Things Broken and Things Made New: an Oral History of HIV/AIDS and Spirituality.


This project is a contemporary collection, analysis, and presentation of oral histories from HIV-positive people in America. As of April 2020, nine individuals living with HIV were interviewed in conjunction with the Baylor Institute for Oral History, in order to collect qualitative information about their lifetime experiences with spirituality and worldview. Topics investigated under this umbrella include religious affiliation, family and community belonging, health, sexuality, and changes in belief. As this project explores a wide range of life experiences, many significant narratives from both religious and secular spaces are presented. Human worldviews–whether doctrinal or not–touch all facets of life, and so participants have spoken about a range of topics, including advocacy, identity, culture, and remembered conversations, among other experiences that relate to the search for metaphysical meaning. Participants came from Roman Catholic, Protestant, Latter-day Saints, Reform Jewish, Conservative Jewish, and nonreligious traditions. Some interviewees remained in these faith traditions, while others currently identify with traditions such as Buddhism, as nonreligious, atheist, or spiritual but not religious. Most participants identified as LGBTQ+. The methodology of this project is influenced by existing literature regarding the nature of HIV/AIDS and religion, scholarly oral history work, and the interview processes used by the Baylor Institute for Oral History. This project reports emergent themes common to the ways various individuals living with HIV have used spirituality and worldviews to navigate life. This is an ongoing archival project, to which the author plans to continue to contribute, with particular emphasis on continually increasing the diversity of the participant pool. Future interviews will be archived at the Baylor Institute for Oral History.