PHOTOS: Nick Gruber, Jack Mackenroth Among Stars In New AIDS Awareness Campaign, “HIV=”


AIDS activist and Project Runway alum Jack Mackenroth teamed with Connecticut-based World Health Clinicians and photographer Thomas Evans for the new social media campaign, HIV Equal:

The HIV Equal photo campaign fights the stigma associated with HIV by illustrating that everyone is equally valuable regardless of HIV status. Participants who sign up to take a photo will also take an HIV test with an on-hand health professional as part of a greater effort to help end the fear around HIV testing. The test is confidential and involves a quick mouth swab with results in 20 minutes. If an individual does test positive the staff is prepared with the necessary counseling and linkage to care.

Individuals are photographed with a unique “HIV=” logo, which strategically appears on their body. As a play on the word “status,” a unique caption will read ‘STATUS:_______,’ and every model picks a word that exemplifies one aspect of their personality. This alludes to the fact that who we are as people is much more important than an HIV status.

“Our goal is to photograph people from all walks of life who support ending HIV stigma, regardless of their personal HIV status. We launched the campaign with celebrities, politicians, artists and many recognizable faces in order to draw attention to our mission, but we plan to include everyone since HIV affects us all,” explained Mackenroth, who has lived with HIV for over 20 years. “HIV Equal goes a step further to include testing so that everyone photographed knows their status. We need to take care of ourselves and each other, as well as to reignite the global conversation about HIV to stop the spread of misinformation, fear and judgment.”

The campaign officially launches October 26, but check out a few of the notable names lending their face and status in the HIV Equals portraits below, including Tony winner Billy Porter, fellow Broadway baby Nick Adams, Congressman Jim Himes (D-CT) and everyone’s favorite bad boy you love to hate, Nick Gruber.

BillyPorterFinalBilly Porter

CongressmanJimHimesCongressman Jim Himes

Eddy BarrenaEddie Barrena

Nick GruberNick Gruber

NickAdamsNick Adams

PeterStaleyPeter Staley

TaydaLebonTayda Lebon

To get involved, get photographed and get tested, visit HIV Equal.

Watch video footage from the photo shoot below.

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  • Cam

    So let me get this straight…

    Your overall headline states that “Nick Gruber STARS” in this campaign.

    Your article headline states that “Nick Gruber, Jack Makenroth among stars in new campaign.”

    So Grumber who has never actually done anything, and is only recently famous for either calling gays names or loudly claiming he isn’t gay, and being a paid boyfriend of Calvin Klein gets top billing in both headlines? Even over somebody like Makenroth who came out as HIV positive on an extremely popular show like Runway?

    Wow, Calvin’s people must be cutting some BIG checks to GayCities to keep promoting Gruber like that.

  • Garth

    Cut Gruber out of this ad and lend it some credence !

  • Mr. E. Jones


    Agreed. Have no idea what that gay bashing rent boy is doing in this campaign.

  • Caleb in SC

    @Garth: @Mr. E. Jones: Exactly on both accounts. The paid help should not try to thrust themselves into the limelight.

  • Dxley

    I can’t believe Nick Gruber is in this. I just can’t

  • Cam


    How could you not believe it?! I mean look at all he has done!! he had a minor role in one or two forgotten porn movies, and slept with Calvin Klein for a while even though he says he is not gay.

    I mean that makes him MUCH more famous then pretty much anybody right??

  • JackMackenroth

    Actually the campaign is for EVERYONE. Queerty decided to put Nick in the headline from of the MANY photographs we submitted. It’s actually not about celebrities. We just wanted some familiar faces to launch the campaign. I had never met him before and he was actually a very nice kid. Check out for the full set of photos.

    Thanks! Jack

  • niles

    I don’t see anything here preventing AIDS.

  • Cam


    Jack, I would believe your comment except for the fact that Queerty has written MULTIPLE stories about this guys every move whenever Klein’s folks sent out a press release on him.

    It seems like a great cause, but honestly when somebody like Gruber is in the headline I have trouble taking it seriously.

  • tardis

    What a poor excuse for a HIV campaign.

  • Elloreigh

    How does an ad campaign that says one’s HIV status shouldn’t matter propose to actually help prevent the spread of the disease?

