#HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS Epidemic Film "1985" Has Released Online

The trailer of the upcoming film 1985 has dropped and we’re excited to see the final project.

1985, by director Yen Tan, follows a young man returning to his childhood home with the intention to say goodbye.

At the start of the film, main character Adrian has recently lost his lover to AIDS and is struggling with the disease himself. He then decides to visit his family in Texas before it’s too late.

There, he reconnects with is parents, his childhood friend Carly (played by Jamie Chung) and his younger brother, who might be gay himself, Andrew (played by Aidan Langford).

According to the Daily Beast, Tan based his film off of a 2016 short he made and he based that off of his experiences working at a viatical settlement firm. There, he witnesses many gay men living with HIV or AIDS.

As the Daily Beast wrote:

“By the nature of the job, men revealed details about the relationships they had—or more often, didn’t have—with their families. Often, Tan felt confused. Why would this gay man whom his family disowned still name his father as his beneficiary? And then there was one patient whose offhand comment stuck with him, two decades later, planting the seed from which 1985 eventually grew: ‘The saddest thing is when the family doesn’t know.’

“A lot of those things that happened at that job didn’t quite click until the last few years when I’m revisiting memories of it,” Tan tells The Daily Beast. “When I was coming out, it was an exciting thing for me to enter that world. But at the same time I was working at a job interacting with people who were coming to the end of their lives, making end-of-life arrangements. I think the things people were telling me back then, I understood it, but it didn’t quite hit me on an emotional level until I got older.”

But that's not all. Gotham star Cory Michael Smith will be staring in the lead role.

Plus, Smith came out as queer while promoting the film.

“There’s something special about telling a story that feels closer to home,” Smith, who identifies as queer, tells The Daily Beast. “I’m not exactly like The Riddler in real life.

“I’m from Middle America,” he says. “I’m from Ohio. I’ve been living here [in New York] for a while, and there are stretches when I don’t see my family often. Going home and that whole charade is very familiar. The first family dinner after a while. Coming out to a family, the fear of that.”

And how will Adrian handle his last visit with his family? We'll find out on October 26 when the film releases in the US. In the meantime, you can watch the trailer below:

h/t: The Daily Beast

Portland's Gay Residents Sleep Easy After Police Arrest Man Who Threatened To Bomb Their Home

A Portland man was arrested for threatening to bomb his gay neighbors.

According to news source Koin6, court documents filed in Mutnomah County Circuit Court last week reveal that a man named Scott Wayne Smith was charged with one count of intimidation.

Smith threatened to bomb an apartment complex called Hopewell Apartments where people living with HIV/AIDS reside. Smith apparently lives in a trailer on a friend’s property that’s located near the apartment complex.

On top of threatening to bomb the building, Smith also used an anti-gay slur against two specific apartment residents and said he’d “kill all you people.”

Apparently, this was the climax of a few weeks’ worth of intimidation and harassment. Police say one Hopewell tenant told them that, “he was afraid, did not feel safe with the neighbor living so close, and that he believed that Smith would do what he said.” 

While Scott Wayne Smith was given a misdemeanor charge of one count of intimidation, he pleaded not guilty. That said, he’s still in custody.

h/t: Koin 6

Trump Administration Siphoning HIV/AIDS Funding For Child Detention Centers

As the public battle about family separations at the U.S. southern border rages on, reports show the Trump administration is taking money from HIV/AIDS programs to fund further separations.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement is looking ahead at the possibility that 25,450 more beds for immigrant children could be needed by year’s end.

The office, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, was apparently surprised when U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the new “zero tolerance” policy that families would be separated if caught crossing the border without authorization.

Under the policy, parents are imprisoned and children have been placed in cages that Sen. Jeff Merkley, who visited a facility, described as resembling “dog kennels.”

Now, in preparation for a new surge of family separations, the HHS is not only asking for supplemental funds, but according to Slate is also planning to reallocate money from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program.

