Let’s Kick ASS in Palm Springs

Tez Anderson and Matt Sharp will be in Palm Springs for Pathways to Health and Well-Being HIV Conference on World AIDS Day, Monday, December 1, 2014 at the Palm Springs Convention Center.

Visit  http://www.pathwayshivconference.org/#sthash.VVMmXcfV.dpuf to register.

Check out the line up. If you are in the area please come by. Registration is free and the link is below!!

THE SCHEDULE
8:15 AM – 9:00 AM
Registration and Continental Breakfast, Exhibitors Showcase

9:00 AM – 9:15 AM 
Welcome – Primrose Hall
Susan Harrington, M.S., R.D., Director, Riverside County Public Health Department
David Brinkman, CEO, Desert AIDS Project

9:15 AM – 10:15 AM  
Keynote Address – Primrose Hall
Turning Stigma into Strength
@SeanStrub, Executive Director, The Sero Project & Writer, AIDS Activist

10:30 AM – 11:30 AM  
First Round of Breakout Sessions
Session 1 – Sexual Health/Family Planning – Mesquite D
Geeta Gupta, M.D.
Session 2 – HIV & Substance Use – Mesquite E
Kathy Gardener
Session 3 – Holistic Health – Mesquite H
Shannon Sinsheimer, N.P.
Session 4 – Navigating the Affordable Care Act – Mesquite G
George Zander

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM  
Lunch & Raffle Drawing

12:30 PM – 1:30 PM
Second Round of Breakout Sessions
Session 1 – Mindful Way Stress Reduction – Mesquite D
Hugh O’Neill
Session 2 – HIV & Cancer – Mesquite E
Richard Loftus, M.D.
Session 3 – Pain Management – Mesquite H
Virginia Cafaro, M.D.
Session 4 – HIV and Nutrition – Mesquite G
Elizabeth (Quigley) Kelsey, RD

1:30 PM – 1:45 PM 
Afternoon Break: Ice Cream Social

1:45 PM – 2:45 PM 
Third Round of Breakout Sessions
Session 1 – What is AIDS Survivor Syndrome (ASS)? – Mesquite D
@TezAnderson, Let’s Kick ASS
Session 2 – HIV, Hepatitis C and STDs – Mesquite E
Steven Scheibel, M.D.
Henry Nosovitsky, PA
Session 3 – Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) – Mesquite H
Host: @EricPaulLeue
Session 4 – Depression and Anxiety – Mesquite G
David Hersh, M.D.

2:45 PM – 3:15 PM
Continuing the Conversation – Primrose Hall
Sean Strub and Tez Anderson

Register here: http://www.pathwayshivconference.org/schedule.html#sthash.l1cuTyH0.dpuf


About One Year Later

One of our members wrote this after the town hall held on September 25, 2014. The event was One Year Later: Setting a Grassroots Long-Term Survival Agenda. Over 100 long-term survivors attended.

Friday 26 September 2014

During last night’s town hall style meeting of Let’s Kick ASS, the group’s organizers offered their proposed “A Vision for Our Future” for discussion. We attendees settled into four smaller groups to read and react to the proposed proclamation. When we reassembled, someone from each of the four groups summarized for us the points that had been raised in his group.

The last of the group spokesmen reported that someone in his group had said that he (or she) found the organization’s name – Let’s Kick ASS – “offensive” and “unfortunate.” Or perhaps the speaker was worried that others might find it offensive. That was rather unclear from the summary. But it was getting late in the program, and there was no further discussion of the comment. Looking at other puzzled faces around the room, I sensed that a few other people found the comment as baffling as I did. But then,

Cake! (Yummy, yummy cake, by the way!)

I’ve thought about that comment all day now. Speaking for only myself – fully cognizant of and respectful of everyone’s right to disagree – I happen to LOVE the name of this organization! “Let’s Kick ASS” exemplifies for me precisely the attitude we need to maintain in order to make this organization worth our efforts.

I wondered if the objection was to the word “ass” in the name, the acronym for AIDS Survivor Syndrome. It’s possible, I suppose, that the word “ass” might offend someone in the 21st Century, but – really?! I happen to like the acronym. Frankly, my 62-year-old ass is too tired, and is running out of time too fast, to be coy any more. This tribe of wounded warriors we’re talking about is not some myth set in a might-happen-someday dystopian fantasy world. It’s US. Here. That “future we never dreamed of”? It’s in our hands, right now. Right now. If securing our future necessitates stepping on a few people’s linguistic toes to get their attention and get results – well, okay, I apologize for stepping on your toes, but now that I have your attention….

Some, I guess, might object to the “violent” image of “fighting” that the name implies. Well, for me, that’s exactly what being positive has been for more than twenty-five years – a knock-down drag-out bareknuckle fight between me and a soulless featureless little fucking virus that has wreaked havoc on my physical health, on my mental health, on my financial stability, on my emotional stability, on my relationships, and on my friends – both the living and the daily-remembered dead. I’ve been fighting for 25 years just to stay alive! We all have! Besides, we didn’t start this fight, this stupid vicious bug started it. And it doesn’t fight fair! Not only has it attacked us unrelentingly for the last 20, 25, 30 years, now it’s planning to make our growing older even more painful on us than it already is on everyone! And so, yes, we fully intend to continue fighting as long as we have to. It’s been our willingness to fight together that has kept many of us alive this far! I’m glad and proud that we’ve all still got some fighting spirit left in us! For me, “Let’s Kick ASS” embodies that spirit perfectly – it’s not just the name of an organization, it’s a call to action, a rallying cry for the fight ahead.

