BEST CELEBRITY ADVOCATE
For those who have followed Adam Lambert’s career, they know that he is not afraid to be out and proud, even on a show such as American Idol that plays directly to the Heartland. Since Lambert’s time on Idol, he has since become the stand-in front person for the band Queen and taken on acting roles, including in this year’s Fairyland, the film adaptation of Alysia Abbott’s 2014 memoir about her relationship with her father, a gay man who was living with AIDS. While touring for the film, Lambert spoke openly about his own experiences growing up queer in a world with AIDS. “The history that the queer community has been through is really important now, more than ever, considering what’s going on in the country,” he told Collider earlier this year. “We [have] got to make sure everyone knows what’s happened already so that we cannot repeat our mistakes.”
BEST IN FILM OR TELEVISION
Almost a decade after Alysia Abbott’s 2014 memoir, the film version has found its way into theaters. Directed by Andrew Durham, in his directorial debut, and produced by Academy Award-winner Sofia Coppola, the film traces the story of Abbott’s move, at only five years old, to San Francisco after the death of her mother. Her father, writer Steve Abbott, comes out after his wife’s death and begins to live as an out gay man in SF while raising Alysia. However, later, as he is diagnosed with AIDS, the tables turn and Alysia must care for him. The film, which stars SAG Award winner Scoot McNairy as Abbott’s father and CODA actress Emilia Jones as Alysia, debuted at Sundance in January, but is not currently available to stream.
BEST IN LITERATURE
By Ami Polonsky
At a time when LGBTQ stories meant for young adults are being pulled from library shelves, World Made of Glass is a story for young people about activism and breaking silence. In the novel, Iris is facing the death of her father, who is living with HIV, though she feels she cannot talk about it due to the stigma. What follows is her own wrestling with the silence surrounding the virus and her journey to face the misinformation and prejudice around AIDS. The book, which earned a starred review in Kirkus, has been called a “poetry-filled, inspiring call to activism.”
BEST IN VISUAL ARTS
Science and art represent two drastically different methods of understand the world around us, including the AIDS epidemic. Featuring 12 original pieces of work, HIV Science as Art was the official art exhibit at the 12th International Conference on HIV Science, held in Brisbane, Australia in July. The exhibit sought to bring scientific advancements in HIV to life via collaborations between artists and scientists. The work spanned a variety of media, including fashion design, photography and sculpture and was for sale, with funds supporting community-based HIV programs and services.
“The AIDS response has required inspiration, imagination and a mirror held up to both humanity’s beauty and its ugliness,” said Eamonn Murphy of UNAIDS. “Our dream of ending this epidemic relies on cutting edge science, showing up inequalities and sharing a vision for a new world. We have always needed art to help us come to terms with what ‘is’ and get up to speed with what ‘can be.’”
BEST REASON TO KEEP ACTING UP
As we know, transgender people have often been counted last when it comes to fighting for the rights of the LGBTQ community. That has made them an even bigger target in the last year, as state houses around the country have moved to criminalize and ban parts of trans life, including removing information about gender identity from school shelves and making sure trans youth cannot access gender-affirming care. AIDS activism was a health care movement, and one that asked that people be allowed to access life-saving medication and make the decisions that are best for their health. As trans youth face a system looking to block them from flourishing, this fight is a clear continuation of what AIDS activism was all about.