Category: HIV

Mark Ruffalo The Normal Heart; Colin Firth On Rupert Everett; Matt Bomer Too Beautiful for Normal Heart

Mark Ruffalo The Normal Heart

Mark Ruffalo who is straight playing gay, talks about why he did The Normal Heart, and how he feels about it.

“I was growing up during the AIDS epidemic, and I saw how cruel and how insensitive people were to these people suffering. It sort of has been forgotten in our culture what happened during those times.”

Many of the pioneering HIV/AIDS activists depicted in the film, he added, “brought us to the point today…gay marriage is as common almost as marriage right now.”

“That was an important story that needed to be told, and I was honored to tell it with the folks that I got to tell it with, and having Larry Kramer’s words to convey it,” he noted.

I’m looking forward to The Normal Heart. I grew up gay during that time, too. But I think this is what happens sometimes when straight actors play gay roles. It’s not that they can’t play the parts. It’s just that when it comes time for publicity they say things that often make me wonder. Matt Damon did the same thing after the Liberace HBO movie and I commented in a post about that in March 2013. (And I thought Damon was wonderful in the film.) I think if Ruffalo were gay he would have said a few different things. First, the comment about marriage. Tony and I are legally married in only a few states, not in PA where we live and pay taxes. One mile away in New Jersey we are legally married. Gay marriage outside New York and other metropolitan areas is far from being as common as “marriage” right now. But more than that, marriage is marriage. Period. 

And please don’t tell me I’m scrutinizing this too much. No one dares to say that to Whoopi Goldberg or Oprah Winfrey if they know what’s good for them. I want the same respect.

You can read more here.

Colin Firth On Rupert Everett

This bit of news won’t change the world. But what the hell. Sometimes it takes a while for actors to open up, and when they do it can be interesting. This time it’s Colin Firth talking about working with Rupert Everett years ago when most of us were still kids.

‘We started off as friends, then it went horribly wrong about two weeks in,’ Firth recalled. ‘He was incredibly unpleasant.
He described me as a “ghastly guitar-playing socialist.” I did not have a guitar.’
But the two managed to patch things up and work together again – most notably in Shakespeare in Love. Says Firth: ‘We’re great friends now.’

There’s more here. Best buds forever.

Matt Bomer Too Beautiful for Normal Heart

No one can promote anything better than Larry Kramer, so there will be more than a few posts and links until The Normal Heart airs on HBO this May. When it comes to self-promotion Kramer makes one pushy gay male m/m romance author I know look tame in comparison. (Sorry, no names.) This time the link is to an article where Larry Kramer thought Matt Bomer was too beautiful to play this part in the film but Ryan Murphy didn’t agree.

To convince Kramer, Murphy arranged for the two men to meet and the 36-year-old Bomer admits that going in, he was ‘starstruck’ because he had first read The Normal Heart as a 14 year old.

‘It was like meeting one of the Beatles,’ Bomer tells the magazine.

‘He was so central to my understanding and development. We talked for a really long time.’ Kramer, who has waited nearly 30 years for his acclaimed play about the early days of the AIDS crisis to be turned into a movie, sent Murphy an email immediately after his meeting with Bomer which simply stated: ‘He’s the one.’

Frankly, I’m still not over the fact that Matt Bomer isn’t going to be Christian Grey.  But I’m glad he snagged The Normal Heart role.

You can read more here.

Jonathan Groff to Critics; He Hates Condoms; Vintage Gay Art

Jonathan Groff to Critics

I posted my thoughts in a review of a review about the new LGBTI show, Looking, last week and most of my readers seemed to agree with me. It’s all subjective, which is important to take into consideration. But in this case what the critics of Looking who call it boring don’t seem to understand is that gay men like me and thousands of others aren’t sitting back anymore while only a handful get to voice their opinions.

In other words, the gay community is highly diverse and those select few in the gay community who have represented us in the past often find themselves being challenged now in ways that wouldn’t have happened ten or twenty years ago. No one challenged Truman Capote because no one ever admitted to being gay back then. In this case, though small when you think about all the issues we still face, it’s with the TV show Looking.

