Posts Tagged ‘Elizabeth Taylor’

“Love Is the Cure” To End AIDS

We all know that Elton John is an incredible musician and, since the 1970s, he’s been part of the soundtrack of our lives.

I was fortunate to see him in concert in Las Vegas in October 2012 for my birthday.

Elton LasVegas

Elton John is a survivor (drugs, alcohol, and an eating disorder).

He’s also a great humanitarian.

That’s what I want to talk about today on “World AIDS Day”, a day started on December 1, 1988, to remember those fallen by AIDS, to encourage those living with HIV and AIDS to fight, and to raise awareness, educate the public, and prevent future infections.

world aids day

We don’t hear stories about AIDS today as much as we did in the 1980s and 1990s, but “World AIDS Day” is still very important to remember.

Today, 36.7 million people worldwide are living with HIV and AIDS and of that number, 1.8 million are children.

elton-john-costume

In the 1970s and 1980s, Elton admitted to having unprotected sex and says he was very lucky he didn’t contract HIV, the infection that causes AIDS.

From the summer of 1981 through December 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that close to 775-thousand people were infected with AIDS in the United States alone and, of that number, about 448-thousand died.

elton_John_ryan_white

While Elton spiraled out of control through the 1980s, it wasn’t until he met Indiana teenager Ryan White, who contracted HIV and AIDS through blood transfusions, in the mid-1980s that he realized he had to turn his life around to stay alive.  He checked into rehab in the early-1990s and has been sober and clean ever since then.

While he recorded “That’s What Friends Are For” in 1986 with Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder to raise awareness and money for AIDS research, Elton knew that song and the AIDS benefits he performed weren’t enough.

He formed the “Elton John AIDS Foundation” in 1992 in the United States (1993 in the United Kingdom) and has raised more than $200 million dollars to fund innovative HIV prevention and education programs and for direct care and support for those living with HIV and AIDS.

love-is-the-cure

“Love Is The Cure:  On Life, Loss, and the End of AIDS”, Elton’s 2012 book, is an excellent read.

While it does give some eye-opening stats on HIV and AIDS, the book has a heart and it tugs at yours.

Throughout the book’s lean 219 pages, he talks of the friends he’s lost (Freddie Mercury of Queen) and two heroes that defied convention to raise awareness of AIDS — Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Diana.

elton-hillary

He shares stories of politicians who have been instrumental in the fight against HIV and AIDS — Bill and Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, and George W. Bush!  Yes, despite his short-comings in the LGBT community, Bush made a huge contribution in the fight against AIDS during his presidency.

In “Love is the Cure”, Elton also tells stories of lesser known heroes in the fight against AIDS and ignorance and raising awareness — Elizabeth Glaser and Fumana (a South African rape victim, now HIV-positive, who uses her status and survival as a talking tool to educate others in that country to fight against the stigma of HIV).

HIV AIDS

Poor Sub-Saharan countries in Africa and the gay community aren’t the only groups that HIV and AIDS are ravaging today.

We have those places right here in the United States — the South is being hit hard and some parts of our nation’s capital, Washington D.C., are devastated with HIV and AIDS.

And, just last year, a county in southern Indiana had an outbreak of HIV cases that reached “epidemic” levels.  It was reported that there were about twenty new cases each week because of drug use and needle sharing.

Yes, Indiana — while Vice-President elect Mike Pence was governor and before he was picked to be second in command in the U.S.

Also, while the HIV rates are still climbing in the younger LGBT community here in America, the heteorosexual black community is seeing the rates of infection skyrocketing.

STOP AIDS

Last year alone, 2.1 million people became HIV-positive and, sadly, only 60% of people know they are HIV-positive.  That means that 40% of the people that are HIV-positive don’t even know their status and could be spreading HIV without even being aware of it!

GET TESTED!  It’s painless and simpleand it could save your life!

love-is-the-cure

Elton John says that the fight against AIDS can only be won when there’s no stigma associated with the disease.

Every person that is HIV-positive, regardless of where they live, how much money they have, their color, their age, their profession, or their religion, needs to be treated for the infection and the disease.

He says how that person contracted HIV and AIDS should not be a factor in getting treatment.  A sex worker should be given the same compassion as someone who became HIV-positive through a blood transfusion.

Elton says eliminating that stigma with HIV and AIDS starts with love — “Love is the Cure”.

