ESSAYS.jpg

How Six NYC Activists Changed History With “Silence = Death”
- Published 06/17 for THE VILLAGE VOICE
"The origins of Silence = Death, which stands alongside We Shall Overcome, Sí Se Puede, We Are the 99%, and #blacklivesmatter as a touchstone of social justice movements, can be traced to a New York diner in 1985. Nights earlier, Socarrás recalls, he was “walking down Broadway towards Astor Place and having this irresistible impulse to throw myself on the sidewalk and pound my fists on the ground. I had to stop myself. I wanted to wail to heaven.” Over the previous few years he had lost so many men he loved that he stopped writing down their names after his list reached 100. That night, he remembers, he “watched that potential scenario [play out in my mind] and thought, ‘I can either do that or I can try to do something with this energy.’ ”

A Families Affair
- Published 06/17 for THE VILLAGE VOICE
"For as long as Kia can remember, she’s been seeking cultural representations of anyone who looked like her: a queer woman of color. She felt a spark of kinship when she first saw the drag ball documentary Paris Is Burning while in high school. By then she already knew classmates who belonged to various Houses, but had yet to walk herself. Eventually a co-worker at Webster Hall invited her to become more involved in the ball scene. It ended up being a revelation. 'As a young brown person born with HIV, I began to meet many others [who] acquired the virus,' Kia told the website BH Is Voguing last year. 'It was the first time since my mother’s death that I felt I was not alone.'"

As HIV Activists in the Age of Trump, We Need to Look Beyond the Gay Paradigm
- Published 12/16 for THE BODY
"As someone involved with the AIDS response for almost 15 years in the U.S. and Canada, and as someone who has recently been researching the lives of people living with HIV before 1981, it seems to me that, with hindsight, we can see that white supremacy prevented people from seeing HIV's impact in the U.S. throughout the 1970s and after because premature death within already minoritized communities was accepted. And then homophobia -- coming from the president, no less -- prevented the U.S. government from stopping it."

TESTING BEYOND CONTROL
-Published 10/16 for THE NEW INQUIRY
"Testing alone is not care. It is not the problem, nor the solution. It is a moment of transition, which should result in continued support. Until control, surveillance, and criminalization are replaced by care, support, and community, testing will remain a risk factor for people living with HIV."

AIDS 1969: HIV, History, and Race
- Published 9/16 for DRAIN
"The story we tell about AIDS in America is that the United States government failed to address it due to the pervasive homophobia of the Reagan administration. True. What is also true is that the virus that came to be known as HIV had been circulating in other minoritized communities—communities of color, people who do drugs, and those living in poverty and without housing—long before it was noticed in homosexuals in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. We don’t know how to tell the history of AIDS before AIDS because we don’t know it yet and we don’t know how to hear and share what we do know. Instead, we keep repeating the history we think we know to be true, the one that starts in 1981."

Cause I Am Here To Remind You
- Published 02/16 for LAMBDA LITERARY
Alanis Morissette and memory. 

Was Taylor Swift Singing About HIV Criminalization?
- Published 1/16 for THE ADVOCATE
Taylor Swift’s lyrics resonate in a troubling way for those who’ve seen blood reconfigured as a weapon by misguided HIV criminalization laws. A longer version of this essay appears on the Visual AIDS website

'AIDS - Based on a True Story'
- Published 1/16 for DANDELION
"AIDS: Based on a True Story is an exhibition curated by Vladimir Čajkovac for the German Hygiene Museum. The foundation for the exhibition was the museum’s extensive collection of AIDS posters from around the world, from which Čajkovac added other historic objects, art works and activist memorabilia. The exhibition looks at HIV/AIDS through the lens of media and representation. In this article writer and organizer Theodore Kerr explores the exhibition putting it in conversation with contemporary representations of HIV/AIDS and questioning the role that nostalgia plays in how AIDS is understood in media."

A History of Erasing Black Artists and Bodies from the AIDS Conversation
- Published 12/15 for HYPERALLERGIC
Exploring the urgency and history of the Tacoma Action Collective's protest of the Art AIDS America exhibition. 

