On World AIDS Day & Every Day: Connecting the Circuitry of Humanity

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On the evening of Tuesday, December 1st, 2015, Desert AIDS Project in Palm Springs, California, is hosting its 2nd Annual Everyday Heroes (as seen in these photos by John Paschal) event to honor "everyday people doing extraordinary things."

Desert AIDS Project announced:

This year's Everyday Heroes include Bella Da Ball, local icon, social ambassador, and supporter of many local nonprofits; Kenny Jervis & Michael Crisp, who live both locally and in Las Vegas where they own a popular nightclub and have raised significant sums for D.A.P. through popular parties; Margie Lobley, a long-time volunteer with D.A.P., including 20 years of service at D.A.P.'s monthly Farmers Market through the Linsky Food Depot where clients receive fresh produce and other items to help stretch their food budget; and Nicholas Snow, D.A.P. client and long-time HIV activist, author, and journalist who is marking World AIDS Day by providing a free, worldwide e-book download of his Life Positive: A Journey to the Center of My Heart.

When asked to write a 2-3 minute speech for the event, I ended up with more like a 20-minute keynote, which I decided to convert to an essay exclusively for my readers here on The Huffington Post. May it inspire you!

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A World AIDS Day Connection of Humanity

I thank you from The Center of my very grateful Heart.

As I prepare to share a few minutes of experience, strength and hope with you, I ask you to consider this very powerful question:

Are there defining moments in your life in which you confronted your greatest fears and took courageous action in a way that forever changed the trajectory of your future, thereby allowing you to become the person you are today?

As you reflect upon these words, I would like to dedicate this award...

...to everyone who has ever participated at any level in the fight against HIV and AIDS...

...to those who will fight for us in the future...

...to the tens of millions of people in the world living with HIV, most of whom do not yet know their status...

....to those who still fear us...

...to the staff, volunteers, board members, fellow clients and donors of the Desert AIDS Project for empowering my life and the lives of countless others...

...to my good friend Helen M. Holdun, here with us tonight, for giving me a front row seat to the process publishing a book.

...to my good friend and editor Kristin Johnson, also here tonight with her beautiful parents, Jim and Kathryn--thank you for welcoming me into your family.

...to my other BFF's, the longest reigning here tonight, Jeffrey Lange. We've come a long way on this journey as friends.

...to everyone on the road to Happy Destiny.

...to friends and colleagues in journalism, media and activism who have helped amplify my voice recently and through the decades...to name a few: Noah Michaelson, Executive Editor of Gay Voices on The Huffington Post; Matt Skallerud and Fabrice Tasendo, of Pink Banana Media; Brad Fuhr of GayDesertGuide.com; Christopher Jackson, Michael Westman and Eric Davis of GED Magazine; everyone at BlogTalkRadio; and to Mona de Crinis and colleagues formerly with The BottomLine; plus countess others....

More than ever before, I am completely convinced that every action we take in each and every moment of our lives is profoundly connected to everyone, everywhere--past, present and future--now and forever.

So, quite literally, there is no one not to thank.

In the years after graduating from high school, as a communications major at Arizona State University, recovering from a conservative political upbringing and finding my way out of the closet--I heard about Gay Related Immune Deficiency, GRID as they called it, soon to be known as AIDS.

I was part of a community in which people I loved and cared for were dying. And they were hated and despised along the way.

Later, a battle cry would emerge out of this horror which could not be more true.

Silence does in fact Equal Death.

And conversely, I could see that Action very profoundly Equals Life.

I realized my greatest weapon was my voice, and my ability to yield it for the greater good in each and every moment of life.

I was taught the value of every moment of life by the people I loved who were literally fighting for their own lives. It became my responsibility to honor their life force.

Early in my life, I realized I had to fight for my life, for our lives, for our right to simply exist. I came out of the closet and into the media in the mid-1980's and haven't stopped since.

Most of my life unfolded in extraordinary ways in Hollywood...which you'll learn about in detail in an upcoming documentary, but ultimately, my adventures brought me to Palm Springs where I learned about Desert AIDS Project in my capacity as a journalist.

In spite of this life story, in a very human moment in 2007, I became HIV positive. In subsequent months, despite my decades of activism and intense work on personal growth and recovery, there were times I laid in bed at night wanting to die. I even looked up painless ways of committing suicide.

It was the existence of Desert AIDS Project, and emails to staff at the time--including JP Allen and Robin Johnson, which helped me see a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

I kept choosing life and I started a journey to turn my own personal tragedy into a future of teachable moments.

I kept a secret journal about how this would all transpire, written as I lived it, to keep me motivated and focused, knowing I would share it one day in the form of a blog or a book. This process made me accountable. This is why I describe my book as part 12-step-program-fourth-step-inventory, part reality-show-on-paper.

In the prologue of my book, I write a help wanted ad that painted a powerful vision of the life I wanted to create, the job posting was followed by this fine print:

This position does not exist, nor does our company. You must take the lead and create all of this yourself. Most of the people you expect to support you will not. Many people you never thought would support you will. You have no money. You are 8,000 miles away from home. You are a single, lonely, middle-aged, fat gay man. And oh yes, you found out that last year you became HIV positive, you live in a country and part of the world where there is tremendous stigma and invisibility regarding this issue, people have abandoned you, your family does not know, and the key requirement of your job is that you keep telling this story. To apply for this job, contact and stay in touch with your Higher Power.