    Certainly I can agree that people who are HIV+ should be treated with the same respect and dignity as those who are HIV-.

    But calling this a campaign for HIV prevention makes no sense to me. If anything, it would have the opposite effect by sending the message that one’s HIV status is a trivial thing, of no importance.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t think preventing the further spread of this disease is a trivial matter. The fact that we have drugs that help prolong life and even give people who are HIV+ a quality of life that didn’t exist a few decades ago does not mean it’s unimportant.

    The outside world already views us as not doing enough to halt the disease’s spread (or worse – as trying to spread it to other populations).

    I’m not in favor of making things worse for those who are HIV+. But I’m not going to pretend that whether or not one becomes infected doesn’t matter. It is important as a medical matter. Suppose the disease mutates and becomes more drug resistant. What then? We need more forcus on halting the spread of the disease than we do marketing campaigns whose goal is making people feel better.

  • Palmer Scott

    @niles: Because this campaign isn’t about HIV prevention. It’s about ending the stigma of being HIV+.

  • mpwaite

    WHAT IS QUEERTY’S OBSESSION WITH THE TALENT”LESS” NICK GRUBER FOR GOD’S SAKE???!!! Every freakin week you have some stupid article about the idiot or some blurb. Even NOW in this article you CHOSE to put his picture (OUT OF ALL THE MORE DESERVING PARTICIPANTS) on your site..


  • Fitz

    This idea looses serious credibility by having a homophobe hustler in it. Do better, guys. File it under: opportunity lost.

  • Stache1

    @JackMackenroth: Sweety just own it and don’t play the blame game. You wanted the infamous little slut for promotion and you got it.

  • Fitz

    @stache1, totally. “He’s a nice kid”.? What a f’ing pathetic statement.

  • TheMarc

    @Cam: Well this appears to be a campaign that was not initiated by Queerty, so attacking them for Nick Gruber being featured in a newsworthy campaign is, to put it lightly, unproductive. Admittedly, Queerty definitely seems to enjoy their Nick Gruber news; but apparently so do a lot of people based on how many comments stories about him generate.

    Sure this Nick Gruber amounts to vapid, tabloid-worthy news but it’s what sells and actually has another purpose as allowing him to serve as a cautionary example of certain guys that will use the gay community for all they can without any respect for us. I do find it highly questionable utilizing a fauxlebrity who has been known to use homophobic language.

  • TheMarc

    @Elloreigh: Excellent and valid point.

  • Stache1

    @Cam: Yup. I’m scratching my head over this one. It’s not even like this shit happened a long time ago either. Your point is the only thing that makes sense to me. Then they play ignorance like “he just seemed like such a sweet boy”. I mean damn.

  • Cam


    Hi Marc,

    I get what you are saying, however Queerty is who decided the headline’s to put in.

  • Dxley

    He’s a hustler STRICTLY for rich gay men, and he’s also a homophobe? What a joke. I’ve heard he went to a gay party one time and the guys started making their move on him and he got pissy and said some homophobic shit. This thing would have been way better without Nick in it. But I think Queerty is really interested in this guy and would like to get more juicy stuff about him. Such a waste of space!

  • drivendervish

    @JackMackenroth: I find it extremely irresponsible that you don’t check into the backgrounds of the models selected for a campaign like this. Just a quick check of the internet would have revealed what a complete loser he is and that his presence in your public service announcement has destroyed the credibility of the campaign and you!

  • 2eo

    It isn’t Queerty, Lester Braithwaite has a serious crush on Gruber, proving his borderline school child level of literacy transfers into all other aspects of his life.

  • B Damion

    Yasssss..god Ms Porter. Yes god! I just love black people.

    Also, is that Dan Savage or Peter Staley? I can’t tell. Anyway..Hi Nickie G..I just loves me some Nick Gruber..drama.

  • Stache1

    @Elloreigh: I think these statements were tailor made for you…”fights the stigma associated with HIV by illustrating that everyone is equally valuable regardless of HIV status”.

    “stop the spread of misinformation, fear and judgment.”

  • jeff4justice

    Why bash this campaign? Isn’t it the same as NOH8 and other come-and-go trendy LGBT-targeted PR campaigns to promote celebs in the name of some supposed advancement for equality or health or whatever?

