September 6, 2018
Written by Charles Sanchez
It’s been said that the word “hero” is not a noun, but a verb. “Hero” requires action.
Stephen Kovacev certainly falls into that active definition. He’s a 65-year-old, HIV-positive athlete and cancer survivor competing in the quadrennial Gay Games in Paris. The hometown boy is representing Provincetown, Massachusetts, in his eighth Gay Games, running in the marathon. Kovacev has competed in every Gay Games since 1990, competing as a runner and body builder.
A lifelong athlete, Stephen had suspicions that he might have HIV back in 1989, shortly before running his first marathon in Boston. He was diagnosed with HIV before attending his first Gay Games in Vancouver.
“I was HIV positive, and I was in my first Gay Games in 1990,” Kovacev told me in a recent phone conversation from Paris. “I barely got to them because my partner [at the time] was so sick. Kevin was the love of my life, and he was diagnosed that winter. I didn’t work because I was taking care of him. I couldn’t get any training in, but I was young. My partner died shortly after those Games. He died on World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, 1990, just a few months after I came back from the Games.”