One of my personal heroes in Indiana is Mark Anthony Hughes — a 55-year-old, black, same-gender-loving, long-term thriver with HIV—who works as a prevention program coordinator at Brothers United (BrothersUnitedInc.org) and runs Many Men, Many Voices (3MV), a group for men who have sex with men. Mark has served our community in various service and advocacy capacities (community advisory boards, volunteerism, etc.) since he tested positive over 20 years ago. Affectionately known as “Uncle Mark,” he is there to help those most vulnerable, especially cisgender and transgender black men and women.
Mark says “I am proud we [Brothers United] are able to provide a safe space for poz individuals to discuss issues we face day-to-day. This is extremely important to me, because support groups are difficult to find.”
Mark’s motto is “never give up on people.” He frequently says, “You gotta meet people where they are at, and keep inviting them to the table.” He has an uncanny ability of doing just that. I cannot begin to tell you how many people are alive and living quality lives because Mark cared and... would not give up.
Mark led Brothers United’s Positive Organizing Project (funded by AIDS United), in which he developed a state-wide advocacy network of poz people of color. He helped organize the first ever Indiana HIV Advocacy Day at the State House, joined the HIV Modernization Movement, and mentors people around advocacy when it comes to HIV criminal law reform.
“I do this work because it saves lives,” Mark reiterates. “Much like those who put in the work to save me.” But, he adds, “It’s amazing to know that others pay attention and appreciate the work you do. It often goes without a thank you.”
— Carrie E. Foote, a professor of sociology at Indiana University–Purdue University, chairs the HIV Modernization Movement in Indianapolis and works with Positive Women’s Network and the Sero Project.