As a support of the Dan Savage-led "It Gets Better" Project, it was great to see my composer friend (and future Tony Nominee) Jay Kuo assemble a lot of Broadway's young talent to capture this message in song. Check it out!
By Jeff Walsh
On last week's Project Runway, one of the best designers this season, Mondo Guerra, created his own fabric for the challenge. The pink fabric with the plus-sign design became high-waisted pants that won him his third challenge in a row. When he was asked about the inspiration for the print, he clammed up and just said it was very personal to him. Nina Garcia, one of the judges, said she wished she knew the story that inspired the fabric.
In that moment, Guerra's life changed. The 32-year-old designer made the decision to share what he had kept a secret for the past 10 years, one that his own family didn't even know. He is HIV-positive.
When Guerra said this, the designer had his fellow contestants crying, and as he finished speaking, you could literally see the weight coming off of his shoulders, and a designer we already adored became that much more human, vulnerable, and less troubled.
HIV is sort of this thing that we hear about, but it rarely is made real to us. I know people that have it, but it's like knowing someone with high blood pressure. They take some pills, and their life seems fine. But it is always important to remind ourselves that this is an important issue in our community, and one that should be taken seriously.
The youngest designer this season, Andy South (who we'll probably interview in Oasis before the season ends) is the same age now as Guerra was when he was became infected, so it really hit home for him. South was kind enough to share his thoughts with us on Guerra revealing his HIV status.
Whether you like Project Runway, fashion, or not, Guerra's story is still reinforcing a lesson that we all need to hear: that whatever private issue is burdening you in life is probably not worth the effort of keeping it a secret.
Here's what Mondo and I said this morning:
After seeing this past week's episode of Project Runway, where Mondo Guerra revealed he is HIV+ during the runway show, I knew I wanted to get him in Oasis (you can read my interview with Mondo here). I think HIV/AIDS is an important issue to bring up with LGBT youth whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Andy South is also gay and the youngest contestant on the show this season, which is why I already planned to feature him in Oasis as the season progressed. Because Andy is closest in age to the members of our site, I asked him to share his thoughts on Mondo revealing his HIV status on Project Runway last week. This is what he wrote:
"Mondo and I are 10 years apart in age, and knowing he has been living with HIV for that amount of time made me really think about where I am in my life. Mondo was infected when he was my age and it really opened my eyes to how unpredictable life is.
I'm on Oasis! I'm so excited. It finally worked.
So I guess this is where I just start to spill everything - who I am, what I'm all about, where I'm from...
Well, Sat. night I found out that I suck at flirting. I went to this big pompous formal event with tuxedos and evening gowns and everything. I was at a table with this guy I hadn't seen in months. (Let's just call him Andrew). I knew he was gay when I saw him last September, at a friend's party, playing truth or dare in the hottub. Wow.
here is a list of painful memories:
watching my parents shoot up
listening to my parents fight
watching my arents fight
talking to the cops about my parents fight
going to a jail, and seeing my daddy through a glass window, holding back the tears so i could talk to him over the little phone
waiting for hours to see my mom on my birthday, when she promised she would come, but then didn't show
um...here it goes...just a little background:
when i was born my parents were both drug addicts, i was born addicted to heroin and coke. when i was four things at home started to get out of hand, and my grand parents got custody of me. I guess i have always known that im not completly straight...in preeschool i had a "friend"...Chealsea...she and i used to kiss and shit...all the stuff we thought only boys and girls could do. Now dont get me wrong, i have been raise in a very liberal, accepting house...i mean, for god's sake...i live in San Francisco, and my grandma teaches human sexuality at SF state university! we always had gay family friends over, i i was told it was perfectly normal...that it was better than normal, that it was beautiful. However, that is not what our storybooks said, and that is not what the tv said...the media had a major impact on my beliefs and values during the very early years of my life...anyway, chealsea and i would kiss and stuff, but i always, to some extent, thought what we were doing was wrong...but at the same time, i thougt it was normal, that every other four year old was experimenting in this fashion...
Am happy, like the bi-polar mania kind of happy! LOL! I'm pretty sure its not a chemical imbalance induced happy, but I imagine this is what it would feel like to be on the manic end of the bi-polar episode.
Anyway, I painted tonight. It was fantastic. When I stop and then go back, I always wonder why I don't just do it all the time. Oh wait, starving artist is not my style.
Okay people. I really need to know how "we" turn out as homosexuals. Is it the chromosomes (x and y genes)? Or do circumstances or incidents shape us into becoming queer? I mean I've always liked girls and I think along the way I got used to liking boys, because it was the "normal" thing to do.
On a totally different note....how can you really tell if a person is queer, without snooping for hints. Do we all have underlying qualities of homosexuality, which are just waiting to be triggered? Or are those "straight" people, just NOT attracted to the sexy girls and hot guys?!?
a treatise on the rise of the xerox.