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March 8th, 2011

A Very Special One-Year Anniversary Posting!

When Mark first started My Fabulous Disease, I was pretty sure it was going to directly result in the destruction of humanity.  One year later, we’re all still here.
I can’t believe I lost that bet.

Myles Helfand, Editor, The Body, The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource

My father always said, “Raise your hand. Ask the stupid questions. Don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself.” If he isn’t rolling in his grave today, he’s certainly shifting a little, because if there’s one thing I’ve tried to do with my blog it has been to ask basic questions of others — and reveal everything I can of myself. The result has been a really gratifying experience sharing my life as an HIV positive gay man in recovery from addiction.

One year ago, I launched “My Fabulous Disease,” but the site was birthed and nurtured by the talented staff of TheBody.com. I have been contributing to TheBody for more than a decade as a writer, and producing videos for the last several years. For that I am indebted to Bonnie Goldman, the founding editor of The Body, and to the current Community Manager, Olivia Ford.

In this special video episode, I have some fun answering the most frequently asked questions about my videos — and what it has been like exposing myself, figuratively speaking, to all of cyberspace. The bottom line: it has been an honor to reveal, report, and ruminate on life’s challenges and joys as an HIV positive man.

I realize I’m not exactly an expert in the science of HIV or even a lot of the psycho/social issues involved. What I am, though, is curious. So I’ve tried to trust my own instincts and “ask the stupid questions” my Dad was talking about. Whether it was meeting teens at the AIDS conference in Vienna, exercising with fitness expert Nelson Vergel, or interviewing activists at the recent ADAP summit, I let my curiosity guide me.

HIV Attitude SignSure, I’ve bombed a few times with my videos. It’s been a learning process, and sometimes I misjudged a topic somehow, or just plain create a boring episode. Trust me ” or ask anyone at TheBody, because they know how I worry ” I keep close tabs on the comments and on the number of hits. And I’m constantly second guessing my choices. As much as I want to trust my instincts alone, I can’t help but want to be popular.

The episodes that mean the most to me have been the ones which were the most personal and didn’t even focus on my HIV (like “Facing Change,” about leaving Atlanta to renew a relationship, or “Taking Care of Hal,” about caring for my dying brother), or the ones that were the most practical and instructive (like “A Facial Wasting Update” about my facial filler process, or helping people select the best physician in “Six Tips for Choosing Your HIV Doctor“).

Along the way I have had the honor to meet people working as activists and elected officials and advocates around the world. How can I not be grateful and happy when I meet such smart and dedicated people? I know our HIV/AIDS crisis isn’t rosy and I know people are suffering. I also know without a doubt that we are in committed, loving hands the world over.

Let me leave you with this: we all have a story to tell. It is the story of how HIV/AIDS has affected our lives. Please, my friend, please tell it. Write an article or speak out on World AIDS Day. If you’re more private, maybe you could just explain to a nephew what it was like when you once lost a friend to AIDS. Maybe it is as simple as asking your friends if they have been tested lately, and why it means something important to you.

There are so many people who write me, and they thank me for giving their experience a voice, because they can not speak out. If you are blessed with the opportunity and ability to share your experience, then please join me. There is so much room, so much loving space in this world, for your voice and your story.

You don’t even have to dress in drag when you tell it. It just helps.

Please be well,

Mark

“A year of My Fabulous Disease isn’t nearly enough. You’ve had the courage to address publicly, with your words and videos, the stuff a lot of gay men and people with HIV are accustomed to only thinking about.”
Sean Strub, Founder, POZ Magazine

Your blog provides a limpid stream of good advice and optimism for anyone who stumbles into it. Your take on living with HIV is clearly the only one worth having, because you manage to inspire and annoy exactly the right people.
Gus Cairns, Editor, HIV Treatment Update

Here’s to many more years of Mark’s disarmingly honest, charmingly sincere, frequently bittersweet, and, above all, community empowering video blog.
Edwin J Bernard, journalist and blogger

Happy Birthday to My Fabulous Disease! You’re just what the doctor ordered.
Robert Breining, Founder, POZIAM Social Network

I feel as if My Fabulous Disease is a sister site to “my glamorous HIV” way of life. More importantly, you’ve been able to create much needed dialogue within the community, and provide information with substance. We love you up here in Canada.
Brian Finch, Founder, PositiveLite

