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The July/August 2015 issue of POZ magazine is online.

Here's an excerpt from my editor's letter:

So I admire people who take the heat--literally and figuratively--every day in the Southern United States, the hot spot domestically for HIV/AIDS. It is no exaggeration to say that the South, on virtually any bad HIV/AIDS statistic you can think of, is sadly at or near the top of the list.

Despite the heat, there are bright spots in the fight against the virus in the South. A peer-to-peer program at AIDS Alabama called Living Well is one excellent example. The program employs HIV-positive advocates to help break down barriers to care and treatment for fellow HIV-positive people.

Three of these peer advocates grace our cover--Andrew Ballard, Debra Richards and Tommy Williams. Their journeys living with the virus are in themselves inspiring, but their commitment to helping others with HIV/AIDS is uplifting. Click here to read more on them and the Living Well program.
To read my complete letter from the editor, click here.
The June 2015 issue of POZ magazine is online.

Here's an excerpt from my editor's letter:

So it is with coming out that the things you disclose often aren't as terrible as you feared, yet the unburdening is even more freeing than you imagined. Such was the case for our cover gals, Whitney Joiner and Alysia Abbott. Each lost her gay dad to AIDS in 1992--and Whitney didn't know anyone else who had lost a parent to the virus until she met Alysia about 15 years ago.

They stayed in touch, but the years passed by. Then, in 2014, an event co-sponsored by Visual AIDS about the children of parents lost to AIDS spurred Whitney and Alysia to launch the Recollectors, a group dedicated to remembering parents lost to the virus. Click here to read more about the Recollectors and remembrances of their loved ones.
To read my complete letter from the editor, click here.
signorile_savage.jpgOn Monday, May 11, I had the privilege of moderating a conversation between Michelangelo Signorile and Dan Savage. The talk was engaging (if I do say so myself, but others have told me the same!), which was not unexpected. After all, both men have been at the forefront of LGBT issues for decades.

The event was co-hosted by the New York chapter of NLGJA: The Association of LGBT Journalists and its student chapter at The City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism (CUNY J School). Full disclosure: I'm a longtime member of NLGJA, so many thanks to them for the opportunity.

The conversation was prompted by the publication of Signorile's new book titled It's Not Over: Getting Beyond Tolerance, Defeating Homophobia, and Winning True Equality. We discussed the premise of the book (extremely briefly: victory blindness is dangerous), as well as the themes in Savage's most recent book titled American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics.

In addition to many of the issues you might think of -- like fighting for full civil rights, combating violence, challenging media coverage, confronting deep-seated homophobia -- we do get into other issues, such as the idea of HIV interrupting the victory narrative.

If you have some time, please watch. The first half is the conversation, the last half is the Q&A session with questions from Twitter and from the live audience. We had some audio trouble in the first few minutes, but the audio is mostly fine after that. Enjoy!

The April/May 2015 issue of POZ magazine is online.

Here's an excerpt from my editor's letter:

The power of art to inspire--and even heal--was wielded quite well during the 1980s and '90s at the heights of the AIDS crisis. The efforts of HIV activists were arguably enhanced by the widespread adoption of the pink triangle and the red ribbon as symbols of the fight.

Countless artists during those years were lost to AIDS. The absence of an entire generation of painters, photographers, actors, dancers, singers, designers and other creative people is just too large to comprehend. As they left us, the once seemingly omnipresent voices of artists in the HIV fight grew quieter.

This distancing has manifested not only in the art itself, but also in institutional support from the arts for HIV/AIDS. However, the partnership between the arts and the fight against the virus is far from dead. This special issue on art and wellness explores the connections between creativity and health.

Artist and long-term survivor Eric Rhein embodies these connections. His ongoing
Leaves piece--a collection started in 1996 of leaf portraits memorializing over 200 people lost to the virus--combines memory and activism, which hopefully provides healing in the process for Rhein and the rest of us.

The 2012 death of activist Spencer Cox was a reminder for many long-term survivors across the country of the ongoing costs of their collective achievements. In response, Rhein created a leaf for Cox. That leaf graces our cover. Click here to read more about how Rhein continues to expand his art.
To read my complete letter from the editor, click here.
The March 2015 issue of POZ magazine is online.

Here's an excerpt from my editor's letter:

The virus disproportionately affects trans women, especially trans women of color. Sadly, this isn't news to folks in the know.

One of those folks is Octavia Lewis, our cover gal. As an HIV-positive trans woman, she knows all too well the common struggles of other trans folks living with the virus. She also can relate to trans folks like her partner, Shawn Lopez, who are trying to stay free of the virus. Click here to read about their love story as a serodiscordant couple.

All women--cisgender and transgender alike--are welcome at the Positive Women's Network United States of America (PWN-USA), a national membership group of women with HIV/AIDS. The group builds leadership skills and advocates for social justice and human rights.

Barb Cardell is currently the chair of PWN-USA. Based in Colorado, she has been HIV positive since 1991. Click here to read our Q&A with Cardell. She shares her personal journey of being diagnosed and living with HIV, her experience with stigma and her belief in self-empowerment.
To read my complete letter from the editor, click here.
creating_change.jpgCoordinated by the National LGBTQ Task Force, the 27th National Conference on LGBT Equality, a.k.a. Creating Change, was held in Denver, Colorado, from February 4 to 8.

I had the privilege of attending and presenting. It was my first Creating Change and it didn't disappoint.

AIDS United and Gilead sponsored the nine HIV/AIDS sessions held during the conference. The sessions covered pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention, HIV awareness campaigns, HIV criminalization, black gay men's HIV advocacy in the South and much more.

I presented during the pre-conference day-long institute coordinated by AIDS United titled "Relight the Fire: Bringing the LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS Communities Back Together, Building Leaders for a Reunited Movement." This was a new institute for Creating Change.

As the title implies, the institute aimed to get people interested in bridging these movements by sharing stories and strategies, as well as strengthening leadership skills. The interactivity certainly seemed to motivate participants to engage.

My presentation, which turned mostly into a Q&A session, was giving advice on using the media to help bridge both movements. After lots of history and reflection, it seemed that folks were ready for some practical takeaways by the time I had the floor. Thanks to AIDS United for letting me participate.

I hope folks found my presentation of value, but frankly I was struck by how much I got out of the experience, not only from my presentation but from the whole day. I was reinvigorated with hope that these two movements just might get back together after all.

The air was full of hope. Apart from the HIV/AIDS programming, I had the pleasure of seeing familiar faces from HIV/AIDS advocacy. I also was heartened by the inclusion of HIV/AIDS in the "state of the movement" speech by Rea Carey, executive director of the Task Force.

Without rehashing old gripes about why the LGBT and HIV/AIDS movements drifted apart, I do sincerely hope that what I felt at Creating Change becomes more than just a feeling. We need each other now perhaps more than ever.



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