Spirit Journey 2: HIV Crim Artivism at Spirit & Place

When I was approached to create art for a recent Spirit & Place event around HIV criminalization and stigma, I was scared to death. How could I convey something meaningful through photography? I literally thought – I’ll have nothing. I can’t do this. Why did I agree to this?

I struggled in fear for several weeks, which I’ve learned is part of my process. Sans the fear, it’s actually a great way to percolate ideas and let them grow. I’ve also learned the best way to dispel fear is to act. So one day, I sat down and started to create some prototypes in Photoshop. It worked! I suddenly had several ideas I loved that really spoke to how I was feeling.

I’ve used the term “artivist” in my signature line for awhile. I picked up this term working on CelebrateUU. Since the initial rush of creation in 2019/2020, I hadn’t really done much work on artivism apart from social media. So I dove head first into creating pieces that used photography & art to address the topic of HIV criminalization.

How does it make you feel?

“How does an image make you feel?” This is the question that is always in the back of my mind as I create digital art from photographs. This questioning is also a form of art therapy, helping me to reclaim the shame & stigma I experience in life through digital art.

There is so much fear living with HIV. It’s kind of on “slow repeat” in the background of my life.

Fear of disclosure.

Fear of sex.

Fear of not being loved.

These are by far the top 3.

From that, came my first piece. Fear of…

Fear Of
Fear of…

Looking for something positive

Pun aside, I wanted to show more than fear or shame based art. I wanted to use this experience to bring healing, reclaiming the shame and stigma I experience living with HIV.

It was easy to identify with the stigma and fear created by our HIV criminal laws. wanted to go beyond that to rescript the negative messaging around HIV criminalization. 

I reflected on “what will it feel like when these laws are modernized?” Immediately, I thought of joy. And when I feel joy – I love to dance. From there flowed my central piece of the exhibit, Happy Dance

Happy Dance
Happy Dance

Expand my skills, sharpen my tools

With artivism, words and graphic design are an important element of the creative process. I had seen a great example of images and text in a marketing banner for a local university. Students faces were used to mark out text in a cutout form. It was really cool. And I had almost no idea how to do it in Photoshop.

So this gave me an opportunity to sharpen my tools, and expand my skills in Photoshop. Most of the tutorials I found were for text cutouts based on a single image. I had multiple images, which needed to be moved around to align with the text. It was more complicated than the marketing banner. But each time I reworked it, I found a smarter way to do things. Would started out as a manual process, requiring lots of rework if I tweaked the design turned into a pretty slick smart object that allowed me to move the images around to show up best under the text.

I used this technique in the next two pieces – HINAC Warriors and 1 Every 14 Days.

HIV Is Not a Crime
HINAC Warriors

1 Every 14 Days

Every 14 days in Indiana, someone in Indiana has court contact under outdated laws that unfairly criminalize people living with HIV or viral hepatitis. Nobody  should ever be arrested because of a health condition. 

“There is a movement in the U.S. to modernize HIV-specific criminal laws to bring them in line with current medical sciences and best criminal justice practices. …Experts argue that law reform is needed to effectively end the HIV epidemic.” – HIV Criminalization in Indiana Law Enforcement Research; Authors: Foote, Cisneros & Sears; 2022. 

For more information on efforts to modernize Indiana’s outdated criminal and public health laws,go to hivmodernizationmovement.org.

1 Every 14 Days

Manifest destiny – intention in art

I have seen how setting any intention can bring about the very outcome we desire, even when things are outside of our control.

We’ve gotten a fair bit of decent news coverage this past year with HIV modernization in Indiana. I wanted to use these to tell part of the story. At one point, they were going to be part of Happy Dance, to somehow convey the moment when we were successful in changing that laws. In the end, I found they stood on their own – and were a way to set an intention for our work.

From there came the final piece around HIV Criminalization, November 2022 Future State: Will Life Imitate Art?

November 2022 Future State: Will Life Imitate Art?


