A “Griot” is an African storyteller entrusted with the history of the tribe to pass on to future generations. THRIVE SS saw this ancient tradition as a great way to combat stigma, and show that living a healthy and full life with HIV, amongst cities in the south, is possible and their stories should be documented and shared authentically through film.
Project Griot was formed on the vision of sharing the stories of black gay men in a way that shows the intricacies of the queer lifestyle while bridging connections of different backgrounds and experiences.
This year we continue our fight against HIV stigma as we launch the second film in the Project Griot series “Colors On The Wall’.
In this film, six African American people from diverse sexual and gender identities, tell their stories of life between diagnoses and acceptance, on the road to thriving.
One cis-gender heterosexual man, one black man of trans experience, two cis-gender heterosexual black females, and two black gay men, provide insight not just about living with HIV, but how to THRIVE.
Pastor William Francis, Achim Howard, Linda Felix, Freda Jones, Kevin English-Taylor, and Nathan Townsend express their personal mission to help others living and Aging with HIV.
THRIVE Support Services Inc. delivered its first documentary in the series that combats the stigma of living with HIV and shifts the narrative of living in the south as a black gay man living with HIV.
“Outrun the Sky”
In the fall of 2018, THRIVE SS posted a casting call through social media to Miami, FL, Atlanta, GA, Jackson, MS, Baton Rouge, LA, and New Orleans, LA looking for individuals open to sharing their stories of living with HIV. From over 20 applications, five “Griots” were selected as representatives to share their experience of navigating their respective cities through diagnosis, receiving care, and accessing the support they need to live a healthy life.
The strength of the 5 men willing to share their personal journeys of living with HIV is the anchor to this project, shining a light on the true issues within the black LGBTQ Community. From dancing to disclosure, resilience to religion, addiction to appointments, Outrun the Sky touches on social and cultural factors that are often overlooked in conversations about HIV. The combination of professional filming and personal recordings gives the film an additional layer of introspection; while the storylines take the viewer on a journey of love for yourself and your fellow brothers and sisters. We all have a story, and Eric Collins, Isaac Gilliard III, Lamar McMullen, Bryson Richard, and Boomer Woods are strong enough to tell theirs.