Transcript of Digital Story: I Am

The following is the transcript for I Am, a digital story created by Bernard Washington, Jr. during What Works in Youth HIV’s digital storytelling workshop in October 2017. You can access the video for this story by clicking here.

"Isn't that depressing?," people ask me. I actually have more fun at work than I do on my off day.

I'm the Condom Man. Yes, I have the gold ones too. Just use something and use it right.

I'm a tester. I can test you. Test your partner too. Yes, you need to know their status too. I can even test you all together.

Do I have to tell people they're positive? Yes, but I also tell people that they're negative. The important thing is knowing.

I am support, bringing a safe place where we eat, laugh, meet others on the same journey and inspire. Inspire to love self and live. It's not a death sentence. I am whatever they need me to be. Their big brother, fatherly figure, bestie, voice of reason, check-ins even on my off days. It's bigger than even what people see. It's more than just a nine to five. It's a blessing.

Sitting at my desk nine to five designing graphics just wasn't cutting it, so I moved to the Tampa Bay area to give school another try. I was studying criminal behavior and the justice system, but bills still needed to be paid. A friend sent me a job posting for working with at-risk youth and I was already sold. I love kids.

For the interview they said, "You'll need to prepare a five to 10 minute presentation about HIV." I didn't even know what HIV stood for, so Google became my best friend. What I did know was their brochure and logo needed an extreme makeover, so I came with a new design.

Seven years later, I am HIV awareness for youth between the ages of 13 and 24. Yeah, that was me down at Ybor City around midnight passing out condoms. Yeah, that was me and my squad offering free HIV testing at 2:00 a.m. Yeah, that was me on campus at the one event doing a condom demonstration. Was that me at the barber shop having a discussion about HIV? Yeah, that was me. Was that me at the juvenile detention center? At the nightclub? At church? Oh, at the St. Pete pride with the Magnum pinata? Yeah, that definitely was me.

Why, what did you really think I would be doing as a criminology, political science graduate and graphic designer?

Page last updated: January 2018