For Two-Spirit musician Tony Enos, it’s important to be an example of possibility.
“When I first received my HIV diagnosis, it felt like all possibilities had come to an end, and I was sentenced to inevitable doom,” he explains. “However, 15 years later, just the opposite has been the case. I’d like for people to be able to look at my work, what I do, and how I conduct my spirit, and say to themselves, ‘Hey, Tony’s doing it, that means I can do it too.’ Harvey Milk used to say, ‘You gotta give ‘em hope.’ I pray that I can be hope for people when they feel abandoned by hope.”
While Enos has been living with HIV for 15 years, it wasn’t until 2020 that the pop artist felt ready to share his status with the public. When the time was right, Enos turned to his favorite medium, music, as his means to come out. The release of his fourth studio album, POSI+IVE, wasn’t just a personal declaration, but also an opportunity for Enos to educate his fans about U=U.
“It’s important to know that undetectable equals untransmittable,” Enos told the South Philly Review in August 2020. “If you’re undetectable, you cannot transmit HIV. I’ve been undetectable for 14 years. And I think there’s still a lot of villainizing of HIV-positive people.”
This year has been a busy one for Enos, who worked with the Ford Foundation’s Disability Futures Project to release his “Others Like Me” single and music video alongside two other Two-Spirit artists with a goal to uplift disabled Native American artists (Enos is of Cherokee, Black, Italian, Puerto Rican, Pakistani, and Melanesian descent.) He was also invited to perform at the Kennedy Center’s millennium stage concert series in October.
“That one made my head spin!” says Enos with a laugh.
Enos credits his success to taking on life’s challenges with the right attitude and doing so has been cathartic for the singer.
“I’ve found that my best life begins with gratitude and awareness. I think those are the gateways to making whatever it is you want to come to fruition,” he says, offering this advice to others regardless of their status: “Keep going, it’s better than the alternative.”