Queer rapper and icon MYKKI Blanco slayed at Strange Matter last month and she’s back with a new video and unique look at an issue the performer has been dealing with for 5 years: HIV.
“When we choose to stigmatize those living with HIV, we do a disservice to our own humanity. As someone who has lived healthily with the disease for five years now, I know all too well the fear of persecution and shame, and what that can do to one’s character and their life,” Blanco says in the video. “There are nearly 37 million people living with HIV worldwide; 37 million people deserve to live in a world where they aren’t judged for their status.”
The video for “Hideaway,” available below, tells the story of a couple — one HIV-positive, one HIV-negative — living in denial, circling around a romance.
“That feeling of shame, of hiding, of having love only exist in a bedroom,” Blanco said, “I know what that feels like.”
Blanco is still riding high off the release of their 2016 record, Mykki, and they’ve gotten help from media outlets and venues alike all hoping to propagate their message of inclusion and fighting stereotyping people across the spectrum.
“Hideaway” is meant to inspire confidence in those who find their identity challenged and evoke thought and conversation among those who have lacked exposure to new modes of identity. Mykki is a natural performer – as he proved at Smatter last month, spending as much time in the audience as he did on stage. While some might consider him “niche,” his lyrics are not esoteric and his message is one of self-exploration that is inclusive and relatable. “Hideaway” is self-reflective, it explores Mykki’s struggles and feelings of alienation as an openly HIV-positive artist.
The video comes on the heels of yesterday’s National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Here in Richmond, 2016 saw a drop in new HIV infections state-wide, however there were still almost 850 new cases identified and recorded with the Virginia Department of Health. About 370 of those new infections were in people between the ages of 15 and 29.
“Love and happiness, compassion are birthrights of the human condition; 37 million people living with HIV deserve that just like anyone else,” said Blanco.
If you missed your chance to catch them, you can still head down to Durham, NC, the weekend of May 18th. You can learn more about that fest here.
And here in RVA, Nationz Foundation is taking over Diversity Richmond next week, April 18th, for T Gurlz Rock, a drag and fashion show hoping to bring awareness to trans people living with HIV. Testing will be available on site. Find out more about that event here.