I wanted to bring in U=U to the conversation, because our HIV criminal laws are based on 30 year old science. Since 2016, we know that when modern treatments reduce HIV to undetectable levels, it can’t be sexually transmitted. That’s also known as U=U – undetectable equals untransmittable. That’s huge.

If I my viral load is undetectable – which it is – why should I even have to disclose, because there is no risk of transmission? 

CelebrateUU builds on the concept of Undetectable=Untransmittable (U=U), calling on individuals living with HIV to start recognizing and celebrating our anniversaries of having an undetectable viral load. With this movement, we are putting a face and story to HIV and educating people about the science behind U=U. This is one powerful way to help end the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.

I started CelebrateUU with 3 other individuals in 2019 & 2020. I had shared their stories on my CelebrateUU page, but had never shown them in a gallery setting. I’ve learned that every art pieces changes me, and that becomes even more true when I print them out. There’s something tangible and real to the story.

I also reached out to two friends who work in the HIV modernization space here in Indiana to include them as two new stories. Their faces & voices were premiered at Spirit and Place.

HIV Modernization
Ending The Stigma of People Living with HIV

Part of the Spirit & Place Festival

About this event

Through an art exhibit and panel discussion, learn how people living with HIV and their allies are working to end HIV stigma by modernizing Indiana’s outdated HIV criminal laws.

People living with HIV often face stigma and discrimination related to Indiana laws that criminalize them due to their positive HIV status. This event features speakers living with HIV who are working to end HIV criminalization through legislative change, activism, art, and community support.

A visual art show featuring Indy-based artist Contonnia Turner, Jr. and photographer/digital artist Todd Fuqua will provide a backdrop for the discussion. Contonnia Turner, Jr. is a talented young Black Hoosier with multiple layers of intersecting identity who creates artwork that reflects who he is physically, mentally, and spiritually. Todd Fuqua is an Indianapolis-based artivist (activism through art) who started a social movement called CelebrateUU, building on the concept of HIV Undetectable=Untransmittable (U=U).

Top Tips for Dating When You’re a Person Living with HIV (revisited). When WebMD lets you down (surprise), take artistic license! I know that’s a long title. Sorry, not sorry.

Today, I came across TWO sponsored ads on Facebook my WebMD. The worst of the two was about dating for people living with HIV. It sucked.

Needless to say both ads by WebMD left me wanting better.

For my sanity, I needed to right this wrong. So I’m re-writing their article with my own voice.

I’m admittedly plagiarizing in a creative licensing approach to bring at least one additional voice of lived experience. I really don’t think anyone is going to sue me over this, but if so, this is my act of corporate and civil disobedience.

Disclaimer: I’m SURE WebMD reviewed this content with their internal panel of people living with HIV for stigmatizing language for things that didn’t quite land right. The people involved did the best they could and intended no harm. In fact, it may have been written by someone who is also living with HIV. We are all human (including me).

Nonetheless, they fall short (as I’m sure I will from my narrow, majority-except-for-the-gay-thing GWM perspective). But here I go because I can’t be silent.

WebMD – get into 2022 and rework your language! Make it person-centric and don’t put the burden of discussing sexual health primarily on the person living with HIV. Consensual sex between two or more adults mean all parties are responsible for their own health, for asking the right questions, and for sharing important health information. Be precise with your language – language matters. We need medically accurate information.

Someone probably got PAID to write the WebMD article. I’m not getting paid. So please receive these edits as a Letter to the Editor, bringing about change by taking control of my own narrative.

For everyone – I want to learn more complete, helpful and accurate ways of writing too – so your comments are welcome. Your trolling is not – so don’t make me close comments.

Top Tips for Dating When You’re a Person Living with HIV (revisited)

Finding a partner while living with HIV may feel scary. Here are some tips from others who understand what you’re going through, who are also living and even thriving with HIV.

