Friday, April 30, 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

HIV+ Inspiring Story


By now you've probably heard the familiar story of gay gymnast Matthew Cusick, fired by Cirque du Soleil in 2003 because he was HIV-positive.

Cusick, at the time training for the Las Vegas show Mystere, had disclosed to Cirque his status eight months earlier, when it came up in discussion during a routine checkup.

He continued training until one day he was called into the office and abruptly fired, solely on the basis of being HIV-positive. Cirque officials informed him that he was considered a health risk to fellow employees, performers, stagehands, and even the audience.

Cusick enlisted the help of LAMBDA Legal, sued and subsequently won a landmark federal antidiscrimination lawsuit, based on the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination by employers against people with disabilities.

What you may not know is that Cusick recently appeared alongside gay icon Susan Sarandon and big and small screen heartthrob Patrick Dempsey, in the feature film Enchanted. He currently performs for the New York Metropolitan Opera as a supernumerary, appearing in scenes which require an acrobatic element or other non-singing roles.

"I love the feeling of being onstage, performing in front of an audience," says Cusick. "I never get nervous, or have to go backstage and throw up or anything."

Thousands looked on as he gave a powerful, four-act tour de force during the opening ceremonies of the Gay Games in Chicago in 2006. The theme of the exquisitely choreographed numbers dealt with overcoming adversity, which closely mirrored his life up to that point.

Born in Alexandria, Virginia, Cusick, 36, was the youngest of four children, with two brothers and one sister. His father was a U.S. Park Service policeman, his mother a homemaker, and the family moved around quite a bit during his childhood. Cusick began studying gymnastics when he was only five years old, but stopped at the age of 18, mainly because he was too tall to compete -- over six feet -- but also because by then he needed a break. "I was basically pushed out by my coach, who was really tough on me, and expected me to live up to his own standards, not just the USA Gymnastics standards," says Cusick.

After that he went on to coach and train other gymnasts for several years. Although he was a tough coach himself, he says his girls loved him, and he still keeps in touch with some of them to this day.

Cusick learned he was positive at the age of 22, prior to the advent of protease inhibitors, so he really didn't think he'd be around this long. He began HIV therapy about five years later, and is now doing quite well. Currently single, he lives and works in New York City. When he's not at the Met, you'll find Cusick and his performance partner Ken Berkely, a National Sports Aerobics Champion, touring in their handbalancing act, KENiMATTix.

Following the Cirque lawsuit, fearing he'd been blacklisted, Cusick was unsure whether he'd ever work again. However, in 2004 Cusick was once again able to show his true colors, and much more, at Broadway Bares, a one-night event produced by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, which has raised millions for HIV/AIDS organizations nationwide. Appearing in Broadway Bares, two years in a row, was a very self-affirming experience for Cusick.

Contrary to being blacklisted, he now found himself embraced by the very community for which he had gone to bat.
Steve Villano, director of Cable Positive, the AIDS action organization of the cable industry, describes Matthew as a very inspiring person. "He is so upfront, and doesn't exaggerate things. He's a courageous example of what one person can do to change how a company responds to HIV-positive individuals." Cable Positive recently produced a short video documentary on Matthew's plight which aired on the Sundance Channel. "He won an enormous victory," continues Villano, "not only for himself, but for a lot of people around the world."

As part of the settlement, Cirque was required to change their policy, and to implement one of the largest, annual company-wide education programs in the country. Cusick continues to travel around the country, speaking to audiences about his experience, in hopes that something like this never happens again.
When asked why he ultimately chose to fight back, Cusick replies, "I just didn't want anyone else to go through what I went through."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sense of humor

What a drag it is getting old...

When I went to the bar tonight, I noticed this old boy about 75-80 years sitting all alone in the corner and he was crying over his cocktail.

I stopped and asked him what was wrong.

He said: "I have a 22 year old lover at home. I met him a month or so ago, right here in this very bar!" He continued; "He makes love to me every morning and then he makes me pancakes, sausage, fresh fruit and freshly ground, brewed coffee."

I said: "Well, then why are you crying?"

He said: "He makes me homemade soup for lunch and my favorite brownies and then he makes love to me half the afternoon."

I said: "Well, so why are you crying?"

He said: "For dinner he makes me a gourmet meal with wine and my favorite dessert and then he makes love to me until 2:00 am."

I said: "Well, for goodness sakes! Why in the world would you be CRYING!"


Three friends -- two straight guys and a gay guy -- and their significant others were on a cruise.
A tidal wave came up and swamped the ship; they all drowned, and next thing you know, they're standing before St. Peter.

First came one of the straight guys and his wife.
St. Peter shook his head sadly.
"I can't let you in. You loved money too much. You loved it so much, you even married a woman named Penny."

Then came the second straight guy. "Sorry, can't let you in, either. You loved food too much. You loved to eat so much, you even married a woman named Candy!"

The gay guy turned to his boyfriend and whispered nervously...
"It doesn't look good, Dick." (LOL)


"The old begin to complain of the conduct of the young when they themselves are no longer able to set a bad example."

Food for soul

I see trees of green,
red roses too
I see them bloom
for me and you,

and I think to myself
what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue
and clouds of white
the bright blessed day,
the dark sacred night

and I think to myself
what a wonderful world.

the colors of the rainbow
so pretty in the sky
are also on the faces
of people going by.

I see friends shaking hands
saying "how do you do"
they´re really saying
"I love you"

I hear babies crying,
I watch them grow
they´ll learn much more
than I´ll ever know

and I think to myself
what a wonderful world
yes I think to myself
what a wonderful world.

Veo los árboles verdes,
rojas rojas también
las veo florecer
para tí y para mí

y me digo a mi mismo
qué mundo tan maravilloso

veo el cielo azul
y nubes blancas
el bendito brillo del día,
la sagrada oscuridad de la noche

y me digo a mi mismo
qué mundo tan maravilloso

los colores del arcoiris
tan bonitos en el cielo
están también en las caras
de la gente que pasa

veo amigos dándose la mano
diciendo "qué tal estás"
en realidad están diciendo
"te quiero"

oigo a los bebés llorando,
los veo crecer
ellos aprenderán mucho más
de lo que yo nunca sabré

y me digo a mi mismo
qué mundo tan maravilloso
sí, y me digo a mi mismo
qué mundo tan maravilloso