Powered by Google TranslateTranslate
Derrick "Strawberry" Cox, Spreading Joy & Love to My Community
Whitman-Walker Health
Whitman-Walker Health

June 03, 2018

As part of Whitman-Walker 40th anniversary, officially January 13, 2018, we’re sharing 40 stories to help tell the narrative of the Whitman-Walker community. We’d like to introduce you to Derrick Cox, affectionately known as Strawberry. An actor, model, dancer and activist in DC, Strawberry enjoys spreading as much great energy as he can. A native Washingtonian, Strawberry shares his story of being positive in the age of one-pill-a-day HIV treatment.

Click the orange play button below to hear Strawberry's 2017 oral history - a recorded interview with an individual having personal knowledge of past events.

 

Five Quotes from Strawberry’s Oral History

On the Impact TV Had on Him:

“...TV raised me. So, since I was already, I guess, as they say ‘feminine,’ or whatever the case was, I just did what it… because I have a lot of females in my family. So, I just did what I seen my aunts and my grandmother and them do. So, you know, they did the cooking, the cleaning. My family did hair, so it was just like everything I saw them do, I decided to learn how to do also. And then that kind of helped out with raising my brother and then my cousins, doing their hair, making sure they took a bath, make sure they did their homework, cooking for them. So, it became like an actuality thing. So, in my mind, I was just like TV like Lifetime, Logo. Just like all these movies where the mother figure took care of everything, because the father was always out there working. So, since my mother was always out at work, I was like, ‘Well then, I´m going to take on that mother role.’ And so, my goal in life was the be, you know, the perfect housewife type situation. So, TV taught me how to do the basics of what I needed to do.”

Strawberry at Whitman-Walker's 2017 World AIDS Day prayer breakfast.

On His Introduction to HIV:

“Well so, going into middle school, we had a sex-ed class. That’s where I initially learned about all the STDs and HIV. And, I learnt that all the STDs some of them was curable, but some of them can cure, but they can come back, so you have to know, retreat yourself. But then the whole HIV situation, they made it seem like that was the ‘Aaah! Like if you get this, you´re dead. So, protected sex is a must, because once you get this, it´s over for you.’ And it was real funny, because it was just like you hear what people used to say back in the day, as far as what you used to say. And I always told myself, I was like uh-uh, if I ever get HIV, I´m just going to go to jail. Yeah, I’m just going to let them have their way with me, because if I´m going to die, then most of them will die anyway. Anyway, they are in jail, so I might as well help the cause. So that was my theory on it. I just said it, because you know I figured I would never be in this situation because I had this huge love for myself, and my body. And I was like so careful and overprotective. So, I was just like, ‘I´m good. I ain’t never worrying about it.’ Fool me!"

On His Introduction to Whitman-Walker’s Max Robinson Center:

“I just Googled ‘gay doctors.’ Like I was like, okay. So, I wanted to go to… because I was like I want to have one of my own doctors. So, I was like not necessarily my doctor didn’t have to be gay, I just wanted to go to a place where gay people go to. And I was just like, gay doctor and whatever. You know, like I was Googling places, and I was like gay doctor, gay places. I wasn’t getting the wording right, because you know a lot of porn and stripper stuff was coming up. And I was like, ‘okay.’ I had to finally put in, I was like okay, I was like ‘prescriptions for gay clients’ and stuff like that. So, I was just like making up stuff. And then Max Robinson came up, and then I saw… I didn’t see a rainbow. But I saw the, it was like red, green, red, yellow, green, blue. I was like, well that’s four colors. That’s enough for me. I’ll check it out. So, I went to Max Robinson, and then that’s where I met Adisa. And he had this wonderful personality.”

Strawberry and his peer support colleagues in Whitman-Walker's 2016 We See You campaign photoshoot.

On Learning about the Stigma Around Whitman-Walker and HIV Clinics:

“But when I initially wanted to go there, what I heard about it was it was just a place for people with HIV, or whatever the case was. And at the time, I didn’t have it yet. So, it was just like, ‘Well I don’t have HIV, but I´m going to go see my doctor.’ So, I was just like, you know I ain’t got nothing to do with that part. So, I went there, and when I went there, it was very welcoming. Like literally everyone spoke to the people behind the counter, to the people sitting in the waiting room. And like the nurse that came out, she came out with such a big smile on her face. And when she was calling people names, so it was just like they made them feel welcome.

Like when I heard that it was a place for people with HIV, I didn’t think too much of it. But then like along the way, then I started to figure out the like the bad stigma behind what people are saying about Whitman-Walker or Max Robinson, or any certain type of clinic.”

Strawberry at his home after recording his 2017 oral history.

On Finding A Home in His HIV Support Group:

“HEPI stands for HIV Education and Peer Inspiration. It came to be one of those positive HIV groups, that people come together of all ages and stages and different backgrounds.

