Chris Miklos dies of apparent heart attack

Chris MiklosI first met Chris Miklos about eight years ago, when he was the partner of a friend of mine, but anyone who met Chris even once would remember him for a long time. Tall, fit and handsome, he was a staple in the gay community, especially popular within the bear culture, spotted instantly for his smile and personal magnetism.

So the Dallas community, and beyond, was shocked to learn Monday afternoon that Miklos died in his sleep, apparently of a heart attack. He was 40. Reports say he was discovered by a neighbor Monday, though he had not been seen since Saturday night.

Chris graduated from the University of Akron and was a clinical research associate, performing medical testing on experimental drugs to treat a variety of ailments, including HIV. He traveled weekly for his work, which he loved. His friends remember him for all he did for the community.

He leaves behind a younger brother and his parents. Services have not been announced.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Obama reveals $100m HIV research initiative

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President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama has announced a new initiative at the National Institutes of Health in pursuit of a cure for HIV, The Boston Globe reported.

Obama says his administration is redirecting $100 million into the project to find a new generation of therapies. He said the United States should be at the forefront of discoveries to eliminate HIV or put it into remission without requiring lifelong therapy.

Obama made the announcement Monday at a White House event marking World AIDS Day, which was Sunday.

The president also announced that the U.S. passed the ambitious goal he set last year to support 6 million people around the globe in getting access to anti-retroviral drugs. Obama said the U.S. helped 6.7 million people receive life-saving treatment.

—  Steve Ramos

Saturday fundraiser raises close to $5 mil for DMA and amfAR

Untitled (In and Out of the Darkness Face 43.01) by Mark Grotjahn

The star-studded Two x Two for AIDS and Art benefit dinner  and art auction reached a record with an astounding $4.8 million sold in art and other items. The money raised will benefit amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research and the Dallas Museum of Art. Not too shabby. And neither was the event.

Held at the Rachofsky House, the night included appearances by actor Stanley Tucci, singer Patti LaBelle and emceed by Tony-winner John Benjamin Hickey, also a 2011 Two x Two co-chair. Designer Kenneith Cole and amfAR chairman offered remarks. The Saturday event was a sell-out.

“This record-breaking year is testament to the generous donations by artists and dealers worldwide,” Howard Rachofsky said in the press release.  “The artwork by Mark Grotjahn and its $1 million selling price in the live auction took us over the top. Both Cindy and I are speechless. The audience and bidders continue to recognize the outstanding work of both these important institutions and put their hearts and money into this event.”

The $1 million bid for Grotjahn’s Untitled (In and Out of the Darkness Face 43.01), pictured, was the highest on any one piece in the history of the event.

—  Rich Lopez

Dallas gets $1.28M HUD grant for HIV/AIDS

Officials with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have announced the allocation of nearly $9 million in grants to projects in seven states that provide permanent and transitional housing and support services to people with HIV/AIDS.

Of that total, $1,287,500 will be allocated to the city of Dallas’ Housing and Community Services Department, the only city or agency in Texas to receive one of the seven HUD grants. The money will be used to provide transitional housing support to 60 ex-offenders over the next three years. According to the HUD press release, the Housing and Community Services Department will be working with the city’s Project Reconnect and the Department of Justice’s Second Chance Act in providing the housing and services.

And the city has committed to “creating an Integrated HIV/AIDS Housing Plan through a comprehensive community planning effort that involves 20 local partners operating in the eight county Dallas Metropolitan Statistical Area,” according to HUD. No word yet on whether those partners will include AIDS Services of Dallas, which is located in Oak Cliff and provides housing for as many as 225 men, women and children impacted by HIV/AIDS through 125 units in four complexes.

The largest of the grants, $1,375,000, is going to the Los Angeles County Commission on HIV. The city of Portland, Ore., gets the second-largest total with $1,365,900. River Region Human Services Inc. in Jacksonville, Fla., is getting $1,353,743, and the Corporation for AIDS Research Education and Services Inc. in Albany and Rochester, N.Y., gets $1,344,375.

Dallas is next on the list, followed by Justice Resource Institute Inc. in Boston, which gets $1,223,377. Rounding out the recipient list is the Frannie Peabody Center, a statewide organization in Maine, that is receiving $930,909.

The seven recipients were chosen “through a national HOPWA competition to identify special projects of national significance that will help advance understanding and improve the delivery of housing and care for persons with HIV,” according to HUD.

