The Very Best of Humanity is Coming. So is the Worst.

The flyer was in my mailbox, folded and placed by an unknown neighbor. “NEED CORONAVIRUS HELP?” it read, explaining a local “Self-Quarantine Response Team” was here to support those “with compromised immune systems, those in quarantine – or even those who must work or have kids or feel isolated due to social distancing. Please retain this sheet,” it went on, “in the event you need help in the future and don’t hesitate to reach out!” I stood on my doorstep reading it, marveling at how quickly people who lived nearby had organized in the very first days of this growing […]

Stop Comparing Coronavirus to Early HIV/AIDS. Just Stop.

People ask me if our lives today feel like the early years of HIV/AIDS, and I want to scream.  There is no comparison. Just stop. No one cared about people dying of AIDS in the early years of the pandemic. The stock market didn’t budge. The President didn’t hold news conferences. Billions of dollars were not spent. In the early 1980’s, AIDS was killing all the right people. Homosexuals and drug addicts and Black men and women. There is no comparison to a new viral outbreak that might kill people society actually values, like your grandmother and her friends in […]

NMAC Changes Conference Name from AIDS to HIV…

First things first. I dont believe the national HIV agency,the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC), acted thoughtlessly toward people living with AIDS  only one of the accusations leveled against them  when NMAC decided to change the name of their annual conference from The US Conference on AIDS to The US Conference on HIV. The announcement this week of the conference name change produced some visceral reactions, however, including the charge that NMAC had, in one fell swoop, increased exponentially the stigma faced by people living with AIDS. And it is that word, AIDS, tacked there at the end of the […]

How Dare Leo Herrera Pretend AIDS Never Existed?

What would the lives of gay men be like today if AIDS never happened? Filmmaker Leo Herrera’s answer to that question is a genre-busting web series “The Fathers Project.” A dreamlike mix of actual historical information and clever wish-fulfilment – with plenty of sex for good measure – Herrera’s series takes us on quite a fantastical journey (the complete series is included in one video, below). “Fathers” also gave me a strange pang of discomfort. As someone who has chronicled the epidemic since it began, there was a small but persistent voice in my head as I watched the series, […]

Italians Honored World AIDS Day

WHAT A DISTINCT PLEASURE to be in the company of spirited Italians for the week of World AIDS Day in early December. I was honored to be the guest of Plus Onlus, their national coalition of gay men living with HIV and their allies, and on Saturday, November 30th, they joined forces with Komos, the Bologna gay men’s chorus, for a night of music and advocacy that I will not soon forget. My role was to present three segments to the audience which filled the Teatro Testoni to the rafters: the past, present, and future of the HIV epidemic. I […]

Comic Adam Sank Won’t Do HIV Jokes

Comedian Adam Sank has a joke about HIV that left me gasping when he told it to me, the kind of story that has a punchline that mortifies you with shock and a naughty, guilty delight. I would tell you this joke right away but you might get the wrong idea about Adam. There are other things you should know about him first. Adam was a frustrated musical theatre geek in college, made all the more frustrating because he wasn’t the greatest singer or dancer. But he did have confidence. What he needed was the right platform. When Adam graduated with a […]

Activists Halt US Conference on AIDS to Protest CDC

Dr. Robert Redfield, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surely saw it coming. Protests are part of the DNA of the United States Conference on AIDS (USCA), and conference organizers have never shied from welcoming dissent from activists. In fact, they schedule time in their finely produced event for just such occasions. Still, when a large group of diverse activists stormed the stage during the opening plenary on Thursday, their sheer number was impressive, as were their considerable list of grievances against the CDC and, in sometimes very direct and personal terms, against CDC Director […]

The U.S. Border Patrol is Separating People with HIV from Their Family

The slow-motion train wreck once known as the United States Constitution continued its human wreckage Thursday, when Chief Brian Hastings of the Custom and Border Patrol (CBP) casually explained to Rep. Jamie Raskin in a congressional hearing that HIV status is a criteria used to separate families at the border. The House Judiciary Committee hearing, “Oversight of Family Separation and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Hearing,” contained this jaw-dropping exchange between the two men (it occurs around the 2:26:00 mark in the video below):   Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD): If a mother or father has an HIV positive status, is that […]

We Must Reinvigorate AIDS Fight

For many years, I’ve viewed activist Larry Bryant, Jr., as one of the most highly regarded voices of conscience in the HIV/AIDS movement, and among black men in particular. At the recent Reunion Project event in Washington, DC – a day of education and community for long-term survivors – Larry laid bare his life with HIV and his observations from decades in the HIV arena. Larry does not mince words. He calls out other community figures when he sees fit. He names names. He exposes racism and transphobia, even among our ranks. His keynote speech taught me, shamed me, and maddened me. That’s […]

IML Winner Jack Thompson

… on sex, HIV, and facing transphobia Jack Thompson, who just won the 2019 International Mr. Leather (IML), is a lot. And he carries it well. Jack is biracial. He’s gay. He’s transgender. He’s extremely kinky, depending on what scale you use to measure such things. Jack is also utterly transparent about all that he is, to a disarming degree. His speech at the IML competition (“You are enough.”) laid bare all of his identities and became an instant viral meme. Over breakfast at his favorite diner in his newly adopted home city of Baltimore, Jack discussed coming out (as many things), sex, […]