HIV Criminalization Never Made Sense
- Published 10 / 15 for POZ MAGAZINE
Exploring the archives for proof that even at a height of the AIDS epidemic, there were many who opposed the criminalization of people living with HIV. 

SHOULD WE CRIMINALIZE HIV?(written with Opal Jones) 
- Published 07/16 for ST. LOUIS AMERICAN
Asking the question that need not be asked. 

Putting Faith Into Action: HIV/AIDS Advocacy
- Published 07/15 for BELIEVE OUTLOUD
"As people of faith we can often feel strong in our conviction. It is good to be passionate, speak our minds, call out injustice, be unruly, disrupt business as usual, and not worry about making others comfortable. We never need to bear witness idly to injustice."

Can Christian Ethics Take Down Stigma and Bias Against Women With HIV?
- Published 02/15 for THE BODY
"What would it mean if a lesbian living with HIV was not deemed as impossible, unethical or unworthy of service, but rather was held in the same regard that the Holy Ghost holds for the Father and the Son?

Who Is HIV For?
-Published 11/14 for WOMEN'S STUDIES QUARTERLY
"The Denver Principles and womanism illustrate that within the community of marginalized others there should be opportunities to name oneself, and from there—the thinking goes—it should be “Nothing About Us Without Us,” a phrase made popular by disability activists. Yet assertions of subjectivity around HIV/AIDS have become more complicated, blurring the line between, as Paula Treichler writes, “what is self? what is not-self?” (Treichler 1999), with language being a site for clarity and confusion."

Without Our Rooms of Nostalgia: AIDS, Communication and Each Other.
-Published 02/14 for IN THE FLESH
"I have never heard it myself but friends have told me many members of ACT UP from the 80s and early 90s talk about the power of “The Room”, referring to the large meeting space on the main floor of New York’s LGBT center where ACT UP met (and still meets) on Monday nights. There is a longing to return. And with good reason..."

There Is So Much I Want to Say About AIDS
- Published 01/13 for POSTERVIRUS
"I want to share with you that for me AIDS—on some level—is a remix of our shared desires and prejudices transmitted in the most vulnerable of moments, played out through our bodies. I hear the discordant moans of ecstasy bumping up against the steady political beat of no, no, no. I want know if you also experience that awkward moment when you find yourself crying on the dance floor, feeling nothing but ghosts."

WALKING WITH GHOSTS
- Published 11/11 for KEEP THE LIGHTS ON
"Sex is not something separate on Fire Island; it is the breeze that blows through everything. The longer one spends in the meatrack, the more it becomes a series of inviting staging grounds connected by well worn paths, and less like a frustrating maze. Throughout, black plastic garbage bags hang from trees – the heavier they are with empties and condoms – the busier the spot. Garbage acts like a recommendation “I’ve been here and I liked it”." 

Towards Transparency and Justice, Learning from Wikileaks and Wojnarowicz
- Published 12/10 for HYPERALLERGIC
"What do Wikileaks and the art world’s response to the censorship of David Wojnarowicz’s  “A Fire in My Belly” by the Smithsonian have in common? More than may be apparent at first. Both make public what elites want to keep secret. They illustrate how little, if anything, can be hidden anymore and demonstrate how the more something is concealed the more the demand for it to be revealed grows."

26 questions with CHEEKY LaSHAE
- Published 08/17 for FRIENDS OF THE HIGHLINE
"21. What is performance?
Why be racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic when ew could just be quiet?
22. What is performance?
Guilty feet have got no rhythm.
23. What is performance?
Sublime loneliness"

On Care, Activism and HIV with Alexandra Juhasz
- Summer 2017 for HEMATOPOIESIS PRESS
"But how do we begin to account for all the work that can’t be seen, or that is for some less exciting to see? Asked another way: how should caring be named, seen, applauded, or noted?" 

Stacked on Her Office Shelf: Stewardship and AIDS Archives, a conversation between Alexandra Juhasz and Theodore Kerr
- Published 01/17 for THE CENTER FOR THE HUMANITIES
"I often come back to this idea that I am working through a cultural inheritance of AIDS, what we are calling its patrimony."

