Using Their Voices

Fame comes with any number of fringe benefits, but we also see the opposite side of that shiny coin when celebrities have their private lives and health issues splashed across every tabloid and iPad screen in the country. What about those individuals who are famous and HIV-positive? Take a look at a few famous individuals who have stood up for the HIV community and spoken for those who cannot.

  • Magic Johnson

After his announcement that he was HIV-positive in 1991, Magic Johnson retired from professional sports. He did emerge twice before retiring for good after the 1996 basketball season. Once his professional basketball career was over, he became an advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness, education and research by heading the Magic Johnson Foundation.

  • Larry Kramer

A screenwriter, playwright and novelist, Larry Kramer discovered he was HIV-positive after a hernia surgery. Having already been an active voice for gay men in the 1970s and 80s, he has continued to vocally protest anti-gay political agendas and push for greater federal spending on HIV/AIDS research.

  • Gregory S. Harris

One of the four openly gay members of the Illinois General Assembly, as well as being HIV-positive, Gregory Harris has worked continually to support gay rights in the government. As a sponsor of the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection & Civil Union Act bill, as well as the amendment to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act bill, he has been on the forefront of legalizing gay marriage.

  • Andrew M. Sullivan

Author of the blog ‘The Dish,’ Andrew Sullivan has been campaigning for marriage equality since 1989. In addition to that, he vocally fought against the HIV/AIDS ban—which prevented HIV-positive individuals for applying for citizenship in the US—and for soldiers to be able to express their sexuality openly. Now having retired from blogging, he is still married to his partner, still HIV-positive and healthy and looking forward to a peaceful time.

With people such as Magic Johnson and Gregory S. Harris in the public eye, actively pushing for greater research on HIV/AIDS as well as making it clear that the diagnosis doesn’t end one’s life, there is considerable hope for everyone who has received the HIV-positive news. Your life isn’t over; it’s just a new chapter.