You may remember Danny Roberts from The Real World: New Orleans back in 2000. He was the charismatic, handsome — and remarkably rational — gay man who inadvertently became a poster child for the movement against the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that banned gays from openly serving in the military. Roberts was dating an officer and MTV obscured the boyfriend’s face so he wouldn’t be discharged as more than 1,200 servicemembers were that year.
Roberts more or less retreated from the public eye after his trip through the MTV reality machine. Now 41, he recently moved to New York City where he works as a digital design recruiter and is a father to an adopted 2 1/2-year-old girl. He is also living with HIV — something he’s revealing publicly for the first time exclusively to Entertainment Weekly.
“The reason I want to share this story is that I spent so long battling and beating myself up for my own misconceptions and bigotry,” he says. “It is difficult to admit the negative feelings you had about a set of people and state of being based on made-up stories.”
Roberts says he found out he was HIV positive around 2011. One weekend, he had passed out and woke up in a pool of blood. Concerned, he called his doctor and told him what had happened. The doctor had given him a check-up the previous week and knew Roberts was HIV positive but was planning on telling him in person the next day. Instead, he delivered the news to Roberts over the phone. “My first reaction was shock. Then I was angry, then lots of denial,” he says. “Those early years were very difficult and very lonely. You don’t know whom to turn to have conversation and people don’t know what to say. It’s not something that people have experience with,” he explains. “There’s also the potential likelihood of massive judgments about what behaviors led to this and what kind of people this happens to.”
The Georgia native is forthright, articulate, and introspective as he talks about living with HIV. He has obviously done an enormous amount of research and reflection. “The last thing I ever want is pity. I just want people to know and be aware. I knew so little myself so I get it.”
Fortunately, Roberts has been “undetectable” since his diagnosis, which means that a person’s viral load is so low it can’t be measured by a blood test and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that the virus can’t be sexually transmitted from one person to another.
In recent years, there’ve been some terrific advances in combatting the disease, including a treatment called “PrEP,” which has proven effective in reducing the spread of HIV. “Medicine has come so far — it’s incredible where we are and where we could be not far in the future,” he says. In the meantime, he says living with HIV is like, “having a crappy old cell phone with a huge app eating your energy.”
Roberts says he’s thankful for the friends he has been able to lean on including his Real World costar Kelley Limp, who went on to marry actor Scott Wolf. The two are still very close. “She’s my life sister,” Roberts says. “She was one of the first people I turned to and talked to. She has been strong and helped me through this.”
During his time on the Real World (which MTV is rebooting and will stream on Facebook Watch), Roberts put a blurred face to “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and in doing so taught the country about its adverse effects. Now, on the eve of World AIDS Day (Dec. 1), he wants to reignite discussion about a disease some assume has abated — even though almost 40,000 people in the U.S. receive HIV diagnoses each year. He also hopes to help others avoid the pain he endured. “I had so many negative feelings I was forced to face,” he says. “I’ve been on such a journey to overcome that. In a way, this has really been like my second coming out.”
9-year-old genius to graduate university
(CNN) – A child prodigy from Belgium is on course to gain a bachelor’s degree at the tender age of 9.
Laurent Simons is studying electrical engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) — a tough course even for students of an average graduate age.
Described by staff as “simply extraordinary,” Laurent is on course to finish his degree in December.
He then plans to embark on a PhD program in electrical engineering while also studying for a medicine degree, his father told CNN.
His parents, Lydia and Alexander Simons, said they thought Laurent’s grandparents were exaggerating when they said he had a gift, but his teachers soon concurred.
“They noticed something very special about Laurent,” said Lydia.
Laurent was given test after test as teachers tried to work out the extent of his talents. “They told us he is like a sponge,” said Alexander.
While Laurent comes from a family of doctors, his parents have so far not received any explanation as to why their child prodigy is capable of learning so quickly.
But Lydia has her own theory.
“I ate a lot of fish during the pregnancy,” she joked.
The TUE has allowed Laurent to complete his course faster than other students.
“That is not unusual,” said Sjoerd Hulshof, education director of the TUE bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, in a statement.
“Special students that have good reasons for doing so can arrange an adjusted schedule. In much the same way we help students who participate in top sport.”
Hulshof said Laurent is “simply extraordinary” and praised the youngster.
“Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here,” he said. “Not only is he hyper intelligent but also a very sympathetic boy.”
Laurent told CNN his favorite subject is electrical engineering and he’s also “going to study a bit of medicine.”
His progress has not gone unnoticed and he is already being sought out by prestigious universities around the world, although Laurent’s family wouldn’t be drawn on naming which of them he is considering for his PhD.
“The absorption of information is no problem for Laurent,” said his father.
“I think the focus will be on research and applying the knowledge to discover new things.”
While Laurent is evidently able to learn faster than most, his parents are being careful to let him enjoy himself too.
“We don’t want him to get too serious. He does whatever he likes,” said Alexander. “We need to find a balance between being a child and his talents.”
Laurent said he enjoys playing with his dog Sammy and playing on his phone, like many young people.
However, unlike most 9-year-olds, he has already worked out what he wants to do with his life: develop artificial organs.
In the meantime, Laurent has to finish his bachelor’s degree and choose which academic institution will play host to the next stage in his remarkable journey.
Before that, he plans on taking a vacation to Japan for an undoubtedly well-deserved break.
New award to honor arts and activism named after Lena Horne
Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem
Two gangbangers aimed their BMW like a missile at a father and his 8-year-old son on a Harlem sidewalk in a horrifying incident captured by video distributed by police Thursday.
The BMW — driven by a man police believe is a member of the Gorilla Stone Bloods Gang — was zeroed in on the father, a rival gang member, said cops.
Around 3:45 p.m. Nov. 6, the boy and his father were walking on W. 112th St. by Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. when the BMW jumped the sidewalk and slammed into them both, said cops.
🚨WANTED for ASSAULT: on 11/6 at approx 3:43 PM in front of 128 West 112th St in Manhattan, a 32 yr old male was walking with his 8 yr old son when a white BMW jumped the curb & hit the father & son. The driver then got out and slashed the father. Call @NYPDTips with any info. pic.twitter.com/cwd79rcM4c
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) November 15, 2019
Father and son were both knocked through a gate.
The BMW driver then backed up — and its driver and passenger, also believed to be a gang member, jumped out of the car and ran toward the father and the son.
One of the attackers slashed the father, identified by sources as 32-year-old Brian McIntosh, who’s served prison time for robbery and bail jumping.
McIntosh and his son went to Harlem Hospital. Miraculously, the boy escaped serious harm.
McIntosh was so adamant about refusing to help police catch his attackers that the young boy’s mother had to file a police report alleging he was the victim of a crime, police sources said.
Cops released video of the attack, and ask anyone with information about the suspects to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.
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