This is a book that every person needs to read — NOW!

In honor of Elton’s contributions in the fight against AIDS, for love and compassion, and for eliminating the stigma that HIV-positive people encounter, I’m sharing these two powerful songs.

Love!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — January 29, 2015

I’m starting off with a quick thank you for taking the time to check out my blogs when I share new ones and for your comments.

I miss writing every day.  Since my new blogs are not regular, fewer people check them out.  But, I appreciate each and every one of you that reads them.

And, as always, feel free to share your thoughts — if you agree with me or disagree.  Just tell me why and do it diplomatically.

Here goes…

BIZARRE “KING OF POP” CASTING

A new British made-for-television movie, “Elizabeth, Michael, & Marlon”, focusing on a road trip that Michael Jackson allegedly took with Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando after the 9/11 attacks in 2001 is getting a lot of buzz.  I say “allegedly” because this incredibly hard to believe story was disputed by “Vanity Fair” magazine in 2011.

“The Guardian”, a British daily newspaper, is reporting that Joseph Fiennes, who won praise and several awards for 1998’s “Shakespeare in Love”, will be playing Michael Jackson!

Joseph-Fiennes-American-Horror-Story

Wouldn’t the Oscars just love this!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I remember him very, very well as the naughty Monsignor Timothy Howard on “American Horror Story: Asylum” in 2012-2013.

Stockard Channing is reportedly playing Liz Taylor.

WHAT WOULD MICHAEL THINK ABOUT THIS?

In a 23-year-old interview with Oprah Winfrey, she asked the legendary singer about rumors of him wanting a white kid play him in a Pepsi commercial.

http://www.michael-jackson-photos.com/

Michael replied, “That’s the most ridiculous, horrifying story I’ve ever heard. It’s crazy. Why would I want a white child to play me? I’m a black American. I am proud to be a black American. I am proud of my race. I am proud of who I am.”

I guess he wouldn’t approve of Fiennes!

THIS “SNL” SCENE FITS PERFECTLY — #OSCARSSOWHITE

For two years in a row, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the Academy Awards) failed to nominate an actor of color in the acting awards — that’s 20 white people two years running.

I’m not a fan of “Saturday Night Live”, but they can get it right and when they do, it’s too funny.

IOWA CAUCUS

Like music and movie charts and stats, I love polls and numbers when it comes to big elections and this year’s presidential election will be a big one.

I’m excited about Monday’s Iowa Caucus, the first vote in the nation for the next president of the United States, for two reasons:  (1) to see who wins and if the polls were correct and (2) so we’ll hear and see less of the so-called candidates that never stood a snowball’s chance in hell of winning!

Earlier in the week, I posted a really interesting blog about why the race for president is much bigger than Iowa and New Hampshire and how diversity across the U.S. will have a bigger impact on the nominations.  The day after I shared it, “Real Clear Politics” had a similar story.

Lately when you say politics, people zone out.  So, if you didn’t read it, here it is again.  At least, glance at it.  (The link will open in a new window, so you won’t lose your place in today’s blog.)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2016/01/25/diversity-in-america-the-2016-presidential-election/

Now that you’ve read it, do you agree or disagree?

DONALD TRUMP CAN GET AWAY WITH MURDER?

Maybe he could get a show on ABC since NBC got rid of him!

And, technically, he didn’t say he could kill someone.

Last Saturday, in Sioux City, Iowa, the not-fit-for-president blowhard told an audience, “The polls say I have the most loyal people. Did you ever see that, that I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters? Okay, it’s like incredible.”

This isn’t Russia and he’s not Putin, it’s not Germany and he’s not Hitler.  Nevermind, I can’t prove who he is and who he isn’t!

I just know that even my Republican friends across the aisle can’t think that he’d be good for America no matter how much they hate President Obama and dislike the Democratic candidates and the Republicans running against Trump.

THEY SAID WHAT???

Remember this former Monday feature?

POP STAR KELLY CLARKSON (on Trump):  “I am legitimately frightened for our nation.”

kelly-clarkson-wrapped-in-red-album-cover

POP MUSIC ICON CHER (tweeting about Trump backing out of this week’s Fox debate):

“Trump NOT Doing FOX Debate Cause Of MEGAN KELLY😂Some1 Get Him TOE SHOES,fkng PRIMA DONNA. HOW CAN HE FACE ISIS,HE CANT FACE A CHICK ON TV.🐈

Cher Dressed to Kill Tour

REPUBLICAN MAINE GOVERNOR PAUL LePAGE (on drug traffickers):  “What I think we ought to do is bring the guillotine back. We could have public executions.”

