By: DeoVonte “Deo” Means
February 28 at 10:09 AM
“Aaron Rudolph updated his profile picture.
In 2012 I was diagnosed with H.i.v. I thought it would be the end of the world. I attempted suicide and got on drugs and alcohol to numb my pain. God allowed me to live through all of this and I now understand my purpose. It’s to educate others how to live with H.i.v and still be happy. 2019 I now stand before millions of people and proudly announce I’m H.i.v Undetectable. Undetectable=Untransmittable! If I can do it you can do it too! Don’t give up on life. Love yourself before you can love someone else.❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤”
The Flyy-Life’s objective has always been to be a repository of information, people, places, things and ideas that are provocative and inspirational. We utilize our platform to be a support system for those who aspire greatness. This courageous and intelligent post from such a sexy grown man caught our eye and we knew immediately we had to connect and learn more. We reached out to Aaron and he was more than a gentleman. He possessed a confidence and divinely given drive that allowed him to unabashedly agree to our interview. His story is so profound and provocative that it doesn’t require any special introductions. Simply read below and witness his story:
Although most know me as Tokyoblack, in reality, I am Aaron Rudolph! See Aaron was the class president and homecoming king in high school. Tokyoblack was the 17-year-old exotic dancer that came out at night. Like most, I juggled my alter-ego for twelve years until 2012. This is when I discovered the person, I thought was the love of my life had indeed infected me with HIV. I was not fortunate enough to discover my diagnosis convenitally. My body weakened to the point where I was incapacitated. I was hospitalized and after many test, it was later revealed that I was HIV positive. I was later released and returned to life. The guilt, fear, disappointment and depression led to a failed attempt to commit suicide and I began to abuse popular club drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy and meth. My illness humiliated me, and I figured nobody would ever really love me with this condition. As if that wasn’t enough, I still struggled with the fact that my sexuality caused a 15-year split between my father and me. I lost all hope until my support circle started motivating me to seek help and start taking my medication. In 2015 I checked myself into rehab and began to get back on the right track with God.
I lost everything! Money, house and cars; but I stayed focused and always knew there was a greater calling for me. As I graduated from a degreed program, I began modeling. Opportunity presented itself and I was fortunate enough to serve as a brand ambassador for Absolute Vodka. This experience opened the doors for my most recent project with Hotspots magazine. I’ve began to brand myself and chronical my journey so that others wont feel stigmatized, alone and defeated like I did. In 2017, I was diagnosed as HIV undetectable! I cried real funeral tears of joy lol! Undetectable=Untransmittable! It was then that I began my journey as a photographer. My goal is to capture unforgettable memories that will last forever. I want to help people that feel ugly and not good enough. I suppose I’m elated to recently receive certification as a National Peer Support Specialist; but I’m most proud of the work I do in educating those living with HIV on living healthy and productive lives. Long term, I would like to start a nonprofit that utilize resources to support the “run-a-way” LGBT youth that’s rejected by their family. I’ve been blessed and my plight is simply to inspire and encourage those walking a path similar to mines. My message is “you are not alone” HIV is not the “coodies!” It’s merely another layer that makes you the individualistic person you are. It’s simple! Undetectable=Untransmittable. Ending the stigma is the first step towards eradicating the virus.
FL- How did discovering a positive status change the course of your life?
AR- Discovering a positive status changed the course of my life mentally and physically. I had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized in a crisis facility. I had to be monitored at all times because of my suicidal thoughts. I immediately lost all hope when I found out about my status. I felt like it was a death sentence once I was diagnosed. I was doomed.
FL- You’ve ascertained you were infected by your ex. How has this changed the post-relationship status between you guys?
AR- Sad to say, but I do not have a relationship with the person that infected me. I cried and tried for years to find out where I contracted HIV from. Years later, my ex-lover admitted that he was positive during our time together. I harbor no ill-will towards him. I take responsibility for my irresponsibility and naviete’. In fact, as my ex, I will always love and respect him. His current lover doesn’t allow us to have a bond/friendship and I respect that. I do miss him as a best friend, brother and my strength in times of need though. I often think about the encouragment and support system we could serve to each other, even minus sexual interaction. I was the first guy he ever dated, which is very impactful on someone’s life; but respect and peace is my focal point now as a man and I submit to our reality.
FL- If there was one stigma you could immediately change in regards to HIV, what would it be and why?
AR- If there was one stigma I could immediately change about HIV, I would change the images people have in their minds about those that are positive. Most times, the optics that people relate to those living with HIV are dated and archaic. Ignorance produce the visuals they associate with HIV, which are often from a time over 20 years ago, when HIV was a nasty and visible death sentence. In 2019, those whom are positive and taking care of themselves are living normal, healthy and very successful lives.
If you’re responsible with your health and wellbeing, “sickly and in poor health” is a thing of past!
FL- In an age where disclosure of status is often shunned and not embraced, what motivated you to be so vocal and forth-coming about yours?
