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    A Q & A with Styx Member Chuck Panozzo 
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Chuck Panozzo

Musician & Activist


By Troy Maillis

 

Chuck Panozzo, a longtime member of the band Styx, performed at ďThat 70s PartyĒ hosted by The Manor Complex in Wilton Manors.  The event benefited six select HIV/AIDS charities. Panozzo, who was diagnosed with HIV in 1991, spoke with Markís List about his performance, his activism and his future. 

 

Q. So you perfromed at The Manor.  Were you excited about that, and is this the first time youíve performed at The Manor?

 

A. Yes, Iím very excited. Itís the first time Iíve performed at The Manor, but not my first time performing in Wilton Manors. I performed last year for The Smart Ride.

 

Q. What does it mean to you to be so involved with HIV/AIDS activism?

 

A. I came out in front of a thousand people during a tour for National Coming Out Day, and it was back then that I decided I couldnít live in the closet anymore.  Iíve been very lucky to have great doctors and a great support system. Itís made me more aware of who I am as a person and a gay man.

 

Chuck PanozzoQ. Do you think the publicís perception of people who have HIV/AIDS now is different then when you were first diagnosed in 1991?

 

A. I was just at an HIV meeting in Washington DC talking about HIV/AIDS discrimination, and itís unfortunate that there are still some people out there who believe that you can spread HIV from just touching somebody.  Itís important that we keep educating people.  My band members are cool and we share microphones, share dressing rooms, etc.  Everybody knows my story and Iíve never been harassed.  I hope that Iíve done my best to try to break down those stereotypes.

 

Q. Was it difficult to tell your band mates that you were HIV Positive?

 

A. Well in 1991 I was diagnosed as HIV Positive, and they have been supportive of me because we are a brotherhood. It became almost a non-issue. They didnít want to see one of their brothers pass away from their illness

 

Q. There have been a string of recent LGBT-youth suicides. What do you think you as an activist or activists can prevent future incidents like these?

 

A.  Any articles that have to do with gay bashing, or gay suicide or HIV-related issues are placed on my Facebook. My duty as a gay man and part of this community is to speak.  That phrase ďSilence equals deathĒ is so true.  We have to continue to speak out about it an educate people about it. We have to make this part our agenda.

 

Q.  After your performance at The Manor, what do you have planned next?

A.  I am heading to Salt Lake City, one of my favorite states, to do a show and then flying home.  Shortly after that we are doing an entire month of touring until November 16. I am very grateful that I am still here and able to spread the word that people need to get tested for HIV and get on medication if necessary because it does work. 

 
The Manor