Say what????

DANCE MIX TO GET YOU GOING THIS FRIDAY

Sometimes you just have to smile and make the best of the trainwreck that is Sarah Palin and Donald Trump.

Her endorsement of the Republican front runner is rather entertaining!  Okay, this version is fun.

“CANCELLED” OR “CANCELED”

Thousands of flights were “cancelled” last weekend with the epic blizzard across the mid-Atlantic and the northeastern United States.  Even when school are delayed or “canceled” locally, you see the spelling both ways.

Which do you prefer, since both are correct?  I’m old school and I like “CANCELLED”.

PANDA IN SNOW — LOVE IT!

While I know the historic snowstorm wreaked havoc for millions and, sadly, killed people, you have to find the beautiful of it.

This video from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington D.C. made my weekend last weekend.

Tian Tian (tee-YEN tee-YEN), the male giant panda, loved playing in the snow.  The zoo says “giant pandas have thick woolly coats that keep them warm in the snowy mountains of China”.

“FORCE MAJEURE”

Since we’re talking snow, I finally got to see a movie that I’ve been wanting to see for well over a year now.

“Force Majeure”, a 2014 Swedish film, that was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, is funny and serious.

A family of four are vacationing for a week in the French Alps.  One day at a patio lunch, a controlled avalanche rolls down the mountain dangerously close to where they’re sitting blasting them with snow.

In the pandemonium, as vacationers run from the patio, the father, Tomas, rushes from the scene leaving his wife, Ebba, to get to two children to safety.

It’s only a false alarm and they go back to lunch with snow on the patio.  But, things have changed.

Did Tomas really run and leave his family and how will he and Ebba deal with the aftermath as a family?

After seeing the movie, I wish that Johannes Bah Kuhnke, who plays Tomas, would do some American movies.

GRADE:  A-

“THE 5TH WAVE”

Last Friday night, with Ray in New Orleans, Gretel, our 14-year-old daughter, and I had a dad and daughter weekend.

It started at the movies with a large popcorn and two large Coke Zeros with a splash of cherry!

She’s read “The 5th Wave” novel and was looking forward to the movie starring one of her favorite actresses, Chloe Grace Moretz, and one of her crushes, Nick Robinson (“Jurassic World”).

It’s a young-adult end-of-the-world movie about aliens taking over the world in a catastrophic waves.

While the U.S. box office results for opening weekend were weak at $11 million, part of that may have been due to historic snowstorm on the East Coast.  Foreign box office returns are stronger and the movie has, at least, made back its $38 million budget.

If you like doomsday movies, you can look past the teenage love story (triangle) and enjoy the movie.  I did.  (And, Gretel is right.  Both Robinson and Alex Roe are very cute young men!)

GRADE:  B

I CROSSED THE AISLE TO BE FAIR, BUT HE SURE ISN’T!

If you’ve read my blogs and thoughts on a regular basis, you know that I’m a Democrat and that I support Hillary Clinton.

However, this random thought is about being open-minded and crossing the aisle and reading books by a couple of Republicans.  I started with two-time failed presidential candidate and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

Huckabee

I read his 2008 “New York Times” bestseller “Do The Right Thing” and here’s a quick summation of the 216-page book to prove that I actually read it. 🙂

I enjoyed the six-page Prologue, “I Love Iowa! January 3, 2008”, which focused on the Iowa Caucus that he won keeping him in the presidential race that year longer than expected.

After that, it was all downhill!  It was filled with his anti-Democrat, anti-gay rhetoric, and his holier than thou religious life.  I’m perfectly fine that people love God and want to talk about it.  I pray to God every night and thank him for all he’s blessed me with in life.

Huckabee starts one chapter about “all men are created equal” and later in the book, on protecting human life, he states, “I do pray that one day we will be clear as to the value and worth of each and every human life”.  What baffles me is the hate he then spews in the name of his love for God.  It fully contradicts those comments.

