By Mikkel Hyldebrandt
It can be challenging to define what makes a hero, but a survey through our community will quickly prove that some individuals go above and beyond. Their actions and activism should in no way be overlooked, so here a few of those individuals that we define as heroes.
Larry is the Executive Director and co-founder of Thrive SS, a support organization for people of color living with HIV.
How do you feel your organization is making an impact on the LGBTQ+ community?
My work impacts LGBTQ+ communities in many intersecting ways. As an agency, we provide holistic support for Black gay, bi, same-gender-loving, and other men who have sex with men who are living with HIV. We have the largest network of Black SGL men in the country. As an out and proud advocate, I am always championing for the rights, inclusion, and safety of my trans and queer community members alike. Understanding that the root cause of the violence waged against us is patriarchy; it is my mission to use my voice and all at my disposal to dismantle and disrupt spaces that aren’t inclusive. At THRIVE, we understand that our work must endeavor to create equity for all marginalized people, or our goals will not be met.
Why do you think there is a need for your specific activism in our community right now?
Black and Brown queer and trans folks living with HIV are still dying, and many are dying alone. My activism is timely not only because I am a Black gay man living with HIV, it’s needed because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assert that in his lifetime, 1 in 2 Black gay men will contract HIV. For our Trans sisters, the numbers are even worse. Due to obstacles like anti-Blackness, poverty, implicit bias, and stigma, my community and those I love dearly do not have what is needed for them to THRIVE. It is up to those of us who can stand and fight to do so; thus, I’m committed to this battle until my last breath.
Anything you’d like to add?
I would like for the readers to know and understand that the HIV epidemic is far from over. There is much needed to see us to the end of this epidemic successfully. Challenge systems of hate and oppression, as they act as an unnecessary barrier to health, healing, and justice. HIV medications are amazing, but there is no pill to rebuild will. It is going to take a community approach, not a biomedical one, to get us to zero new cases.