Dear Plus Reader,
Sheryl Lee Ralph has made a career of being a trailblazer, so breaking boundaries is nothing new for the Emmy winning legend of stage and screen — which is why we’re so very excited to have her grace the cover of our annual African American issue. In addition to paving the way for women of color in the entertainment industry (she directs and produces too), Ralph was one of the first high-profile celebrities to use her platform to raise awareness around HIV and AIDS. In 1990 she founded the DIVA Foundation, a nonprofit that has raised hundreds of thousands for HIV-related causes. Read about the documentary she’s now producing, Unexpected, which focuses on Black women affected by HIV, as well as what was going through her mind during her now-famous Emmy acceptance speech.
Also in this issue, we have another exclusive interview with another Black female trailblazer, Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot, where she discusses the city’s recent big drop in new HIV diagnoses. Lightfoot says that, while she found a sense of belonging in the local LGBTQ+ community when she arrived in Chicago many years ago, she also has “horrific memories from those days when I had feelings of helplessness as I watched the federal government ignore the AIDS crisis and let gay men die with no recognition or support. This experience deepened my commitment to eradicating the HIV epidemic with a focus on equity and dignity.”
Also in this issue, you can read about a stigma-busting horror movie with an HIV storyline, the next generation of Pedro Zamora scholarship recipients, the endurance of the Arthur Ashe Foundation, and how the names of Black and brown folks lost to HIV are now being added the AIDS Memorial Quilt as it tours the South. You’ll also want to check out some recent party pics from the Out100 celebration and a spooktacular HIV fundraiser in New Orleans (page 16).
I hope you enjoy reading this exciting first issue of the year — and we at Plus hope your 2023 is filled with positivity, prosperity, and joy.
Peace & Blessings,
Desiree Guerrero, Plus Editor in Chief