Here’s part two of Lynn Richardson’s (Global Grind’s financial coach), 5-hour sister-girl visit with Rae Lewis Thornton, the Emmy award winning HIV/AIDS Activist, the internationally renowned motivational speaker and ordained minister, and the unknown beauty who graced a 1994 cover of Essence Magazine with the headline, “I’m young, I’m educated, I’m drug-free, and I’m dying of AIDS”: GG: Rae, you said that at one point, you had a $54,000 Saks bill and now the money isn’t coming like it used to. How did you justify spending the way you did and what have you learned from losing it all?Rae: People say, “what was Rae buying from Saks for $54,000?” Well, I was the Diva of AIDS, spending money was a form of validation for me, and I wouldn’t just have one St. John suit, I would have 4 or 5 in each color! So for me, $54,000 could have easily been ten or eleven things. Times got so bad that eventually, even though I previously charged $2500 to $3500, I started accepting gigs for $50. I eventually let the finance company get my Jaguar . . . I loved my Jag! But today, I realize I don’t NEED a luxury car. I just need to get from point A to point B.
Today, because I still have a very open life, I am able to earn a living by help other people live theirs better . . . I talk about my life and apply it in a way that people can get it and I get over 15,000 visits each month on my blogs. One day this year, when I was speaking at an HBCU, a young lady asked me ‘how many lovers have you had?’ Now, I didn’t have a problem with the question, because with me, there is nothing I won’t tell if it’ll help someone. It was HOW she asked me. I can read people really well and I could tell she wanted to validate her own promiscuity. So I asked her why she wanted to know, and after we went back and forth, I said, “well, I’ve been f*#*ing since I was 13 and now I’m 48 and I haven’t stopped, you do the math.” [laughter from both of us!!! OMG!!] Of course, I found out later that she was the campus ‘ho’ and I was not going to allow her to validate her behavior with my life. But I am responsible. I’ve never had a man say “no” to sex . . . married men, and even men who want to have sex without a condom knowing full well that I have AIDs.
I keep it real and the reason why I am still in the game is people are willing to pay me for my transparency, and ultimately, for my willingness to help and serve others. I am an ordained minister and I know that God has an elevation for me, but I have learned that He wants me to know who to handle it. So I have learned how to budget, and I had already sold most of my furniture, my shoes, my purses and ½ of my clothes to put food on the table. And now, I am going to publish my memoir . . . yes, I will reveal who infected me . . . and I am going to keep living. That’s how I did it and that’s how I am going to keep doing it . . . I might be broke, but I’m not broken dammit. Y’all aint seen nothing yet.