As we commemorate World AIDS Day 2019, we listen back on Panti Bliss’ conversation with Gareth Thomas as he speaks openly about his experience of growing up in Whales, revealing to the world he is living with HIV and the importance of information around sexual health.
The two legendary stars engaged in a deeply moving conversation in Trinity College on Thursday, 28th November. Managing Editor of GCN, Lisa Connell, said, “Gareth Thomas and Panti exemplify the magic that is truly being yourself and the power of telling our queer stories.”
Funds were raised for HIV Ireland and GCN as part of this World AIDS Day event. It was supported by GlaxoSmithKline, Dublin City Council, HSE sexual health and crisis pregnancy programme, Trinity College Students Union, and Guinness.
Gareth’s story has an immense power to it as he details the impact of his status being revealed to his parents by a journalist. Though he felt the moment was stolen from him, he said, “As we’ve always done as a family and a unit is we felt we were in the corner and there’s only one thing we can do now to get out this, and that’s fucking put up a fight.”
After discovering he is HIV Positive five years ago, Gareth was terrified of the possibilities and refused to speak about it. He said, “I didn’t believe in what undetectable meant because I felt I was educated because I’d learned what I had as a kid. And nobody really told me any different. I thought, ‘why would you put an ad without to say HIV and AIDS is a killer yet not put an advert out to say HIV and AIDS is not a killer anymore?’.”
Executive Director of HIV Ireland, Stephen O’Hare, said, “[Gareth’s] quiet dignity and determination to tell his story places him at the forefront of efforts to tackle stigma and discrimination around HIV.”
Panti has previously spoken about her own diagnosis with Professor Mulcahy to commemorate 30 years of AIDS activism, in which she shared, “The social worker basically told me ‘Right, we’re going to make dying as easy as possible’. She was telling me I could get a blanket allowance and I could get the dole because I wouldn’t be able to work of course and all this stuff.” From her own experience and sensational humour, she brought a combination of thoughtfulness and wit to this year’s important conversation.
Listen below to catch this heartfelt conversation for World AIDS Day 2019. You can also find it on Apple Podcasts here.
© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
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