What inspired the creative direction for this episode of +Talk?
Telling Steve Pieters’s story was incredibly important to us and aligned perfectly with +LIFE’s brand promise – talk openly about HIV and educate others to fight and end stigma. Steve’s journey of living authentically as an openly gay, HIV-positive reverend, served as an important example of advocacy, resilience, and faith, specifically for those struggling with an HIV/AIDS diagnosis, so we chose to shoot in a church that Steve had a personal connection to.
Describe your biggest challenge for the series so far.
One of our greatest challenges has been finding a way to tell stories or convey important information in more than the bite size piece of content that people are accustomed to consuming. HIV is a topic that directly relates to sex and dating, science, medicine, criminalization, stigma, and so much more, and because the topic of HIV is complex, one-minute soundbites do not give the context we often need. So, our challenge has been, how do we create content engaging enough to keep our audience watching what is not always a sexy subject.
Which aspects of the series are you most proud of?
We are most proud of the diversity of stories and guests we’ve presented. It has been so important for us to represent the entire population of people living with HIV, which is everyone. We are firm believers that while anyone can convey a message, it’s usually easier received by people who look like you. We are also immensely proud of feedback we get from around the world. Many of these messages are from people living in countries with archaic views of the LGBTQ community and HIV who felt alone until they found us. Often, it’s a person who just found out they are living with HIV, and they are relieved to see content with other HIV positive people thriving. We also receive messages from parents or friends of someone living with HIV whose understanding has grown by watching our content.