Tim Murphy: On His New Book, HIV/AIDS, and How Scruff is a Kinder Place Than AOL Profiles
- Published 08/16 for LAMBDA LITERARY
“AIDS is like a prism through which all these social pathologies like poverty, homophobia, sexism and racism are refracted. It can be daunting to try and capture all of that.” - Tim Murphy about his novel, 'Christadora.'

A conversation between Vika Kirchenbauer and Theodore Kerr
- Published 08/16 for VISUAL AIDS
“I wanted to take the notions of AIDS out of the past, out of the archive," - Theodore Kerr on his residency at the German Hygiene Museum. 

Mike Albo: On Sperm and Its Uses, Spirituality, and Learning to Feel
- Published 04/16 for LAMBDA LITERARY
“I am a religious person. I did not grow up that way. I found it on my own, and often I do not feel worthy of saying it.” - Mike Albo on his new release, 'Spermhood.' 

A Conversation with Brenden Shucart
- Published 04/16 for THE NOVUS HOMO
Shucart interviews Kerr about AIDS, activism and ethics. 

The Uncoolness of Grief: An interview with Tiona McClodden about Essex Hemphill, Legacy and Art
- Published 02/16 for VISUAL AIDS
"The internet is not enough. We have to talk to people. Oral history is everything for the black queer and survival. Once we stop talking, we don't exist." McClodden on race, history and memory

Erasing Black AIDS Histories 
- Published 01/16 for THE NEW INQUIRY
An interview with the Tacoma Action Collective after the protest of the Art AIDS America exhibition. 

LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN! – Jessica Whitbread, Jonny Mexico & Theodore (ted) Kerr
- Published 01/16 for NO POTLUCKS
 "I like the idea of something being more powerful than love. Not that I want to throw love out, I just feel it is often used in a shallow way. If you really love someone I think that you cherish them and want positive energy to follow towards that person. I think about this in the context of the HIV work I do," Jessica Whitbread.

A conversation between Joss Barton and Theodore Kerr
- Published 12/15
“There is a huge impact that not telling Robert’s story has on the past, present and future of AIDS," - Theodore Kerr on research around the early cases of HIV/AIDS. 

Diamond Dan and the Rise of the AIDS Punchline with Bryn Kelly 
-Published 10/15 for INDIEWIRE
"If a massive number of people were still dying in the US in extreme ways they used to, I do not think it would be possible to make these jokes, at least not in a mainstream way." - Bryn Kelly on how AIDS jokes have made it to primetime. 

Cory Silverberg : On His New Book ‘Sex is a Funny Word’ and Sex Education for Kids
- Published 08/15 for LAMBDA LITERARY
“I get to present sexuality and gender in a way that I hope gives kids more options than I felt I ever had.” - Cory Silverberg on his book, 'Sex is a Funny Word.'

A Conversation with Neil Goldberg
- Published 08/15 for VISUAL AIDS
“She’s A Talker is a document and a documentation of people’s lives in a time of extreme peril.”- Goldberg on his film ' She's A Talker.'

Who is Unbreakable? The Messy Joys and Reservations of ‘Kimmy Schmidt’’s World with Claire Barliant
- Published 06/15 for INDIEWIRE
"Rather than resisting the system, which may be futile, it seems as though a new generation is going about finding nimble ways to circumvent it or coexist alongside it. Do you agree?" - Claire Barliant on a new generation of comedies. 

A Conversation with Adam Geary
- Published 02/15 for VISUAL AIDS / THE BODY
"Anti-Black racism in particular has been central to the structuring of vulnerability to HIV, in the US, in the western hemisphere, and globally. It's also, I fear, one of the key reasons why social, cultural, and even social-movement concern about the epidemic has shifted so dramatically in the last decade, if not dissipated altogether." - Geary on his book ' Anti-Black Racism and the AIDS Epidemic'

Andrew Durbin: On His New Book ‘Mature Themes,’ the Power and Uselessness of Love, and the Joys of the Perfect Pop Song
- Published 01/15 for LAMBDA LITERARY
"Once I began to write about the environment and “nature,” I could expand that to thinking about the media ecosystems that surrounded me." - Andrew Durbin on his book 'Mature Themes.'

