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Oldham resigns from leadership post of new AIDS coalition

Pozitively Healthy says it’s not NAPWA’s successor



David Waggoner, Pozitively Healthy, gay news, Washington Blade, HIV, AIDS

David Waggoner, founder and publisher of the national AIDS magazine A&U, serves as one of two co-chairs of Pozitively Healthy’s steering committee. (Photo courtesy of Waggoner)

Frank Oldham, former executive director and CEO of the National Association of People With AIDS (NAPWA), resigned from the steering committee of a newly formed PWA coalition one week after organizers announced its founding.

The resignation came after AIDS activists, including people with HIV/AIDS, raised strong objections to the appointment of Oldham and four other former NAPWA officials to the steering committee of Pozitively Healthy.

Organizers of the new Washington, D.C.-based coalition said in a May 10 statement that it would serve as the voice for people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States.

The 30-year-old NAPWA shut its doors in February at the time it filed for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy court documents show it owed creditors more than $750,000 and Oldham owed NAPWA $88,360 in an unexplained “accounts receivable” claim.

Oldham left his post as head of NAPWA last November before news surfaced of the impending bankruptcy.

“The work of Pozitively Healthy is absolutely paramount to 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS,” Oldham said in a May 17 reader’s comment posted below a Washington Blade online story reporting the creation of the new PWA coalition.

“Pozitively Healthy’s work cannot be detracted by personal issues or any individuals,” Oldham said in his comment. “I am resigning from Pozitively Healthy’s Steering Committee at this time and will continue to work hard as a person living with HIV to ensure the success of the PLWHA movement as I have done since 1988.”

The May 10 statement by organizers announcing the founding of Pozitively Healthy says the new coalition will be an arm of the Washington, D.C.- based national AIDS group HealthHIV, which the statement says will manage and have full control over the coalition’s finances and infrastructure.

Brian Hujdich, executive director of HealthHIV, said he was troubled that initial reports of the launching of Pozitively Healthy by the Blade and other publications gave the incorrect impression that the new coalition was a “successor” to NAPWA.

“This coalition was not created as NAPWA’s successor, but was created to continue and expand a consumer voice that was somewhat lost with NAPWA and other HIV non-profit closures,” he said in an email to the Blade.

Hujdich also expressed concern that a photo of Oldham that accompanied the Blade story about the founding of Pozitively Healthy could have led some readers to believe Oldham would be leading the new coalition, even though the story reported that Oldham and the other former NAPWA officials would serve as volunteers with no role in the “fiscal affairs” of the new group.

In an interview with the Blade last week, Hujdich said Oldham and the other former NAPWA leaders, along with other members of the 16-member steering committee, would be responsible for developing policy and setting the agenda for Pozitively Healthy.

“There shouldn’t be an issue about their involvement,” he told the Blade. Noting that the former NAPWA officials have been involved for many years in advocating for people with HIV/AIDS, Hujdich asked, “Why wouldn’t we want to include their voice and give them an opportunity to do this?”

The statement announcing Pozitively Healthy’s founding says veteran Washington State AIDS activist Judi Billings, a former NAPWA board chair, would serve as one of two co-chairs of the Pozitively Healthy steering committee.

David Waggoner, founder and publisher of the Albany, N.Y.-based national AIDS magazine A&U, would serve as the other co-chair, according to the statement.

Waggoner told the Blade he and others involved in Pozitively Healthy envision it as a “truly diverse” coalition that includes individuals and organizations and people who are HIV negative as well as those living with HIV.

“I will seek out celebrities to work with us,” he said. “We’re going to get some big names,” including performing artists who have been involved in AIDS causes in the past.

Several readers who submitted comments to the Blade’s May 16 story about Pozitively Healthy – including Sean Strub, the longtime AIDS activist and founder of POZ Magazine – said their main concern was that at least five former NAPWA officials were named to the new group’s steering committee.

“It seems to me that before the NAPWA gang asks people with HIV around the country to support them in a new endeavor, they should be providing an explanation as to why the organization, under their leadership, went bankrupt,” Strub said in a May 17 reader’s comment.

“So far we’ve gotten zip, let alone any kind of accountability or transparency,” he said. “This has been a problem with NAPWA’s leadership for a number of years and I’m afraid the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, so I’m not optimistic this new venture will be any different.”

Wisconsin AIDS activist and retired auditor Greg Milward, editor and publisher of the blog, said he was troubled that HealthHIV and others involved with Pozitively Healthy announced the coalition’s formation and its 16-member steering committee as a fait accompli without seeking broader community input.

Hujdich said the formation of the initial 16-member steering committee represented the opening round of a process to recruit more members of both the committee and the coalition.

“We have received over 20 applications from the community to join the steering committee, as well as numerous requests to join the coalition,” Hujdich told the Blade in an email on May 21. “We are very pleased with the response and interest.”

He said Pozitively Healthy would release the names of new steering committee members after a “governance workgroup reviews all the applicants.” He didn’t say who served on the workgroup.

