I’ve got to admit, it’s hard to write a chipper editor’s note when I’m still reeling from the deadly massacre at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that killed nearly 50 people—the vast majority black or Latino, and LGBT or allied. The average age was 29, meaning there were a few geezers like me and a lot of very young adults.
Based on current statistics about the percentage of Latino and black men living with HIV, it’s a good bet that there were at least 10 people killed who were HIV-positive, though that certainly hasn’t come out in the media reports. This was the largest mass killing of LGBT people as well as the largest killing of Latino people (or as activists have begun say, Latinx).
We couldn’t make this issue without first sending our thoughts out to those victims, survivors, families, and communities touched by yet more senseless violence and hate, but as a health magazine we offer up ways to cope. Doctors Aletha Maybank and Demetre Daskalakis talk on pg. 48 about why hate is a public health threat (from Donald Trump rhetoric to Orlando shooter Omar Mateen’s homophobia). On pg. 8, Dr. Gary McClain, our mental health editor, offers up sound advice on how to heel from the trauma of Orlando.
But hey, listen, this isn’t a bummer issue. This is a fired up one. This magazine, and especially this issue, celebrates the survivors amongst us. We are the winners; not the haters. Our annual look at the Most Amazing HIV-positive People in the U.S. is chock full of survivors. Rev. Andrena Ingram was literally recovering from heart surgery (that’s her in a tiara in her hospital bed!), while trans rights activist Sharmus Outlaw was in hospice unable to choke out even the simplest of sentence. Long denied proper healthcare, Outlaw died just days before we went to press, her million-watt smile (shown here) a reminder of how much she persevered through such pain.
Several of the folks in this year’s list survived AIDS; the early days of the epidemic, the physical toll of the virus and disabilities that came with it, the grief of losing spouses or lovers, parents or children. Some, like Tez Andersen, came away with PTSD, but soldiered on. Others, like Chandi Moore, saw violence in the streets; others, like Todd Heywood, in their own homes. In fact, Heywood, who lived through a savage attack by two men he met online, got to witness them sentenced to 17 to 55 years just before we went to press.
Like I said, this is a magazine of survivors and this issue, which features people who are gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, cisgender, African-American, European-American, Native American, Asian-American, Latino/a/x, immigrants (both documented and not), Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, young, old, middle age, and so very much more from around the country is among our proudest. As they roll out in our special haphazard fashion, please read and share with the world.
And yes, we know, 75 people is far too few to celebrate the wonderful accomplishments and diversity of the poz community. Who knows, if Bob Poe or Thomas Simmons win their bids for Congress, we may have an HIV-positive congressman come January.