  • Stache1

    @jeff4justice: Just gotta say that first i luv your avatar. Second, your absolutely right but that doesn’t mean we can’t call out the BS on this one too.

  • DarkZephyr

    LOL! “Nick Gruber STARS” in the campaign. LOL

    To be fair to Jack Mackenroth though, I don’t think who they “headlined” this article with was HIS choice. So I think we can laugh at Queerty over this or whoever was responsible for the headline, but I don’t think its fair to attack Jack Mackenroth or the campaign itself. I like its message. I had a friend succumb to HIV when I was just a kid myself back in the 90s and the stigma she had to face because of it was tragic beyond belief.

  • Gary

    As the Founder and Chief Medical Officer, let me try to clarify a few things for all of you. First, you are aware that we have approx. 250,000 HIV infected who have not yet been tested and can spread the virus unknowingly…over 90% of these individuals are under 35, and the majority are young adult men who have sex with men (MSM). Second, despite all attempts and campaigns previously attempted to reduce HIV transmission, none have worked, and 50,000 new infections have occurred annually for the past 10 years…and 90% of these are in our youth under 35.
    So, HIV EQUAL first aims to reduce the STIGMA associated with HIV testing, especially since everyone can be tested in 20 minutes and KNOW THEIR STATUS. We are getting people from ALL “walks of life”, even my 91 year old mother, to photograph, so young adults might relate to the fact of how simple it is to get tested and how EVERYONE is getting tested. You do not need to be gay to photograph!
    Unlike prior anti-stigma campaigns like “NO H8” which is an incredible photo campaign, HIV EQUAL is linked to our Wellness Initiatives to get MSM tested for HIV and all other sexually transmitted infections, including HPV.
    And, ultimately, Niles, to prevent HIV transmission, first we must get people tested; second, we must get them linked to quality care; and third, if individuals who test positive TAKE their HIV medications and get their virus undetectable on their viral load testing, THAT prevents HIV transmission by 96%!!
    So, please, your comments about Nick are all well-taken, but like him or not or what he stands for, that is not our message that we are trying to get across in reducing HIV stigma associated with testing. We know HIV EQUAL will get people tested and into care and on medications to reduce transmission…the ultimate goal for all of us.

  • Gary

    Dark Zephyr: it was not Jack’s choice who Queerty headlined with! QUEERTY wants all of you to focus on the controversy of putting Nick on the headline…we hope all of you can try to focus on what we are trying to achieve…HIV EQUAL is a truly unique comprehensive initiative to reduce stigma associated with testing and being positive.
    Elloreigh: “WE ALL HAVE AN HIV STATUS. WE ARE ALL HIV EQUAL” does NOT send the message that being HIV-positive is a “trivial” or “unimportant” issue! On the contrary, it is a major issue that is taking our youth from us and forcing them to face a chronic, lifelong infection associated with great stigma and serious health implications! We are trying to communicate that people should not care if you are positive or negative, because, if on treatment, the risk for infecting someone HIV-negative can be close to negligible…this is part of the education most people have missed.

  • DarkZephyr

    @Gary: Its as I thought and I thank you for clarifying further. Perhaps I shouldn’t have put any attention on the Nick controversy at all, despite what I said immediately after doing so. Thanks again for this wonderful campaign!

  • Cam

    @Gary: said…

    “So, please, your comments about Nick are all well-taken, but like him or not or what he stands for, that is not our message that we are trying to get across in reducing HIV stigma associated with testing.

    If you are the founder, perhaps this should be a lesson for you. The same way that the Susan J Komen foundation had massive fallout over their hiring choices, perhaps it should have occurred to you that just because somebody is sleeping with Calvin Klein for money doesn’t mean that you should include somebody most famous recently for verbal gay bashing and as a front for your campaign.

  • Gary

    No problem. QUEERTY wants everyone to focus on the Nick controversy which is probably all valid, but detracts from how we are trying to help our community, you know? And we are not photographing “models” either…some are, of course, but most are not…like ME! ;-)

  • Gary

    and he is most definitely NOT a front for HIV EQUAL…just another face who supports getting tested and got tested with us prior to the photos. Jack Mackenroth, my Director of PR and Special Events, is our front, with Thomas Evans behind the camera. But it all leads to getting tested, linking to care, getting treatment, and reducing new infections.

