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November 30, 2012

Evenings Out

New for World AIDS Day: Science fiction, an MTV special, and Keith Haring

For World AIDS Day, it would be a simple matter to list seminal films dealing with HIV--Parting Glances, An Early Frost, Longtime Companion, Philadelphia. Or perhaps to go on about novels, plays and other writings about the disease, like And the Band Played On.

You know those already. You’ve watched, you’ve read. To use the crude parlance, you’ve been there, done that. Let’s go over some new things instead, off the beaten track, perhaps, or brand new.

First and foremost is the MTV special I’m Positive, profiling three young adults from different walks of life, all of whom are dealing with the day-to-day while living with HIV. Hosted by Dr. Drew Pinsky, one of the few truly decent “celebrity” doctors, the documentary, which will air at 7 pm on December 1, was created as part of MTV’s GYT: Get Yourself Tested campaign, a partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“Through accurate portrayals and powerful storytelling, I’m Positive will raise awareness, decrease stigma and hopefully enhance healthy pehaviors,” Pinsky says.

Long before he hosted Celebrity Rehab, he co-hosted the radio show LoveLine with comedian Adam Carolla. As far back as 1995, Dr. Drew would shut Carolla down if he tried to be funny on a too-serious topic like HIV or anti-gay prejudice, so it is fitting that he host this special.

The three young people are Otis, a young black gay man in Texas, who is dealing with coming out as HIV-positive a year after coming out as gay to his family. He is the oldest child, so he has to be a role model; he also has to work hard to ensure that his HIV-negative boyfriend, Kanjhe, stays that way.

Kelly’s relationship with Aaron is strained by the difference in their serostatus, and they are trying to figure out whether it would be better to call it quits or try to work things out.

Stephanie found out she was positive when she was 19. It was her first time having unprotected sex with her boyfriend. Now she tries to assert her individuality and deal with everyday struggles while the world tries to view her as another statistic.

After the documentary airs on MTV and MTV Tr3s, an after-show special with Dr. Drew sitting down with the trio in front of a studio audience will be webcast on The documentary and other materials will then be made available to educators.

On December 1, the graphic novel Lost Raven goes digital, five years after being released in print. Written by Bluewater Productions’ president Darren G. Davis, it takes journal entries he wrote after being diagnosed as HIV-positive and recasts the emotions, the thoughts, in a science fiction backdrop.

After learning he is HIV-positive, attorney Zak Raven quits his practice to take a relaxing trip and come to grips with the situation. But he becomes shipwrecked on a deserted island that hides a subterranean military base where scientists are trying to genetically engineer a humanoid subspecies that can survive deep space missions. Zak will soon find himself in conflict with the less-than-successful results of these experiments.

With art from Keu Cha and Sean Murphy, Lost Raven is far from a navel-gazing indie book where the protagonist wonders how he’ll go on. Instead, it’s a thrill ride where the hero tries to survive.

Lost Raven will be available through iTunes, the Kindle and Nook e-stores, and a number of other digital book and comic vendors like Comixology and PanelFly.

In addition, Bluewater also just released Keith Haring: Next Stop Art, one of a series of biographical graphic novels by German writer-artist Willi Bloess called Milestones of Art. Bisexual artist Frida Kahlo and gay pop art icon Andy Warhol are two of his other subjects, but for World AIDS Day, Haring is the most on-point.

Haring segued from graffiti artist to high culture, without ever really changing his style. From the late 1970s until his death from AIDS-related complications in 1990, his fame skyrocketed. He used that fame, and the money his art brought in, to help LGBT people and people with HIV. To this day, sales of his prints and cards often benefit AIDS service organizations.

The Milestones of Art series are available in print and e-book editions.




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