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New HIV Self-Help Book 'Stonewall Strong' Released for LGBT History Month

Wednesday Oct 11, 2017

By John-Manuel Andriote

Eight little words from my doctor in Washington, D.C. turned my world upside down. "I have bad news on the HIV test," he said on that fateful day in October 2005.

By then I'd been reporting on HIV/AIDS as a journalist for 20 years. I was a regular contributor to the Washington Post "Health" section. Kirkus Reviews hailed my book about the epidemic, Victory Deferred, as "the most important AIDS chronicle since Randy Shilts' And the Band Played On."

As soon as I recovered my Libran balance a bit, I did what any self-respecting Washington HIV/AIDS reporter would do: came out about my diagnosis in the Washington Post.

Over time I came to understand that my choice, each and every day, to take the powerful medication I need to stay healthy, to stay alive, came from my own resilience. When and how had I become resilient? I searched my journals for answers in my own life story.

The reporter then set out to learn more about resilience and how other gay men had dealt with the traumas in their lives. My new book -- "Stonewall Strong: Gay Men's Heroic Fight for Resilience, Good Health, and a Strong Community" --is the result.

"Stonewall Strong" was published by Rowman & Littlefield on October 8, for LGBT History Month. It draws from cutting-edge research and the nearly 100 original interviews I conducted with men and women across the U.S. -- including AIDS Action Committee CEO Carl Sciortino; Harvard Medical School professor and Fenway Institute medical research director Dr. Kenneth Mayer; Harvard researcher Conall O'Cleireigh; and Lourdes Rodruiquez-Nogues, manager of Rasi Associates psychotherapy practice in the Back Bay.

"Stonewall Strong" weaves together research data and lived experience, including my own, to "prescribe by describing" how supporting gay men's resilience is the key to helping them avoid the snares that await too many who lack the emotional tools they need to face the traumas that disproportionately afflict gay men -- including childhood sexual abuse, substance abuse, risky sexual behavior, depression, and suicide.

"A tour de force," said Dr. Kenneth Mayer, Harvard medical professor and medical research director for Boston's Fenway Health.

"Andriote's 'Stonewall Strong' is truth-telling at its best," notes Rev. Elder Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Churches.

The book is unique:

  • The first (and only) book by a health journalist -- living with HIV and with a longtime HIV focus -- to explore gay men's astonishing resilience, and its lessons for people of all genders and orientations.

  • Inverts the usual narrative of gay victimization, framing pivotal moments in recent history as manifestations of gay men's resilience, from the years of secrecy and subversion before the 1969 Stonewall riots; through the coming of age, heartbreak, and politically emboldening AIDS years; and pushing onward to legal marriage equality.

  • Offers an inside look at family relationships that support resilient sons, the nation's largest organizations' efforts to build on the resilience of marginalized LGBTQ youth, drag houses, faith communities, and community centers.

  • Presents the inspiring stories of dozens of gay men--including such well-known individuals as former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, Episcopal Bishop Eugene Robinson, and the world's most famous AIDS activist Larry Kramer -- who have moved beyond the traumas and stereotypes, claiming their resilience and right to good health, and working to build a community that will be "Stonewall strong."

    For more information, visit www.stonewallstrong.com.


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