  • Teleny

    Billy Porter looks so stylish! I want his jacket.

    How can this Nick guy claim he is str8, but has sex with gay men for money. I’d rather see an out lbgt person or a real str8 ally than a closet queen. What kind of message does this send?

  • Dixie Rect

    Nick is an ‘extremist’? It should say, status: Gold digging classless douche.

  • Michael

    Guys, I am very proud that I was apart of this campaign. It took me some time to think if I should be a part of it or not. In the end I realized it was for a good cause.

    There are a lot of people living with HIV that are stigmatized and this campaign fights that. As you can imagine I am not a fan of Nick Gruber. In fact, I don’t like him but it would be wonderful if we can concentrate on the message at hand and not on weather Gruber was a right choice to be included or not. It’s about the bigger picture.

  • Dxley

    @Dixie Rect: Nailed it :D

  • QJ201

    Irrelevant campaign… and an obvious attempt to create a meme… and crappy one at that.

    Yes as Gary points out there is a need to promote HIV testing…but the men who are most reluctant to get tested are NOT going to respond to this campaign (which on its surface…says nothing about getting an HIV test)…and more importantly probably aren’t going to see this campaign anywhere as the untested tend to be closeted.

    Seems that everyone has pretty much given up on doing HIV outreach in bars, sex clubs and bathhouses and have also given up on trying to get gay hookup sites to promote HIV testing and sexual responsibility.

    I have many people with HIV in my life and I can assure you

    HIV = a huge pain in the ass to deal with medically and to deal with socially and is nothing pretty pictures can fix

  • Shofixti

    What do you do when your potential partner says their HIV status is Congressman? wtf

  • ncman

    @JackMackenroth: Well, this is what happens when your group decided to include Gruber’s photo in the packet you sent to Queerty. You should have thought that through and realized the sh*tstorm that would form around his inclusion. It’s all well and good to be claiming now that Gruber shouldn’t be used to lose focus on your goals. But, it was your group that chose to include him.

  • ncman

    @Gary: Seeing how the inclusion of Gruber has gone in this instance, are you planning to keep including his photograph in future events or delete him from your roster?

  • JackMackenroth

    I delete no one. The message of this campaign is that we are all equally valuable regardless of the labels or judgements that other people may place on us. I doubt many of you who bash him know him personally. I do not. I met him for 1 hour. I know none of you are perfect. I am riddled with flaws and past missteps. I do not care what Nick has done in his past. We have all made mistakes. It does not make him less of a person. I am proud of him for what he did that day. All I am sure of is that in that moment he was standing up for HIV awareness and getting tested for HIV and showing personal responsibility. I am proud of him for that as I am proud of anyone who takes part in HIV Equal.

    And I appreciate Michael Lucas’ comment above. Rise above.

  • DarkZephyr

    @Gary: I hope all the snark over Nick doesn’t mess things up for you. Fortunately there is a great wide audience out there that doesn’t read every article on QUEERTY so it still has a good shot. I am just a little disappointed that after your explanations people are still clucking their tongues and wagging their fingers.

  • Palmer Scott

    @Gary: Sorry, but you’ve shot yourselves in the foot by incuding Gruber. And instead of acknowledging the error you double down and try to lay the blame on Queerty.

    This is just the first blog you’re going to catch crap from. Once Joe.My.God and Towlroad cover this you’re going to remember these comments as the calm before the storm.

  • DarkZephyr

    @Palmer Scott: Do you think the message is important at all?

  • Palmer Scott

    @DarkZephyr: The message IS important, but it’s going to be missed by many because of the simplistic error of including Gruber.

  • MikeE

    @JackMackenroth: Actually, yes, yes, his past (very recent past, at that) mistakes DO make him less of a person… at least, less of a person you should be associating any “good cause” with.

    He is clearly doing your campaign as PR for himself. Not for you. Not out of any sense of duty toward LGBT people, or HIV+ people.

    If he truly cared about LGBT people, he wouldn’t be getting caught making preposterous statements about gay people, and he sure as hell wouldn’t be starting fights at gay parties.