The star of Looking, Jonathan Groff, isn’t sitting back either, and he’s responded to a few comments about Looking that I think are highly significant with respect to many gay men and situations these gay men often find themselves in these days.

“The way that, potentially, this show is moving in the next direction, [is that] while all of the characters are gay, nobody’s sort of grappling with the fact that they’re gay,” he explained. “This show is about a group of gay men where their sexuality is kind of the least of their worries. Their problems are more their work environment or their love relationships or their friendships. Or they’re moving out of town, or you know, it’s about many other things in addition to being gay. Hopefully, its a reflection of where we’re at, which is where being gay is a huge part of who you are but it’s not the definitive thing about who you are.”

I think Looking, in a way, is a lot like Sex in the City, but with gay characters, and without the bad gay stereotypes Hollywood has been cramming down our throats since the beginning of film.

You can read the full article here, where there are vocal excerpts from the interview.

He Hates Condoms

The condom topic always creates highly charged discussion in any forum, but this article is a little different because the author, Matthew Ebert, discloses his HIV poz status in the first line.

I have always struggled with condoms. They remind me of something I hate, my HIV-positive status. My bad, you say? Nope. I just love barebacking. But I will not have anal sex without condoms. Which means I have not had intercourse in 18 years. But recently I met a younger guy who is HIV-negative, and I don’t want to risk transmission, so I decided to start loving the condom and learned to stop dropping those mind bombs that kept me down on the farm.

I can’t tell you how much I love this entire article.

You can read more here. It’s the first thing I think I’ve ever read that not only gets into the reality of condom phobia but also the reality that it doesn’t have to rule your life.

 Vintage Gay Art

During the ten years I owned my art gallery in New Hope I carried a number of newer artists who focused on gay art, but my favorite pieces…and those that usually sold the best…were always vintage. And this next article gets into not only gay vintage art, but magazine art.

In the 1950s, art admirers were hard-pressed to find images of gay male life adorning the walls of major galleries and museums. Instead, the beautiful work of photographers and illustrators like Bob Mizer and Tom of Finland were often exhibited within the pages of gay magazines. Diverse depictions of private male life — particularly erotic life — were thus made available only to the people who knew where to find it.

Knowing where to find it was an important phrase up until recently. For those gay men who were in the closet and had little access to large cities it was almost impossible to find anything even related to gay art.

You can read more here. There are also visual examples.

Photo attribution here.

A Fool’s Opinion on HIV; Coke Bans Gay

A Fool’s Opinion on HIV

I hadn’t planned on posting anything too exciting today because I’m getting ready for the road trip to Vermont to get married, and it’s cold as freak here. But when I saw this absolutely idiotic, self-indulgent piece of garbage in Huff Po about people with HIV I had to at least post a few comments that might disabuse the person who wrote it of a few misconceptions that seem to be based on inexperience. And he doesn’t just mention people with HIV. He even gets into people with cancer and other serious illnesses. Maybe I’m a little overly sensitive to these things right now because I’ve been following the ongoing emotional health crisis with authors TJ Klune and Eric Arvin. Not to mention a serious health issue I’m dealing with right now with a family member that started around the day after Christmas. But then again, I don’t really think I’d feel that differently if these issues weren’t happening all around me.

The author of the article to which I’m linking is Mike Alvear. It states he’s written a few books, near his byline. I haven’t read them, nor do I plan to read them in the near future. I also know nothing about him other than what he wrote in this article, which basically states he’s sick and tired of hearing people with HIV, or anyone with any serious health issue, talk about how their disease helped make them better people.

If I hear one more HIV-positive man tell me he’s “grateful” for the disease because it made him a more peaceful, loving, open, honest person, I’m going to scream. Those afflicted by disease, any disease, whether it’s cancer or HIV, have taken a pernicious slide toward rationalizing their conditions as something “necessary” for them to achieve some kind of enlightenment.

