As a member of Act Up in the early 80s in Sydney, Ivan was inspired to stand up for his community as it responded to the threat of HIV/AIDS. Read more about the role Ivan played in helping to set up BGF and how he has been receiving support himself ever since.
What would be your fondest memory of working with one of BGF’s Community Support Workers?
The feeling of confidence and positive action you get when working with one of the BGF Caseworkers. They are always upfront about everything and show real respect. I feel like I’m always kept in the loop about the support I’m receiving.
Do you believe society is doing enough to pay respect and celebrate the lives of those most affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic?
No. I believe that the average person is too busy being greedy, selfish and fearful of self-inflicted hardship. It's very hard in the modern western world to be recognised at all.
What was your earliest memory of hearing about HIV?
My first memory of hearing about HIV was in a newspaper article in "The News" in 1980. The headline was "Gay Cancer" and it went on to describe theories about monkeys in Africa, taxi drivers in New York, and bathhouses in San Francisco that were all allegedly sources of the HIV virus. I had a laugh at the time (I was only 20) but I came to know it as the most hideous thing I'd ever known.
What has been the best piece of advice you were given?
Many years ago my friend Paul Gray told me: "You can't do it alone - stop freaking out. It will all be fine.” This is something I try and remind myself of every day.
How did you hear about BGF, and what role has it played in your life?
I’ve been around the Sydney gay scene long enough to have had drinks with Bobby Goldsmith and his partner Ken at all the local drinking spots. After Bobby passed away, I got involved in Act Up (this was before I became HIV positive) because I couldn't believe how damaging the things Ronald Regan and Maggie Thatcher were saying at the time and how much damage this was doing for the medical/gay communities and I knew I had to do something about it.
I found out about BGF while I was a member of Act Up and in a small way, I helped to form its inception. BGF was originally a fund for financial support of HIV/AIDS afflicted people and it has evolved into a 21st century community organisation that is there for all the needs of people living with HIV. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend BGF to anyone living with HIV who was in need of a bit of care and support.