    The guy is a major douchebag. And sadly, that will rub off on your campaign, regardless of whether your campaign has merit or not.

  • jeff4justice

    @Michael: What? If that’s really you, didn’t you just get into BB porn? Gay men don’t get inclusive comprehensive sex ed from school – they get it from porn. And the message from sites like Xtube and companies like yours now is “You’re hella cool if you don’t use condoms.” Denying that is like a tobacco or fast food company denying the impact of a billboard for their product by schools. How do you reconcile profiting off of condomless sex and promoting HIV testing (or whatever this “nonprofit” is promoting)?

  • Ryan26pdx

    I can’t help but wonder if the intentions behind this campaign are as disingenuous as the absurdly photoshoped pictures used to promote the campaign. If their hearts are in the right place, the minds behind this “movement” are afflicted with a fish bowl mentality. In just the last few months I have been to several events where tangible efforts were being made to support people living with HIV, and develop methods of circulating information in part to dispel stigma. However there have also been several events that were less about doing real work, and more about people wanting to throw a party and pat themselves on the back. They tend to not only distract from legitimate efforts, but also discourage people who want to be part of a movement that actually goes somewhere.

  • jeff4justice

    @Stache1: My avatar luvs you too. By all means, always question the legitimacy of “nonprofits.”

  • DarkZephyr

    @Palmer Scott: I will admit that when I saw Queerty’s original front page headline citing Nick Gruber’s name as the STAR (they have since changed it although his name still features prominently at the heading of this article) it caused me to laugh rather than think very hard about the message, but honestly I don’t see why the message itself should be ignored over Gruber’s inclusion if the message is far more important than Gruber himself. I just see that as us giving Gruber a little bit more power than his “not gay” self deserves.

    @Ryan26pdx: And you think that these pictures represent a party that is being thrown? I don’t believe we should be so quick to come to such a conclusion. I think that most of the people who took part in this had noble intentions. How much do you know about the World Health Clinicians (they can easily be Googled) and the AIDS activism of Jack Mackenroth who himself is HIV Positive? For instance, what do you know about The Living Positive By Design campaign that he did in 2008? Was that just a bunch of parties and self-back patting? I am genuinely curious to find out what you know about their (Jack’s and Gary’s) organizations and past work. Does it make sense to accuse them of being disingenuous? Is that how you know their character and past work history to be?

    If they have actually shown themselves to be genuine champions of this cause in the past, then I see no reason why we should fight against it because of Nick Gruber or flashy looking photos that are photo-shopped. I don’t think heavy-handed photo-shopping has harmed the No H8 campaign all that much, has it?

  • jeff4justice

    @Gary: Dr. Blick, thanks for your insights and being proactive in working to stop the spread of HIV.

    Your expertise on this subject far surpasses mine of course. However, please allow me to share some insights on why you’re getting some negative reactions.

    1) Adding feuding Nick Gruber and Michael Lucas to the campaign has the PR-savvy skills of adding Putin or Pat Robison to the campaign. After all, Robinson did appear in a Bono campaign and Putin was nominated for the Peace Prize. Nick Gruber’s reported homophobia and Michael Lucas’s profiteering off of condomless sex is problematic. But yeah, there will be some publicity.

    2) Turning every issue into a “campaign” in which famous people duplicate a similar pose is starting to come off as more to do with scoring easy PR points and funding the careers of celebrity photographers. Maybe it’s not the case, but it feels that way. A simple look at NoH8’s FAQ section makes clear that campaign exists to self-perpetuate more so than to accomplish anything with a substantial, verifiable, outcome and benefit to LGBT people. Then there was the recent The New F Word “campaign” by the Friend Movement. And of course FCKH8 which “is a private T-Shirt company with a directly charitable mission… We’ve raised over $250,000 through T-Shirt sales for gay rights charity causes.” We can only take them for their word, of course. I understand the importance of self-reflection but there’s plenty of other ways in the internet age to achieve that aside from by donating to some supposed nonprofit. I’m surprised duct tape wasn’t used to cover the ass in this campaign.