I’ve been lucky enough in life to have avoided anything major with my health, but I knock on wood when I say that and I’m grateful for THAT all the time. I know what it’s like to see people around me lose their good health and in a matter of moments entire lives change in ways people never expected. And yes, that’s life. Sooner or later we are, indeed, all going to deal with one thing or another. However, I have also seen, first hand, how people have changed and evolved for the better because of their illnesses, and how they have become more enlightened and more peaceful, as a result of their health issues. Sometimes it takes a while to reach that point after diagnosis, but I have seen it happen more often than not. And this has nothing to do with minimizing something as serious as HIV or cancer. This is about learning how to live with, and deal with, something that has the potential to change you forever. And if someone tells me he or she is grateful for the disease because it helped take them closer to self-actualization, I’m thrilled for them.

In the article Alvear does mention a personal tragedy, and he had me wondering at that point…hoping there would be something more to the article than just negativity and this selfish, privileged inexperienced voice lacking empathy. But even with his own intense disclosure, the article continued to devolve to the point where if I did have a serious health issue and I did feel as if I’d become more enlightened because of it I would feel pretty awful by the end of the article.

He also slams Oprah, Deepak, and even Lance Armstrong. I don’t think he’s lived long enough, or has gone through enough in life, to fully understand the magnitude of taking on a topic like this. He should stick to writing books on being a good bottom instead of topics that require sensitivity and emotion. This is just another example of how the wrong people get a platform sometimes. I have personally seen people in full blown AIDS. I know what happens each step of the way. I’ve also seen this with cancer, from beginning to end.

Alvear draws this “humble” conclusion:

Here’s what I say to all my HIV-positive friends: Don’t be grateful. Don’t carry the burden of trying to make HIV your friend. Like all friends, it’ll expect you to be loyal and introduce it to your other friends.

While HIV is not your friend, it isn’t your enemy either. It just is. Learning to deal with it is an admirable accomplishment, but please, don’t tell us it’s a gift, or that your grateful.

Here’s what I say to my HIV positive friends, or anyone in a health crisis: if you think being HIV positive has made you a more enlightened person, and this kind of gratitude helps you deal with your disease, you have all my support and more. There are NO words I can say to make it better, so the best I can do is support you no matter what that entails. If you’re grateful for your disease, I’m in no position to judge you or anyone else, and neither is Mike Alvear.

You can read more here.

The comment thread is interesting. Most people reacted the same way I did. My heart ached for some.

One person wrote this:

I agree with some of the statements he makes, but others make my blood boil,
Some concepts that are unrelatable to anyone but those that have had that experience are difficult to talk about..

For me, the key word in that comment is experience, something Alvear clearly lacks. Again, he should stick to books about being a bottom.

Coke Bans Gay

Coke has a new marketing plan in South Africa that includes sharing a virtual can of Coke on social media, but the word “gay” has been banned.

Should a user attempt to personalise the can with “gay” on the Share a Coke website, the error message will read: “Oops. Let’s pretend you didn’t just type that.”

 Other banned words include sex, fuck, homo and dyke. The website does not, however, ban the word “straight.”

Coke is a sponsor of the Russian Olympics and has made no comments on Russia’s anti-gay laws.

You can read more here.

Side note: I know far more people who drink bottled water than soda. And that trend seems to be continuing as each year passes.

Matt Bomer Normal Heart; AIDS Today; Zimmerman Trial

Matt Bomer Normal Heart

When I posted about Matt Bomer earlier this year doing the film version of the stage play, The Normal Heart, I made a point of following the story.

From January 5th

Matt Bomer is scheduled to star in Larry Kramer’s “The Normal Heart” on HBO. It’s going to be directed by Ryan Murphy (Glee), and will also star Julia Roberts and Mark Ruffalo.

In this case, I have a feeling it’s going to be authentic with Murphy as the director. He tends to get a bit too political sometimes, but in this case, with this film, I don’t think it’s possible to get too political…or rant and scream too much about. If that is what he intends to do.

Although I was only a kid at the time, I can still remember how AIDS was ignored back then. The President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, never used the term once while he was in office…as I recall personally. There was panic, protests, and emotional events that helped define the next generation of gay men. Things were never the same again.

I went on to write another post about this topic, here.

