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 […]

Doing Our Part

I’m the type off person that likes to know exactly how we’re getting to a destination; accomplishing a goal; or moving forward. This need to plan also includes being able to see the entire map before I start any trip. It can be annoying for others who like to “go with the flow.” The need to plan can be frustrating for me with this work because of the uncertainty. Needless to say, I’ve had to learn to accept and embrace uncertainty. Maybe you are like me? This worldwide endeavor that so many advocates and educators are on to do the […]

Outwardly Affirming

“The assumption is negative unless you are outwardly affirming.” – Tom Koerber Now, you may already know this. Then again you may not. Cpl. Robert Koch joined the growing list of Maryland LGBTQ liaisons throughout our state in April. He joins professionals like Jabari Lyles of the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office; Lt. Becky Fetcher of the Hagerstown police department; Sommer Gray of Sinai / Lifebridge Health – just to name a few. In Cpl. Koch’s own words – directly from the Anne Arundel county police department’s official press release, “As a member of the LGBTQ community myself, I feel honored […]

Call Me By My Name

Since December 2017 the Anne Arundel County Police Department has had a department policy on how to interact with transgender people in an appropriate and dignified manner. We’ve been reviewing the policy in class. The policy states that, “no person shall be discriminated against based on gender identity, sexual orientation, or any other basis.” The policy not only provides some very basic definitions, it also gives instructions on addressing members of the trans community with a person’s preferred first name and appropriate pronouns. The policy prompts the officer to remember that you can’t ask a person about their anatomy or […]

Why I Wanted to Move to Iceland as a Teenager

Most teenagers have probably never given Iceland much of a thought. In fact, most teenagers probably can’t even find Iceland on a map unless they’ve taken a world geography course before. I, on the other hand, desperately longed to live there when I was a teenager. What was it about the land of fire and ice that intrigued me so much? It was the fact that Iceland was the first country to ever have an openly gay head of state. Now, as a more mature 25-year-old trans woman, I’m absolutely thrilled by the fact that there’s a very real chance […]

Talking with Police

In December 2018 Corporal Erica Mahan from the Anne Arundel County Police Department Training Academy reached out the Maryland LGBT Chamber of Commerce seeking a trainer to conduct LGBT Cultural Awareness classes to all police officers during their annual in-service trainings. I was one of the trainers the Chamber recommended. What I’ve since learned is that the Training Academy had been conducting diversity training for the County officers for several years as part of Chief Timothy Altomare’s fair and impartial policing mandate. Learning about the many communities that make up the county gives the officers a better understanding of who’s […]

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 […]

Changing with the Times

Let’s talk about the cops – today’s cops. Not the cops from 50 years ago, ten years ago, or even last year. I’m talking about the ones in uniform today who want to be included in our community, who want to protect us, and treat us as equal human beings of worth and value. I’m not talking about the cops who dismiss us, or bully us, or don’t give our humanity a second thought. I’m talking about the ones who want to understand us; who want to defend us; change policies, procedures, and ultimately laws for us. The cops who […]

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 […]

Rainbow Retirement

by Jennifer Jimenez Maraña The older adult population is growing larger and more diverse. As older adults of all backgrounds age, where can someone find a community of active older adults who are living their best life and making the most of retirement? Who would care for older adults if they need help with activities of daily life and/or support with health issues? When I was growing up, my parents set the expectation for me and my siblings that we would care for them when they were older. We were not to send my parents to “those facilities” also known […]