He was 28 when he found out he was HIV-positive. Nothing was more scary to Tyler Curry than figuring out how to disclose his status without being ostracized by others in the gay community.
“So with impending doom off the table, what is there to be afraid of? Well, for me and for many I know, it is the person that is reading this article,” Curry wrote in a December 2012 online op-ed for The Advocate. “It is being the rotten golden egg that plummets to the bottom of the dumpster in Charlie’s Chocolate Factory. It is the deafening effect uttering the letters ‘HIV’ can have in a conversation.”
Well, that rotten golden egg has taken the HIV and LGBT community by storm since then, immersing himself in activism and becoming a major media presence, often using his own body and image to get his message about HIV across. As an Advocate contributor, Curry once appeared naked in a sudsy shower to protest the continuing use of “clean” to describe people who don’t have HIV. And while older activists bristled at the attention Curry got for things they’ve been saying for years, it was clear that this Gen Y upstart was getting through to a lot of young people.
Curry launched the Needle Prick Project, an editorial and visual campaign aimed to open dialogue on the current state of living HIV-positive. It included a series of published interviews and photographs of Curry with other poz notables. In addition to writing for The Advocate, he has contributed to Instinct and The Huffington Post, and today he’s senior editor and head writer for a Web-based HIV resource and magazine, HIV Equal Online.
Curry reminds us that youth is for pushing forward, making noise, and bringing attention to a cause. “Even though I probably won’t die tomorrow, I can still live better today,” Curry wrote in that 2012 column. “Realizing just that is the change in our lives that we all deserve.”