Since I wrote those posts, filming for The Normal Heart began on July 3, in New York. And it is set to air on TV in 2014. I think the film is going to be significant for several reasons, one of which is I’ve seen a trend where we are finally starting to talk about AIDS openly, and what it was like during the height of the AIDS crisis. Just this year, I posted a rave review of John Irving’s novel, In One Person, because I thought it went into the most detailed account I’ve ever read in fiction about what it was really like back then…including the actual medical issues people with AIDS had. And recently, something I didn’t expect happened, Irving won a Lambda Award for In One Person.

You can read more here about Bomer and The Normal Heart. The cast also includes Taylor Kitsch, Mark Ruffalo, and Julia Roberts. And, it’s being directed by Ryan Murphy of Glee.

From Wiki:

The Normal Heart is a largely autobiographical play by Larry Kramer. It focuses on the rise of the HIVAIDS crisis in New York City between 1981 and 1984, as seen through the eyes of writer/activist Ned Weeks, the gay Jewish-American founder of a prominent HIV advocacy group. Ned prefers loud public confrontations to the calmer, more private strategies favored by his associates, friends, and closeted lover Felix Turner, none of whom is prepared to throw himself into the media spotlight. Their differences of opinion lead to frequent arguments that threaten to undermine their mutual goal.

As a side note, during the time The Normal Heart was written we viewed the world and the AIDS virus very differently than we do today. I’m always glad to see historical things like this being approached by producers and publishers because we should never forget. But I’d also like to see how people are living with HIV/AIDS today. It’s not the horror story that we’ve seen in the past. And I find that so many people who are unfamiliar with HIV/AIDS don’t get all the information they should be getting. So while I am looking forward to this film version of The Normal Heart, I’m not so sure about what it’s going to do to help break the stigma for people who are living “normal heart” lives today with HIV/AIDS. It’s actually a topic I plan to tackle eventually, because I think we need to know more about it. And also because I have been in those proverbial trenches personally.

AIDS Today

In a totally unrelated article, new ground is being broken daily for people with HIV. And many are working hard to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS all around the world.

Doctors could save three million more lives worldwide by 2025 if they offer AIDS drugs to people with HIV much sooner after they test positive for the virus, the World Health Organisation said on Sunday.

While better access to cheap generic AIDS drugs means many more people are now getting treatment, health workers, particularly in poor countries with limited health budgets, currently tend to wait until the infection has progressed.

What this basically means is that people who are HIV positive can get drugs and the virus can actually remain virtually undetected if they take the drugs regularly. I’m familiar with this personally because of a friend who has HIV and I’ve listened in on his medical consultations at the University of Pennsylvania. I’ve also learned that getting these drugs out there to people is highly important, and getting them to take the drugs regularly is even more important. Another issue is that the drugs are not always affordable, but there are programs, too.

I think this is a fascinating article, and simple to understand for those like me who are not medical experts. Just this alone made me stop and think twice:

“With nearly 10 million people now on antiretroviral therapy, we see that such prospects – unthinkable just a few years ago – can now fuel the momentum needed to push the HIV epidemic into irreversible decline,” she said in a statement.

You can read more here.

Zimmerman Trial

I’ve been following the Zimmerman trial on Anderson Cooper 360 partly because attorney Danny Cevallos is local to Philadelphia and he’s on the AC 360 panel, and partly because I have found it so hard to get real information about the entire case…anywhere. Almost everything seems to be biased in one direction or the other.

This is a highly charged issue for many, and in following AC 360 this past week I’ve learned many facts about the case (on both ends) I didn’t know from what I’d read in articles and blog posts that can’t seem to remain objective. In fact, the very first time I learned of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin, I read about it on a publishing blog by literary Agent Janet Reid, here.

But there seem to be so many facts about this case that have been coming out in the trial since I read Ms. Reid’s highly emotional post, I’m in shock each time I hear something different. How this will turn out or what the verdict will be is not something I can predict. But I do think that it’s going to set new standards for other cases. Unfortunately, I’m not so sure it’s going to change the violence we are all experiencing in the US. And I don’t think violence is a racial issue. Violence in the US is something we are all dealing with nowadays.

