Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Video: President Obama On World AIDS Day 2015

President Obama on World AIDS Day 2015

President Obama and the White House issued this video today in honor of World AIDS Day 2015.

Obama correctly notes that while there has been progress to celebrate in the HIV/AIDS arena, today is also about remembering the fight ahead for a cure, and remembering those we have lost.

Short Film: When AIDS Was Funny

Absolutely chilling.

Filmmaker Scott Calonico juxtaposes the audio of Reagan-era press conferences - snickering and all - against a backdrop of dying AIDS patients.

From Vanity Fair:

Using never-before-heard audio tapes from three separate press conferences, in 1982, 1983, and 1984, When AIDS Was Funny illustrates how the reporter Lester Kinsolving, a conservative (and not at all gay-friendly) fixture in the White House press corps, was consistently scoffed at when he posed urgent questions about the AIDS epidemic.

With snickering, homophobic jokes and a disturbing air of uninterest, Speakes dismisses Kinsolving’s concerns about the escalating problem. “Lester was known as somewhat of a kook and a crank (many people still feel the same way),” says Calonico. “But, at the time, he was just a journalist asking questions only to be mocked by both the White House and his peers.”

World AIDS Day: "When Dogs Heal"

Dr. Robert Garofalo and Fred

When Dogs Heal is a photographic project that tells the stories of people who believe that the best medicine may not always be found at a pharmacy or in a doctor’s office; sometimes it comes in the form of a four-legged friend.

The project began with Dr. Robert Garofalo and his dog, Fred, who he adopted shortly after surviving cancer and later being diagnosed with HIV. Dr. Garofalo credits Fred for getting him through some of his darkest moments and helping him rediscover peace and joy in his life — things he thought he may have lost forever.

Information about project gallery exhibits and more at the official website.

(h/t JMG)

Dr. Frank Spinelli: The Stigma/Fears Faced During Height Of HIV/AIDS Epidemic

As part of observance of World AIDS Day today, Dr. Frank Spinelli, HIV/AIDS specialist, reminds us of the stigma and fears many gay men felt in the 1980s/90s during the early years of the epidemic.

This mindset still continues today even though there are anti-retroviral drugs which can make an HIV+ diagnosis manageable for many. That stigma keeps a lot of folks from getting tested, which is the important first step to getting the syndrome under control.

(h/t Queerty)

Phillipines: U.S. Marine Found Guilty In Strangling Death Of Transgender Woman

A U.S. Marine has been found guilty of murder and sentenced to prison for up to 12 years for the strangling death of a transgender woman in the Phillipines last year.

From CNN:

The court in Olongapo, a city 77 miles (124 km) northwest of Manila, sentenced Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton to up to 12 years in prison, according to CNN Philippines' Ina Andolong, who was at the hearing Tuesday.

The naked body of Jeffrey Laude, also known as Jennifer, was found with her head in a toilet in an Olongapo hotel room shortly after midnight on October 12, 2014, police said.

Witnesses told police that Pemberton was with Laude at a local disco before the two checked into a hotel on the night of October 11, according to documents seen by CNN.

Pemberton told police in October that he'd choked Laude, but then tried to revive her. He said he had become angry with Laude upon discovering she had male genitalia, according to police.

Lance Corporal Pemberton is nineteen years old.

(h/t JMG)

Donald Trump Wants CNN To Give Him $5 Million To Appear At Next GOP Debate

Donald Trump, currently falling in presidential polls, says he wants CNN to pony up $5 million in order for him to appear at the next GOP debate.

From the Washington Post:

Donald Trump has threatened to charge CNN $5 million for his appearance in the next Republican presidential debate, which the network will host on Dec. 15 in Las Vegas.

“How about we do this for CNN: I won’t do the debate unless they pay me five million dollars, all of which money goes to the wounded warriors or goes to vets?” Trump said Monday night to a crowd of about 5,500 at a rally in this central Georgia town, located about 85 miles south of Atlanta. “I would love to do that.”

Monday, November 30, 2015

White House Releases World AIDS Day 2015 Proclamation

Via White House press release:

More than three decades ago, the first known cases of HIV/AIDS sparked an epidemic in the United States — ushering in a time defined by how little we knew about it and in which those affected by it faced fear and stigmatization. We have made extraordinary progress in the fight against HIV since that time, but much work remains to be done. On World AIDS Day, we remember those who we have lost to HIV/AIDS, celebrate the triumphs earned through the efforts of scores of advocates and providers, pledge our support for those at risk for or living with HIV, and rededicate our talents and efforts to achieving our goal of an AIDS-free generation.