Waggoner said that, among other things, Pozitively Healthy plans to lobby Congress and the Obama administration to restore cuts in the AIDS Drug Assistance Program that came about through the budget sequestration law. ADAP subsidizes the cost of life-saving HIV drugs for low-income people without insurance.

He noted that although President Obama this week arranged to transfer funds from other federal health programs to add $35 million to ADAP, the program remains under funded.

“We’re facing a crisis in this community,” Waggoner said on Tuesday. “And if we don’t do something about it we’ll have 14,000 Americans on waiting lists for AIDS drugs. That’s untenable in a country as wealthy as our, totally untenable.”

Added Waggoner, “I think we need to put that forward as an agenda item for Pozitively Healthy.”


Celebrity News

Anne Heche dies after removal from life support

Actress dated Ellen DeGeneres in late 1990s



(Screenshot/YouTube Inside Edition)

Actress Anne Heche died after she was removed from life support on Sunday, nearly two weeks after her Mini-Cooper crashed through a two-story house in Los Angeles’ Mar Vista neighborhood. Investigators with the Los Angeles Police Department believe she was intoxicated at the time.

She sustained a severe anoxic brain injury along with severe burns and was being treated at the Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital, near Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley.

The 53-year-old actress who was a star of films like “Donnie Brasco,” the political satire “Wag the Dog” and the 1998 remake of “Psycho,” had been declared legally dead under California law on Friday, however, her family kept her alive long enough to be an organ donor.

In a statement Friday, the LAPD announced that: “As of today, there will be no further investigative efforts made in this case. Any information or records that have been requested prior to this turn of events will still be collected as they arrive as a matter of formalities and included in the overall case. When a person suspected of a crime expires, we do not present for filing consideration.” LAPD detectives had previously made public that investigators into the crash found narcotics in a blood sample taken from Heche.

The actress’s family released a statement on Friday:

“Today we lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend. Anne will be deeply missed but she lives on through her beautiful sons, her iconic body of work, and her passionate advocacy. Her bravery for always standing in her truth, spreading her message of love and acceptance, will continue to have a lasting impact,” the statement added.

Heche was married to camera operator Coleman Laffoon from 2001 to 2009. The two had a son, Homer, together. She had another son, named Atlas, during a relationship with actor James Tupper, her co-star on the TV series “Men In Trees.”

Laffoon left a moving tribute on an Instagram reel in which he also gave an update on how their 20-year-old son Homer Laffoon is coping with the loss of his mother.

“I loved her and I miss her, and I’m always going to,” he said adding: “Homer is okay. He’s grieving, of course, and it’s rough. It’s really rough, as probably anybody can imagine. But he’s surrounded by family and he’s strong, and he’s gonna be okay.”

“Rest In Peace, Mom, I love you, Homer,” the actor’s 20-year-old son, Homer, said in a statement after Heche was declared legally dead on Friday.“ My brother Atlas and I lost our Mom,” read the statement. “After six days of almost unbelievable emotional swings, I am left with a deep, wordless sadness. Hopefully, my mom is free from pain and beginning to explore what I like to imagine as her eternal freedom. Over those six days, thousands of friends, family, and fans made their hearts known to me. I am grateful for their love, as I am for the support of my Dad, Coley, and my stepmom Alexi who continue to be my rock during this time. Rest In Peace Mom, I love you, Homer.”

Tupper, a Canadian actor who starred alongside Heche in “Men in Trees,” had a 13-year-old son, Atlas, with her. “Love you forever,” Tupper, 57, wrote on his Instagram post’s caption with a broken heart emoji, which shared an image of the actress from Men in Trees.

Between 1997 and 2000, Heche was also in a relationship with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

“This is a sad day,” DeGeneres posted on Twitter. “I’m sending Anne’s children, family and friends all of my love.” The year after her break-up with the comedian, in September 2001, Heche recounted in her memoir “Call Me Crazy,” about her lifelong struggles with mental health and a childhood of abuse.

KTLA’s entertainment reporter Sam Rubin noted that over the past two decades, Heche’s career pivoted several times. In 2017, she hosted a weekly radio show on SiriusXM with Jason Ellis called “Love and Heche.”

In 2020, Heche made her way into the podcast world. She launched “Better Together” which she cohosted alongside Heather Duffy Boylston. The show was described as a way to celebrate friendship. 

She also worked in smaller films, on Broadway, and on TV shows. She recently had recurring roles on the network series “Chicago P.D.,” and “All Rise” and was a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars.”

People magazine reported that several of Heche’s acting projects are expected to be released posthumously.

These include “Girl in Room 13,” expected to be released on Lifetime in September, “What Remains,” scheduled to be released in 2023, and HBO Max TV series “The Idol,” created by Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd) and Euphoria creator Sam Levinson.

In her Instagram post from earlier this year Heche stands between her sons Atlas, 13 and Homer, 20.

From KTLA:

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Celebrity News

‘Star Trek’ actress Nichelle Nichols dies at 89

George Takei tweets ‘we lived long and prospered together’



(Screenshot/YouTube The Smithsonian Channel)

She was a groundbreaking cultural icon who broke barriers in a time of societal upheaval and battling for the civil rights of Black Americans. An actress, a mother and thoroughly devoted to the legions of fans of “Star Trek,” Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek’s Lt. Nyota Uhura, has died at 89.

