5 Amazing HIV-Positive Gay Men

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HIV isn’t always the end of the road.

The Mirror’s very own Ryan Dixon, former porn star turned writer, is just such an example. He keeps a diary of his goings on and it’s plain to see that his road of obstacles and challenges is vast and long and very far from ending.

Likewise, the world’s been privy to many HIV-positive men who used their bad fortune to better themselves and those around them, people who rose to success and shone as examples that when that plus sign is part of your bio, it doesn’t mean a minus sign must follow it.

Here are five of our favorite positively positive men.

Greg Louganis

He’s a four-time Olympic champion and is widely considered the greatest diver in history.

The only male to sweep both the 3m and 10m diving events in consecutive Olympic Games (1984 and 1988), Louganis 5 Olympic medals, 5 World Championship titles and 47 national titles (more than anyone in U.S. history).

In 1984, Greg received the Amateur Athletic Union’s James E. Sullivan Award for outstanding achievements.  In 1985, he was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.  In 1987, he won the Jesse Owens Award.  In 1993, he was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.  In 1994, he was presented with the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Robert J. Kane Award.

Jack Mackenroth

Mackenroth moved to New York in 1991 to attend the Parsons School of design where he studied Fashion Design. When he was done, Mackenroth opened a menswear store in the now-hipster West Village called Jack.

And in 1997, he went to work for Tommy Hilfiger. And then of course he appeared on season 4 of Project Runway.

But Mackenroth isn’t just about work. He also swims. Really well.

He’s got three All-American titles to his name and set a national record in the summer of 2006 in the breaststroke leg of the 4-50 meter medley relay. The same summer he finished 12th in the 50 meter breaststroke at the Masters World Championships in Stanford California.

Jack Mackenroth is originally from Seattle, Washington. For more, check out our profile at http://bit.ly/13n4xwX. Mackenroth also appeared on the Winter 2013 cover of the Mirror.

More recently he launched a dating site, Volttage.com, for HIV plus men.

Bill T. Jones

Jones began his dance training at Binghamton University, where he studied classical ballet and modern dance.

This dancer and choreographer-extraordinaire received major honors ranging from a 1994 MacArthur "Genius" Award to Kennedy Center Honors in 2010. He was inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2009 and named "An Irreplaceable Dance Treasure" by the Dance Heritage Coalition in 2000.

Jones won a 2010 Tony Award for Best Choreography in the critically acclaimed (and half his creation) FELA!. He also earned a 2007 Tony Award for Best Choreography in Spring Awakening as well as an Obie Award for the show's 2006 off-Broadway run.

Whew. Deep breath:

He’s received honorary doctorates from Yale University, Art Institute of Chicago, Bard College, Columbia College, Skidmore College, the Juilliard School, Swarthmore College and the State University of New York at Binghamton Distinguished Alumni Award, where he began his dance training with studies in classical ballet and modern dance.

Peter Staley

This guy is the real thing. Pure bred activist through and through.

In 1992, Staley (and other alums from ACT UP) founded the Treatment Action Group (TAG), and he became its founding director. TAG's first action and "art project" involved covering Senator Jesse Helms' home with a giant condom.

Yeah.

In May of 2013 he opened a panel discussion on AIDS survivors (covered by national media) by saying, among other things: “I'm sure a lot of the discussion will be about our challenges and grievances. I know I've got some to share. As I said at Spencer's memorial, many of us in some way have unprocessed grief, or guilt, or an overwhelming sense of abandonment from a gay community that turned its back on us and increasingly stigmatizes us, all in an attempt to pretend that AIDS isn't its problem anymore. Many of us see our national gay rights groups and our gay foundations and big gay money focused entirely on the feel-good battle for marriage equality.”

In 1994, Clinton appointed him to run the AIDS drug development section of the National Task Force. In 2000, Staley started AIDSmeds.com, offering information to HIV-positive people (the easy-to-understand variety, specifically).

Seen the movie “How to Survive a Plague”? It’s mostly about him. And it’s free and streaming on Netflix.

Greg Harris

Can’t end this list without at least one politician. That’s right, Harris is the openly gay state representative in Illinois.

And politicians have enemies.

“Harris should step down now as chief sponsor of this legislation,” wrote publisher Tracy Baim in Windy City Times, an LGBT weekly publication, in a stinging editorial in June when Harris didn’t call a vote for marriage equality because he felt he’d lose and cause more damage that way. “He has proven he is tone deaf to the wishes of both the grass-roots and leadership of this community. They almost all called for a vote, no matter what. Instead, Harris chose to give cover to his political colleagues rather than follow through on his own on-the-record promise to call for a vote.”

He’s been serving since 2006 and — take a breath, it’s a long one — here are some of his awards: He received the 2010 Illinois School Counselor Association Legislator of the Year Award, several Friend of Agriculture Awards (he’s the first person to receive Gay Chicago Magazine’s Person of the Year honor). He has also received an award from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless for his leadership on issues surrounding youth homelessness. Harris got the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Champion for the Cure Award, the Chicago House Public Service Award, and was also honored with the Friend for Life Award by the Howard Brown Health Center.


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