Motivated by an aunt destroyed to AIDS, “Queer Eye” celebrity Jai Rodriguez promotes that is“Positively fearless understanding among Latino homosexual and bi guys.

12, 2017 • By Trenton Straube october

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As a teen when you look at the mid-1990s, Jai Rodriguez destroyed a beloved aunt to AIDS. Shortly later, he ended up being channeling her energy each night on Broadway, in their breakout part as Angel, the HIV-positive character in the smash musical lease. In the 20s, Rodriguez rocketed to fame that is global TV’s Queer Eye when it comes to directly Guy. He’sn’t stopped working since—nor has he stopped talking out 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” aims to enable and teach Latino and Ebony males that have intercourse with males (MSM). If present HIV prices stay constant, it is predicted that certain in two Ebony MSM and another in four Latino MSM is likely to be identified as having HIV inside their lifetime—compared with 1 in 11 white MSM. So that it’s a timely and campaign that is important. We’re additionally 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. This means, it is a great time and energy to meet up with Rodriguez. POZ spoke 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, can you and costar Kendra Wilkinson provide up genuine intercourse guidelines in your Las Las Vegas show? And do you really mention safer intercourse?

Yes! We do. There’s no profanity, but we utilize colorful language and biological maps. We don’t talk about intercourse too much—it’s more info on foreplay—but we do enter sources to condoms and euphemisms that are playful them.

In considering your bio, I became struck by all of the advocacy that is sex-positive your gear.

Real. A certified sex therapist and a cohost on Loveline and other shows—we were together, like, three years about seven years ago, I was cocreator of a series for Logo called Bad Sex starring my boyfriend at the time, Dr. Chris Donaghue—he’s. It went two periods, nonetheless it did effect exactly exactly exactly how We see peoples sex therefore the method We approach advocacy. I’ve been doing HIV advocacy since 1996, and thus if you believe about any of it, it is over 2 decades.

Just just How do you first read about HIV to get involved with that really work?

It had been at a level that is intimate 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 a decade. My aunt arrived on the scene as HIV good once I ended up being, i do believe, 15. Whenever Thanksgiving arrived around, she invited overall her siblings and parents and nieces and nephews avove the age of 16, and she arrived on the scene and stated she ended up being needs to lose her eyesight and would want more help. She had been friends that are seeing young ones she came across in hospitals expire, therefore she pulled by by herself and my cousins off meds. There is no sound of explanation inside her care that is medical she simply quit on medicine. My relative died first, then a months that are few she did. I became 16. She passed away during summer of 1997, and it also really did affect the form of my entire life.

Demonstrably, you’re really open about that experience, but just just exactly how did all of those other household react?

To the day—to this very daythem to post on Facebook that I’m doing an AIDS Walk in honor of my aunt! — I cannot get. For this they will not post or talk about the fact that a member of our family died of it day. It’s entrenched such pity.

We have never ever felt it. But per year after her death, I experienced a chance to channel my aunt’s power through Angel in lease. That has been my means of moving and grieving ahead. Possibly I experienced an advantage that is unfair but it addittionally helped me fulfill a large number of individuals contaminated and impacted by the herpes virus, and I also became educated about any of it. Maybe we reside in a spot today where I have significantly more individuals who are understanding and educated about this than my loved ones. However their amount of pity is difficult for me personally.

Do this sort is thought by you of pity around HIV is typical in other Latino families as well as in the Latino community?

Definitely! There was clearly an amount of “It’s not meant to occur to her. She’s from Longer Island. She had young ones, a watercraft, a home. It takes place with other individuals since they did one thing bad. ” And thus that is sort of the mindset I was raised with, and if individuals still adhere to that, then i will observe how their alternatives might mirror that.

And I also saw this entire array 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 meetmindful cost a few pairs of gloves in the front of my aunt—when it is simply for a routine cleaning—because he ended up being petrified. I watched her eyes well up with rips of pity. On Mother’s Day, my mom 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 medical center garments. Can you obtain me personally one thing? ” So my mother did and wrapped it as being a Mother’s gift day. It absolutely was a red sweatshirt and sweatpants, and my aunt saw them and cried. My mother said, “What’s incorrect? ” My aunt stated, “You’re dealing with me personally like an individual and never a individual. I would like to feel just like a female once again and placed on pantyhose. ” I am going to always remember that moment just because a later I’m singing, “Will I lose my dignity year? / Will someone care? ”

The way in which other folks treat this virus and also the stigma connected is practically since terrible as the herpes virus it self. The pity is paralyzing—it causes visitors to will not get tested and take treatment. Plus the shame and fear are greater when you look at the Latino community. We can’t image how you’d feel if you’re a new Latino guy, and also you discovered your status, with no one in your household has understood a person with HIV and sometimes even spoken absolutely about this. Inside our community we are able to fare better, that’s why this campaign is loved by me, as well as the name is ideal.

If data carry on the way they’re going, one out of four Latino males that have sex with males will test good. So we have actually therefore numerous ways to avoid transmission when you have the ability. I’ve been achieving this work with twenty years, but I’m the first ever to raise my hand and state i did son’t understand that HIV rates had been rising among Latino and Black men who possess intercourse with men—you could say homosexual and bisexual, but a lot of men don’t determine as that. We actually actually did genuinely believe that infections had been heading down universally, therefore it became an issue that is personal me personally. It may have already been me personally among the only in four if I’d maybe maybe perhaps not witnessed someone dying using this.

Finally, where can our visitors 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 pretty to be working—and become putting my noisy lips to use that is good!

For lots more in regards to the campaign, go to PositivelyFearless.com. And also to see the POZ meeting with other representative Todrick Hall, read “Look everything you Made Todrick Hall Do…for HIV Awareness! ”

Find Out More About:

  • #AIDS History
  • #Broadway
  • #Celebrities
  • #family members
  • #gay
  • #Latino
  • #MSM
  • #NLAAD
  • #Prevention
  • #stigma