A conversation with Demian Diné Yazhi' from R.I.S.E.
- Published 12/14 for VISUAL AIDS
"HIV/AIDS is quiet at times in native communities," - Demian Diné Yazhi'

Tommaso Speretta on His New Book ‘REBELS REBEL: AIDS, Art, and Activism in New York 1979-1989’
- Published 11/14 for LAMBDA LITERARY
"The history of the anti-AIDS activist movements in 1980s America is still largely unknown, especially to the European audience. Later, I realized that the work I was doing was relevant for the American audience, too. I had been wrong in my conviction that AIDS activism history was part of the common knowledge in the U.S. The younger generations still do not know the stories I am talking about in my book." - Tommaso Speretta on 'Rebels Rebel.'

A Conversation with Naina Khanna, Executive Director of Positive Women's Network
- Published 10/14 for VISUAL AIDS
"Study shows (PTSD) among women living with HIV may be 5x that of the general population of women." - Khanna on women and HIV in the USA. 

Roxane Gay: On Messiness, Not Belonging, and What Being Queer Taught Her About Being a (Bad) Feminist
- Published 09/14 for LAMBDA LITERARY
"My fiction and non-fiction work on a spectrum. This idea being that life is messy and complicated and it is rare that we have neat endings and tight conclusions to anything. Good people do bad things and bad people do good things." - Roxanne Gay on her book 'Bad Feminist.'

Alysia Abbott: A Trip to Fairyland
- Published 08/14 for LAMBDA LITERARY
“A lot of the book is about me feeling closeted about my father’s sexuality.” - Alysia Abbott on her book ' Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father.' 

AIDS Reruns: Becoming ‘Normal’? A Conversation on ‘The Normal Heart’ and the Media Ecology of HIV/AIDS with Alexandra Juhasz
- Published 06/14 for INDIEWIRE
"When we conflate and erase histories we loose the truth of nuance, the order of things, the ability to go back and trace steps, and make sense of why something had to happen. Urgencies get lost." - Theodore Kerr on how AIDS history is/is not being passed down. 

A conversation with Jennifer Brier
- Published 04/14 for VISUAL AIDS
“Curating the exhibition meant I got to revise some of the thinking I’d done for Infectious Ideas." Brier on her exhibition, “Surviving and Thriving: AIDS, Politics and Culture.”

Home Video Returns: Media Ecologies of the Past of HIV/AIDS with Alexandra Juhasz 
- Published 04/14 for CINEASTE
"Well, maybe the cost of the second silence is the lack of circulation of AIDS tapes from the Eighties and Nineties, and so contemporary filmmakers feel as though they have to start from scratch." - Alexandra Juhasz on how AIDS history is/is not being passed down. 

Conversations with Rosalind Solomon
- Published 07/13 for VISUAL AIDS
Part One: “I didn’t know what to do after the AIDS project. It was so intense.”
Part Two: “People didn’t want to look at the work. Perhaps people are more willing to look at it now.”

In Conversation with Topside Press: Tom Léger, Julie Blair, Red Durkin, and Riley MacLeod 
- Published 04/13 for LAMBDA LITERARY
"When you talk about how nobody knows how many trans writers there are in the world, you are forgetting that nobody knows how many writers there are in the world. It is not suddenly more mysterious or more spectacular because we are trans." - Red Durkin on publishing

Shane Allison: He Remembers
- Published 07/12 for LAMBDA LITERARY
“You have to decide how honest you want to be in your writing: if you want to leave it in your diary or put it in a book. Yes, the experiences are intense but you have to allow yourself to go there, to cross that line.” -Shane Allison on his book 'I Remember.'

SARAH SCHULMAN: AN AMERICAN WITNESS
PART 1: GENTRIFICATION, TRAUMA, & SEX
PART 2: OCCUPY STUDENT DEBT, AND THE BEAUTY OF BEING UNCOMFORTABLE
"You can’t have 80,000 people die in a country and it have no impact." - Sarah Schulman on the AIDS crisis. 

‘The Show House’ by Dan Lopez
-Published 12/16 for LAMBDA LITERARY
"Many of us are aware how, one day after years of not talking, a phone call or email will flip a switch and an abusive parent will be back in an adult child’s life. In cases such as these the homophobia is still operative, but it often takes a back seat to other dynamics. In The Show House, we see the reunion between Steven and his parents primarily through Thaddeus’ eyes. This perspective affords an opportunity to see inside the father/son homosocial rivalry from the point of view of the withering older man: his refusal to see his own role in what he lost and his hunger to take what he can before it is too late." 