AR- I’m vocal about my status because when I was diagnosed with HIV, I promised myself that I wouldn’t do what someone else had done to me. Yes, I hated my ex at first! But I’m still alive, doing well and such a better person today than I would be if HIV was not my reality. I’ve been blessed and I’m really confident in the mindset that being upfront and vocal about your status is difficult, but it’s the “grown man” thing to do. Yeah, it requires a certain strength, but that strength is exactly what separates the boys from the men; the mediocre from the excellent. Allowing your partners to decided if they want to proceed or not, can be dauting. But it’s much more embarrassing and deplorable to deceive and deny others the choice, which most times, end up inadvertently changing the course of their lives in the near future. As a man, my ethics and morality is more than that.
FL– What did you use to help you get through your darkest moments?
AR- Honestly, drugs and prayer is what got me through my darkest moments. I did it all, yet even then, God’s grace was watching and protecting me. Even in my deepest pits of “bacchanalia,” as Deo would say, lol, God still tugged at my consciousness and led me to pray for guidance and understanding. They say God won’t let you out-do him. When you honestly come to him, if you take one step, he’s gonna take two. This is true! My one small step, he took two major ones. My newfound wisdom led me to recognize the beauty in this relationship and I began to deepen my relationship with God, He blessed me more and I began to blossom and be at peace. I began modeling. Despite the odds and through lots of faith, diligence and commitment; slowly my career took off. It was during this time I was honored to model as a world-wide face of Absolut Vodka campaigns.
FL- You spoke of drug abuse. What was your drug of choice and how did it help bandage the internal pain you were suffering with?
AR- I never knew that my nose worked so well until then! I used cocaine and methamphetamine heavily to numb the pain. At my darkest and most hopeless, I survived 2 suicide attempts! But inside, I always knew that wasn’t my destiny and God had a greater purpose for me. I feel like God allowed me to go through that stage to get too where I’m at today. I often recall Darryl Coley’s classic -“He’s Preparing Me.”It’s like I had to go through an humbling refinement process, to become the grown man I presently am. I am most appreciative, that God loved me enough to challenge me to greatness even when I didnt see, understand nor trust his plan. At times I got weary and it most definetly wasn’t comfortable. But the purging has shaped me into a man that has become awakened and driven not to allow comfort be the reasoning behind a life of mediocrity and complacency. Weird right?
FL- As a survivor and face of HIV, what is your story and how do you want it to be told?
AR- As a survivor of HIV, my story is simple yet definitive. I had to go through some things to get somewhere. Life is about growth. If you’re in tune, congniscent and aware; you use your experiences as teachable moments. I want my story to be told with all truth and no filters! They need to know how fast you can be doing so well and floating through life – then outta nowhere – unexpected disaster strikes and knocks you off your feet. It changes the plans and visions you once had for your life, but it doesn’t have to change the outcome or trajectory of your life.
FL- How has being diagnosed with HIV changed you?
AR- Being diagnosed with HIV, I now take my health more seriously. In fact, it’s one of the major priorities in my life. I am committed to my wellness. Some folks are quick to label those that are positive as “sick”, but these are the same folks that consistently engage in high-risk sex and only visit the doctor once an STD or infection finally decides to show symptoms! Most don’t even get regular check-up’s! As an adult, that’s nasty and trifling! The moment I found out my diagnosis, I knew one day soon I’d have to start taking medication for survival. The fact that I was committed to surviving meant I had to do what I had to do. It was never any question about it. March 2012, I started my treatment. I continued a path of healing and in 2015 I completed a rehabilitation program at The Village in Miami Florida. This was the beginning of my new journey upward. My focused plight became challenging myself and flying high in life.
FL- What is your message to those afraid and bound by stereotypes when connecting with someone that’s HIV positive?
AR- My message to those that are scared and afraid would be, in 2019 it’s not a death sentence. In fact, real talk, it’s better to know than not know. Even in rare and severe cases, medicine and the science around HIV/AIDS has grown and evolved to the point where early detection of any HIV/AIDS related illness can actually be treated and normal life resumed. For those that are negative, there’s sophisticated medications and advanced vaccines such as PREP that can protect you from infection. It’s not a death sentence anymore. To those that are positive; if I could do it, you can do it too! To those negative. Let all that fear and judgment go. It’s 2019! Don’t miss out on a sexy, gift from God due to ignorance, misinformation and archaic prejudices. It’s just silly! Lol
FL- What is your message to those whom are positive and struggling with self-esteem issues?
AR- My message to anyone positive and dealing with self-esteem issues would be to first love yourself before seeking love from anyone else. I know it sounds like a chiche, but it’s true! Many times we are so wrapped up in our own self-conscious selves, that we lose sight and become hideous and toxic on the inside. The outcome is often the production of bad seeds/fruits such as selfishness, arrogance, judgment, misguidence and sloth. Most often, these very traits become our own destruction and prevent us from truly experiencing life and living the waywe were meant to live. The life we envisioned for ourselves become a distant dream and complacency sets in. My message is to love yourself and always see the beauty within you. After what we’ve been through – if you were unwanted and not meant to be here- there were plenty of opportunities for God to snatch you and you’d be gone! Take your diagnosis, and don’t be weak or sit upon it in shame! Challenge yourself to be the best you can be with they hand you were played, because now you have a reason to live and show out! If anybody judging or can’t rock with what you bring to the table, then fuck em! In 2019, poverty, lack of focus and lack of opportunity is far more crippling and unappealing than mere HIV.
