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July 25, 2007

My AIDS is Acting Up Something Fierce

Among the gritty, smart-ass characters in the animated TV series Rick and Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World (on Logo Tuesdays at 10 pm Eastern and Pacific times; 9 Central) is a 50-year-old, HIV-positive paraplegic named “Chuck” who uses his HIV status as a punchline every chance he gets.

“I know you fought long and hard for that learner’s permit,” Chuck (voiced by Alan Cumming) tells his 19-year-old boyfriend Evan when he offers to drive him to Rick and Steve’s for a dinner party, “but I’d rather the HIV killed me than you.” Later on, needing an excuse to leave the table, Chuck fakes a cough and says, “My AIDS is acting up something fierce!”

Series creator Q. Allan Brocka, who is also the show’s writer and director, says he uses the character of Chuck as an opportunity to challenge assumptions about living with HIV. “I want people to know that it’s something that people are living with and not just dying from. And in living with it, there are a lot of interesting things that one goes through.”

Brocka, HIV negative himself, told POZ that Chuck is a composite of several people close to him. “I’ve always had people like that in my life, and many of them were HIV-positive.”

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