September 9, 2017

Why This University President Publicly Disclosed His HIV Status

This article originally appeared on

Raymond E. Crossman has been the president of Adler University since 2003; founded in Chicago, the institution stresses social justice and activism. He’s the cochair of LGBTQ Presidents in Higher Education. And he has been living with HIV for 30 years. Yet until very recently, he hadn’t disclosed his status publicly. Why now?

The answer can be found in the headlines of an essay he published last week on “It’s 1985 all over again: To me, the Reagan years were a time of death—and Trump’s era feels eerily similar.”

Crossman grew up in 1980s New York City, the decade he suspects he contracted HIV. He became an AIDS activist during that time period, motivated by the leadership at GMHC and ACT UP. He writes:

I was certain—as were many gay men—that few cared if we all died, because we heard those words often and from many.… I believed then that dying from AIDS was simply part of being gay.

Today, I wonder whether many immigrants—and many people who might look like immigrants—feel now how I felt in the 1980s. I cannot know the contemporary experience of many marginalized groups, but I can imagine that many people…feel as abandoned by the state as I felt then.
The parallels between then and now are why I am disclosing my HIV status publicly.

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