUR STATUS-KEEP IT SAFE