Today, more people are receiving life-saving treatment for HIV than ever before, and millions of HIV infections have been prevented. Still, more than 36 million people around the world live with HIV — including nearly 3 million children. My Administration is committed to ending the spread of HIV and improving the lives of all who live with it. In the United States, the Affordable Care Act has allowed more people to access coverage for preventive services like HIV testing, and new health plans are now required to offer HIV screening with no cost sharing. Insurance companies can no longer discriminate against individuals living with HIV/AIDS or any other pre-existing condition. Additionally, this year marks the 25th anniversary of the Ryan White CARE Act, which established the Ryan White Program — a program that helps provide needed care to the most vulnerable individuals and touches over half of all people living with HIV in America.

To further our fight to end the HIV epidemic, my Administration released our country’s first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy in 2010. The Strategy provided a clear framework for changing the way we talk about HIV, and it offered a critical roadmap that prioritizes our Nation’s response to this epidemic and organizes the ways we deliver HIV services. Earlier this year, I signed an Executive Order to update the Strategy through 2020, focusing on expanding HIV testing and care, widening support for those living with HIV to stay in comprehensive care, promoting universal viral suppression among individuals infected with HIV, and increasing access to preventive measures, including pre-exposure prophylaxis for people at substantial risk of acquiring HIV.

Additionally, the primary aims of the Strategy include reducing HIV-related disparities and health inequities, because HIV still affects specific populations disproportionately across our country. Certain individuals — including gay and bisexual men, Black women and men, Latinos and Latinas, people who inject drugs, transgender women, young people, and people in the Southern United States — are at greater risk for HIV, and we must target our efforts to reduce HIV-related health disparities and focus increased attention on highly vulnerable populations. My most recent Federal budget proposal includes more than $31 billion in funding for HIV/AIDS treatment, care, prevention, and research. We are also making great progress toward achieving a greater viral suppression rate among those diagnosed with HIV, and in the last 5 years, we have made critical funding increases to ensure more Americans have access to life-saving treatment.

We cannot achieve an AIDS-free generation without addressing the pervasive presence of HIV throughout the world, which is why our Nation is committed to achieving the goals laid out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to reach more people living with HIV, promote global health, and end the AIDS epidemic. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has helped save lives across the globe and has made significant impacts on the number of new HIV infections by strengthening international partnerships and expanding essential services for preventing and treating HIV. This year, I announced new targets for PEPFAR that aim to provide almost 13 million people with life-saving treatment by the end of 2017. The United States is also committing resources to support PEPFAR’s work to achieve a 40 percent decrease in HIV incidence among young women and girls in the most vulnerable areas of sub-Saharan Africa. This is a shared responsibility, and America will remain a leader in the effort to end HIV/AIDS while continuing to work with the international community to address this challenge and secure a healthier future for all people.

Working with private industry, faith communities, philanthropic organizations, the scientific and medical communities, networks of people living with HIV and affected populations, and governments worldwide, we can accomplish our goals of reducing new HIV infections, increasing access to care, improving health outcomes for patients, reducing HIV-related disparities, and building a cohesive, coordinated response to HIV. On this day, let us pay tribute to those whom HIV/AIDS took from us too soon, and let us recognize those who continue to fight for a world free from AIDS. Let us also recognize researchers, providers, and advocates, who work each day on behalf of people living with HIV, and in honor of the precious lives we have lost to HIV. Together, we can forge a future in which no person — here in America or anywhere in our world — knows the pain or stigma caused by HIV/AIDS.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim December 1, 2015, as World AIDS Day. I urge the Governors of the States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, officials of the other territories subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and the American people to join me in appropriate activities to remember those who have lost their lives to AIDS and to provide support and compassion to those living with HIV.

Monday Mid-Day Brain Break: Plaid Tidings

I know, I know... "Red and green plaid before December???"

Christmas Music: Andra Day "Winter Wonderland"

I can't get enough of Miss Andra Day. And thankfully, with the holidays upon us, we get even more music from the new diva.

Check out her sexy, 'slinky as a cashmere sweater' rendition of "Winter Wonderland."

This is just delicious. She's like the fabulous love child of Nina Simone, Amy Winehouse and Eartha Kitt.

Adele's "25" Breaks (And Sells) A LOT Of Records

Not only did Adele's smash-hit 25 become the #1 album in it's first week of sales, the emotional song set sold more than TWICE the combined sales of the rest of the albums in the top 100 albums sold.

Adele racked up an astonishing 3.38 million units last week, much more than previous front-runner for 2015, Taylor Swift's 1989 (1.75 million units this year).

To put that in perspective, only two albums outsold that in 2014 (and I mean all of 2014): Swift's 1989 and the Frozen soundtrack.