    3) There’s an over-abundance of LGBT mega groups duplicating same objectives and therefore wasting money by duplicating website, handout, pride vendor fee, and executive director expenses. Meanwhile there’s a severe disparity between what resources LGBTs in small, rural, and suburb areas have for friendship, support, and health compared to LGBTs in many large cities. HIV services have been hit or nearly eliminated in these small, rural, and suburb areas in these economic collapse times. Don’t even get me started on racial minority, transgender, and sex worker disparity.

    4) There have been concerns raised in recent years about the high salaries of leaders of HIV-related “nonprofits”. Example: SF AIDS Fdtn Executives’ Six-Figure Salaries Continue to Rise

    5) As we learned with Bono’s ONE campaign, a lot of money for celeb-involved “nonprofit” fundraising goes to overhead with little winding up being used for on-the-ground helping people. (online search: Bono’s ONE foundation under fire for giving little over 1% of funds to charity) WorldHealthClinicians may be 100% awesome but the “nonprofit” world involves a lot of scammers out there. I could not find World Health Clinicians or WorldHealthClinicians in a Charity Navigator search.

    6) The connection between HIV nonprofits and big pharma profits has raised skepticism. In an interview I did with Free Speech Coalition Director Diane Duke, she more or less accused AIDS Health Foundation of pimping for big pharma (online search: Diane Duke jeff4justice). Similar charges have come from the Swazi prince (online search: hiv-concerns-exaggerated-to-profit-big-pharma-swazi-prince ) and in HuffPo posts (online search: HuffPo aids-trade-regulations-patent) I would not be surprised if any HIV nonprofit leaders had stock in big pharma.

    7) With all of the money given to supposedly combat HIV by the 2-party system charade (yeah, even GWB spent a lot on HIV), all the fundraisers by celebs like Elton John, all of the AIDS walks, why are HIV rates still so high among gay men?

    8) Why do LGBT mega groups and media ignore the self-inflicted harm caused by the glorification of condomless sex? In 2011, Frontiers magazine profiled barebackers MaverickMen as trendy and cool. Xtube is full of countless condomless sex vids in which young gay men are praised for doing it. And now big studios such as those run by Michael Lucas are ditching condoms. Considering how LGBTs are not getting inclusive comprehensive sex ed and are discovering a prevailing message that “condomless sex = you’re cool and celebrated” it’s no wonder HIV rates among young gay men are so high.

    9) The “House of Numbers” HIV skeptics or denialist crowd has convinced a lot of people that HIV is either low risk or a made up conspiracy.

    10) In these economic collapse times, a high percentage of LGBTs remain in poverty and yet are bombarded by numerous national, statewide, regional, and local LGBT nonprofits and “campaigns” for donations (not to mention the constant e-begging from indie media). This is why the failure of LGBT groups to merge is problematic. But when a lot of them are making 6-figure salaries it’s no wonder the path to equality and cures is so slow.

    Perhaps “despite all attempts and campaigns previously attempted to reduce HIV transmission, none have worked,” (dcfukit with Brent Corrigan comes to mind) because the problem is greater than a “campaign” can fix.

    HIV stigma is indeed a problem, but, as I outline up here, there are numerous problems in the realm of people genuinely trying to stop HIV, those profiting off of HIV, and those profiting off of condomless sex glorification.

    I’ve dedicated 10+ years to trying to better things for LGBT people in my hometown so I assure you that I want LGBT people to advance and prosper. However, while I wish HIV= success in the objectives you outline, considering the US presently has half a nation in poverty despite the so-called social safety net, all of the faith communities that do outreach, all of the celebs with “charities,” and all of the so-called nonprofit groups, I’m not overly optimistic that any trendy celeb campaign is going to have the success they so often get prematurely praised for. I prefer to apply my skepticism as a realist who dislikes the public’s emotional vulnerability and superficial appeal to being part of a trendy crowd being played on. However, I’m happy to be proven wrong.

  • jeff4justice

    @Ryan26pdx: There’s a lot of waste, fraud, ineffective, and over-duplication of same objectives in the so-called nonprofit world but if you dare question it watch out.

