EXCLUSIVE: A Brief History of HIV & The Oscars From The Red Carpet: WATCH

Karl Schmid live on the Red Carpet. (All photos are courtesy if Karl Schmid.)

When hunky ABC reporter Karl Schmid to come out as HIV-positive last year, the circumstances were refreshingly nonchalant. “There was no vicious ex threatening to out him, nor were there signs of reporters planning on breaking a story. Instead, he chose to come out by posting a now-famous photo wearing an AIDS Memorial T-shirt on Facebook,” I reported in my cover story for Plus Magazine last July

“Honestly, I just thought I looked cute in that picture,” admitted the Australian native, an on-camera reporter for ABC in Los Angeles and the former cohost of Logo’s Operation: Vacation. “I was going out to happy hour with some friends, so I threw it on. And while out I said, ‘Will you do me a favor — can you get a picture of me in this thing? Because at some point I want a post wearing it.’”

Since then the superstar celebrity journalist has become an HIV-activist bar none, whose used his celebrity status to shine a light to national audiences about what having HIV means today including Undetectable equals Untransmittable (U=U), to encouraging everyone to get tested.

His ultimate cris-de-coeur to date is the beautifully moving segment on HIV and the Oscars that he produced for the awards show that he’s sharing with our audience.

Schmid not only fronted the package but also came out again as HIV-positive to possibly the largest audience in the world: seen nationwide on ABC and in over 35 countries around the world.

Towleroad spoke to Schmid from the red carpet.

TLRD: What was the impetus for the creation of this clip?

The Academy decided this year to include two nominees for the top acting prizes who portrayed characters living with HIV. Rami Malek is up for Best Actor and Richard E. Grant is a nominee for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Jack Hock in Can You Ever Forgive Me. With that in mind, I wanted to look back and see how the Academy has or has not included HIV in the awards in the past. The documentary Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt won the Best Documentary Feature Oscar back in 1990 and of course we all remember Tom Hanks winning Best Actor for his Performance in Philadelphia – which just celebrated its 25th anniversary. Since then there have been nominations for How To Survive A Plague for best documentary feature in 2012 as well as Yesterday which was up for Best Foreign Language Film in 2005. More recently both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto picked up the top acting prizes for their work in Dallas Buyers Club.

Whether
or not you agree with the messaging these films represent, the fact that they
focus and feature HIV characters and themes, putting them into the main stream
means HIV is on our radar. It means people hear about it and talk about it. And
as far as I’m concerned, the more we can talk about HIV the more we can
“normalize” those three letters and a symbol  – all of this is a win when
it comes to tackling stigma.

Has your coming out with your status helped make these kind of segments more important?

I think so. Certainly for me it has. And how lucky am I to have the support of ABC, not just in my every day efforts, but on a platform as big as the Oscars red carpet pre-show?! ABC is the broadcast home of the Oscars, and these telecasts, starting from early on Sunday morning and continuing after the award show has finished, are flagship broadcasts for the network – seen by millions around the US and in something like 34 countries. For K-ABC in Los Angeles and the network to get behind me and support this important messaging is huge – not just for me personally, but for everyone here in the US and around the world who see our broadcast living with HIV. As I’ve said many times, the more we can talk about it, the more “normal” it becomes and thus the ridiculous and dangerous stigma HIV-positive people face slowly gets chiseled away.

I’m beyond grateful to ABC for giving us this platform, allowing us to highlight HIV and also to the Academy who continue to show love and support for films that include HIV.

Watch the clip below and read the full ABC article here.

The post EXCLUSIVE: A Brief History of HIV & The Oscars From The Red Carpet: WATCH appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.

Politicians are asking the feds to ‘break the patent’ on PrEP to make it more widely available

TruvadaBecause the drug was developed using federal funds, the National Institute of Health has the option of breaking the patent and allowing generic versions to come to market.

Author: Bil Browning

The post Politicians are asking the feds to ‘break the patent’ on PrEP to make it more widely available appeared first on LGBTQ Nation.

What Really Happened To Zak Kostopoulos?

The photo above is a painting of Greek LGBTQ & HIV Activist Zak Kostopoulos  in the Exarcheia  neighborhood in Athens. Kostopolous was murdered in September. The Athens police have been charged with his death. Taken today by Perry N. Halkitis.

Over four months ago the first reports came out of Greek and Greek-American news outlets — a brave store owner had killed a “heroin addict” and  an “illegal immigrant” in self defense of the robbery of his jewelry store.

This narrative played well in the Hellenic Republic which has been decimated by a de facto economic war waged by the central bank and the Eurozone for the crime of being born Greek — a decade of austerity has led to one of the highest suicide rate spikes in the world (nearly 50 percent spike in 2017).

It’s also a place that has seen a sharp shift to the right and even the rise of a Nazi party called Golden Dawn in the Hellenic parliament.

Four months later and despite internal findings that found the police liable for his death we are no closer to the truth to what actually transpired that day.

No one has come forward and told Zak’s story.

Back in September the first outlet to identify the “burglar” as Kostopoulos was Pink News.

According to PinkNews, video footage was released, showing Kostopoulos trapped in a jewelry shop on Gladstonos Street. He attempted to break out of the shop’s front door with a fire extinguisher as a crowd gathered outside, including the shop’s owner. When he failed to break through the door, Kostopoulos crawled through a window, which required him to get on his hands and knees on broken glass.

Out magazine reported that, “As he [Kostopoulos] gets outside, the shop owner and another man can be seen kicking Kostopoulos repeatedly, with a final kick to the head that knocked him unconscious. Passersby attempted to intervene, and although police were in the vicinity, they failed to stop the attack. The mob can still be seen kicking him while he lies unconscious. The footage ends with police and emergency responders putting Kostopoulos sideways on a stretcher, as his hands appear to be cuffed behind his back. He died before reaching the hospital.”

What was particularly troublesome to me was the reluctance of the local media to sway from the drug addict narrative to the extent that some asked if Kostopoulos did indeed have a heroin problem — it was the ultimate pile on of stigma — as if that wasn’t enough he was also HIV-positive.

Kostopoulos wasn’t well known outside Hellas although what really is except for austerity stories and parties on Mykonos? He also grew up in the United States—another thing that stayed with me as that was often a fear I had as a child—having to return to the largely homophobic country.

The National Herald reported that Kostopoulos lived in the U.S. until he was 8 years old when his parents decided to move the family back, permanently, to their village of Itea Fokidas. In an earlier online interview Kostopoulos said that his parents’ choice to return to Greece had cost him his childhood. “Being eight years old and going from America, not just to Greece, but to a village in Greece, it’s a huge change, a cultural shock,” the late Kostopoulos said.

I can imagine.

I can also imagine the fear he felt in a place where we’re told to trust in God and our countrymen while they proceed to beat you to death—where a humanitarian crisis goes largely un-noticed by the rest of the world—Zak’s death writ large is the story of Greece’s importance in the international spotlight.

So although I am happy as The Greek Reporter relayed in November  that the, “Police officers involved in the Athens beating death of 33-year-old LGBTQ activist Zak Kostopoulos now face charges of inflicting fatal bodily harm and will appear in front of the examining magistrate on Monday.”

And that, “An autopsy released in November revealed the cause of death, showing the thirty-three-year-old had died of a heart attack as a result of the beatings. He was not under the influence of any drugs at the time.”

I’ll never forget the early reporters or the passersbys who watched the assault unfold in front of them and recorded it on their devices—or the fact that it happened at all in the city that once gave birth to democracy.

Maybe we’ll never know Zak’s version of how these events culminated in his murder.

 

The post What Really Happened To Zak Kostopoulos? appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.