FL- Your narrative is so beautifully written. Where do you see your message in five years?
AR- In the next 5 years I can see myself starting my own nonprofit organization; specializing in helping those within the community that were rejected and cast away by family due to their sexuality. I also want to provide research and cutting-edge treatment for those within our community that may have experienced emotional, psychological, verbal and physical abuse in their lives. I envision a place where people can come and feel safe. Where people are celebrated, encouraged and supported to be who they really are. Flaws & All! Now don’t be misguided! My goal is not a delusional, fantasy-laden, gay utopia. Our core-values and ending outcomes will be based upon the fundamental strategic goal of utilizing resources, relationship building and experience; to motivate, encourage and give guidance to the disadvantaged. It’s here where innovative ideas and methods of being happy, healthy and achieving short term/long term goals will be nurtured.
FL– What is the one regret of life you have?
AR- I have no regrets in life! My struggles helped me become who I am today. I am most appreciative of my journey. My lowest points is what made me the man that stands before you today Sir. Deo. The easy-going times in my life when I was the beneficiary of blessings, were just icing on an already amazing cake. Of course I enjoy the favorable and prospouros era’s when blessings are bountiful. But wisdom and maturity has also taught me the value in those trying times! Even when you feel hopeless and find yourself “swimming in a depth of the sea” you never imagined – guess what – you’re still swimming and actually surviving! When that sea “calm” and good times return (and it always does); that experience you experienced has developed a sense of refined-character into you. This character begins to direct your decision-making skills – which in turn – alters and improves the trajectory of your life. The outcome is a fuller life of more bounty and blessings.
FL- What are you most proud of?
AR- There’s a few things I’m most proud of. A major one is that I’m off drugs yayyy!!! My career growth and industry-related opportunities has also become a humbling accomplishment. I’m not being arrogant, but actually, it’s personally kinda awe-inspiring. Just think. Me, Aaron, the guy that once felt so defeated, down, rejected, embarrassed and disappointed – that I twice attempted to take my own life! Through growth, I’ve now experienced working for the popular magazine HOTSPOTS. In addition, I was fortunate enough to land the highly coveted role of image of the brand! I am more proud that after hard work and dedication, I can now officially call myself a certified Peer Support Specialist. Oh, and I’ve also recently discovered a love for photography. I see the beauty in the art of producing profound and captivating images that fluidly tell melodic personal stories. You gotta check out my portfolio! Right now, I am loving life!
FL- As a last message, what would you send to those reading this article?
AR- My last words would be to smile! I just blessed you with some powerful tools in life that helped me. I gained this knowledge through experience, so this isn’t an opinion. No Sir, this is tried, tested and true fam! It’s up to you to receive it. The smart man will find a way to challenge themselves and apply it to their lives. Unfortunately, life does not come with an instruction manual or guide book. The best we can do is be perceptive and learn from our own mistakes and other’s experiences. I’ve given you my story and my report. I didn’t hold anything back. I gave it to you 100. I held both my head and integrity up high, even when it was not the most comfortable, flattering or advantageous for me. I was selfless in my giving. I’ve done what God and the universe requires of me. I’m confident – even if only one – someone will read my story and it’ll be a soothing balm while in their storm. When situations make’s no sense and leave them confused and lost, it will serve as a guide. As their storm begin to calm into a beautiful and bountiful peace that passes all understanding, perhaps privately/publically we will discuss and reflect on their experiences and lessons-learned. This is called the transference of knowledge and the key to successfully navigating life. Science has also discovered it has served as a valuable asset in our success, survival and competition as the dominate specie. Even animals in the wild find a way to pass on their experience/knowledge for the growth and benefit of the pack.
FL- Where can readers follow/find you to support and endorse your plight?
AR- My social media info is….
Fb: Aaron Rudolph
Deo, thanks for the opportunity bro and I’m deeply grateful for you. To The Flyy-Life followers, get at me!Hit me up! I promise, we gone have cool time…Life is good…. Aaron.
I love you baby 💗
Awwww love you forever friend 😘😘😘
Tokyo as what I know you by I love u boo… awesomeness… God Bless B!
Thank you Deo and Aaron. Very informative, uplifting, and encouraging!
How can I become part of this awesome testimonial. Be positive since 1993 still going and healthy.
Keep pushing baby proud of you u came a long!!!! I love you ❤️ I remember when you first told us about your situation when u found out I never looked at you no different!!!! You was my dawg then and you still are I’m so proud you just don’t know
Wonderful babes 🎊🎉🥳 you Rock