At the LKA town hall last night, I was reminded and proud of what an intelligent, passionate, articulate, strong, feisty, community-spirited bunch of adults we’ve become! I’m glad I found this group. Already the women and men I’ve met through Let’s Kick ASS have given me hope – and courage — for our future by reminding me of the beauty, the in-your-face strength we have in numbers.

Hank Trout

 


September Big Event

One Year Later: Setting A Grassroots Long-Term Survival Agenda

Thursday, September 25 Join Let’s Kick ASS for a Party With a Purpose

Let’s Kick ASS is celebrating our first amazing year with birthday cake and a social. We also want your input and feedback on our new Long-Term Survivors’ Declaration and Agenda for Our Future.

RSVP HERE: https://lka-setting-the-agenda.eventbrite.com

Sept Event Flyer

 

The past year has been spectacular. We’ve become the largest voice for HIV long-term survivors—those of us who were infected in and affected by the first two decades of AIDS.

Based on many conversations, Facebook posts and emails we’ve come up with a set of principles and an agenda. It clear that they need an agenda to begin getting the recognition survivors deserve. If we are going to advocate on behalf long-term survivors we need YOUR input.

Please join for some cake and the opportunity to add your voice to your declaration.

Join us at the San Francisco LGBT Center 2nd Floor Rainbow Room from 7-9 PM. We’ll be gathering at 6:45 and the event will start at 7PM.

Admission is free. Donations are greatly appreciated.

Join our 1,143 likes on https://www.facebook.com/AIDSSurvivorSyndrome

We are on Twitter @LetsKickASS_org https://twitter.com/LetsKickASS_org

The latest issue of POZ magazine is about HIV and Aging. They spot light survivors one of them you may know:

http://www.poz.com/articles/tez_anderson_2866_26010.shtml


Healing the Wounded AIDS Warrior

It was my honor to be interviewed by one of my heroes Marcy Adelman founder of Openhouse for this piece in Bay Times.

Healing the Wounded AIDS Warrior: An Interview with Tez Anderson

This is not a time for inaction in our fight against HIV/AIDS. As Tez Anderson told me during a recent interview, “We need to start planning for the next 20 years.” Anderson is the visionary co-founder of Let’s Kick ASS. He launched this grassroots organization for long-term AIDS survivors in 2012. Let’s Kick ASS’s mission is to respect and acknowledge the individual and collective experience of living in the time of the AIDS epidemic, and to build a life-affirming community that reconnects survivors with each other while supporting their dreams and desires for a full and meaningful future.

In the early days of the epidemic, a diagnosis equaled death. There were no effective treatments. Friends and loved ones passed away. Funerals became commonplace. Death was ever present. In the darkest days of the epidemic, and for many years to follow, it was hard to envision the future and even harder still to think about aging at all. It would take a decade and more before a successful multiple drug intervention was introduced to delay the progress of the disease and increase life expectancy of HIV patients.

Anderson, a long-term AIDS survivor himself, struggled for more than two decades with depression, anger, anxiety, hopelessness and survivors’ guilt. Then one day he saw a TV program about an Iraqi War vet with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The symptoms were all too familiar. Anderson had never had a name for it before: trauma, a cluster of symptoms that had left him frozen in time. He understood too well that health care professionals were focused on the individual symptoms but did not address or treat the underlying trauma.

Anderson gave it a name, AIDS Survivor Syndrome, and co-founded Let’s Kick ASS to help people heal. That is just what his organization is doing.

Most long-term survivors are now at midlife or older. Many are aging with HIV. Anderson’s organization brings survivors together to share their stories, to weave a new or renewed community of friends, and to envision and plan for a healthy vibrant later life. There are now over 1000 members that participate in weekly groups and attend town hall meetings.

Anderson walks the talk. “I serocoverted in 1983, but I didn’t know it until I moved to San Francisco in 1986,” he shared. “The doctor said to me, ‘You will be dead in 18 months.’ I thought, ‘I am 26, I will be dead before I am 30.’ Life meant dying as well as I could. I prepared everyone around me for my death. I made it as easy as possible for my friends.”

“In the beginning, everyone around me was dying,” he continued. “It was a very trying time, but also very purposeful. We had a purpose keeping everyone as alive as possible. I was slow coming to grips with the possibility that I might survive. I could talk the talk as a survivor, but I never really internalized I would live.”

As antiretroviral therapies began to emerge in the late 80s, the dire situation began to turn around for the better for some, but clearly not for all. In 1988, for example, Anderson met and fell in love with a man named Gary, who passed away from HIV/AIDS complications in 1999. “So my reality,” Anderson says, “was that people were still dying.” A divide seemed to be established that continues to this day. “We hear about the end of AIDS, which is very well intended. But for the generation I belong to, we went through a war together. Just because the war is over doesn’t mean it has ended for us. We still need to heal and to optimize our lives.”

