Tarik Daniels isn’t your average 36-year-old. While many millennials are still figuring out what to do with their lives, Daniels is a Black queer writer and performer, a city commissioner for Austin’s LGBTQ Quality of Life Advisory Board, and mental health advocate who founded his own organization, What’s In The Mirror?, raising awareness and knowledge about mental health and suicide in communities of color.
This year, Daniels also curated the BlaQ Awards, honoring Black and queer contributions in Austin, Texas, and Lil Nas X included his organization in his Montero album release’s “baby registry,” which listed charities and nonprofits for fans to support and donate to.
“It really feels rewarding to be named on the 25 Amazing People of the Year list,” Daniels says. “When I got courage and strength to first openly disclose my status, I was so afraid of HIV stigma and how it would negatively affect my life. It’s beautiful to receive positive reinforcement for a decision I was so afraid to make.”
But through that fear, he knows that being visible as a Black queer man living with HIV is important. And he knows that it’s even more important to be visible as a Black queer man living with HIV who is also living his best life and accomplishing his dreams.
“Visibility continues to be a huge factor for why so many people living with HIV don’t stay in treatment and HIV care. Black and brown gay men who sleep with men still lead in new HIV cases,” he says. “Many of us don’t see people who look like us publicly, thriving while living with HIV. HIV is not the same epidemic as it was 40 years ago. Our community needs to see more people living with HIV and know that their lives matter and they are not in this alone.”