The Ryan White CARE Act was introduced in 1990 by Sen. Ted Kennedy weeks after the death of its namesake Ohio teen, who had been infected with HIV via a blood transfusion to treat his hemophilia. The bill was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush.

According to the program’s website, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program “provides a comprehensive system of care that includes primary medical care and essential support services for people living with HIV who are uninsured or underinsured.” 

Slate’s reporting indicates the process of transferring those HIV/AIDS funds has already begun.

This is just one more example of the Trump/Pence administration's bias against the LGBTQ community which is massively impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Vice President MikePence famously pledged to siphon funding from the program in order to fund state-sponsored ‘gay cure’ therapy.

On his 2000 Congressional campaign website, Pence posted:

“Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organisations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviours that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus.

“Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”

Additionally, HHS is moving $79 million from refugee resettlement programs. The loss of those funds will undercut medical assistance and social services for refugees in the United States.

(h/t Slate)

NYC Theatre Goers Are Excited For A New Interactive Play About HIV In the Black Gay Community

Theatre lovers are getting excited for a new play focusing on HIV awareness in the gay community and specifically in black gay men.

As Billboard reports, a new play by the name of As Much As I Can is getting ready to debut in New York City. The play hopes to start a dialogue about how HIV affects gay men of color and it’s being put up with the help of HIV/AIDS awareness group ACCELERATE! and its father company ViiV Healthcare.

“It's a reflection of the resilience, faith, love and hope black gay men need to carry on against the odds and stigma,” Marc Meachem, ViiV Healthcare's head of external affairs, said.

As ViiV Healthcare’s website states:

"’As Much as I Can’ invites audiences into the lives of four Black gay men, exploring the complex relationships they have to faith, family, community, friends and themselves. Audiences are also invited to experience the disruptions, dreams, disappointments and resiliencies of these men’s lives.”

The stories in As Much As I Can are based on real experiences shared by Black gay men from Baltimore and Jackson.

On top of that, the play is also an interactive one where the audience can participate in the storytelling.

As Meachem stated to Billboard:

“Theater people describe immersive theater as removing the 'fourth wall,' a barrier between the performance and the audience,” he said. “Removing this barrier creates the opportunity to bring about a deeper connection with the subject. The audience engages at a different level, and we believe this can help people look at their own biases, as well as those of society, more objectively.”

With men of color, and specifically gay and bisexual black men, being the most at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, it’s great that stories like As Much As I Can are shining a light on the problem and sharing stories about it.

As Much As I Can will be playing at Harlem Parish in New York City from May 8 to May 24. You can get tickets for free at amaicny.com.

Red Carpet Reporter Karl Schmid Came Out As HIV-Positive

An on-air reporter for ABC’s Los Angeles affiliate has come out as HIV-positive.

If you live in the Los Angeles area, you might be familiar with Karl Schmid. Schmid has reported human interest stories and Hollywood stories (like Academy Award events and the annual Vanity Fair Oscar Party) for ABC7 for several years now.

Last night, Schmid got on Facebook to share with the world the fact that he’s not only HIV-positive, but that he’s been so for the past 10 years.

“For 10 years I’ve struggled with ‘do I or don’t I?’ For ten years the stigma and industry professionals have said, ‘don’t! It’ll ruin you,’” he wrote.

Adding to the pressure of his “Should I or shouldn’t I?” thoughts, Schmid says he was also advised not to share this information with the world. Many within his circle worried that revealing his HIV-status will affect his career.

That said, the 37-year-old Australian-born reporter came out anyway in hopes that he could serve as inspiration and support for others with a similar status.

“Labels are things that come and go but your dignity and who you are is what defines you. I know who I am, I know what I stand for and while in the past I may not have always had clarity, I do now. Love me or hate me, that’s up to you. But, for anyone who has ever doubted themselves because of those scary three letters and one symbol, let me tell you this, you are somebody who matters,” he concluded.

In addition, Schmid also used his announcement as a way to promote a charity project for The Aids Memorial.

If you want to read Karl Schmid’s full Facebook post, you can read it through this link or down below.