Strength. Intellect. Courage. Passion. These very attractive qualities are shared by the ten people Queerty believes are among the sexiest gay men living with HIV today–and there are a lot, a lot, from which to chose.
The list is a mixture of hotties and living history, each of whom combine elements of both. All of them are fighting HIV stigma by speaking out and acting up. We could have easily multiplied the list by hundreds if not thousands, with all the worthy HIV advocates involved in important work today.
How did we do? And more importantly, who did we forget?
1. Hussain Turk
Talk about brains. Hussain is not only a student at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law, but also writes prolifically about living with HIV and being Muslim. Hussain has plenty of experience smashing stereotypes of all kinds. His most recent projects have included being a part of a Queer Muslim Collective and launching the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity. A huge brain goes a long way in our book. The smoldering good looks are icing on the cake.
2. Greg Louganis
Greg stole our hearts a generation ago as an Olympic diver and sports icon, when he became the first man to sweep the diving medals in two consecutive Olympic games. There are plenty of mouth-watering photos of Greg from that era (Google awaits), but he has shown just as much grace and courage in more recent years, using his notoriety to promote everything from same sex marriage to his love of animals. He came out as someone living with HIV during a 1995 Oprah interview. And hey, when they get Mario Lopez to play you in the movie of your life, your sex appeal is a fact that cannot be denied.
3. Chanse D. Kyle
At only 19 years old, Chanse D. Kyle is the youngest on our list, but his love life is all set, thank you. He and his boyfriend Josh, also 19, have been advocating for better HIV awareness since Chanse tested HIV positive at a local clinic in his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana. He and Josh, who is HIV negative, immediately went to work to provide the kind of HIV education to their peers that they never had themselves. When a profile of Chanse and Josh appeared on Queerty last month, much of the reaction was critical, but Chanse takes it all in stride. “I love my boyfriend, and I’m trying to make a difference,” he told us. “Life looks pretty good so far.”
4. Sean Strub
If there is ever a Mount Rushmore of HIV activism, they might as well start carving his face right now. Sean Strub went from an adorable cornfed boy from Iowa to the halls of the United States congress to the ACT UP streets of New York City in the 1980’s. Along the way he founded POZ Magazine, became the first openly positive congressional candidate, and told his story in the moving must-read book, Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, AIDS, Sex and Survival. He is widely considered among the leading voice in the world today on the rights of those living with HIV. Taking a stand and giving an entire community a voice is something we find awfully sexy.
5. Craig Washington
Don’t mess with a strong southern gentleman, especially one as dapper (and ferocious) as Craig Washington. For more than twenty years, Craig has worked to build community among black gay men and do something about the high rates of infection in the south. His career at AID Atlanta alone is worthy of inclusion in this list, but Craig has dug much deeper, using the inspiration of Bayard Rustin, the gay assistant to Dr. Martin Luther King, to create the Bayard Rustin-Audre Lorde Breakfast. Acting with charity and concern for others is damn sexy indeed.
6. Nelson Vergel
The very first book that addressed longevity with AIDS through nutrition, exercise, and complimentary medications was Built to Survive, and it became a staple on the nightstand of people living with HIV. It was written by hunky Venezuelan bodybuilder Nelson Vergel, and his efforts to educate people with HIV about diet and exercise continues to this day. Nelson continues his advocacy through his popular site, ExcelMale, which addresses men’s health issues, and he makes regular appearances in HIV forums to share his passion for physical fitness. Muscles sure are sexy. Almost as much as a lifelong commitment to our community.
7. Peter Staley
If you’re HIV positive and are using successful medications, you can thank activists like Peter Staley, who took to the streets in the 1980’s and demanded our government pay attention to the AIDS epidemic and approve life-saving drugs to treat it. Peter never let his privilege as a young, gorgeous Fire Island vacationer get in the way of his activism, and as he has matured his work has only deepened and found an even wider audience. How to Survive a Plague, the documentary about ACT UP that include Peter’s exploits, was nominated for an Academy Award last year. And yes, walking the red carpet at the Oscars is a very sexy thing to do. Peter has also funded his own anti-meth campaigns aimed at gay men, knowing the role the drug plays in new infections.
8. Patrick Ingram
Those bedroom eyes belong to a very thoughtful young man. Patrick Ingram has been writing with unerring honesty about living with HIV for the last few years, and has become a leading voice of young gay men living with the virus. He founded ThePozLife, a web site giving voice to a multitude of people living with HIV. Patrick has written movingly about everything from disclosing to family to negotiating relationships, and bracing honesty is a quality any sexy man should possess.
9. Jack Mackenroth
Jack Mackenroth has been shedding his clothes in the service of HIV awareness for a decade. And thank God for that. The physique model and former Project Runway contestant just raised $50,000 for the Braking AIDS Ride in New York (he posted pictures of his body scrawled with the names of major donors), and his latest project just went viral: the shower selfie #weareALLclean social media campaign that asks us to strip in the shower to demonstrate that we are all, positive and negative, “clean” and should live free of stigma. There’s something about the sly, winking attitude of Jack’s (often naked) efforts that makes him feel like the friendly, playful jock next door. And a sense of humor about ourselves is always a sexy attribute.
10. Larry Kramer
Of course. No other person with HIV has so many HIV activists thinking “oh, Daddy!” And our attraction to Larry has everything to do with a fierce intelligence and his history of calling out the forces that would deny an end to AIDS – including the gay community itself. From his historic, blistering play The Normal Heart, written during the dawn of AIDS, to his founding of ACT UP and Gay Men’s Health Crisis, his place in history is assured. Even when he runs afoul of current activist thinking, such as his skepticism of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), Larry has shown that this lion in winter still knows how to roar.