The announcement on her Facebook page by her son read:

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Friends, Fans, Colleagues, World

I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years.

Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. Her light however, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration.

Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all.

I, and the rest of our family, would appreciate your patience and forbearance as we grieve her loss until we can recover sufficiently to speak further. Her services will be for family members and the closest of her friends and we request that her and our privacy be respected.

Live Long and Prosper,

Kyle Johnson

Nichols was born in Robbins, Ill., in 1932, according to her IMDb page. Legendary composer Duke Ellington “discovered” Nichols and helped her become a singer and dancer. She later turned to acting, and joined Gene Roddenberry’s “Star Trek,” where she played Uhura from 1966 to 1969.

Out actor George Takei who played ‘Sulu’ on Star Trek the original series with Nichelle Nichols who played Lt. Nyota Uhura, at a Star Trek convention in this undated photo. (George Takei/Twitter)

It was in that role of Uhura that Nichols not only broke barriers between races, most famously her onscreen kiss, the first between a Black person and a white person, with castmate William Shatner, who played Capt. James T. Kirk, but she also became a role model for young Black women and men inspiring them to seek out their own places in science, technology, and other human endeavors.

In numerous interviews over the years Nichols often recalled how the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a fan of the show and praised her role and personally encouraged her to stay with the series.

When the first series ended Nichols went on to become a spokesperson for NASA, where she “helped recruit and inspire a new generation of fearless astronauts.” She later reprised her role in several successful “Star Trek” films and continued to advocate for the advancement of Black Americans especially in the areas of science and technology.

Formerly a NASA deputy administrator, Frederick Gregory, now 81, told the Associated Press he once saw an advertisement in which Nichols said “I want you to apply for the NASA program.”

“She was talking to me,” he recounted. The U.S. Air Force pilot would apply and later become the first African American shuttle pilot.

President Joe Biden weighed in Sunday afternoon on her passing in a statement issued by the White House:

In Nichelle Nichols, our nation has lost a trailblazer of stage and screen who redefined what is possible for Black Americans and women.
A daughter of a working-class family from Illinois, she first honed her craft as an actor and singer in Chicago before touring the country and the world performing with the likes of Duke Ellington and giving life to the words of James Baldwin.
During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, she shattered stereotypes to become the first Black woman to act in a major role on a primetime television show with her groundbreaking portrayal of Lt. Uhura in the original Star Trek. With a defining dignity and authority, she helped tell a central story that reimagined scientific pursuits and discoveries. And she continued this legacy by going on to work with NASA to empower generations of Americans from every background to reach for the stars and beyond.
Our nation is forever indebted to inspiring artists like Nichelle Nichols, who show us a future where unity, dignity, and respect are cornerstones of every society.

Nichols son said that services will be private for family members and her closest friends.

In 2008 the actress at a news conference, coordinated by the filmmakers of the motion picture “TRU LOVED,” in honor of the more than 900 students at Los Angeles’ Miguel Contreras Learning Complex’s School of Social Justice who participated in the GLSEN Day of Silence.

Nichelle Nichols speaks on LGBTQ rights:

Her fellow castmate and life long friend, openly Out actor George Takei shared his sadness on hearing of Nichols’ passing on Twitter:

From the September 2016 edition of the Smithsonian Channel: “Star Trek’s decision to cast Nichelle Nichols, an African American woman, as major character on the show was an almost unheard-of move in 1966. But for black women all over the country, it redefined the notions of what was possible.”

Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols on Uhura’s Radical Impact:

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Emma Corin becomes first nonbinary person featured on cover of American Vogue

The star of The Crown opened up about their identity.



Emma Corrin Jamie Hawkesworth/Vogue

Emma Corin was announced as the cover star of the August edition of Vogue. It’s the first time a nonbinary person is featured on the cover of American Vogue.

Corin posted the cover photo and wrote, “My grin really says it all! A huge honour to be your August cover.”

In early 2021, Corin quietly came out as a queer and nonbinary, changing pronouns to “she/they” in their instagram bio. Currently Corin sticks to pronouns “they/them.”

“I feel much more seen when I’m referred to as ‘they,’ but my closest friends, they will call me ‘she,’ and I don’t mind, because I know they know me,” Corin explained during the interview with Vogue.

Corin stated that they’ve still gone on dates with various kinds of people and set no limit on who they date. “I like people,” they simply said and shrugged.

Corin also shared some of their dating experiences. “My first date with a girl, they were like, Oh! You’re a baby queer!” Corin said, “It was amazing. We actually didn’t end up seeing each other again, but she really gave me the lowdown.”

Besides, Corin was frank about their conflicting feelings towards gender and sexuality issues. “I’m working out all this complex gender and sexuality stuff. And yet, I’m seeing a guy? That feels very juxtaposed, even if I’m very happy.”

Corin is known for playing Diana on the Netflix series The Crown.

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