Calling your fashion brand Revenj Jean Federation and giving your collections names like “We Are the Young” and “The Birth of the Federation” sounds lofty, but for Austin-based designer Greg’ry Revenj, it’s not just simple branding. “The word ‘federation’ is significant for the market my brand represents,” he says. “The federation, like me, are people who have been told they’d amount to nothing but despite the negativity will fight relentlessly for something they want.”
Revenj, who dropped out of design school to launch his company, is one of a few designers who are out about being HIV-positive. “My status is not something I’m defined by but rather a facet in my life, similar to my sexual orientation,” he says. “I think it’s important to see real people with real careers to show people that HIV isn’t what it used to be. It’s a disease that is completely manageable and shouldn’t define or control your life.”
He’s hoping that by being out he fights the stigma affecting people with HIV. “I think that the biggest issue with the stigma is that we aren’t talking about it enough,” Revenj says. “I’m ready to be the one for my generation who isn’t afraid to talk about it.”
In fact, he is so committed to breaking down fears that last year he called his summer-fall collection “What Are You Afraid Of.” He admits there is one thing he is still afraid of, but it’s not what you may think.
“It may sound arrogant, but the one thing I’m afraid of is leaving this earth without making an impact to the world,” he says. “I want to leave something that outlives me.”
Click here to find out who the other 20 Amazing, HIV+ Gay Men are this year.