You can read more here at AC 360. And I did search this link out with care. I found other links that were geared toward the defense, with highly biased statements…just as the post written by Janet Reid last year was highly biased in the opposite direction without much merit or substance. As a small blogger, I take the written word very seriously. My goal is to learn the unbiased facts with cases like this, and to base my decisions about the content of a blog post on facts. If I don’t know them I don’t post about them, which is why I haven’t posted about the Zimmerman trial before. And even though I’m just a small blogger with a few thousand hits a day, I think I would be doing readers a huge disservice if I didn’t do this.

7,000 Dental Patients Take HIV Test

At least 7,000 patients of the Dr. Scott Harrington Oral and Facial Surgery practice in Tulsa, Oklahoma, have been alerted after one patient tested positive for HIV and Hepatitis C. However, when tested again this patient tested positive for Hepatitis C and not HIV. The 7,000 have been encouraged to be tested for HIV and Hepatitis C as a precaution.

Even so, a complaint filed by the Oklahoma Dental Board cites Harrington for an array of safety and health violations that created contamination risks for his patients. He is scheduled to appear before a dental board hearing on April 19 and has voluntarily closed his practice and surrendered his license.

I read this here.

And this article goes into more detail:

Inspectors found a number of problems at the doctor’s clinics in Tulsa and suburban Owasso, according to the state Dentistry Board, which filed a 17-count complaint against Harrington pending an April 19 license revocation hearing. According to the complaint, needles were reinserted into drug vials after being used on patients, expired drugs were found in a medicine cabinet and dental assistants administered sedatives to patients, rather than the doctor.

I’ve also checked out a few other places and basically I found the same information in a simple search. The reason why I’m posting about it is because I saw it on TV earlier and I was left wondering more about the story. The alleged needle issue is scary. But you can’t get HIV from expired drugs and sedatives administered by dental assistants.

I’m also posting for another reason. When a friend of mine was discharged from the hospital a few years ago for an HIV related issued, I took him to the dentist about two weeks after he was discharged and found the dentist more than apprehensive to work on him. He basically passed him off to a “specialist,” for something basic. I found that not only insulting to my friend, but to all people with HIV. And I let the doctor know how I felt before I left, in private, so my friend wouldn’t hear me and get embarrassed. It was evident this dentist was terrified to treat anyone with HIV.

That same day, after my friend was rejected by that one dentist, I called another dentist who is also local and she saw my friend the next day. There was no issue whatsoever with her. The second dentist was a professional and she knew what she was doing. Not a single issue. And, my friend has been going there ever since. NONE of her other patients have contracted HIV as a result.

In an unrelated TRUE story, Tony and I had good friends who lived in New Hope about ten years ago. One was a dentist, however, at the time we became friendly with these two guys the dentist had stopped practicing altogether. I couldn’t help but wonder why. He was only in his early forties at the time. So I asked him and heard yet another horrible dentist/HIV story.

Back in the late 1980’s, my dentist friend had a growing practice. Although he was gay, he was also married with two kids at the time. One thing led to another, he met his gay partner and fell in love, and he ultimately left his wife. As a result, “someone” started a rumor about him. This “someone” spread lies about him being gay and having AIDS. At that time, HIV wasn’t as commonly used as a term as AIDS. And, also at that time, those who tested positive didn’t have HIV drugs and AIDS was basically a death sentence.

The rumor about my dentist friend spread rapidly, which ultimately killed his dental practice and put him out of business. To make an involved story short, my dentist friend filed a civil suit against the “person” who started the rumor, he sued for defamation, and won a three million dollar settlement. Of course he wasn’t HIV positive and he had no problem proving this in court. He also had eyewitnesses to testify on his behalf.

Unfortunately, this changed his entire life; guilt by association because he was gay. He stopped practicing for years and went into a small business. He eventually moved to Palm Springs and went back to school to become a licensed dentist in California, and started a thriving practice there which lasted until his recent passing from a heart attack.

And whenever I see something HIV/AIDS related to anything involving dentists, I’m always curious about all the information, not just a piece of it. If I find out more about the story above, I’ll post a follow up to this.