—  admin

Taylor was early and tireless HIV/AIDS advocate

Actress will ‘stand for history on a podium above everyone else’

SANDY COHEN  |  AP Entertainment Writer

LOS ANGELES — Elizabeth Taylor was as well known for her AIDS advocacy as she was for her acting.

She was the first celebrity to speak out on the mysterious and socially divisive disease in the 1980s, calling for research, compassionate care and an end to discrimination against people with HIV and AIDS.

“I kept seeing all these news reports on this new disease and kept asking myself why no one was doing anything,” Taylor once recalled. “And then I realized that I was just like them. I wasn’t doing anything to help.”

She got involved with AIDS activism in 1985 and worked tirelessly to raise money and awareness for the rest of her life, said Craig Thompson, executive director of AIDS Project Los Angeles, where Taylor held early fundraisers for AIDS research.

“There have been a lot of incredible warriors in the fight, but she will stand for history on a podium above everyone else,” he said, adding that Taylor had seen firsthand how her friend, Rock Hudson, had lost his battle with AIDS.

In 1985, when the government had done little to educate people about the disease and nurses were afraid to deliver food trays to AIDS patients in hospitals, Taylor, along with a group of physicians, helped establish the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR).

“This was long before celebrities routinely performed or worked with charities… and the cause she selected was a disease Americans were frightened about,” Thompson said. “It wasn’t just as if she took the risk of attaching her celebrity status to a cause. She picked the most controversial cause at the time. But she was like, ‘I have friends who are dying and I have to do something, and what I can do is help raise money and help raise awareness.”

Taylor, as chairwoman of the American Foundation for AIDS Research, visited Capitol Hill to demand that the government live up to its promise to spend nearly $1 billion a year to help people with AIDS with the Ryan White Care Act. She and other stars befriended Ryan White, a teenager from Indiana who, as a hemophiliac, got HIV through a contaminated blood transfusion, was expelled from school because of his infection and became one of the disease’s most prominent early victims.

AmfAR leaders on Wednesday called Taylor “one of the most inspirational figures in the fight against AIDS.”

“She was profoundly instrumental in helping us identify the resources which have led to the research that has improved and extended the lives of those with HIV and AIDS,” said Kevin Robert Frost, chief executive of amfAR, which has invested more than $300 million towards AIDS research. “She served actively on our board up until the day she died,” Frost said.

Taylor testified on Capitol Hill in the early 1990s and convinced legislators to care about the disease, Thompson said.

“Every senator showed up. The rooms were packed and people were spellbound,” he said. “She connected HIV and AIDS to a generation that felt itself immune, the over-50 folks. Because Elizabeth Taylor was talking about it, people like my mother were reading about HIV and AIDS.”

Taylor put a public — and beloved — face on the disease.

“At a time when most Americans thought of HIV/AIDS as something that didn’t affect them, her commitment to the issue and considerable star power helped to take the fight against HIV/AIDS right into the mainstream of American society,” said Don Blanchon, who oversees the Whitman-Walker Clinic in Washington, D.C., which named its main facility after Taylor in 1993.

Magic Johnson, who put his own face on the disease when he was diagnosed with HIV in 1991, tweeted his gratitude to Taylor on Wednesday.

“Elizabeth, thank you for all your help in the battle for HIV and AIDS,” he wrote. “You will be missed by the world.”

In 1991, the actress founded the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, which has given more than $12 million to organizations across the country that provide direct care and services to people living with the disease.

Elton John praised his fellow AIDS advocate and entertainer as “a Hollywood giant … and an incredible human being.”

“She earned our adoration for her stunning beauty and for being the very essence of glamorous movie stardom,” John said in a statement Wednesday. “And she earned our enduring love and respect for her compassion and her courage in standing up and speaking out about AIDS when others preferred to bury their heads in the sand.”

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the Human Rights Campaign said Taylor didn’t just fight for those with HIV and AIDS; she fought for equality for all.

“At a time when so many living with HIV/AIDS were invisible, Dame Taylor fearlessly raised her voice to speak out against injustice,” said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. “Dame Taylor was an icon not only in Hollywood, but in the LGBT community where she worked to ensure that everyone was treated with the respect and dignity we all deserve.”

The group recognized Taylor with its Vanguard Award in 2000. “What it comes down to, ultimately, is love,” she said in accepting the honor. “How can anything bad come out of love? The bad stuff comes out of mistrust, misunderstanding and, God knows, from hate and from ignorance.”

Taylor died Wednesday from congestive heart failure. She was 79.

