Once, When We Were Heroes

Each year, in honor of World AIDS Day on December 1st, I share my piece “Once, When We Were Heroes.” I will never, ever capture the early days of AIDS any better than this. I’m proud of it, yes, but it’s strange because I feel like I channeled it rather than wrote it. I think some old friends might have helped me with this one. Thanks for reading and for sharing this. MY BROTHER RICHARD smiles a lot. He has an easy laugh. But there was a time, years ago, when he held a poisonous drink in his hands and […]

LGBT economic equality and empowerment

Last week, as I turned the pages of my local daily newspaper, the newspaper of record, I saw a few pages of ads from the city notifying the public of the coming elections, where the polling stations were and what was on the ballot. This is common practice from governments around the country. And in many of those municipalities, they also place those ads in community newspapers to ensure the participation of minority communities who have been left out of the process.   So I smiled when I saw those ads, since those same ads were in this paper last […]

What 5,000 Sex Phone Calls…… Taught me about gay men

The number might be a little low. Over the course of my “phone fantasy” career in the 1980s, I spoke to as many as ten customers in a given day, numbering in the many thousands over the years. That’s a lot of heavy breathing. It began when I was a struggling actor in Los Angeles and needed income. I went to work for a gay phone sex company, the kind that doesn’t really exist anymore, that predates hook-up apps or even the internet. Customers responded to ads in the gay skin magazines and, for what we would now consider an […]

The Rainbow-Lit White House Made America Greater

Michelle Obama is African-American, straight, a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law, economically well off, a former First Lady, and gorgeously tall. It just so happens that I am none of these things. In fact, we could not be more different. And yet, when the Supreme Court ruled that I was free to legally marry in any state in America, Michelle Obama was lit throughout with excitement and joy. On that hot June night in 2015 when the Supreme Court came down with the decision in Washington legalizing gay marriage all over this country, it was a thrilling night […]

LGBT History: 50 Years On: Busting the Myths of Stonewall

Each of us who were at Stonewall has a different view of the event. They run the gamut from it being a rebellion, a riot, a revolution, or simply a night of the queens having fun and taking over their home, Christopher Street. There are many other versions espoused by people who were there, historical scholars, journalists, and people who like to make things up. Let’s parse out the facts and inconsistences of all of these views. First: who was there? It amazed me, as I was on my book tour, how many people came up to me and asked, […]

This Drag Queen Will Steal Your Heart…

The Kinsey Sicks have been at this a long time. The a cappella singing group of gay men in drag are celebrating 25 years of performing shows that are equal parts camp comedy and very of-the-moment political humor. Benjamin Schatz is an original member of the group, appearing as his drag alter ego Rachel, a character with a penchant for putdowns and a lust for the spotlight. But there’s political humor and then there is true, mortal heartbreak. Benjamin, who writes much of the shows and lyrics, had something important to say, something that had weighed on his mind for many years. He […]

Dr. Leana Wen Looked Out For Us

“In one hospital, a man is denied surgery for a broken arm because he’s transgender. A woman is told she can’t get birth control because she’s unmarried. A child won’t be given vaccinations because he has same-sex parents. You might be wondering what barbaric society could allow laws that permit such blatant discrimination. That society is ours, and the laws are already in place.” –Dr. Leana Wen ••• THIS IS LEANA WEN’S recent description of the Trump administration’s creation of a Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within the Department of Health & Human Services, thus expanding the right of health care […]

How HIV Activists Helped Create the Jeff Flake Elevator Moment

Very little happens by accident. The most iconic moments in HIV/AIDS activism – the appearance of the early SILENCE=DEATH meme, the footage of AIDS activist Peter Staley being peeled from a building during a protest, the photos of Sen. Jesse Helms’s home wrapped in an enormous condom – were the product of weeks of careful planning and design. So, too, were HIV activists involved in the soul-gutting footage of women confronting Sen. Jeff Flake in an elevator during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. It’s a fascinating story. At the recent “We, the Positive” summit in Jackson, Mississippi (hosted by the Mississippi Positive Network and My Brother’s Keeper), […]

Furor Over Int’l AIDS Confab Set for US

 It is every bit as absurd as it sounds. The International AIDS Society (IAS) plans to hold their global AIDS 2020 conference in San Francisco – an insanely expensive and privileged city located in a country that has become dangerously inhospitable to the very populations the IAS claims to serve. Thank goodness for a growing army of activists and organizations (under the banner of #AIDS2020forAll) who are demanding that the IAS remove the conference from the US. Maybe this all looks like inside baseball to you, a ruckus between factions, but I am here to tell you that this has everything to do with our […]

Five Takeaways from the 2018 US Conference on AIDS

The 2018 US Conference on AIDS (USCA) – the HIV advocacy, education and networking behemoth produced by the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) – is the benevolent and wealthy grandfather of the HIV conference scene. We adore him sincerely, we marvel at his station in the world and the fortitude that got him there, and we tread carefully. And sometimes, to our delight or to our chagrin, Grandpa does the damnedest things. The recent USCA in Orlando was no exception. Thousands of community HIV advocates converged in Orlando on September 6th to 9th for a highly professional event rich with corporate sponsors […]