Friday is National HIV Testing Day and one local person passionate for the cause is Michel “Mike” McVicker, a linkage specialist at AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Blair Underwood Clinic in Washington.
McVicker is an early intervention specialist working with new-to-care and returning-to-care clients as she walks them through the system, answering their questions and concerns and making sure they understand what the Foundation calls “their responsibilities to their health care.”
“HIV has come such a long way and it can be a manageable condition with the right medicine,” the 37-year-old Greenville, S.C., native says. “That’s why getting people the medicine they need to live is the central focus of AHF. I’m so proud to be a part of an agency that is on the frontline of this issue all over the globe. And I’m proud to be part of the LGBTQ community who took up the fight against HIV from the beginning and hasn’t quit over the course of this 30-plus-year war.”
To locate an HIV testing station near you, send a text message with your ZIP code to KNOWIT (566948), or visit HIVtest.org. To find out more information on the Foundation, visit aidshealth.org. Testing is available at the Blair Underwood Clinic (2141 K St., N.W.) or at the AHF Healthcare Center in Temple Hill, Md. (4302 Saint Barnabas Rd.).
McVicker came to Washington two-and-a-half years ago. She and her wife, Alyssa Weaver, live in Brightwood with their dog, Penny. McVicker enjoys adventure cycling, working out and playing the guitar and ukulele in her free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I came out to friends when I was 15 but I’ve been obviously gay probably since I was 5. I didn’t really come out to my mom, she found out; but she definitely took it the hardest. I was raised Southern Baptist. It was a big struggle for her to find where acceptance fit in her faith, but I think we’re closer now than we’ve ever been before.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
That’s hard because there are so many. But maybe Ellen DeGeneres because she had the breasticles to come out on television back when it wasn’t cool to be gay and she kept a sense of humor about it, too. Oh, and she has a banging wife.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Gay Bash party at Black Cat, hands down. I love the dark industrial, goth drag and the DJ makes me dance like I danced when I was 22.
Describe your dream wedding.
I had my dream wedding last October. Very DIY. Our friends and family all kicked in to make it the perfect day. It was bicycle themed and so many people from the wee corners of the world came together that day. We had our ceremony and reception in Greenville, S.C. Bicycled from San Diego to L.A. and back for our honeymoon. And then had our civil ceremony in D.C.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Probably recycling and reusing. I can’t stand throwing things away that can be reused. I have a closet full of empty boxes. My wife tolerates it because she agrees, but I take it a little to the extreme.
What historical outcome would you change?
I wish that instead of becoming extinct, dinosaurs had just become miniature so that we could have them as house pets.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
In grad school, me and five other girls in our cohort choreographed and performed ’N Sync’s “Bye Bye Bye” in drag for an HIV hospice benefit. I was the only LGBTQ member. We spent more time practicing our routine than we spent on any other project in grad school. It’s still on YouTube, search for NSTYNC at the Palace.
On what do you insist?
A sense of humor. We take ourselves too seriously and it causes stress which takes years off our lives and contributes to the collective bad mood. I always want to laugh, even if it’s a stupid joke. Especially if it’s a stupid joke!
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
I shared “The Whittington Family: Ryland’s Story” YouTube video about a young transgender child whose parents recognized, accepted and supported his transition at the age of 5.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
It would be a pop-up book and it would be called “The Larger than Life Adventures of Magic Mike.”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
If it was a pill and it was time released, I’d slip it to bigots randomly to make them gay for a day.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I don’t really. I don’t have any evidence to base a belief on. I think this life is good enough to live for and this world is good enough to strive to make better. This planet is so majestic. My motorcycle trip across the U.S. was probably the closest I’ve ever felt to nirvana.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Don’t let the T in LGBT be a tag-along. If you’re going to speak for the community, speak for all of us.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
My wife, my dog, my nieces and nephews and a lifetime supply of good beer.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
The U-Haul. But it’s true.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” I can’t wait to see it on Broadway!
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Not questioning authority. I think we are taught from the time we start exploring our world that someone always knows better than we do and even if they don’t, we shouldn’t challenge the people who are in control. But seriously, if we all followed that rule, change would never happen.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
Winner of the pie-eating contest during the Gay Games. That’s a real thing right?
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That marriage equality would be a reality in my lifetime. I spent a lot of time angry at the world because I thought it wouldn’t change, but it was changing all along. I was just stuck in a really stubborn part of the country.
Marriage equality, bike lanes, cultural diversity and Southern charm. Oh, and Obama!