Our Beloved Richard Kearns 1951 – 2012
i shoulda died
longtime ago so
i conjur is pure
AIDSwise in dog years
(mad in the noonday)
that’s alotta sauce
even for me . . .
Richard Kearns is a 60-year-old gay man alive with AIDS in Los Angeles for more than twenty years. He is a long-term survivor. He considers his intercommunity advocacy to be as much of a part of his HIV treatment regimen as his big pharma HAART (highly active anti-retroviral treatment) prescriptions, as much as his Qigong breathing exercises (from of Traditional Chinese Medicine), as much as his daily medical cannabis use.
”It’s what I do to stay alive,” he says.
Kearns is a proponent of “cultural activism” as well as political activism, a notion he developed from first nations’ political theory. “Our aim must be to change hearts,” says Kearns, “and to do that we need to tell our stories, paint our pictures, add our presence to the social mix. Not simply bandy about statistics or half-baked generalizations. Not merely be outraged at injustice. We need to speak from the authority and detail and power of our own experiences. Ours must be the flesh and blood of public health care policy discussions. We need to be a cultural presence. Nor can we expect anonymous visibility to be very effective. What does it take to change a heart? What did it take to change yours?”
* AIDS activism & cannabis advocacy --- Kearns was infected with HIV in 1980 and diagnosed in 1987. His primary tool of AIDS and cannabis activism is his blogsite, AIDS-write.org, then http://aidsoversixty.wordpress.com which he calls a cross between “poetry and journalism,” and in which he writes about his life from where he stands or sits, from time to time. He is also a member of SCHAC (Southern California HIV Advocacy Coalition), an AIDS lobbying organization at the state level, and a member of Being Alive, Los Angeles. Kearns considers his PAN (Patient Advocacy Network) service and board membership a part of his AIDS activism. He has also been a presenter at many POZ Life Weekends for the Life Group LA, an empowerment group for persons facing the challenge of HIV infection, not only as a qigong instructor, but also as a storyteller circle leader and lecturer.
* publications specialist --- Kearns is a writer, editor, photographer, graphic designer, teacher (including adjunct instructor of Journalism at Loyola Marymount University for 12 years before retiring), writing coach and poet, working in the industry for nearly forty years. His blogsites, have entered their fourth year of publication. Kearns also specializes in niche marketing, computer-generated high-quality four-color low-print-run publications with high per-copy specialized of “niche” readership (such as poster-newsletters). He has published “too much fiction and non-fiction to keep track of.”
* conference & event planner --- Kearns has been a conference and seminar organizer for different non-profit organizations for 20 years. These have been at the national, regional, state and local levels, monstrous multi-session things down to single meetings and storefront activism sites.
* public speaker --- Kearns is at ease in a university classroom as well as in front of a microphone and a crowd. He has read his poetry to and addressed different city councils & administrative bodies throughout the southland on cannabis as well as AIDS issues, including the city councils of Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Torrance, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Lawndale, San Diego, many LA neighborhood councils, city committees. He has spoken with legislators in Sacramento about AIDS and medical cannabis issues. Kearns has also spoken on panels and organized local town hall meetings on the topics of his activism
* exercise expert --- Before Kearns was a political/cultural activist, he was a gym activist, earning ACE (American Council on Exercise) certifications first as a group exercise instructor and then as a personal trainer. His ACE specialty certifications include working with pregnant & postpartum women, the elderly, and HIV-positive populations. Kearns taught weekly Qigong classes for Being Alive LA and for the Life Group LA’s POZ Life weekend for many years. He set up training programs for HIVers in several area gyms, and presented on the topic at different exercise seminars.
Kearns currently reads his journalism-poetry Friday mornings at Lulu’s Cafe, 7149 Beverly Boulevard, (Beverly & Detroit), Los Angeles 90036, a virtual public artspace, meetingplace and hometown/npo for a diverse, inclusive community of activist artists, thinkers and persons whose aim is to compose, record, document, listen to, reflect upon, feel, communicate and “mythologize” our aids/hiv stories and experiences, intending to create a cultural context for social change, and thus to be a significant pro-active voice in all health, social and environmental public-policy-related decisions by offering wise counsel drawn from our accumulated visions.”