Man With AIDS Confronts Unprotected Past in New Documentary

William “Reds” Brawner,” a Howard University Graduate who was known as a ladies man on campus, had many conquests under his belt but he also harbored a dark secret. He had been living with AIDS since he was a baby. Brawner has come to terms with his disease since graduation. He also became an activist to spread awareness to the deadly condition and now there’s a documentary entitled 25 to Life about his life.

Via The Loop 21: Howard University campus heartthrob William “Reds” Brawner was a hot commodity. His former roommate and friend Mike Brown recalls an incident from their junior year.

“I didn’t know that Reds had a female guest in his room when another girl showed up unannounced,” says Brown, who was left to answer the door. “Will liked the girls and the girls liked Will,” Brown says with a chuckle. They were young men in their college prime. This was a simpler time.

That simplicity for Brown and for so many others was lost in the summer of 2006, when Brawner began to tell the world that he had AIDS. A secret kept this from everyone at Howard, including his sex partners.

Everyone in their social circle seems to remember how they learned of his status and how it seemed like yesterday: Brown’s call came from a friend who lived in Baltimore who learned that Brawner was going to be featured in ESSENCE magazine.

“She asked me,’What’s Reds’ real name?’” Brown, then a film student at NYU, told Loop 21. “Then when I told her, she said, ‘Reds has AIDS.’ I was just so shocked he was carrying this secret. I knew him as the William Brawner that everyone else knew on campus. He was this gregarious, outgoing ladies man.”

Quickly, Brown knew he wanted to help share his friend’s story. There had to be reason to hold so much in for so long. It would take five years and countless hours of filming to help capture Brawner’s story and on World AIDS Day in New York City, Brawner, Brown and producer Yvonne M. Shirley will show an extended trailer of 25 to LIFE, a documentary based on Brawner’s journey.

The extended trailer will be show today, World AIDS Day in New York City. Read more at The Loop 21.