Surviving Life Itself

I tested HIV positive 38 years ago today. My 2017 Poz magazine essay still rings true. The young woman sitting across from me on the bus is in her mid-20s. She turns to her companion and her voice grows serious. “I know someone who died,” she says in the hushed tone reserved for tales of mortality. Her friend looks up from his phone. “He was a good friend of my brother,” she goes on. “He was killed in a motorcycle accident a few months ago. It was just awful.” As her friend offers words of comfort, my own thoughts produce […]

Why I was an Awful Jimmy Carter …

… in my high school mock election As a high school junior in 1976, I was selected to play former Georgia governor Jimmy Carter in our mock presidential election. It taught me a lesson in politics – and the performative nature of candidacy – that is as true today as in the assembly hall of my Louisiana school nearly 50 years ago. My parents thought I should do my homework on Carter before the school event. They drove me to the local Carter for President headquarters where a campaign worker not much older than me offered an enthusiastic overview of […]

He Wrote That First AIDS Report in 1981

This June 5, 2021 marks 40 years since the famous report in a CDC publication, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), in which Dr. Michael Gottlieb outlined the troublesome cases of five gay men dealing with pneumonia and skin cancers. It is widely considered the “start” of scientific acknowledgement of the emerging AIDS crisis – before it even had a name – and the first writing about it in a scientific or governmental publication. The peculiar new cases were already on the radar of other clinicians who served gay men, of course, including the writings of New York physician Dr. Lawrence Mass in The […]

Sir Elton John and Olly Alexander Absolutely Crush “Its a Sin”

Sir Elton John has always shown great generosity towards younger artists, especially those with whom he shares a sense of theatrical DNA. At the Brit Awards last night, the legendary performer and lifelong HIV/AIDS activist proved his taste for talent is still incredibly well-placed, owning the stage with Olly Alexander (Years and Years) for what is already being christened the best performance of the annual event’s history. The two pop stars have developed a close relationship since Alexander starred in the British mega-series, “It’s a Sin,” about the dawn of the AIDS epidemic in the UK. While I had creative differences with that series, […]

The Politics and Pitfalls of HIV Community Language

Kiara St James, Ben Plumley, Jose Romero, and Mark S. King Two broadcasts this week took a look at the words we use as people living with HIV – and the words others use to describe us. Those words can be hurtful or weaponized, even among ourselves. As a participant in both conversations, the question boils down to, “how willing are we to update our vocabularies to make the world a little safer for other people?” It might be as simple as naming your pronouns, which was one of the topics of a webinar hosted by the HIV Caucus this week. The […]

Should People Living with HIV Qualify for Early COVID Vaccination?

Karl Schmid, the plucky television broadcaster who revealed he is living with HIV in 2018, has been putting his notoriety and adorable Auusie accent to excellent use since his courageous announcement. Schmid has created Plus Life, a series of social media posts and interviews that work to “turn positive into a plus,” as his catchphrase pronounces. Recently, Schmid’s +Talk series turned its attention to the state of the COVID vaccine and whether or not people living with HIV should qualify for early vaccination. By bringing together the monumental HIV vaccine expert Jeff Taylor and myself, Schmid might have been secretly hoping for fireworks, since […]

Sir Elton John and David Furnish Join Line-up Saluting HIV/AIDS Survivors

Sir Elton John and David Furnish have sent a special video message of support for long-term HIV/AIDS survivors, joining a growing list of celebrity guests for “Mark S. King’s 60th Birthday Bash” on December 16th. The event will also feature appearances by Olympian Greg Louganis, Broadway Hamilton star Javier Munoz, and dozens of long-term HIV/AIDS survivors who will be sharing personal greetings.  “I don’t know if I have ever had an experience where everyone simply said ‘yes,’” said birthday celebrant Mark S. King. “From the technical producers to the heads of national agencies to all of my fellow long-term survivors, people understood that joyful […]

As Timothy Ray Brown Faces Death, a Great Love Endures

Tim Hoeffgen did a quick google search of his Scruff date as he headed over to meet him. Tim was living in Nevada in early 2013, and the guy he had been chatting with on the dating app looked a lot like the man who was on the cover of the LGBTQ newspaper in Las Vegas that week. When the door opened, Tim realized his hunch was correct. Greeting him was Timothy Ray Brown, the first man in history cured of HIV and the intense focus of scientific and public fascination around the world.  “I was charmed immediately by his personality,” Tim […]

COVID-19? Blame the Fire Island Gays

The judgment of the social media gods, decreed Monday morning, was withering and furious: the buff gay men on the Fire Island beach over the holiday weekend were nothing less than suicide bombers. Virtuous gays everywhere watched the video posts of these gurls gone wild and gagged on their signature Hamilton cocktails. Long-term HIV survivors rushed to their keyboards to elbow themselves into the outrage, aghast at our short memories of the dangerous AIDS crisis years which, to be fair, happened before most of this set of revelers were born. Let’s all inhale a deep, healing breath, shall we? Now […]

I Am Racist, and That’s a Good Place to Start

There is a fact I have always wanted to argue. I thought I was different from those other white men. If you just had let me explain, just let me tell you about me, me, me, then you would surely see the real truth for yourself, proven by my decades as an HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ activist. The truth, as it turns out and as it has always been, is that I am racist. It has been beyond question all along. None of us raised white in this country can escape the fact we benefit from this system and are socialized […]