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Keeping It Real

Keeping It Real

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Dan Renzi, an AIDS activist and former cast member of The Real World: Miami, jumped at the chance to appear in Paul Lekakis's short film, Don't Tell, Don't Ask. 'I'm not a writer or an actor, but this was a really high-quality project,' says Renzi, who is gay. 'Who wouldn't love to participate in a fund-raiser for Project Angel Food? Who wouldn't want to be in a really important public-service announcement?' Renzi, who was approached by the film's producer to star opposite Lekakis as an HIV-negative man who has unprotected oral sex with a man who is HIV-positive, says he hopes the movie will spur gay men to think about their sexual practices and start talking with their partners about HIV and safer sex. 'I think a lot of gay men have stopped talking about it,' he says. 'There is a way to do it with a certain level of sophistication, where you can integrate it into your personal life and not be so worried about things like ruining the mood or offending people'you can just talk about it. But a lot of people don't.' Safer-sex education is one of Renzi's passions; he's been certified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an HIV counselor and has worked for the Kansas City, Mo., health department, giving pre- and post-HIV antibody test counseling and harm reduction tips. He also has given dozens of public talks on HIV issues both before and after appearing on MTV's The Real World in 1996. Like other AIDS activists, Renzi urges everyone who is sexually active'especially young gay men, among whom HIV infection rates are rising'to use condoms and avoid putting themselves into situations where they might feel unable to insist on safer sex or uncomfortable doing so. 'I'm a big fan of promiscuity,' he says with a laugh, 'but I don't understand what the fun is in making yourself a wreck, having to worry later about if you caught anything. That's doesn't seem fun to me. Sure, live in the moment, but be able to walk away with peace of mind. Protect yourself accordingly.'

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Bob Adams

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Ryan is the Digital Director of The Advocate Channel, and a graduate of NYU Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing. She is also a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. While her specialties are television writing and comedy, Ryan is a young member of the LGBTQ+ community passionate about politics and advocating for all.

Ryan is the Digital Director of The Advocate Channel, and a graduate of NYU Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing. She is also a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. While her specialties are television writing and comedy, Ryan is a young member of the LGBTQ+ community passionate about politics and advocating for all.