Written as I lived it, and now documented in my memoir, I become one of the most visible openly-HIV-positive people in Asia, before returning to Palm Springs to become a client of DAP and to start rebuilding my life. It takes a village, and I have all of you.

The first part of the job description goes like this:

You will use your creativity to transform the lives of countless people--perhaps millions--while realizing many (if not all) of your own lifelong dreams. In this job you will meet, collaborate with, and tell the stories of some of the world's most courageous people.

It's all come true, time and time again.

You may be surprised to learn I have a significant other. Her name is Melanie Wolfe, my counselor a D.A.P., my rock.

Barry Dayton and his team have helped empower my work to the extent that our collaboration has reached almost two million people worldwide.

Valerio Iovino and D.A.P.'s human resource development and cheerleading program have helped me maintain my professional focus.

Jeffrey Wolter and the NestEggg Group, the presenting sponsor of tonight's award, help D.A.P. clients with their taxes, and over the years, they have helped me transform my business.

As one of Hudson Alling's throngs of volunteers, I have learned to come out from behind my computer and phone and interact with real people in the real world, which has allowed me to connect authentically with many of you.

In my one of my first volunteer experiences with DAP, my job was to make sure only people with wristbands were allowed entry to the VIP after party. Well, along come two people I didn't know, without wrist bands, and the husband is telling me it's okay to let he and his wife into the party.

I'm glad I did, because their names are Jerry and Barbara Keller.

Barbara and Jerry have become my friends and my champions. Lulu California Bistro is a longtime sponsor of my show. And Barbara, you one of the most amazing people on the planet. And if there ever was a connector of humanity, we know it's you.

To my fellow honorees, our humanity connected powerfully long before tonight.

Bella, thank you for your service. You and I have been on the same red carpets more times than I can count. And when I was carless, you picked me up and gave me a ride to our volunteer shifts for Dining Out For Life.

Margie, you are extraordinary in your work at the food bank. I have been across the counter from you many times as a client in times of great need. "For I was hungry and you gave me food...I was a stranger and you welcomed me..."

And to Kenny and Michael, one of the first live broadcasts of my show took place in the VIP room of one of your fabulous Mid-Summer Dance Parties.

The week I began working for Willie Rhine and John Paschal at Eight4Nine Restaurant & Lounge was about the time I learned that John would photograph me for everyday heroes...he's one of Hollywood's most sought-after photographers and now I have a new headshot for my further pursuits of an acting career, complete with make up by PS Lola, in the glamorous location of Snapshot Palm Springs, as captured by documentarians from Trick Dog Films.

To everyone in this room, our humanity is connected. Three particularly powerful outcomes come to mind:

One:

Many presidents visit our valley but President Bill Clinton made it all the way to Desert AIDS Project, and there's a fabulous photo of the president with Carolyn Caldwell to prove it.

Two:

Coachella Valley is Getting Tested.

Three:

And Mr. Brinkman goes to Washington.

Our humanity is connected.

I met Carolyn Caldwell in person for the first time at this event last year. We've come to know and cherish one antother, and tonight I'm thrilled to announce that the newest advertiser for my show in 2016 is Desert Regional Medical Center.

Life Positive: A Journey to the Center of My Heart, is a true story written as it happened, filled with dramatic twists and turns, darkness and light, tragedy and ultimately triumph. I sought to write a vision for my life into existence, and I was profoundly surprised.

Today, my personal mission statement is to honor and express my life force in a way that makes a difference. In doing so, I am fulfilling my life's purpose, which is quite simply, "Connecting the Circuitry of Humanity."

The final words of my HIV Testing/Safer Sex Awareness Anthem--The Power To Be Strong--proclaim:

No matter who you are, no matter what you feel,
this is your moment now, and your life is real,
so get tested and live longer and be strong,
hear my song,
life goes on,
get tested and live longer and be strong."

That message has reached over five million people in 21 languages, including on national television in two countries.

One person I have met along the way--and he has become my friend--is India's openly-gay Prince, Manvendra Singh Gohil, the Yuvraj of Rajpippla. Manvendra advocates for one sixth of the world's population in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and in the fight for LGBTQI Equality. There are many reasons he is Oprah's favorite royal.

As he travels the world, he is aware of the great work of Desert AIDS Project and has invited me to offer his congratulations to all of you, with great admiration for the work all of us are doing together.

I have asked you to consider....

Are there defining moments in your life in which you confronted your greatest fears and took courageous action in a way that forever changed the trajectory of your future, thereby allowing you to become the person you are today?

If you can't come up with an answer to this question, have no fear, for my story demonstrates that these moments of transformation are always within our reach. You can change your life and the world the very moment you decide to do so.

With a final thank you, I will conclude with what I believe is the most important sentence in my entire book, and the most important message I will ever deliver in my time on the planet:

Fight for the life and the world of your dreams... ...until you have no life left in this world...for then you will have truly lived.

With love,

Nicholas Snow

Free Five-Day eBook Download for World AIDS Day 2015

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I am giving away the eBook from my the Amazon.com page from World AIDS Day through December 5th to anyone who downloads the Kindle app to their smart phone, tablet, laptop, or other device. To find the Amazon page, just go to LifePositiveBook.com.