The book is not very cohesive — it’s all over the place.  In the middle of talking about abortions and being pro-life, there’s a couple of paragraphs about how repulsive slavery was.  It was!  However, that was awkward place for it.  Couldn’t it have its own chapter?

The biggest laugh I had (and there weren’t many in the book) was at the start of chapter 6 (page 83) when he declared, “On Saturday, January 28, 2007, I made history by becoming the first person both to announce his candidacy for president of the United States on “Meet the Press” and, moments later, to be seen on the same program wearing a Hawaiian shirt and playing “Born to Be Wild” with his band.”

Technically, it may have never happened before.  But, I’m sorry Mike, that’s not history-worthy and it won’t be remembered by anyone other than you and your family!

As I stated, the Prologue was interesting and then when he talked about FairTax, he got my attention.

It’s basically a system to tax goods we buy instead of taxing our salaries and doing away with the IRS and income taxes.  Huckabee made a good point, “Do you think that drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps, gamblers, or people in this country illegally are filling out the same IRS tax forms each year and reporting the money they illegally earned?”

I can say I gave him a chance and I was hoping to see where he developed so much hate for me and my family and the rest of the LGBT community.

Move on Mike.  Your 2016 presidential run is DOA and Iowa doesn’t love you like it did in 2008.  Go home to your family and retire.

ONE-HIT WONDER — I BET YOU DON’T REMEMBER THIS

I’m going through my movies and CDs and downsizing.

I came across the self-titled debut from Hanna-McEuen (cousins Jaime Hanna and Jonathan McEuen) from the fall of 2005.

The first single from the album, “Something Like A Broken Heart” is a great song and Jaime’s voice is incredible.  Sadly, it only made a blip on country music radio peaking at #38.

I’m hoping Hanna’s good looks weren’t what prompted me to buy the CD.  Nevermind, I already said his voice is incredible.

By the way, he’s currently playing in Gary Allan’s band.

Gary is a great guy.  I had a chance to interview him in Lubbock, Texas, as we were both starting out in our respective professions, back in 1996.  He was enjoying his first hit, “Her Man”, which reached #7.

As charming and sexy as he is (and was), all he wanted to be was “her man”, not mine. 🙂

Gary has now scored 23 country hits, eleven have gone Top Ten, and four have hit #1.  His first was “Man To Man” from the 2001 “Alright Guy” album.

Gary Allan

Gary is coming to the area to Davenport, Iowa, August 3, 2016, to the Mississippi Valley Fair.

OR THIS ONE-HIT WONDER…

I also came across another self-titled, one-hit wonder, Katrina Elam of Oklahoma.

She reached #29 on the country charts with “No End in Sight”.

While that was her only Top 40 country hit as a singer, she’s written Top Ten hits for Rascal Flatts (“Easy”, #2, 2011) and Hunter Hayes (“Invisible”, #4, 2014), and songs for Carrie Underwood and the Eli Young Band.

Reba McEntire did a remake of Elam’s “I Want A Cowboy” on her 2009 “Keep on Loving You” album.

THAT’S IT FOR NOW

I hope you found something interesting here.  If something got you thinking, share your thoughts with me and have a great weekend!

Anthony

World AIDS Day

Sadly, there are more than 1.1 million people in the United States that are HIV-positive and what’s scary is that 18% don’t even know that they are infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus infection), which can lead to AIDS.  That’s almost one-in-five people who don’t know they are HIV-positive!

Today, December 1, 2013, marks the 25th anniversary of “World AIDS Day”, which was started in 1988 to raise awareness to the spread of HIV and the AIDS pandemic.

world aids day

Here’s some sobering numbers for you:  AIDS is still a problem, even if it’s now treatable.  There were still 15,529 deaths in the U.S. from AIDS in the U.S. in 2010.

us-statistics-1

White gay and bisexual men are the groups with the highest new infection rates and black gay and bisexual men follow right behind.

THE BLACK AIDS INSTITUTE ANNOUNCE NEW TV CAMPAIGN

However, here’s something that needs to be addressed and people need to wake up.  While African-Americans make up 12% of the U.S. population, they account for 44% of new HIV cases in 2010/living with HIV.  And, Hispanics account for 16% of the U.S. population, but make up 21% of the new HIV cases/people living with HIV.

We’ve come a long way in the past 32 years, but we have a long way to go.