Laughter and lightness of heart have made a comeback in my life, thanks to your nutty taste. I have been reminded often that although our common condition is life (and death), it is no longer life OR death.
Rod Rushing, “On The Ten” Treatment Education Network

If Albert Schweitzer and Joan Rivers had a son, it would be you! Healing and outrageous all at once. Keep “curing” us with “My Fabulous Disease.”
Chris Glaser, author, “The Final Deadline: What Death Has Taught Me about Life”

You and your blog are such an inspiration to others whether they are infected with HIV or someone who is still negative. We are also proud to have you as one of our Dab the AIDS Bear’s Ambassadors of Hope!
Dab Garner, Founder, Dab the AIDS Bear Project

Happy Birthday! You are doing such a great job at portraying the face, humor and humanity behind a terrible disease that will continue to proliferate in our community if people like you don’t continue to remind the rest of us that it still exists.
Zack Rosen, Editor, The New Gay

Comments

comments

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14 Responses to “A Very Special One-Year Anniversary Posting!”

  1. Charles Says:

    March 8th, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    What? No happy birthday greetings from Larry Kramer? Okay well I will say it for him: Happy Birthday, My Fabulous Disease!

  2. Bob Leahy Says:

    March 8th, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Congratulations, Mark, from Canada. I REALLY love your stuff and REALLY like having it on PostiveLite.com too. You really are making a difference to a lot of lives, you know.

  3. Ross Prince Says:

    March 8th, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Congratulations Mark!!

    You kick some serious butt! Watching your video blog is always a hoot and and an uplifting point of my day! If I were in Florida (and in front of you) I would give you a great big bear hug. You merit a warrior name to be bestowed upon you. Warrior princess maybe?? Well, that can be one of your alter-egos’ LOL.
    Hug a Lugg,
    Ross

  4. Rich in Boston Says:

    March 8th, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    As always love you and your work Mark, happy Blog Bday. MFD is a wonderful treat at the end of a long day that I always look forward to.

    I do have two side comments / questions:
    1) What is your drag name and do you do your own makeup (it looks very professional btw)? I can’t keep referring to that character as Mark, we need something fabulous.
    2) While you’re always a cutie, you have a shot of yourself with a goatee, you look WICKED (Boston term) hot. I understand it would be a pain to shave every time you wanted to perform but I’m just saying …… 😉

    Take care, love you and keep up the good work !!!

    Rich in Boston

    Her name is Anita Mann, and this is her finest hour. I slap on her makeup in about ten minutes; it ain’t about beauty. And thanks for the compliment. The hot picture he’s referring to, folks, is right here. LOL It was a good day, and a flattering angle. — Mark

  5. Sherri Lewis Says:

    March 8th, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Congrats on the year of living brilliantly in service and love. Great blog!

    OXOXOX

  6. Anthony Johnson Says:

    March 8th, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    Congratulations Mark! Well done:o)

  7. Don Says:

    March 9th, 2011 at 12:51 am

    Luv you

  8. Subversive Librarian Says:

    March 9th, 2011 at 4:33 am

    Count me among your many devoted fans. Congratulations on your success, and thank you for your talent, inspiration, and heart..

  9. Chris Glaser Says:

    March 9th, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    As always, FA-BU-LOUS! Great comments, great video. I got choked up at the end too! Congratulations on your first bloggerversary!

  10. Sue Says:

    March 9th, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    I love you. Keep up the good work.

  11. garry Says:

    March 10th, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    Hey Mark! All of the Members of Suncoast AIDS Theatre Project Thank You for “My Fabulous Disease” Great video, honest and fun. We hope to meet you in person this year! Continued success and you be well, too! Garry from the Suncoast AIDS Theatre Project

  12. Brian Says:

    March 10th, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Happy Happy…. Dear Mark .
    Thanks for all you do,
    Sincerely,
    Brian
    Newport Beach, CA

  13. Louis Says:

    March 14th, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Brilliant! Happy First (at your age that’s almost impossible)! 🙂

  14. Shawn Decker Says:

    April 12th, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    I am late to the lovefest, but I love your contribution to the community. Your humor is wonderful- I really think that laughter stuns this virus, and you must keep yours rocked on its heels at all times!

    Keep up the wonderful work.

    Positively Yours,
    Shawn

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