I give credit to WebMD for most of this content – source article here. I have added or edited content where I thought the information was dated, inaccurate or poorly worded. I’ll underline text where I made edits

Living With HIV

Finding a partner when HIV is something you’re living with can feel scary, but you can have a fulfilling relationship. HIV is treatable, and with treatment, you can live a long and normal life. Your partners can also take steps to minimize their personal risk of getting HIV.

Be Informed

It’s sometimes hard to talk about HIV with new or potential partners. It’s normal to feel stressed or embarrassed, but learning more about your condition can help. Ask your doctor about how and when to disclose your status. Do your own research online or by talking to a care coordinator, case worker, self-advocate, peer support, mentor, or other trusted, knowledgeable people in your community. Find a support group, in person or online. More information and conversations about HIV will make it easier to talk about living with HIV.

Remember That Treatment Is Prevention and U=U

HIV medication lowers the amount of HIV in your blood until it’s undetectable. This helps your immune system repairs itself and stops you from getting other illnesses. If you’re taking medication as directed and are undetectable for at least six months, the virus is untransmittable – a nerdy way of saying you cannot sexually transmit HIV to your partner. That’s right. U=U. Undetectable=Untransmittable. Can’t find it, can’t share it. It’s that simple.

Decide when it’s best to disclose

There are many factors to consider when deciding whether or not to disclose to your partner. Your safety is just as important as the safety of your sexual partner. There may be laws in your state that require you to tell your partner that you are living with HIV before having sex or sharing needles.

It is everyone’s responsibility to get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). No one can force you to disclose, but in most cases it is recommended to avoid misunderstanding and to do no harm.

But the world is grey, so here are some factors to consider in deciding when it’s best to disclose:

  • Knowing when to disclose your HIV status during dating can be a big worry. If you aren’t having sex, you can decide when to tell a potential partner. Talk about it when you’re both sober, and you feel safe.
  • In a safe, consensual relationship between two or more adults, it’s helpful for all partners to take the initiative to know and share their HIV status, either HIV negative or positive. In this way, everyone is taking responsibility and making decisions for their own sexual health.
  • In other circumstances, it may be unsafe to disclose your status to your partner because of abuse, domestic violence or other real life situations. Consider reaching out to a local domestic violence advocate for help in getting out of an unsafe situation. In some states, there may be legal risks for not disclosing. This is where harm reduction comes into play. What poses the least risk of harm? Do that first. But get help. You do not have to do this alone.
  • Knowing that an undetectable viral load poses no risk of sexual transmission means you can make informed decisions about whether or not to disclose your status. This is all about risk management and making informed choices based on your circumstances and the best information possible.
  • In some states, laws may be written that make it “their word against yours” if you were to be charged with a crime for not disclosing your status to a partner. Consider following up any important conversations with a brief email or text message as written proof that you disclosed your status. It may sound awkward to do, but the law isn’t always fair. Alternatively, send that email or text to yourself or make a note to a written diary of the date, time and details of the conversation.
  • Knowing the legal realities in your state for people living with HIV can help reduce fear, shame, stigma or other barriers to disclosure. Most states have information on HIV criminalization, or contact these national organizations [SERO, Health Not Prisons Collective]

Practice Harm Reduction to minimize risk

There are many things you and your partner can do to minimize risk associated with HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. The relative risk of any behavior increases if you have multiple partners.

  • Knowing the relative risk of various sexual behaviors, you can decide when to tell a potential partner based on whether you are engaging in behaviors that have no or negligible risk of transmission. [POZ Magazine Article on HIV Transmission & Risks] Talk about it when you’re both sober, and you feel safe.
  • Consider using condoms, which prevent HIV transmission as well as other sexually transmitted infections.
  • Practice safe sex by engaging in activities that pose no risk of HIV transmission. Oral sex has no risk of transmission as long as there are no open sores or cuts in the mouth or on the genitals. Touching, use of toys, frottage and mutual masturbation are examples of other safe sexual activities. Toys should not be shared, or if they are, clean them in between use. [POZ Magazine Article on HIV Transmission & Risks]

Request Your Partners to Take PrEP

Encourage your partners who are not living with HIV to talk to their doctor about PrEP. PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis, which means they take it before sex or needle sharing to lower their risk of infection. It’s a highly effective medicine. PrEP for your partner would make most sense if you aren’t undetectable or have trouble staying undetectable or in situations where there may be multiple partners involved.

