When I first joined the company that publishes Plus magazine about a decade ago, I knew exactly one person on staff: Neal Broverman. The two of us had met on a press trip together in sunny Florida, where Neal wore these hip, David Caruso-style aviator sunglasses 90 percent of the time. Though he appeared too-cool-for-school because of it, he was also the only man on the trip who understood why I — the only female in attendance — might not want to hear some of the guys' antiquated ideas about women.
Neal and I forged a friendship through a decade of working together in different capacities at The Advocate and Plus magazines, which is why I'm happy to announce that with my recent promotion to CEO of Pride Media, I'll be handling over the reins to Neal as he becomes Plus's new editor in chief.
But don't worry. I'm still here. Neal will take care of day-to-day operations with our already great crew of editors and artists, including creative director Raine Bascos; editors Jacob Anderson-Minshall, David Artavia, Desiree Guerrero, Donald Padgett, and Trudy Ring; and contributing editors Tyler Curry, Mark S. King (blogger behind My Fabulous Disease), and Dr. Gary McClain.
It couldn't come at a more exciting time, as Pride Media continues what began as a year-long initiative to inform the world about the scientific consensus that people with undetectable viral loads cannot transmit the virus to others. This issue, we meet a few people who personify this, including Dorian-Gray Alexander, a radio host in New Orleans, and our cover stars David and Johnny Lester-Massey, who are so popular in HIV activist circles (and amont their many fans) that they go by "David & Johnny." They are a serodiscordant couple; David is living with HIV, while Johnny is not. As a couple, they teach us what it means to "live" with HIV and how it factors in today's world of treatment as prevention. HIV doesn't ever need to stop love, sex, or reproduction. David & Johnny, who met in 2013, took us inside their recent Italian wedding for our cover story. More than a look at the day of the wedding, David Artavia's feature is a snapshot of a couple in love in 2020.
In addition to our cover stars, this issue we've got essays from Craig Washington, Philipp Spiegel, and Paul Lisicky (the latter is author of the brilliant new memor Later: My Life at the Edge of the World). In his feature on sex, HIV, and aging, author Scott Stiffler speaks to a number of long-term survivors.
Since this is likely my last editor's letter for Plus, I want to shout out some of the people who've been critical to our success over the past decade under my helm. Organizations that have been vital partners include GMHC, NMAC, APLA, Black AIDS Institute, AIDS United, Transgender Law Center, Treatment Action Group, Prevention Access Campaign, Elton John AIDS Foundation, Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, and so many more. The Sero Project, Sean Strub, Tami Haught, and the HIV Is Not a Crime conference have trained not just me but several of our editors (and if you've never been to the conference of activists working to overturn stigmatizing and scientifically unsound HIV laws, consider it this year). Positive Women's Network-USA staffer Jennie Smith-Camejo and executive director Naina Khanna helped us turn a publication with a lot of male readers into one that also speaks to the needs and accomplishments of women living with HIV.
Tez Anderson's AIDS survivor network, Let's Kick ASS (AIDS Survivor Syndrome), helped push us to cover the lives of long-term survivors and people aging with HIV. Damon Jacobs taught us as much about PrEP and smoking cessation as any of the physicians we spoke to. As I write this, I'm flooded with folks I should thank but since this isn't an Oscar speech, I'll leave it by saying I should thank you, dear readers, most of all for making Plus a magazine that empowers anyone living with HIV to embrace life, care for your health, find love, enjoy family, and in all ways reach for the sky.
Each year we name 25 people of the year, and I can't wait to see who makes 2020's list. But honestly, you all deserve to be there: you're amazing! Ciao!
Diane Anderson-Minshall is the CEO and editorial director of Pride Media, the owner of Plus.