My Poz.Com Exclusive Article, “Adventures in Baby-Making”
April 8, 2013
I had the pleasure of talking with Mark Zatyrka about he and his wife’s decision to have children using sperm washing. (Mark’s been HIV positive since childhood, his partner, Sasha, is HIV negative.)
Read it on Poz.com here:
Adventures in Baby-Making
Don Drake: Fighting the Good Fight
January 3, 2013
I recently had the privilege of interviewing Don Drake of Victory Programs, a Boston-based non-profit dedicated to helping the homeless, those with HIV/HCV and people dealing with substance abuse issues. Don discusses his former life as pro wrestler “DC Drake”, what it was like wrestling at a time when fears about HIV transmission were rampant and also how it felt when several online wrestling websites erroneously posted the news of his death.
I found out that Don Drake is still very much alive- and that is something we should all be very thankful for because he’s fighting the good fight. Read my interview with Don here.
Find out what the incredible Victory Programs is all about and follow them on Twitter at: @VictoryPrograms.
Our visit to Northampton Last Week
October 28, 2012
Last week we were on the road, speaking for the great folks at the AIDS Foundation of Western Massachusetts at the Academy of Music in Northampton. We really had a wonderful time- it was such a diverse group in age and HIV status. We met quite a few youth peer educators, along with some folks who have already dedicated decades to fighting the good fight. A great trip, made even more special because we got a chance to spend some time with our friends, Mark and Sasha. Like us, they are in a sero-diverse relationship (he’s HIV positive, she is not). But unlike us, they are expecting twins next year!
So it was really cool hang out with them before they embark on the next big adventure in their lives.
Hope this finds you all well. Have a great Halloween!
Happy Birthday, Steve Schalchlin!
October 4, 2012
That’s a mug. It’s where I keep my tooth brush and toothpaste in our downstairs bathroom. And that’s me and Steve. We came upon a cubicle in a mall-type situation in 1998, and decided to get our likenesses plastered on a coffee mug and a t-shirt. Steve gave me first choice: I choose the mug.
Today is Steve’s birthday. I posted this photo on his Facebook Wall. I post Happy Birthday messages on there from time to time, but truthfully, I don’t check in every day and I’m sure I miss some key birthdays… for that I am sorry. I am grateful that I caught this one. When I first went online in 1996, armed with a desire to share my HIV status with whomever would listen, Steve was one of the first people that I found. He was one of a literal handful of people blogging who were HIV positive- if there were more than 3 I couldn’t find them.
He encouraged me to join in. I didn’t want to copy him. He assured me that as a young straight man, I wouldn’t step on his older, wiser gay toes. I took his advice. Steve was the first guy with HIV that had a sense of humor that matched my own. (A shout out to Bret Turner, who I met shortly thereafter!) It was a game changer for me. I was in my very early 20s, and Steve gave me advice and friendship and assurance that I had a place in all of this- that I was a relevant voice and that I should keep talking about my reality as someone living with HIV.
When I met Steve, he was very sick. He’d just started on Crixivan, a drug that saved his life. A few years later, when I got sick, he vehemently told me that I needed to switch gears and start meds. It was jolting. He didn’t pull any punches, and it scared me. I started meds, and it saved my life.
I love you Steve. Happy birthday, my friend.
Georgia Arnold, Mark King and Poz Tackle AIDS2012
July 26, 2012
One of the highlights of my DC trip was attending a Board meeting for the MTV Staying Alive Foundation. This week, Executive Director of SAF, Georgia Arnold, wrote a thoughtful piece for the Huffington Post about how we need to frame the fight against HIV moving forward.
“The truth is, there is no simple answer to this problem. And there is no
single solution that will ultimately eradicate this virus from our
lives. But if we truly want, and we truly believe, that the next
generation of young people should be — and could be — the first
AIDS-free generation in our lifetime, then we must do much more than
this conference is promising. And I believe that the only way that will
ever happen, is when the world remembers to care, remembers that the
problem of AIDS they responded to when it first became known, is still
very much here.”
