Twenty amazing HIV-positive gay men

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LOS ANGELES — From Greg Louganis to Keith Haring, there have been thousands of impressive gay men who have lived with HIV. With National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day just around the corner (held annually on September 27), HIV Plus magazine’s September/October 2014 cover story, the publication’s largest cover story ever, takes a look at 20 amazing gay men living openly and proudly as HIV-positive individuals.

“While there are many men who could have been on the list, these 20 individuals have shined bright as activists, entertainers, and educators. They have contributed in the fight against HIV, as well as the stigma surrounding it,” notes Diane Anderson-Minshall, editor in chief of HIV Plus.

The “20 Amazing HIV-Positive Gay Men” include:

  • Andy Bell – Anyone who grew up in the 1980s and ‘90s knows the music of Erasure, the chart-topping, award-winning two-man New Wave mega-band started by Vince Clarke and Andy Bell nearly 30 years ago. In all they’ve sold 25 million albums and achieved more than 40 synth-fueled hit singles. And through it all, musician Andy Bell has remained a powerful sex symbol who happens to be HIV-positive.
  • Sam Page – With his classic surfer looks and a positive focus, lifestyle expert Sam Page might look just like any other Southern California fitness buff. But with a celebrity clientele that includes Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine and a Zen-learner-meets-gay-Dr. Oz philosophy, Page is anything but a typical Hollywood trainer. He’s been helping other HIV-positive guys, including members of Being Alive and Life Group LA.
  • Douglas M. Brooks – It was with much fanfare that President Obama appointed Douglas M. Brooks, one of the nation’s foremost HIV and AIDS policy authorities, as the director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy earlier this year. He did so due to the impressive resume of Brooks, whose experience, according to Obama, makes him “uniquely suited to the task of helping to achieve the goal of an AIDS-free generation, which is within our reach.”
  • Cyon Flare – Coming out as gay to your mom at 13 is tough for many kids, but not for Cyon Flare. The 43-year-old performer says, “She knew, probably because I was walking around in cha-cha heels by the time I was 5 years old. In my family it was not labeled as a masculine or feminine thing…my mama didn’t play that!” Now, the guy behind the Billboard hit “Everybody Everybody” is back in the studio recording a new song called “Friendly Love,” dedicated to an anti-stigma campaign that’s dear to his heart, called Mr. Friendly.
  • Ongina – Ongina was one of the first reality TV stars to come out as HIV-positive. The man behind the adorable drag persona disclosed his diagnosis on season 1 of RuPaul’s Drag Race in a heart-wrenching speech following a challenge victory. Since then he’s used his popularity to make a difference in the world of prevention and testing, and has a Web series called HIV + Me, in which he talks with people living with HIV about their experiences with the disease.
  • Chris Richey – Chris Richey’s journey with HIV has taken him to some unexpected places – including the White House. Richey responded to the news of his status first with shame, then with action, founding the Stigma Project the following year with friend Scott McPherson. The Stigma Project is dedicated to using social media campaigns in hopes of creating a world that is “HIV neutral” – where there is no stigma attached to the virus – and educating people on HIV prevention, to the point that someday the world will be free of HIV and AIDS.

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