—  John Wright

PHOTOS: Elizabeth Taylor in Dallas

Elizabeth Taylor, second from left, and AIDS Services of Dallas Executive Director Don Maison, far right, at Dillard’s at NorthPark Center in Dallas in 1996. (Dallas Voice file photos)

Actress Elizabeth Taylor, who died today at 79, was a founder of the American Foundation for AIDS Research. Taylor was also chairwoman of amFAR in 1989 when the foundation provided a $100,000 grant that was used to start Resource Center Dallas’ Nelson-Tebedo Clinic. From the Dallas Morning News on Friday, April 28, 1989:

Leaders of the Dallas AIDS Resource Center announced Thursday that the agency had received a $100,000 grant to set up an AIDS research facility that will offer experimental drugs to people suffering from the deadly disease.

“This is a vital component that has been missing in Dallas,’ said William Waybourn, president of the Dallas Gay Alliance, which operates the resource center.

The grant, awarded by the American Foundation for AIDS Research, will establish a community clinic for AIDS research allowing AIDS patients to benefit from experimental treatments. The only other cities with such community research initiatives, as they are called, are New York and San Francisco.

“The need in Texas is particularly great for this type of research program,’ said Dr. Mathilde Krim, co-founder of the AIDS research foundation, which is based in New York. “There is virtually no clinical research being done in Texas. This will be the only opportunity for AIDS patients to get (experimental) drugs.’

The foundation divided $1.4 million among 16 community-based organizations for development of similar AIDS research programs. Groups in Austin and Houston also received grants.

In Dallas, plans are being made to open the Nelson-Tebedo Community Clinic for AIDS Research this summer at 4012 Cedar Springs Road, next door to the AIDS Resource Center’s offices. The center is named after Bill Nelson, a former president of the Gay Alliance, who has AIDS, and Terry Tebedo, a leader in the AIDS education movement who died from the disease in January 1988.

Later, Taylor would come to Dallas in 1996 and issue checks totaling $15,000 to Bryan’s House and AIDS Services of Dallas. Taylor visited Dillard’s in NorthPark Center to promote her new perfume, Elizabeth Taylor Black Pearls, and presented the checks to the AIDS services organizations at the end of the event. More pics after the jump.

—  John Wright

WHAT’S BREWING: Elizabeth Taylor dies, Apple pulls ‘ex-gay’ app, Chick-fil-A exposed

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Actress Elizabeth Taylor, a longtime celebrity advocate in the fight against HIV/AIDS, has died at 79 from congestive heart failure. From Wikipedia: Taylor devoted much time and energy to AIDS-related charities and fundraising. She helped start the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) after the death of her former costar and friend, Rock Hudson. She also created her own AIDS foundation, the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation (ETAF). By 1999, she had helped to raise an estimated US$50 million to fight the disease. In 2006, Taylor commissioned a 37-foot (11 m) “Care Van” equipped with examination tables and X Ray equipment and also donated US$40,000 to the New Orleans Aids task force, a charity designed for the New Orleans population with AIDS and HIV. The donation of the van was made by the Elizabeth Taylor HIV/AIDS Foundation and Macy’s.

2. In response to an outcry from the LGBT community, Apple has removed Exodus International’s “gay cure” app from the iTunes store. “We removed the Exodus International app from the App Store because it violates the developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people,” an Apple spokesman told FoxNews.com. More than 146,000 people had signed an online petition launched by Truth Wins Out calling for the app to be removed.

“This is not a question of free speech, but of stopping a virulently anti-gay organization from peddling false speech at the expense of vulnerable LGBT youth,” said John Becker, director of ommunications and development for Truth Wins Out. “Exodus may pose as the victim, but they are a victimizer that has left a trail of shattered lives and broken families. We are grateful that Exodus has lost at least one platform with which to disperse its dangerous message.”

3. An investigative report published Tuesday by Equality Matters shows that from 2003-08, Chick-fil-A’s charitable arm gave more than $1 million to anti-gay groups: When two Missouri organizations, the Clayton Chamber of Commerce and FOCUS St. Louis, decided earlier this month to cancel a presentation by Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy over his company’s controversial affiliations, they made the right decision. Although Cathy has unequivocally denied being anti-LGBT and claimed that he and the company have “no agenda against anyone” and “will not champion any political agendas on marriage and family,” Equality Matters research proves just the opposite. In fact, the company has strong, deep ties to anti-gay organizations like Focus on the Family and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and its charitable division has provided more than $1.1 million to organizations that deliver anti-LGBT messages and promote egregious practices like reparative therapy that seek to “free” people of being gay.

—  John Wright