Musician & Activist
By Troy Maillis
Chuck Panozzo, a longtime member of the band
Styx, performed at ďThat 70s PartyĒ
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
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.
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
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.