  • jeff4justice

    Kinda bad timing how this campaign came out the same day as this story: Two UK men, one with HIV, admit to unsafe sex with gay teens they met on Grindr

  • DarkZephyr

    @jeff4justice: If that is aimed at what I had to say to him, I don’t get where you are coming from. I don’t see where I declared that he shouldn’t “dare question it” and he better “watch out” if he does. There was not threat in my post. I was just wanting to know if he had researched them and found any reason to come to the conclusion that they might be “disingenuous”. When I looked them up, they seemed pretty cool to me. *shrug*

  • Dxley

    WTF!!! Did someone just try and defend Nick Gruber?

  • jimbryant

    I am so sick of all this AIDS awareness crap. AIDS isn’t caused by sexuality, it’s caused by poor choices. Here’s a tip: stop having promiscuous sex with total strangers.

  • niles


  • Fitz

    Absolutely the inclusion of Gruber is a distraction, at best. I see a well-known homophobe, and my defenses go up– not my openness to do something as vulnerable as getting tested. Save the campaign and stop sending his photo out. He is toxic.

    If this “campaign” had something to say, it shot itself in the face. And that’s a big IF. Everyone knows that they SHOULD get tested… the people who don’t get tested do it out of fear of being judged. Having that douche’s picture out there was a massive fail. Stop defending it, and change it, or just close it.

  • Cam

    @JackMackenroth: said

    I delete no one. The message of this campaign is that we are all equally valuable regardless of the labels or judgements that other people may place on us. I doubt many of you who bash him know him personally. I do not.

    I don’t know Pat Buchannon personally either, but if you had him in your campaign I would certainly have something to say about it. That is the problem. You seem to be too sheltered in the NYC “Scene” that when Klein’s people presented his bf to you as wanted to join the campaign you jumped at it.

    The fact that this is a cynical attempt to try to get his boyfriend’s name to be associated with ANYTHING other than being a verbally gay bashing prostitute doesn’t seem to have occurred to you, or if it did, you thought that somehow being associated with a has-been 80’s fashion Icon would be worth it. Yes, we know Marc Jacobs dates hustlers too…but to their credit, HIS boyfriends don’t seem to hate gays.

    All in all a very bad idea….doubling down on it means you are making the same mistakes that the Tea Party is with the govt. shutdown. Even Susan G. Komen ended up having to get rid of the executives who harmed their image last year.

  • Elloreigh

    @Stache1: Meaning what, precisely?

    1) I don’t think people who are HIV+ should be stigmatized. Quite the opposite.

    2) As generalizations go, I do think people who are HIV+ are equally valuable to society regardless of that status. Do I think being HIV+ is what makes them valuable? No. I think the value is in how they and we respond to dealing with the health crisis and stigmatization facing our community; I think the value is in the lessons learned from the foregoing.

    3) I am not misinformed, fearful, or judgmental towards persons who are HIV+.

    4) My chief complaint was and remains the characterization of the campaign as being about AIDS prevention. (And I note that the article title appears to have since been changed from “prevention” to “awareness”).

    5) HIV is not a trivial thing. Not for the people who have to live with the disease for the rest of their lives, and not for their loved ones who also to some extent live with its stigmatization.

    Those are my points. Anything additional that anyone else decided to read into it has no relation to what I said in my prior post nor this one.

  • Elloreigh

    @Gary: ““WE ALL HAVE AN HIV STATUS. WE ARE ALL HIV EQUAL” does NOT send the message that being HIV-positive is a “trivial” or “unimportant” issue!”

    I beg to differ. I’ll acknowledge it as well-intentioned, but I think it does indeed trivialize HIV status.

    I can certainly agree that stigmatization tends to drive people who are positive ‘underground’, and discourages testing. You appear to be characterizing testing and treatment as being the equals of prevention. They most certainly are not. “96%” chance of not passing on the disease leaves a 4% chance of doing so. Not a chance I would knowingly take without the precautions to protect myself.

    It’s absolutely irresponsible to encourage people to think that treatment means there is no longer any need for people to take precautions against spreading the disease. I’ll acknowledge that this likely isn’t the intended interpretation of your message, but intentions don’t prevent people from taking away a different message than the one intended.

    The plain fact is that being HIV+ and HIV- are not equal statuses. Pretending they are is ridiculous. That doesn’t mean we should treat people as less than our equals based on their HIV status. My complaint is that making them sound like equals in effect trivializes infection as the tradeoff for destigmatization. Infection is not a trivial matter.