‘You Only Live Twice: Sex, Death, and Transition’ by Chase Joynt and Mike Hoolboom
- Published 10/16 for LAMBDA LITERARY
"The book is a literary endeavor no doubt, and given its creators, I think it can also be seen as an artistic intervention into the public commons around trans and HIV narratives. It pushes back against heroic or role model clichés; Instead, we are given the gift of two men bearing witness to each other in all their shared platitudes, epiphanies, confessions, and love. Along the way, we get to experience their many lives." 

Christodora’ by Tim Murphy
- Published 07/16 for LAMBDA LITERARY
"While the Christodora, a historic building on Avenue B, anchors the book; what keeps the reader enraptured for over 428 pages are the characters that populate the building and their loved ones as they ride the currents of New York City in the 80s, 90s, and into the early 2000s and beyond. Epic in scope, the novel cannily grapples with many of the seminal touchstones of contemporary New York City life: AIDS, drugs, race, activism, gentrification, art, and ideas of progress."

‘Dying Words: The AIDS Reporting of Jeff Schmalz and How it Transformed The New York Times’ by Samuel G. Freedman with Kerry Donahue
- Published 03/16 for LAMBDA LITERARY
"AIDS, and the resistance and urgency that helped define an early understanding of it, is part of this textual move and one that Dying Words tracks. Be it a metaphorical flourish or not, nothing about AIDS is possible on the individual level. It is all relational."

‘The Rise and Fall of The Yellow House’ by John Whittier Treat 
- Published 11/15 for LAMBDA LITERARY 
"
Treat could be seen as making the case that there is no way you can untangle the reality of AIDS, drug use, and the gay experience. They are mutually dependent. By the end of the book, the Yellow House is empty with no one escaping despair, recrimination, or loss. What is left are memories, the stories we tell, and the ongoing AIDS crisis. Treat has given the world a great story, and a time capsule of a history that needs to be told."

Hard Decisions: Interactive Storytelling and Complex Representations
-Published 11/15 for INDIEWIRE
"In her heart-bursting review of “All I Want Is For All My Friends To Become Insanely Powerful”, a video game from innovator Porpentine, writer Cara Ellison concludes that the game “needs you to realise that your life is changeable, and you can do it through text, subtext, the textual bonds we make between each other.” Rarey achieves similar same magic but with one important and glaring flaw. Through Hard Decisions he helps us see that change is possible. We are all works in progress, needing each other to make it through the day."

‘Johnny Would You Love Me…(If My Dick Were Bigger)’ by Brontez Purnell 
- Published 09/15 for LAMBDA LITERARY
"There are many good bloggers and essayists writing about HIV for the web, academic journals, and other platforms but most often they are written by people like me–well meaning HIV negative folks. As an HIV+, black, queer, creative, cis-man with hips and ass he loves to have loved, Purnell working out his relationship with the virus and the collateral experiences it brings, on the page, is of vital importance."

‘After the Wrath of God: AIDS, Sexuality & American Religion’ by Anthony M. Petro 
- Published 08/15 for LAMBDA LITERARY
"So while After the Wrath of God is a book about HIV/AIDS, it is also very much a cultural history of Christianity in the US through the lens of the beginning of the AIDS crisis, from a specific viewpoint. Petro does not, for example dive into the ongoing and heated discussions around the Black Church and the epidemic, maybe rightfully understanding others may best to tackle that important ongoing conversations. Instead, Petro tends to focus more broadly thinking about the relationship between the Church and AIDS for all Americans. Petro writes, 'The epidemic provided divine evidence for God’s sexual morality. Christian or not, and for better or for worse, we live with that morality today.'"

‘My Avant-Garde Education: A Memoir’ by Bernard Cooper
- Published 04/15 for LAMBDA LITERARY
"It is easy to assume that My Avant-Garde Education: A Memoir (W.W. Norton & Company) is Bernard Cooper’s autobiography through art. He is after all a critic, artist and educator. While not untrue, it is not the whole story."