Flashback to the spring and early summer of 1981.  Doctors in New York and California started noticing that some of their young, gay patients were coming in with weakened immune systems and were developing pneumonia and cancer.

NYT

“The New York Times” published one of the first articles on this new disease that didn’t even have a name and was incorrectly labeled “GRID” (gay-related immune deficiency) in 1982.  It was changed to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) once doctors realized that it didn’t only affect gay men.

The early 1980s was a scary time because there was so much that doctors didn’t know about this “gay cancer”, as it was also called.  This led to fear and many misconceptions about who or how people could catch it.

Princess Diana

Ryan White Pic

Ryan White, an Indiana hemophiliac, contracted AIDS from a contaminated blood transfusion and he was diagnosed with the disease shortly after his 13th birthday during a partial-lung removal procedure.

His school refused to let him come back and the family was subjected to threats and a bullet was even fired into their living room forcing the family to leave Kokomo, Indiana.

Ryan White

Ryan died in April 1990 at the age of 18.

Jerry Falwell

Before Ryan White was diagnosed with AIDS in late 1984, Reverend Jerry Falwell in the summer of 1983 called AIDS, the “gay plague”.  He also made other ignorant and hateful comments about AIDS and gay people.

Falwell

Sept 1986, Ken Died 3 Days Later

In the early-and-mid-1980s, a diagnosis of AIDS was an almost certain death sentence.  Outside of large metropolitan cities, many in America still thought it was a strictly a disease that affected gay men.

Ronald Reagan and Jerry Falwell

In retrospective, that doesn’t seem illogical because President Ronald Reagan didn’t even mention AIDS publicly until 1987, six years after he began his presidency and AIDS went public!

corbis_rm_photo_of_ACT_UP_protest_banner

While the President chose to or just remained silent on the topic, the nation’s started talking in the summer of 1985 when one of America’s biggest movie stars of the 1950s and 1960s startled the world when he admitted that he had AIDS.

Roy Scherer, Jr., who was born outside of Chicago, moved to Los Angeles in 1946 to become an actor after serving in the U.S. Navy in Philippines during World War II.  His name was changed to Rock Hudson and he became a matinée idol and made several romantic-comedies, including a few with his dear friend, actress Doris Day.

Doris Day Rock Hudson

Hudson was a heartthrob — a tall drink of water at 6’5″ — and the magazines loved him.

Rock Hudson 1951

However, rumors that he was gay dogged him.  When “Confidential” magazine threatened to out him in 1955, he got married that same year and then divorced in 1958.

In 1956, Hudson was nominated for an Oscar for his role in “Giant” that also starred Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean.  He worked steadily in movies and television through 1985 and his last role was on “Dynasty” as Daniel Reece, the love interest of Linda Evan’s character, Krystle Carrington.

Rock Hudson Dynasty

While Hudson’s character was killed off in the spring of 1985, the gasp that could be heard around the world came months later, in July.  Hudson appeared in a promo to promote his friend, Doris Day’s new television show.

Doris Day Rock Hudson 1985

The actor appeared thin and unhealthy.  He spoke incoherently during the press event.  This led to widespread speculation about his health.  Days later he collapsed at a hotel in Paris, France, and his publicist, Dale Olson, denied that Hudson had AIDS and that he was suffering from inoperable liver cancer.

Four days later, on July 25, 1985, Olson admitted that Hudson had AIDS and that he had been diagnosed one year earlier and had been flying to Paris for treatments.

People Headline

Hollywood freaked out over this revelation, including some on the set of “Dynasty”.  However, it’s been reported that Linda Evans was not one of those people even though they shared intimate love scenes together.

At the time, some erroneously thought that you could contract AIDS through kissing.  YOU CANNOT GET AIDS FROM KISSING!  This is a perfect time for the facts about HIV and AIDS.

HIV HIV Prevention

On October 2, 1985, Rock Hudson died at home in his sleep in Beverly Hills, California.  He was 59.

Rock Hudson 1950s

Shortly before he died, Hudson sent a telegram to Commitment to Life, a Hollywood AIDS benefit, saying “I am not happy that I am sick. I am not happy that I have AIDS. But if that is helping others, I can at least know that my own misfortune has had some positive worth.”