And they get to share their story, feel better about their story, or what happened, what they didn’t have control over, what they had control over, what they could have done, the decision they could have made better, or where they just stood at now with it. So, it was basically a support group for people living with HIV or AIDS. And it was there to help them understand that whatever happened, it happened. It doesn’t matter. And you living in this situation now, and as long as you accept your situation, that’s all you need to know from there. And you started to build yourself up from there. And it just goes to show that no matter what age, because you have people as young as I was in there as far as people closer to, I believe the oldest person in there was 72 years old. And everything still worked, arms and legs. And so, it was pretty amazing to see so many different people of different ages speak about their story, and how medicine wasn´t provided for them back in the day, especially a one pill regimen. You got some, he said he had to take I believe like 13 pills a day. And he was like it was hard to consume all that medicine, and not having enough food or not having money to pay for bills. It was just like to take care yourself in a healthy way, but then to still care of yourself and the responsible reality living way, it was just such a huge unbalance for a lot of people. And it’s still like that for some people today, except you´re not heavily medicated now. You still got that one pill, but you know you still got those stressful situations and that motivation that you want to keep in the back of your head. Like okay, well as long as I´m staying healthy then that´s more important than the job. Or if I can make it to work today or tonight, or if I can eat today or tomorrow.”

All our Services are available in multiple languages upon request.

Our bilingual staff and volunteers will help get the language services you need!

202.745.7000

You might also be interested in

40 STORIES

Our 40th Year in Review

October 14, 2018

40 STORIES

Valeria Villalta, “To live exactly who you want...

October 07, 2018

40 STORIES

More than 40 Years Later, What We’ve Learned & ...

September 30, 2018

40 STORIES

Our Journeys to Whitman-Walker

September 23, 2018

40 STORIES

“We Can See the Finish Line” ﹘ A Photo History ...

September 16, 2018

40 STORIES

Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center, A Home of Dign...

September 09, 2018

40 STORIES

Amelie Zurn, Embracing Feminist Health Practice...

September 02, 2018

40 STORIES

“Together, Let’s Educate Ourselves to Live” - T...

August 26, 2018

40 STORIES

Ellen Kahn, Finding Purpose & Community During ...

August 19, 2018

40 STORIES

Antonio Hardy, Being a Resource to My Peers

August 12, 2018

40 STORIES

Lesbian Services Program, Meeting the Health Ne...

August 05, 2018

40 STORIES

Michael Shilby, Feeling Calm, Centered & Seen a...

July 29, 2018

40 STORIES

1407 S Street, A Pillar of Hope

July 22, 2018

40 STORIES

The Bill Austin Day Treatment Center

July 15, 2018

40 STORIES

Whitman-Walker Health, We See You

July 08, 2018

40 STORIES

Tony Burns, Learning and Living with HIV in Was...

July 01, 2018

BLOG

Keeping My Community In Mind

June 29, 2018

BLOG

New Transgender Women's Health Study Now Enrolling

June 26, 2018

40 STORIES

Ahmed, Gaining Strength & Living Each Day Like ...

June 24, 2018

40 STORIES

The Power of Mentorship and Thriving with HIV

June 17, 2018

POLICY BLOG

Masterpiece Cake – What Did the Supreme Court D...

June 12, 2018

40 STORIES

Joe Izzo, Re-Defining Safer Sex in the Age of H...

June 10, 2018

40 STORIES

Derrick "Strawberry" Cox, Spreading Joy & Love ...

June 03, 2018

40 STORIES

Lili Leonard, The Strength of Being a Lifelong ...

May 27, 2018

40 STORIES

D. Magrini, A Washingtonian & What She Wishes S...

May 20, 2018

40 STORIES

Winifred Quinn, Advocating for LGBTQ Seniors th...

May 13, 2018

40 STORIES

Don Blanchon, Recognizing 12 Years of Servant L...

May 05, 2018

40 STORIES

Adisa Bakare, A Helpful & Passionate “Leader of...

April 29, 2018

40 STORIES

Randy Pumphrey, Amplifying the Memories of Long...

April 22, 2018

40 STORIES

Bianca Rey, Advocating for Myself and My Commun...

April 15, 2018

40 STORIES

Barbara Lewis, Empowering Women through Healthcare

April 08, 2018

40 STORIES

Max Robinson, A Pioneer of Black Journalism

April 01, 2018

40 STORIES

Gerard Tyler, Disco & Getting Friends Tested

March 25, 2018

40 STORIES

Carl Corbin, Whitman-Walker Makes Me Feel Like ...

March 18, 2018

40 STORIES

Joanne Sincero, Serving Empathy

March 11, 2018

40 STORIES

Chris Straley, Understanding Us as People

March 04, 2018

40 STORIES

Richshaad Ryan, Marking Each Birthday with an H...

February 25, 2018

40 STORIES

Grayson & Christine, I See the Real You

February 17, 2018

40 STORIES

Kermit Turner, Music Notes and the Many Faces o...

February 11, 2018

40 STORIES

Madison Chambers, Growing & Educating with Real...

February 03, 2018

40 STORIES

Jim Graham, An Influential Leader

January 27, 2018

40 STORIES

Meet Dr. Mary Edwards “Walker”

January 20, 2018

40 STORIES

Meet Walt Whitman

January 13, 2018

POLICY BLOG

Moving the Needle on Reproductive Justice and F...

April 17, 2017

POLICY BLOG

A Major Step Forward for LGBTQ Civil Rights

April 13, 2017

POLICY BLOG

Summit on Black Lives: Black America’s Response...

February 08, 2017

Let's Keep in Touch

Get the latest Whitman-Walker Health community news delivered to your inbox!

SUBMIT