To read the whole article, go here.
One of the best things happening this week in DC is the continued focus on HIV criminalization in the United States. Poz Magazine caught up with Scott A. Schoettes, the HIV project director for Lambda Legal, to find out more about the ever-increasing, under-the-radar problem. Mark King of The Body was also on hand all week, providing video blogs on his experiences and thoughts regarding the International AIDS Conference. Check them out below!
Be sure to check out all the latest updates from the conference at Poz.com. A big tip of the hat to everyone who weighed in, hugged it out and recharged at this year’s conference. Let’s keep the momentum heading forward, in honor of those we have lost, to guide the newly diagnosed on their new paths and to prevent unnecessary new infections.
Incredible Images from the AIDS Quilt
July 25, 2012
Saw this picture come up on Facebook via my friend Bob Bowers- this pretty much sums up the AIDS Quilt experience…
photo of the AIDS Quilt taken by Tim Horn of Poz Magazine)
Thank You, Patty Vandever
June 7, 2012
Since my comedic memoir about living with HIV, My Pet Virus, was published in 2006, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to English students at Charlottesville High School every May. It’s kind of become a fun, end-of-semester tradition, and I’m always happy to find that the juniors seem to like my sense of humor. I always leave with a feeling of accomplishment, that I’ve opened up fresh eyes, ears and minds to what it is like living with HIV.
None of these encounters over the last several years would have been possible if it weren’t for Patty Vandever. Last Friday I had the privilege of speaking in her class during her last day on the job- after over 30 years in education Patty is retiring. The class and I offered a host of TV watching opportunities for her, including Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory. Patty humored us with a generous smile that suggested she had no interest in the comedic show about a skateboard pro who engages in various levels of shenanigan.
I just wanted to give a huge shout out and a huge thank you to Patty. I appreciate you setting aside a little time at the end of the school year for me, and wish you nothing but the best as you begin to set aside a little well-earned time for yourself.
Goodbye, Barton (November 16, 1942 – May 30, 2012)
May 31, 2012
I was sitting in my gaming chair this evening, getting ready for “battle” when I heard Gwenn gasp. “Who died?” I asked, half-expecting to hear some other type of information or, at worst, the name of a random celebrity who had actually passed. Gwenn clicked a couple of more times on the laptop and then said, “Barton.”
My heart sank.
Barton Lidice Benes was an invaluable member of the AIDS community and, well, the community at large. I met him through Sean Strub- and if you want to meet Barton I highly suggest that you get to know him a little bit through Sean’s written word on his blog entry dedicated to the memory of his great friend. Barton challenged the art world by creating a series of works entitled “Lethal Weapons” because the pieces included his own HIV positive blood. I’ll never forget his support of my own art- my music- and how he let me use an incredible image of a squirt gun shooting his blood as a CD cover. Years later, when Gwenn and I got married, a package arrived in the mail a couple of weeks later. It was a red squirt gun shooting his blood, immaculately framed in the same way he framed much of his work. It was instantly my favorite gift in recent memory.
And still is.
He was a loving soul. I remember, years ago, having a white russian with him in his apartment. It must have been 2 pm in the afternoon. I’d never had a drink in the afternoon before. When I played a show in New York City two years ago, and once again used his artwork for the cover image of the CD, I wanted to drop one off for him but he was struggling with his health so I didn’t want to impose. I don’t regret not pressing the issue, as a friend I wanted to let him rest- but I do hate that his final years were inhibited by the cruelty of a body that turns on its host. In his case, it was his kidneys. He also had problems with his lungs. When I think of Barton, though, I don’t think of his failing kidneys, lungs or even his HIV status. I think of his kind heart.
His beautiful heart.
You will be missed, Barton. The next time I have a white russian, you will be toasted my friend.