I remember being on the set of Transparent as the first season was filming, long before it would become a hit Amazon series. I had the sense that the show would be revolutionary, the rst to really have out transgender people in front of (and behind) the camera. As we go to press, the show’s future is up in the air, after allegations of sexual misconduct were made about star Jeffrey Tambor (by one of our cover stars, Trace Lysette).
Tambor resigned as we went to press. But, regardless of the show’s future, I love creator Jill Soloway’s amazing series for having introduced the world to trans people and for introducing tons of trans creatives (writers, actors, directors) to the industry. I’ve known how talented cover star Alexandra Billings is for decades, but the show made her household-name famous. Think of that: an actress who is a mixed-race, transgender woman of color living with HIV is a bona de TV star. (Take that Charlie Sheen.) Our interview with Lysette, who plays an HIV-positive trans woman on the show, and co-star Billings, who is poz in real life, offers a great reminder of how far we’ve come culturally in combatting HIV stigma and transphobia — and how far we still have to go.
Our second cover (flip the magazine!) features Broadway star, rapper, dancer, and my new crush Todrick Hall, who is using his burgeoning fame and gorgeous gams to get folks to listen as he talks to black gay, bi, and same-gender loving men about HIV. As the epidemic continues to disproportionately impact black and Latino men who have sex with men (regardless of how they identify), it takes guys like Hall, Latino TV star Jai Rodriguez, and Los Angeles County Department of Health’s Dr. Leo Moore to urge folks to get tested early and often, to get women to encourage their brothers, sons, fathers, and yes, boyfriends, to see their doctor, to get anyone — but especially our men of color who are so disenfranchised and afraid — to get on and stick with treatment.
Too often HIV is allowed to go undetected, which is how it does its worst damage. But once on treatment, the majority of those newly diagnosed have few side effects, have a single pill to take, and within months they can become undetectable, where they can no longer pass HIV to anyone else. No worries, no changes. Screw stigma! There’s science on our side here, and treatment is the key. It stops the virus in its tracks and lets you live the life you planned before you found out you were poz. So at the risk of sounding like your mom, see your damn doctor and stay on top of your health. Make a new resolution starting now to never miss a dose!