After Gary’s death, Anderson was depressed, angry and could not sleep. “I was in and out of therapy for 20 years,” he said, “but not one of my therapists ever said the word ‘trauma.’ Depression, anger, anxiety and isolation are all symptoms of AIDS Survivor Syndrome.” He continued, “The fact is that many of us early survivors are traumatized, regardless of HIV status. The mental health community failed survivors by failing to identify this syndrome. I had to piece this together myself. When I discovered how healing this is I started Let’s Kick ASS to help others reclaim their lives.”

Anderson outlined some of the present challenges:

Help people reclaim their lives. We need to help people imagine a future and a life they never thought they would have. We must start planning for the next 20 years. We have the opportunity to heal wounded AIDS warriors and to better the lives of others and ourselves. This is our greatest challenge and greatest opportunity.

Work to combat poverty. Many members of our community are on disability and have restricted incomes.

Identify how HIV/AIDS impacts other health issues and aging. He explained that it is often difficult to tease out if health problems are due to HIV, aging or something else.

Fight ageism. As he said, “We have a culture that doesn’t respect older people. We are old and should be treated with respect. When you see an older LGBT person on the street, smile at them. Acknowledge us. But this is a two way street. Act like you deserve respect and you will get respect.”

The good news is that much is already happening to meet these and additional related goals. Anderson supports the work of The LGBT Aging Policy Task Force in identifying housing and services needs. He said, “We are creating a coalition of existing organizations that serve the older LGBT population to work with our community. We are developing our own agenda about what works for us. I hope people will support us. We have a lot to show the world concerning what we know about surviving.”

A way you can help in the effort is by attending the event “One Year Later: Setting A Grassroots Long-Term Survival Agenda,” which will be held on September 25 from 7–9 pm at the San Francisco LGBT Center. For tickets and more information, please go to LetsKickASS.org or go to https://lka-setting-the-agenda.eventbrite.com

Dr. Marcy Adelman, a clinical psychologist in private practice, is co-founder of the non-profit organization Openhouse and is a member of the San Francisco LGBT Aging Policy Task Force.

http://sfbaytimes.com/healing-the-wounded-aids-warrior-an-interview-with-tez-anderson/


AIDS Ally Robin Williams: A Remembrance

So in the hours after learning of Robin William’s stunning and sad death, I wrote something about him. It just poured out of me. It seems to have touched some folks if the number of shares, comments and likes it has gotten. I was content to leave it on Facebook then I saw it reprinted on TheBody.com and thought I’d post it here.

Tez Anderson, Sandra Oh and Robin Williams on the set of The Night Listener.

Me with Me, Sandra Oh and Robin Williams on the set of The Night Listener.

I first met Robin Williams in 1986. It was shortly after I tested HIV-positive. Every time I saw him through the years he always ask how I was doing and he really wanted to know. He gave a shitload of money to HIV. He lost a shitload of friends to HIV. He lived in the Castro during the height of the epidemic. He was not an outsider. He was not gay but he was one of us. He got it. 

So it was a full circle moment when he agreed to appear in a film, The Night Listener, playing a version my once lover. The film was based on a true story. I had the privilege and bizarre experience of hearing he and Bobby Cannavale play out parts of my life on the set of a film that I co-wrote and lived. Including some of the uncomfortable stuff. The film was about an aspect of AIDS that remains one of the most bizarre experiences of my life—of anyone’s life. And it was about much more. Robin honed in on the undertones of how realizing that I might live a very long time, that I’m a survivor played into some of my decisions in those days. I’ll never forget our talk about it.

Robin was wise and had an enormous conscience. He was sensitive with a capital S and smarter than anyone in any room. Chatting with him over the years was a true. There is no one who didn’t love Robin, for good reason. He was simply the kindest, smartest, funniest, self-effacing man in the world. It is simply hard to imagine the planet without that bright, beautiful, compassionate light. I’m so lucky that I got to know him.

He had demons but they were private. He kept most of them hidden and entertained us all. He was a gentle man and a gentleman, and, of course he was a genius. He may have been too sensitive for this world.

Please don’t talk about Robin in heaven or making angels laugh or any of that crap. If they were angels they’d we weeping. He didn’t believe in heaven anymore than I do. He provided heaven on earth for billions of people. THAT’S we need to remember not his depression. When I think of him I smile…or I will as soon as stop crying.

This loss seems so enormous and so senseless unless you understand depression and it’s opposite mania. He had all the money, intelligence, talent and resources of anyone who’d ever lived. But the trick about depression is that nothing makes sense when you are in that state. Taking your own life seems logical at a certain point. I know I’ve been there.

Rest in peace Robin and thank you for making the world laugh.

Tez Anderson

Read more about Robin’s intimate connection to AIDS:

http://www.thebody.com/content/74869/robin-williams-friend-and-ally-to-those-living-wit.html?ic=2005

http://www.ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=69946


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