Surviving Life Itself

I am a 57-year-old gay man. I have survived things. In the decades since AIDS began murdering my friends, I have faced a host of perilous circumstances apart from my own HIV infection, including a car crash, drug addiction, serious medical procedures, and weapons pointed in my direction. Like everyone else, positive and negative alike, I am a survivor of life itself. My status as a long-term HIV survivor does not make me a champion or a museum piece to be examined and admired. I am a man in the prime of his life. My age and maturity guide me, […]

Running to Keep Our Seat at the Table

I am running to retain my position on the Howard County Democratic Central Committee. As such, I am the only openly LGBTQ candidate in the race that consists of 30 candidates. It is vital that the central committee, whose principal task among others is to find and support progressive Democrats, have LGBTQ representation. While others may profess their full support for LGBT rights and equality, being actually LGBTQ and having lived through the journey of coming out and dealing with issues that directly impact the LGBTQ population make me uniquely qualified to represent and promote LGBTQ interests. I am an […]

Finding Common Ground in LGBT Health Centers

The LGBT medical clinic in Philadelphia, Mazzoni Center, which serves more than 35,000 clients, announced that the board had appointed a new CEO. Lydia Gonzalez Scirarrino, it turns out, is not LGBT, and that seemed to distress some people in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. How could a non-LGBT person head an organization that has a majority of its clients from the LGBT community? There seems to be a way to find common ground on this issue, and it’s possible that the answer is already out there. Take Washington, DC, as an example. The LGBT community clinic […]

It’s Official: I’m History

Just saying that I am humbled is not enough: It is an honor of a lifetime. By the title of this column, I’m not talking about my age, but something that I’m still processing. There have been many honors over the last few years, but this is something that happens to few Americans, and I never expected it to happen to me. My personal papers of the last 50 years will soon be alongside people like Benjamin Franklin, George Washington LGBT pioneer Frank Kameny and even Judy Garland’s ruby-red slippers. It seems strange to say, but I’ve been asked by […]

When Political Connections Allow Discrimination…

For our family at Philadelphia Gay News, this has been what you might call a mixed couple of weeks. It started with the death of one of our extended family members, Mike Petty, the husband of Don Pignolet, who has been with this paper since its beginning. Naturally our hearts and first concerns were with Don. It also gave us each a time to reflect. As we saw the love they shared, we were able to look into our own relationships and see joy. Don, the trooper he has always been, has kept up his PGN schedule. It has been […]

Redemption After Meth Addiction Catching up with revered AIDS doctor Gabriel Torres

The article appeared in New York magazine in 2008. I remember it quite distinctly. Titled “Another AIDS Casualty” and written by David France, the profile of once-famous New York AIDS physician Dr. Ramon “Gabriel” Torres was a heart-wrenching read. The story outlined a horrifying downward spiral brought on by Torres’s meth addiction, a habit he had picked up in the mid-1990s just as new HIV medications were calming the mortal tidal waves that Torres had been fighting for years in his role as director of AIDS programs at St Vincent’s Medical Center in New York City. Torres fell from a high perch, having […]

Visiting Future Leaders Ask: How Did We Get This Far?

This week I had a great honor. While we in the US are concerned with the state of our struggle for equality and worry each day how the Trump administration wants to dismantle the gains we’ve made, I had the opportunity to meet this week as part of a program from the US State Department called the International Visitor Leadership Program. Seventeen future leaders from central and South America visit the United States, and what the program does is try to show young future leaders of various countries how the US political system operates. Part of that is community involvement, […]

I Wrote ‘The Truth About the 7,000’ What now?

  It began with a death and a lingering question. After a friend – an advocate who knew what to do to stay alive – died of an AIDS-related cause a few months ago, I was left wondering why. Together with other deaths in the news of people “unexpectedly” dying the same way, it felt like a tragic trend. Fortunately, Poz magazine editor Oriol Gutierrez encouraged my instincts that there might be a larger story here. I wanted to know who the 7,000 people are who die of AIDS-related causes in the USA each year, and why it happens. In […]

VP Mike Pence is on My Radar, Wonder Why?

Is Vice President Mike Pence a closeted, deep-in-self-hate raging homo? Is that self-hate so intolerable for him that he’s become the commander in chief at the White House in pushing the most homophobic agenda since McCarthy’s un-American hearings in the 1950s and the George W. Bush anti gay-marriage reelection bid? When they witness a rabid homophobe, many people in our community believe that they’re acting out due to their own sexuality issues. I’ve never subscribed to that point of view, but Mike Pence is about to change my position. Like you, I’ve heard the rumors that he went through conversion […]

Racquetball as an Exercise in Humility

  My friend Jon is a gracious winner, as well he should be. He’s had a lot of practice. During the months we have been playing racquetball together, I have never won a game. Not one. I hate Jon so much. I like to play games I can win, which is why I have a ping-pong table in the basement and will invite anyone who visits to play a game. I’m a great ping-pong player. If you say you haven’t played in years or that you aren’t very good, I will talk you into a friendly game anyway and yes, […]