According to Billboard, 8.2 million albums total were sold that week, meaning 4 in 10 albums purchased were Miss Adele's.

And signally a strong trend of late, 22,000 vinyl albums of 25 were sold that week.

If you haven't checked it out yet, and I can't imagine that's statistically possible at this point, head over to iTunes here.

Give It A Try - What Can It Hurt?

I had the most enjoyable late lunch yesterday with my friend Jeremy from uber-LGBT site Queerty.

Picture this: two journalists and we barely glanced at our phones over three hours, and that was to check the time.

I really encourage folks to leave their phones down when doing the socializing thing. Jeremy had great tales of his travels, and what he's working on.

Oh, and I'm sure I talked some, too :)

(everyone who knows me, knows how much I talk...)

So, give it a try. What can it hurt?

Happy Monday, kids.

Joe Jonas Back On The Market With Swanky New Bachelor Pad

'Back on the market' Joe Jonas celebrated his newfound freedom from model Gigi Hadid by renting a cool bachelor pad near Runyon Canyon.

Joe recently sold his West Hollywood home, which only bought last year.

According to AirBNB, the new digs rent for about $71,000 a month, and offers 7 bedrooms with canyon views.

Jonas celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday in the new temporary home with bro Nick and friends, posting the pic below on his Instagram.

A photo posted by J O E J O N A S (@joejonas) on

Holland Taylor, Star Of 'Two And A Half Men' And 'The L Word,' Comes Out

In an interview with WNYC,  actress and LGBT favorite Holland Taylor (Two and a Half Men, The L Word, The Practice) shared the news that she is in the first ever deeply committed relationship. And, it's with a woman.

Discussing the issue she said she wasn't "coming out" because she "lives out."

Holland also says that the idea of marriage has come up with her current partner.

Via AfterEllen:

“Well, my relationship is with a woman, and I have not — given my generation it would not be something that would automatically occur to me. But she’s mentioned it because just from a spiritual point of view, from a heart point of view, as a — as a — as a deed that has a very rich symbolic gesture to it, it has its attraction. But it’s been a very casual conversation at this point. But it’s not — it would be a very private thing. I would not do that publicly. But as a symbol, as a pledge, as a plighting one’s troth I would see it — that it would be a wonderful thing to do.”

Holland declined to name her current partner, but did have this to say: “There’s a very big age difference between us which I’m sure shocks a lot of people, and it startles me. But you know, it’s not a statement original to me — I’ve heard it as a joke once in my past, but as they say, “If she dies, she dies.”

“I’m finally wised up to the fact that I haven’t got that much longer and I would like to have a more fulsome experience of relationships in life than I have,” Holland told WNYC. “And I’m lucky I have the opportunity to. Very lucky I have the opportunity to.”

Listen to Taylor's interview on WNYC here.

First Episode Of Amazon's "Transparent" Season Two Premieres Tonight

Amazon will premiere the first episode of Golden Globe/Emmy Award-winning Transparent's second season tonight at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT exclusively for Prime members in the U.S.

Executive producer Andrea Sperling says that while season one was about Jeffrey Tambor's "Maura" embracing "femininity for the first time, season 2 is about the growing pains of this identity once it's been actualized. This plays out in her love life as well. She’ll explore old relation- ships and perhaps new ones.”

This little morsel is in advance of the series full season premiere on December 11. Did I mention the 5 Emmy Awards for last season?

You do have to have an Amazon Prime account, but as I've recounted many times here, the annual fee of $99 is way worth the free music, free TV and movies, and unlimited 2-day shipping. You can even do a 30-day free trial. Go do that and get that 2-day shipping for your holiday needs!

I'll be watching tonight. You should, too!

amfAR Dedicates $100 Million To HIV Cure By 2020

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, one of the world's leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to the support of AIDS research and HIV prevention, made a huge announcement today:

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, today announced that it has created a $100 million investment strategy in support of its Countdown to a Cure for AIDS initiative, launched last year with the aim of developing the scientific basis of a cure by 2020. The establishment of the amfAR Institute for HIV Cure Research within a major academic research institution with a grant of $20 million will be the centerpiece of the investment strategy.

"This represents the greatest expansion of amfAR's grant making in the 30-year history of the Foundation," said Kevin Robert Frost, amfAR's Chief Executive Officer. "We're very excited to be launching this strategy and establishing an institute dedicated exclusively to the pursuit of a cure for HIV. Concentrating the minds and the efforts of leading AIDS cure researchers under one roof will facilitate the rapid sharing of knowledge and ideas and create the kind of synergy needed to accelerate the search for a cure."

Since 1985, amfAR has invested $415 million in its programs and has awarded grants to more than 3,300 research teams worldwide.

(via press release)
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