Practice Self-Care

Whether or not you are living with HIV, dating and finding the right person takes time. You might feel stressed about your love life and how HIV affects your relationships, but be kind to yourself. Take time to do what makes you feel good and helps you maintain your sense of self.  

Find Support

Living with HIV can be stressful and lead to a lot of emotional distress. You might find it helpful to talk to a counselor about ways to cope with your feelings and your condition. Finding other people who live with HIV can help you feel a sense of community. Plus, you can ask them for advice.

Be Yourself

If you feel embarrassed about living with HIV, you’re not alone. But remember, it’s not something to feel ashamed about. Look for a partner who appreciates you for who you are. Be yourself and ask for help if you’re struggling to feel confident.

I will improve this, but wanted to get SOMETHING out that spoke more to my truth, to my experience, to my learning. I could do better. There are some places to flesh out. But it’s a start.

Keep tellin’ the story.


Professor C Todd Peacock III
Community Artivist, Connector, Storyteller & Healer

Artistic Bio

I created a profile for an online photography community. It’s sometimes hard for me to describe where I’ve landed as an artist & human being, here on October 14, 2022. That will change radically, or slowly, or organically, or tragically. More organic, less tragedy please. #NotMyCircus

Here’s what I came up with:

My main studio is C Todd Creations, focused on headshots, performing arts events + digital art rooted in photography. I like to dabble in many things, and stay away from others. I love working with drag performers, dancers & show choirs. I love nature, macro photography and digital creations that start with one or more images of my own. This is my primary professional brand @CToddCreations. Welcome!

My speciality studio is C Todd Dudeoir focused on photography for men + art that is body positive and inclusive. How I see my art in this space evolves with each conversation & understanding. ‘As I heal, I create; as I create, I heal.’ I love to explore art that pushes the edge of gender expression & identity. I create best in a collaborative setting so I work well with other artists, models & performers. I finding an intersection with sex positive communities, including leather, BDSM, cosplay and fem boy to name a few. “Never yuck on someone else’s yum!” “I’ll shoot anything twice, more if I like it!” This is my speciality studio @CToddDudeoir. Welcome!

As an artist, I explore art as therapy with an emphasis on stigma & shame, flipped and rescripted to reclaim its grip on my identity and self-confidence. Yea, mental health shit. This shows up in the form of artivism, a concept a read about when I discovered Through Positive Eyes. It inspired and informed my creative introduction to artivism with #CelebrateUU, in parallel to learning about art therapy as a tool for mental health & trauma informed living using harm reduction. This shows up in fine art projects, community art and artivism tied to my main studio @CToddCreations, under the emerging educator/performer persona Professor Peacock and under the pen blog CToddBeNow.net. Welcome!

Artist’s Profile, October 2022

I use a 70/20/10 rule of thumb that is aspirational or intentional. I have less control than I wish but accept that on most days. I’ve learned to just go along for the ride! Abide by The Four Agreements as best one can on any given day. Live for and in today.

At this phase in life, I think my work is 10/70/20 across C Todd Creations, Artivism, and C Todd Dudeoir. Again. Aspirational subject to change depending on what the Universe sets before me and the choices I make thereof 😉

Thanks for listening. This was really more for me. (Is anyone listening?)

Keep tellin’ the story.


Professor C Todd Peacock III
Community Artivist, Connector, Storyteller & Healer

#GameOn #CBD #TraumaInformedArt #TraumaInformedLiving #CelebrateUU