June, 2014 - Poz.
Poz at 20
by Tim Murphy
Twenty survivors share their stories
It's hard to overstate just how deeply, well, weird POZ seemed when it debuted in 1994. A glossy, glamorous, well-written and beautifully designed magazine…about people with HIV/AIDS?
Though public sentiment on the disease had softened a lot by 1994—with the emergence of the film Philadelphia, of the openly gay and HIV-positive heartthrob Pedro Zamora on MTV's The Real World, and the ubiquity of the red AIDS ribbon at the Oscars and everywhere else—most people still thought of folks with HIV/AIDS as sad victims, hobbling toward a certain death.
Then suddenly here was a magazine that not only showed HIV-positive people being funny, sarcastic, glamorous, sexy, angry and purposeful, but also talked about HIV treatments (pharmaceutical and otherwise) as casually as, say, Cosmopolitan advised women on how to have a better orgasm.
The public reaction was, to say the least, rather astonishing. As POZ founder Sean Strub recounts in his recently published memoir Body Counts: "Frank Rich, in his New York Times column, said POZ was 'easily as plush as Vanity Fair' and 'against all odds, the only new magazine of the year that leaves me looking forward to the next issue.'" Not a bad note to start on, eh?
Since then, and over nearly 200 covers, POZ did something else: We charted the byways of the epidemic as it wended its way through the various (and often vulnerable and oppressed) communities affected by HIV/AIDS in the United States and around the world: gay and bisexual men, intravenous drug users, people with hemophilia, sex workers, African Americans and other people of color, prisoners, transgender people, etc. These individuals and communities were not only HIV's targets but also its fiercest fighters. Continue reading... or click here to read a digital edition of this article.