Encouraged by an aunt destroyed to AIDS, “Queer Eye” celebrity Jai Rodriguez encourages “Positively Fearless” HIV understanding among Latino homosexual and bi men.
12, 2017 • By Trenton Straube october
As an adolescent within the mid-1990s, Jai Rodriguez destroyed a beloved aunt to AIDS. Soon afterwards, he was channeling her energy each night on Broadway, in the breakout part as Angel, the HIV-positive character in the smash musical lease. Inside the 20s, Rodriguez rocketed to fame that is global TV’s Queer Eye when it comes to Straight Guy. He’sn’t stopped working since—nor has he stopped speaking away for intimate health insurance and HIV understanding. Their latest adventure in advocacy can be as a spokesman for the “Positively Fearless” campaign.
Launched by HIV med Prezcobix, “Positively Fearless” is designed to enable and teach Latino and Ebony males who possess intercourse with males (MSM). If present HIV prices stay constant, it is predicted any particular one in two Ebony MSM plus one in four Latino MSM is going to be clinically determined to have HIV within their lifetime—compared with 1 in 11 white MSM. So that it’s a timely and campaign that is important. We’re also into the midst of Hispanic Heritage Month, which started September 15, and we’re coming through to National Latinx AIDS understanding Day (NLAAD), marked yearly each October 15. To put it differently, it is a time that is perfect meet up with Rodriguez. POZ talked he enjoyed a rare break from filming TV episodes of Wisdom of the Crowd and performing live in the Las Vegas show Sex Tips for Straight Women From a Gay Man with him while.
We gotta ask, do you really and costar Kendra Wilkinson provide up genuine intercourse guidelines in your Vegas show? And do you realy mention safer intercourse?
Yes! We do. There’s no profanity, but we utilize colorful language and charts that are biological. We don’t speak about intercourse too much—it’s more info on foreplay—but we do be in sources to condoms and euphemisms that are playful them.
In taking a look at your bio, I became struck by all of the sex-positive advocacy under your gear.
Real. About seven years back, I became cocreator of a string for Logo called Bad Intercourse starring my boyfriend at that time, Dr. Chris Donaghue—he’s a professional sex specialist and a cohost on Loveline along with other shows—we were together, like, 3 years. It went two periods, nonetheless it did effect how We see human being sex in addition to means I approach advocacy. I’ve been doing HIV advocacy since 1996, therefore about it, it’s over two decades if you think.
Just exactly How do you first find out about HIV and acquire taking part in that work?
It had been at an intimate degree after losing my aunt and relative to AIDS and then a natural tie-in playing the HIV-positive character Angel in lease on Broadway for half of a ten years. My aunt arrived as HIV good once I ended up being, i believe, 15. Whenever Thanksgiving came around, she invited over-all her siblings and parents and nieces and nephews over the age of 16, and she arrived on the scene and stated she ended up being just starting to lose her eyesight and would require more help. She had been friends that are seeing kids she came across in hospitals expire, therefore she pulled by by herself and my cousins off meds. There clearly was no vocals of explanation inside her care that is medical she simply threw in the towel on medicine. My relative died first, then the month or two later on she did. I became 16. She passed away within the summer of 1997, plus it actually did influence the form of my entire life.
Demonstrably, you’re really open relating to this experience, but just just how did the remainder grouped household respond?
To the day—to todaythem to post on Facebook that I’m doing an AIDS Walk in honor of my aunt! — I cannot get. For this time, they’re not going to upload or discuss the truth that a user of your family members passed away from it. It really is entrenched such pity.
I’ve never ever felt it. But per year after her death, I’d a way to channel my aunt’s power through Angel in lease. That has been my method of moving and grieving ahead. Maybe I experienced a unjust benefit, but it addittionally helped me fulfill lots of people infected and afflicted with the herpes virus, and I also became educated about this. Perhaps we are now living in a spot today where I have significantly more folks who are understanding and educated about this than my loved ones. However their degree of pity is difficult in adult friend finder my situation.
Do this sort is thought by you of shame around HIV is typical in other Latino families as well as in the Latino community?
Positively! There clearly was a amount of “It’s not suggested to occur to her. She’s from Longer Island. She had young ones, a ship, a residence. It occurs with other individuals since they did one thing bad. ” and thus that is form of the mindset I was raised with, and then i can see how their choices might reflect that if people still abide by that.
And I also saw this whole variety of dilemmas that was included with an HIV diagnosis plus the shame. We viewed my aunt head to a dental practitioner, and I also saw the dentist placed on a few pairs of gloves right in front of my aunt—when it is simply for a cleaning—because that is routine ended up being petrified. I watched her eyes well up with rips of pity. On Mother’s Day, my mother brought her, at hospice—she ended up beingn’t fragile or sick-looking, but is at a hospice—we had been planning to church or something like that, and my aunt thought to my mom, “I can’t get in hospital clothing. Can you will get me personally one thing? ” Therefore my mother did and covered it as being a Mother’s gift day. It had been a sweatshirt that is pink sweatpants, and my aunt saw them and cried. My mother said, “What’s incorrect? ” My aunt stated, “You’re dealing with me like an individual and never a individual. I wish to feel just like a female once again and placed on pantyhose. ” I am going to always remember that minute just because a 12 months later I’m singing, “Will I lose my dignity? / Will someone care? ”
Just how other folks treat this virus plus the stigma connected is nearly since terrible as the herpes virus it self. The pity is paralyzing—it causes visitors to will not get tested and take therapy. Plus the fear and shame are greater within the Latino community. We can’t image how you’d feel if you should be a new Latino guy, and also you discovered your status, with no one out of your loved ones has understood you aren’t HIV and sometimes even talked absolutely about any of it. In your community we could fare better, that’s why Everyone loves this campaign, additionally the name is ideal.
If data keep working the way they’re going, one in four Latino males who possess intercourse with males will test good. So we have actually so numerous means to avoid transmission when you yourself have the ability. I’ve been achieving this benefit twenty years, but I’m the first ever to raise my hand and say i did son’t realize that HIV rates had been rising among Latino and Ebony males who possess intercourse with men—you could say homosexual and bisexual, but a lot of men don’t determine as that. We actually really did genuinely believe that infections had been heading down universally, so that it became an issue that is personal me personally. It might have now been me among the main one in four if I experienced maybe maybe not witnessed someone dying out of this.
Finally, where can our readers see you?
I’m presently on Dice (Andrew Dice Clay’s show) on Showtime. We perform David Silva on Jeremy Piven’s drama on CBS, Wisdom for the audience. I’m on Twitter and Snapchat and Instagram. I’ve got the Las Vegas show six times per week. There’s Grey’s Anatomy, The Magicians. It is attractive to be working—and to be placing my loud lips to good usage!
For lots more concerning the campaign, see PositivelyFearless.com. Also to browse the POZ meeting with other representative Todrick Hall, read “Look everything you Made Todrick Hall Do…for HIV Awareness! ”
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