‘Hold Tight Gently: Michael Callen, Essex Hemphill and the Battlefield of AIDS’ by Martin Duberman
-Published 03/14 for LAMBDA LITERARY
"There is no scarcity of stories when it comes to important and interesting lives related to the early days of the AIDS crisis in America. Duberman is intentional in his selection of Callen and Hemphill, both in what their legacies are able to tell us and not tell us. Hold Tight Gently is Duberman standing in the gap. Focusing on Callen and Hemphill he tells simultaneously occurring truths, exploring the impact sexuality, race, and the different ways people lived in the early days of the epidemic through activism and cultural production. Through Hemphill specifically Duberman is signaling to the incompleteness of history and corrupt ways it is manufactured. While he is specific in how systemic discrimination due to race and sexuality exasperates the ongoing AIDS crisis, he is never specific when it comes to the archival imbalance. Maybe he leaves this up to the reader to both think and act upon. There is much we don’t know because of the erasure of bodies, stories, and archives. This is but one of the fights on the ongoing battlefield of AIDS."

‘Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics’ by Urvashi Vaid
- Published 11/12 for LAMBDA LITERARY
"Irresistible Revolutions is a challenge to the present state of LGBT activism, and a rebel yell for the future. Readers who have a craving for plainspoken progressive politics will surely devour this book."

‘A Saving Remnant: The Radical Lives of Barbara Deming and David McReynolds’ by Martin Duberman 
- Published by 05/12 for LAMBDA LITERARY
"A Saving Remnant is at its most engaging when viewed through the lens of the present, easily done when Duberman puts flesh to history. In one of the most fascinating and underplayed moments of the book, Duberman recounts how McReynolds’ friend and legendary activist Bayard Rustin was blocked from leadership roles within the war resistance movement by A.J. Muste, famed pacifist and mentor to McReynolds and Deming. On the surface, the book is a portrait of two committed people, enmeshed in overlapping causes, entering each other’s lives through circumstance. In giving ink to what happened to Bayard, Duberman flexes his muscles as a writer and presents the theme of the book with a subtle but powerful punch: History is relation, these relations shape our present." 

AS CONTRIBUTOR: 

The Sailor’s Daughter: AIDS before AIDS in the Present
for LOST & FOUND: DANCE, NEW YORK, HIV/AIDS, THEN AND NOW catalogue (2016) 
Editors: Ishmael Houston-Jones, Will Rawls and Jaime Shearn Coan
Publishers: Danspace Project
"When it comes to HIV/AIDS, we have a lot of history but not enough stories. We need more of both, and we need to ensure the stories circulate, because history will always be limited in its reach.."


You Used To Call Me On My Land Line: Gregg Araki’s Totally F***ed Up
A Conversation with
Charles Theonia
for Dirty Looks Vol. 1 (2016) 
Editor: Dirty Looks
Publisher: Dirty Looks

Love Happened Here: Art, Archives, and a Living History
A Conversation between Amy Sadao, Nelson Santos and Theodore Kerr

for Art AIDS America catalogue (2015)
Editors: Jonathan David Katz and Rock Hushka
Publisher: University of Washington

I Remember West Edmonton Mall
for The Magnificent Malls of Edmonton (2015)
Editor: Vivek Shraya
Publisher: Riso print

Ted Kerr / David Deitcher
for Memories Can't Wait: Conversations on Accessing History and Archives Through Artistic Practices (2013) 
Editors: Bridget de Gersigny, Malene Dam, Kate Levy
Publisher: ICP-Bard/CCS Bard

Luck and the Need for Queer Bookstores 
for Future Perfect (2013)
Editor: Andrew Durbin
Publishers: Publication Studio and BGSQD

At the Same Time
Self Published
with Steven Beckly and Dylan MacNeil, Ted Kerr and Zachary Ayotte, Colin Quinn and Oisín Share

AS CO-EDITOR 
DUETS: Stephen Andrews & Gregg Bordowitz in Conversation (2014) 
DUETS: Che Gossett & Alice O'Mallery in Conversation on Chloe Dzubilo (2014) 
More info: DUETS