A conversation with PositivelyPositive.ca creator Bradford McIntyre
Written by Brian Finch on Sunday, 10 October 2010. Posted in Interviews
Bradford, a Vancouverite, has led a public life as an HIV/AIDS advocate and educator,
along with many other contributions to the global community.
Bradford McIntyre, HIV-positive since 1984, creator of Bradford McIntyre Positively Positive Living with HIV/AIDS
I first met Bradford while in Vancouver for a Canadian Treatment Action Council skill's one day workshop held in conjunction with some board meetings etc. I was impressed by Bradford's ongoing dedication. I thought he would be a great person to interview for our ongoing series, which provides an opportunity to better know members of our communities, whom I often see as role models for others.
You live in Vancouver. Is that where you are from originally?
I was born in 1952, in Sarnia, Ontario. I left there when I was 18. I have lived in a number of cities: Kitchener-Waterloo, Toronto and then, Ottawa-Hull before my move to Vancouver, in 1995.
Can you tell me about your website www.PositivelyPositive.ca?
Why did you decide to create it?
Bradford McIntyre - Positively Positive - Living with HIV/AIDS is designed to create awareness around the many HIV and AIDS issues and promotes messages of positive living with HIV.
When you visit the site, you will discover a wide variety of life-affirming and supportive topics: About Bradford, HIV/AIDS Articles, Alternative Therapies, HIV/AIDS Videos, HIV/AIDS Links, HIV/AIDS News and HIV/AIDS News Archives.
Not enough has been done to educate everyone, around the world, about HIV and AIDS. Originally and still, the purpose behind creating Positively Positive is to break down stigma and discrimination and to bring hope to people infected with HIV that they too can live. My work creating HIV and AIDS awareness globally has provided for many people, a face of someone living with HIV.
In the early years, the incorrect thinking that HIV was an automatic death sentence, created the fear, stigma and discrimination. People need to see others living with HIV and AIDS, who are not afraid to disclose that they are infected, in order to move away from the fear. This will prevent the need for people to withdraw or hide the fact that they are infected with HIV. Also, I created the website to dispel the many myths around the disease.
How long has it been up?
My nephew built the website, Positively Positive, which was launched in August of 2003, with a total of 20 pages. Then, I learned the skills and began operating the site in 2004. The site is rated ‘Safe Surf’ and ‘Family Friendly.’ At present, with over 1300 pages, it receives 100,000 to 150,000 hits a month. It has reached over 7 million, in 176 countries, since it began and provides me with the opportunity to educate, inform and build community.
DESIGNED TO CREATE HIV & AIDS AWARENESS
What are your goals for the site?
My goals for the site have surpassed my wildest expectations. www.PositivelyPositive.ca is an internationally recognized HIV and AIDS information and resource site. It is my way of giving back to the community and gives me a strong sense of contributing. Through this global networking with individuals, groups and organizations, I am able to showcase their many efforts.
As someone who has been so out in the media, do you have any advice for someone who's contemplating the leap into a public life, out as someone living with HIV?
In 1984, I tested positive for HIV and hid the fact for many years. In 1994, I announced publicly on national TV, on the Dini Petty Show (December 1, World AIDS Day) that I was infected with HIV.
For me, there is more power in people knowing the truth than there ever was in the fear and hiding. I did not experience any negative repercussions following my coming out publicly about being infected with HIV. This freed me from the burden of hiding that I'm HIV positive, giving me the freedom to truly be myself. My coming out publicly evolved and grew, which has been an extremely rewarding and liberating experience.
It's been a long time for you being positive, since the early 80s, similar to myself. It's akin to being a war veteran having lost and continuing to lose so many people. What have been the principal factors that have supported you throughout all these years?
I knew that I had to find a way to cope with all the difficulties that I imagined could be in store for me, living infected with HIV. At the time of my diagnosis, an HIV infection was considered a death sentence. My exploration into spirit, mind and body has provided me with the emotional support and strength I need. I learned to recognize the influence one's thoughts have on health and the importance of what we put into our body. I try to live moment by moment, living in the NOW! Showing up for Life, not for fear! Fear is like putting up a stop sign for living. Showing up as who we are without hiding any aspect of ourselves will contribute to the ease with which we live.
I would not be here today if it were not for the many people in my life! Those people together with our caring, sharing, support and love for one another have filled these years with endless affirmations that life is about LOVE.
Bradford McIntyre, HIV+ since 1984, Ocean Kayaking in English Bay,
Vancouver, British Columbia. 2010
Of course, I love humour. It's what gets me through the worst days and even the best days. It's in my DNA to find something funny out of pretty much anything. They say laughter is the best medicine. Since this is the “lite” side of HIV, what do you do for fun?
My health is an ongoing, full time job, but when my health permits, I enjoy cooking and entertaining family and friends, gardening on my balcony, interior design and photography. In the summer months, I enjoy sun tanning, swimming and ocean kayaking.
What would you say your greatest passion is?
My greatest passion is my partner, Deni. He and I met on the internet, in an international, spirituality chat room and ironically, we discovered that we lived five blocks away from each other. We started living together in 2000. Deni and I were married on
June 2, 2001, in the company of our family and friends at St. John's United Church, here in Vancouver's West End, where we live. I am HIV positive, Deni is not.
Apart from my relationship with Deni, my passion is creating HIV/AIDS awareness because there is such a great need for education around the many aspects of HIV and AIDS. Activism has waned due to the fact that many HIV/AIDS activists have died.
People no longer see the need for the role of strong advocates, since the antiretroviral drugs are saving lives. Fewer HIV positive people are taking up the cause but the need for HIV/AIDS activism is as important as ever!
One aspect of Positive Lite is about getting to know the contributors, outside the world of HIV.
If there is one achievement of which you are the most proud, what would that be?
My proudest achievement is the body of work that I have accomplished to date and my continuing efforts to strive, through my various involvements, to raise the level of HIV/AIDS awareness.
Outside the world of HIV, I am very proud of my career as a hairstylist, although it was short-lived due to HIV. A wonderful and rewarding career, my clientele included people from all walks of life: government party leaders and ministers,
politicians, various dignitaries and celebrities, in Rinaldo's award-winning, Ottawa salon.
Outside of Rinaldo's salon, I had the exciting opportunity of being the hairstylist for models, fashion shows, magazines and TV.
As a stylist, it was my great pleasure to create hairstyles for: Jessica Tandy, Jeff Healey, HRH Princess of Jordan (circa 1990), David Foster, Gina Bastone (Cirque du Soleil) and others. Another aspect of my career was as a platform artist,
teaching the latest fashion trends and techniques in hairstyling.
Is there anything about yourself that people might not know that you can share with PositiveLite.com readers?
The first thing that comes to mind that people may not know or realize about me is that I operate the Positively Positive website all by myself. I live on a small income and work without any funding, from home, at a computer in my bedroom.
However, a common misconception is that many people assume Positively Positive is an organization.
As part of my endeavours, I collaborate regularly with individuals, groups and organizations, throughout the world to include their news articles, press releases, events, conferences and more on my site. I personally contact them for permission to include their materials. The ongoing daily challenges of maintaining my health are a major factor in my ability to continue operating the site and participating in various HIV/AIDS involvements.
"Reproduced with permission - PositiveLite.com"