Comedian Joan Rivers added, “Two years ago, when I hosted a benefit for AIDS, I couldn’t get one major star to turn out. … Rock’s admission is a horrendous way to bring AIDS to the attention of the American public, but by doing so, Rock, in his life, has helped millions in the process. What Rock has done takes true courage.”  And, actress Morgan Fairchild said that “Rock Hudson’s death gave AIDS a face.”

HOLLYWOOD EDUCATING AMERICA THROUGH MOVIES

While health officials worked tirelessly in the 1980s and 1990s to educate the public about HIV/AIDS, activists staged protests at government offices to work harder to fund research and to find a cure.

Slowly, Hollywood came around and “An Early Frost” on NBC in November 1985 was the first movie to address AIDS.

An Early Frost

34 million people tuned to see Aidan Quinn as a Chicago lawyer, who not only became ill with AIDS, but he also had to tell his parents (Ben Gazzara and Gena Rowlands) that he was gay.  The movie earned 14 Emmy nominations, winning three.

While it was the most watched show of the night beating out football and “Cagney & Lacey”, NBC lost $500,000 in commercial revenue because some clients were scared away by the subject matter.

Here are some other incredible Hollywood movies and television movies or series that excel at telling the HIV/AIDS story.

“Longtime Companion” (1989) is one of my all-time favorite movies.

While it was the first wide-release theatrical movie to address AIDS,  it only earned $4.6 million at the box office.  It stars Campbell Scott, Mary-Louise Parker, and Bruce Davison, who earned a Best Supporting Oscar nomination.

It follows a group of New York City friends from the 1981 beginning of the AIDS pandemic and shows how they learned to live, fight, and die from the disease.

Longtime Companion

“And The Band Played On”, a 1993 HBO movie, is probably the best historical movie for you to learn about the history of AIDS without it sounding like a boring history lesson.  The Emmy Award winning movie (it won three out of its 14 nominations) stars Matthew Modine, Alan Alda, Lily Tomlin, Richard Gere, and Phil Collins.

And, the book was written by Randy Shilts, who was born in Davenport, Iowa.

And-the-Band-Played-On

In 1993, “Philadelphia” became the most profitable AIDS movie in Hollywood history earning $206.7 million (almost $77 million of that was from the U.S.).

Tom Hanks won an Oscar playing a closeted lawyer at a big law firm, who is given the company’s biggest case only to have them fire him when a partner sees a lesion on his forehead and he is hospitalized.  He hires a homophobic, personal injury lawyer played by Denzel Washington.

Philadelphia

Another touching small theatrical movie, “The Cure”, tells the story of Dexter, a Midwestern boy who befriends his latch-key neighbor, Erik, who’s a little older.  Initially, Erik is afraid of Dexter and his disease.  But, the boys form a close friendship when they decide to travel down the Mississippi River to New Orleans to find a rumored cure for AIDS.

The Cure

Not all AIDS-related movie are dramas.  “Jeffrey”, a 1995 film by funny man Paul Rudnick, made about $3.5 million at the box office and stars Steven Weber and Michael T. Weiss.

Weber is Jeffrey, a New York City man who is scared of catching AIDS, so he gives up sex and then he meets Steve, the man of his dreams only to find out that Steve is HIV-positive.

The movie features an all-star cast including Patrick Stewart, Olympia Dukakis, Sigourney Weaver, Nathan Lane, Christine Baranski, and Kathy Najimy.

Jeffrey

The play, “Angels in America” blasted onto HBO in 2003 with a cast that included Al Pacino, Meryl Streep (playing four characters), Emma Thompson, Jeffrey Wright (also playing four characters), Mary-Louise Parker and Patrick Wilson.  The almost six-hour series earned 21 Emmy nominations and 11 wins, including acting awards for Pacino, Streep, Parker, and Wright.

Angels in America

And, in 2014, Ryan Murphy, the man behind the award-winning series, “American Horror Story” and “Glee”, will be directing the Larry Kramer-penned, Tony Award-winning play, “The Normal Heart”.

TheNormalHeart

The HBO movie stars Julia Roberts, Mark Ruffalo, Jim Parsons. Matt Bomer, and Taylor Kitsch, and focuses on the AIDS crisis in New York City in the early-1980s.

For those of you that don’t know him, Larry Kramer is and was one of the biggest health advocates in the history of HIV/AIDS and helped start the protest organization, ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), in early 1987.

