In recognition of both National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month and National HIV Testing Day, DW could not think of a better man to nominate for our June Man of the Month. Ron Goines is the Director at AIDS Foundation Houston and has committed himself to the fight against HIV/AIDS. He also currently sits on the Houston Steering Committee for The Human Rights Campaign and chairs its Houston Corporate Relations sub-committee. Ron’s various roles in service have allowed him to be a resource in the community. His advocacy has expanded to serve every segment of not just the LGBT community but the wider community as well.
How did you get interested in LGBTQ rights and HIV awareness?
My initial interest and activism in the field of LGBTQ rights was born out of my understanding that as a black gay man I am a human-being above anything else and felt compelled to fight for the recognition of our common humanity regardless of sexual orientation. In regards to HIV/AIDS awareness the fight was a personal one. Before becoming a Director at an AIDS service organization I had numerous relationships with HIV-positive men and had seen their pain firsthand. I am educated on sexual health so I have remained HIV-negative but soon realized I am the exception NOT the rule and wanted to work to change the tide in Houston whose rate of HIV infection is among the highest in the nation.
What are some issues that may be misunderstood or that people need to know?
I think the biggest issue plaguing us to-date about HIV/AIDS is that many people believe that the fight is over and that HIV is no longer an issue worth examining. Nothing could be further from the truth. HIV is still very prevalent and taking the lives of promising people because they don’t know their status or are not educated on how to protect themselves or don’t feel empowered to take control of their sexual health. Another issue is stigma. Stigma plays a large role in those that are infected with HIV being on their meds and seeking treatment which will reduce their viral load and thereby suppress their chances of passing on the virus.
What has been your role in education/advocacy of these issues? What drives you?
I wear many hats so it is hard to pin point any one role. I think that I work most effectively as a “connector”, if you have a question I will try to answer it and if I can’t then I will work to get you an answer or direct you to someone with the answer. Being knowledgeable about safe-spaces that will help establish community dialogue around these issues has been central for me as well. My biggest driving force is my belief that I can see an end to this in my lifetime. Realizing and AIDS-free generation can happen, we have the players in place and the resources to beat this thing.
Tell us about you work in Houston and at the HRC to combat these issues.
Houston ranks 8th in the country among rates of infection so the need is great here but I am fortunate enough to help organize city-wide events that raise awareness of HIV among Houston residents. I am also lucky enough to be a part of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) here in Houston as well. HRC was instrumental in bringing back the international AIDS conference and they continue to fight on behalf of those most effected by the disease, the LGBT community.
What are your plans in the future ?
Needless to say I have a pretty full to-do list but I’m trying not to put to much effort into thinking about what I will do in the future. I’m interested in law or business school, I have thought about politics and a few other endeavors but what i am absolutely sure of is that I plan to go the way my blood beats. Following my passion is the only way to truly change the world and I plan to do just that!