  • Elloreigh

    @jimbryant: And on cue, there’s the judgmental stigmatizing. It’s a disease. It doesn’t care if you have unprotected sex with just one infected partner or multiple partners, or how many times. While each instance certainly ups the odds in HIV’s favor, and getting infected with multiple strains probably doesn’t help either, the plain fact is that promiscuous sex with multiple partners isn’t a requisite of infection. And, while sexual contact may be the method by which most people become infected, it’s certainly not the only one.

    Do we help people by blaming them for their HIV status? No. Not in the least. Whether or not they have any culpability or the degree of culpability isn’t important. It doesn’t change the fact that they’re infected and need to take care of their health and take the responsiblity of protecting the health of their partner(s). Passing judgment based on assumptions about behavior does nothing to forward those goals.

  • Elloreigh

    @niles: Yes, indeed. A glamor campaign that ends up trivializing HIV status, despite the best intentions of those behind it, is far less effective than exercising the responsiblity to protect one’s self. Don’t get infected should be message number one. Which doesn’t mean there’s no room for other messages, but they need to be far more carefully crafted than this one appears to have been.

  • Stache1

    @Elloreigh: Wow dude. You really get the “can’t see the forest for the trees” award.

    96% is damn good. If you don’t want to take any risks at all then just stop having sex. There are other STD’s too. I had a friend almost die from a undiagnosed syphilis infection.

    The point is that previous prevention campaigns have been shown not to work. Then there’s the judgmental people who only increase the stigma and thus drive it underground. That’s why I like I like the HIV Equal as it shows were all in this together as a community should be. Most importantly though this is about getting people tested as their allot less likely to be contagious with monitoring and treatment.

    Aside from what I said earlier I think this is a great campaign. Plus, it’s got all the finger pointing judgmental queens panties in a twist such as yourself. That’s how i really know it’s a good thing:)

  • Stache1

    @jimbryant: You might just as well wish water wasn’t wet. This is more about getting through to young people. You can’t expect them all to be monogamous.

  • ncman

    Well. This campaign now has a post at Huffington Post Gay Voices. And, guess what. There is no mention of Gruber and no photo of Gruber is included. But, a picture of Michael Lucas is included. So, let’s see how it goes over at HuffPo in the comments.

  • Tackle

    @ Jack Mackemroth: I’m extremely disappointed with your post, with it’s defense of using Nick. You say that , ” I delete no one.” So if that person was a, murderer,child molester, bigot, or a person known for making homophobic remarks(NICK),all is good and forgotton with you, for the greater good of fighting HIV/AIDS?? Regardless of someones actions in the past? So in your mind, the fight for HIV/AIDS conquers all? I’m glad that not everyone is as blinded by HIV/AIDS like you are. And for a gay man to say, “I don’t care what Nick has done in his past”, is just sad. So Nick using a slur that many, hundred, if not thousands, of GLBTQ people heard before taking their last breath of life on this earth, by some bigot means “nothing” to you as long as they eventually come around and fight for HIV/AIDS? Dude you are fucking pitiful and just as sick as Nick is. I see why you’re defending him. You’re not at all the person I thought you were.

  • Bozen

    I absolutely agree.

    This feels like they’re trying to say “HIV is trivial”.
    No wonder so many people have that shit

  • Dixie Rect

    I hardly recognize Jack with clothes on, the last time I recall him being in the public eye was when he was on all 4’s , ass up, naked for something called Monroe Land. He looked good, but I guess I don’t get the connection between that, and this. Do an image search and see for yourself. Kind of hard to take him seriously.

  • JoeInCT

    I have no issue with the models you chose to feature in the campaign. But after hearing a young man describe his earnest desire to “Turn Positive” so he could be “more accepted as a gay man” by his positive friends, I believe any attempt to glamorize or minimize HIV+ status is totally inappropriate and misguided. While this anti-stigma campaign may be well intentioned, the message serves to minimize the very real health consequences of a serious disease and sends the wrong message to vulnerable, poorly informed young people. We are not all HIV equal. There is no equivalency. Frankly, the tag line for this campaign is evil and deceptive.

  • jeffinsydney

    …………….and Nick Gruber is here why?
    In 2013 everything is broken……………

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