“AND, THE ACADEMY AWARD FOR BEST ACTOR SHOULD GO TO…”

dallas_buyers_club

Matthew McConaughey for “Dallas Buyers Club”!

The movie is based on a true story.  Ron Woodruff was a homophobic, hard-living, good ol’ Texas boy who loved his liquor, drugs, and women.  In 1986, he was diagnosed with AIDS and told that he had 30 days to live.

He tried to get on the AZT trials that were being rushed onto the market to fight the AIDS pandemic.  Since he was denied that opportunity, Woodruff started buying it on the black market.  When he almost died, he came up with a plan to smuggle medications out of Mexico to try to stay alive.  Since Ron couldn’t sell the drugs, he started a membership only “buyers club” to distribute the Food & Drug Administration-unapproved medication.

DALLAS-BUYERS-CLUB

McConaughey, who plays Woodruff, lost about 50 pounds for the role and his co-star, Jared Leto, who plays transgender AIDS patient, Rayon, who befriends Woodruff, lost about 40 pounds for the role.

Both actors were electrifying and sold the story.  After initially gasping at McConaughey’s first appearance in the movie, I was sold for the next two hours that both actors were HIV-positive people fighting for their lives, while the government dragged its feet.

If you lived through the 1980s and saw friends getting sick and dying, you saw those friends in Ron and Rayon.  If you know people who have become HIV-positive in the past decade, where with medication, healthier living, diet, and exercise, it’s become a manageable disease, there’s a sense of relief that AIDS is no longer a certain death sentence.

GRADE:  A

MUSICIAN LEND A VOICE, TOO

Madonna, George Michael, Cyndi Lauper, the Pet Shop Boys, and many other musicians have recorded songs about HIV and AIDS and losing friends or lovers to the disease.

In 1986, Elton John was joined by Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder on “That’s What Friends Are For”.  That Grammy Award-winning song reached #1 and raised over $3 million dollars for the American Foundation for AIDS Research, a nonprofit organization founded by some leading AIDS specialist and actress Elizabeth Taylor.

Six years later, Elton John founded the nonprofit organization, the Elton John AIDS Foundation.  His 1992 hit, “The Last Song”, about a father and son reuniting before the son died of AIDS, was the first of Elton’s American singles to benefit his AIDS foundation.

While pop music embraced the fight against HIV/AIDS and lent a voice, it took the biggest name in country music almost twenty years ago to release a song that was controversial in that musical genre to put a heterosexual face to AIDS.

Reba She Thinks His Name Was John

Typically, summer radio is filled with bubbly, fun songs.  However, in 1994, Reba McEntire serviced “She Thinks His Name Was John” to country radio as the second single from “Read My Mind”.   The song tells the story of a woman, who is dying alone of AIDS after an alcohol-fueled one night stand a few years earlier.

The song only reached #14 on the Billboard County charts.  But, it opened eyes in a genre that was used to drinking songs, but not one with the horrors of a disease that affected a large number of gay men.

While things are changing, there’s still a long way to go in the fight against HIV and AIDS.  And, we still need to educate people.

Annie Lennox

Back in 2010, Annie Lennon of the Eurythimics wore a “HIV Positive” shirt on “Idol Gives Back”.  This prompted many to think that she was ill.

She replied, “I can tell you the good news is actually I am not. However, many people are. In fact, 22 million in sub-Saharan Africa are currently HIV positive.  And I am wearing this in solidarity with them because it’s very hard when you are HIV positive to be open about your status and to be able to tell your family and your friends.”

Annie Lennox

Red Ribbon

You may not see many people these days wearing red ribbons to raise awareness, but more people than ever are getting infected with HIV.  Last year, around the world, 2.3 million people were newly affected!

hiv_013

Since 1981, more than 636,000 people have died from AIDS in the United States.  If those numbers don’t wake you up, try these:

AmFAR Stats

On this “World AIDS Day”, remember those who have lost the battle with AIDS.  Whether you know it or not, I can almost guarantee that you know someone who is HIV-positive or that you will in the future.

STOP AIDS

Abstaining from sex is what some tell you to do.  That works.  However, if you’re going to be sexually active, protect yourself.  Use condoms!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that “Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing the sexual transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.”

HIV and AIDS are preventable.  Be safe.  It’s not just a slogan!

Anthony