This post is extremely hard for me to post. Although it’s been a few years, I will never forget the day I found out Pimp had passed. Prior to his passing, people around him were spreading rumors that he had passed on so when the news hit, I didn’t want to believe it. Unfortunately this time it was true.
“Those of us who knew of Taron through his performances – a short chapter in an even shorter life – are saddened, shocked, confused by the jarring juxtaposition of sex and death, of youth and mortality. And there will be those who will write Taron off for the path he traveled; “another dead porn star”, as if witnessing him having sex diminishes him, but not the viewer.”
Taron O. Webb was born November 1, 1982.
Aside from being a Flavaworks model under the alias “Pimp”. This Chicago native went on to be a visible community activist. At the time of his death he was in a civil union with his partner Mike Da’Great Davis. He was an alto in the Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus.
He died May 18, 2015 at the age of 32. He leaves behind one daughter and host of loved ones.
Here are some excerpts from a 21-year-old Taron sharing his diary…
What’s it like to be HIV positive? TaRon Webb, 21
and a single father, lets us peep his diary.
THURSDAY: PILLS, PILLS, PILLS
I take eight pills a day for HIV, and I usually take my morning set with a piece of toast before I walk out the door. But I was rushing today—flying out to the Ryan White National Youth Conference in Portland, Oregon—and I couldn’t do it until I got to the airport. Some folks were staring like they never saw somebody take medicine before. I’m not shy about taking my meds in public. Maybe it will help other young, positive people take care of themselves.
But I haven’t always been so good. When I first started meds, I had diarrhea, dizziness, tiredness and vomiting for two months straight. I didn’t really stick with it, so I became resistant to a drug I was taking at the time. My viral load shot up, and my T cells dropped from 350 to 215, leaving me open to serious infections. That scared me into doing things right.
FRIDAY: BACK IN THE DAY
My conference roommate and I stayed up all night sharing our life stories. That brought back a lot of memories.
During my childhood, I felt like I didn’t have anyone to love me, so I turned to the streets. I started having sex (with men and women) when I was 14. I started running away from home at 15 and was in the hospital three times for mental-health problems. I finally found true love at 17, when my daughter, Janelle, was born.
When I tested positive in December 2001 at age 18, I was mad at the world (Janelle was negative, thank God). At the same time, I was numb. I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t go to a doctor. I just stopped eating and stayed in my room. When people would ask what was wrong, I’d lie and say nothing.
This went on until four months later, when my uncle died from AIDS at age 26. That convinced me to get into care. I got on meds and started counseling. Two days after we buried my uncle, I told my family. I had been afraid they would treat me different, but they embraced me and loved me more. I lay up some nights and wonder who infected me. Whoever it was, I’m not mad at them. If I had the chance to give HIV back to this person, I wouldn’t. No one deserves this.
MONDAY: LOVE CONNECTION
I thought this Valentine’s Day was going to be the most boring of my life. They had a dance at the conference, and I didn’t have a date. But at the last minute, this girl asked me, and it was so much fun. We went to a club afterward and stayed out till the police ran us in!
Last night was even better. They had an open mic and I read a poem, which everyone loved.
I also met a boy I really like. He held me all night long and gave me this feeling only one other person ever had. If he lived in Chicago instead of Columbus, Ohio, I would fall in love.
TUESDAY: HARSH HOMECOMING
Today, I’m back home in Chicago, and I feel sick. My back hurts, and I can’t stop urinating.I don’t know if it’s the HIV or the meds or what. About two and half months ago, I was peeing blood— something that has been happening on and off for almost four years. This time it lasted two weeks. My doctor, Kelly Ann Bojan, MD, doesn’t know what’s wrong, so she’s sending me to a kidney specialist. I’m not scared, though; I’ve already prayed about it.
Sometimes I wonder if I’ll get sick and die slowly. That’s not the way I want to die—I watched my uncle and dozens of my friends die like that. But I’m more afraid I won’t see my child grow up. She’s the reason I take eight pills a day. I just think about her life and do what I need to do.
FRIDAY: BACK TO LIFE
I woke up feeling better. Kelly informed me that my T-cell count is rising and that I’m doing good. I’m so proud of myself.
I used to say the day my child was born was the happiest day of my life, but I have another one to add: the day I went to the CORE Center to get care (it’s part of the John H. Stroger Hospital in Chicago.) The folks there are like family.
In 2002, they hired me to be a peer educator. I’ve lobbied on Capitol Hill for positive people’s rights, and I visit HIV patients in Chicagoland hospitals. I also go to local jails to encourage prisoners to get tested. I am even working on starting my own organization called HAPPY (HIV, AIDS Prevention, Protecting Yourself).
MONDAY: TRUTH HURTS
I went to the club with this boy last night. We were having fun until this guy I know told my friend not to talk to me because he’d seen me on the news last month and I had AIDS. I was so hurt. This guy was in the hospital three weeks ago—everyone knows he is positive, but he is too ashamed to say anything. I told him, “If you loved yourself, you’d take care of yourself.” He should not put me down. He’s one of the people I fight for every day.
After we left the club, my new “friend” told me we couldn’t hang out anymore because he was embarrassed in front of all those people. I told him OK. I couldn’t tell him I was sorry because I didn’t do anything wrong. If we had been sleeping together, I would have told him from the beginning that I’m positive. I enjoyed our friendship, but I guess we really didn’t have one in the first place.
Today, Kelly saw spots in my lungs on an X-ray and told me that I had to take some new meds—one pill every other day—because I have PCP pneumonia. I’ve been having chills and night sweats. I probably should be scared, but I’m not. When it is my time to die, I want it just to happen. I went and made prefuneral arrangements so that when it does, I will be buried the way I want and deserve to be.
I’m going to Columbus to see my baby—the man I met at Ryan White. He is so sexy and sweet to me. We talk every day and tell each other how much we love and miss each other. It upsets me that Bush is trying to ban gay marriages. He doesn’t have that right. If we want to get married, let us. Love is love, no matter if it’s same or opposite sex.
While I waited for the Greyhound bus, a funny question came into my head: If I could remove HIV from my life, would I? Believe it or not, my answer is no, although it has been hell. Why? Because every bad thing the devil has meant for me, God has turned to good. So I will continue to do all I can to stop the spread of AIDS and HIV and to give hope to people living with it.