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    GLAAD Awardee Mark S. King Chronicles His Life as a ‘Gay Survivor’

    By Michele Karlsberg–

    Writer and activist Mark S. King is a powerhouse and his message is simple: “We have more to fight against today than during the worst of the AIDS epidemic.” King is an enormously influential LGBTQ activist and essayist, and his book My Fabulous Disease: Chronicles of a Gay Survivor was recently released. I asked King to discuss his new book with me for the San Francisco Bay Times.

    Michele Karlsberg: Your new book is getting kudos from iconic activists such as Cleve Jones, Peter Staley, and Sean Strub, and you have been called “the Mark Twain of the HIV epidemic.” Greg Louganis even wrote the foreword for your new book.

    Mark S. King: I used to be filled with false modesty and say I’m just “a guy with HIV and a keyboard.” But when I look at the totality of these essays, I do feel proud. I just have to watch my ego. It kills good writing.

    Michele Karlsberg: Your sense of humor comes through in nearly all your writing. Is it a defense mechanism?

    Mark S. King: It is a defense, a shield, a weapon; it is everything. I will invoke the Joan Rivers philosophy of comedy. Nothing we have to say about ourselves—speaking for ourselves being the key—should be off-limits.

    Michele Karlsberg: You give nearly equal time in your book to another epidemic in our community: addiction and alcoholism.

    Mark S. King: I nearly died from meth addiction. HIV has never threatened me physically as much as my addiction to drugs and alcohol.

    Michele Karlsberg: What is the biggest challenge that is now facing the LGBTQ community?

    Mark S. King: Oh, lord. Staying out of jail? Every aspect of our humanity is being criminalized. We have more to fight against today than during the worst of the AIDS epidemic. Nothing should be taken for granted. My marriage is on the line. My freedom to dress, figuratively and literally, as I choose. My access to healthcare and HIV prevention tools, whom and how I [have sex]—all of it is on the line.

    Michele Karlsberg: What does your book have to say to younger LGBTQ people who may not relate to the times and issues you write about?

    Mark S. King: I feel really strongly about this. LGBTQ youth are part of a legacy that is ferocious and courageous and utterly remarkable. They can own that. It is part of them. We have, over decades and centuries, responded to awful oppression by living and loving and helping one another, the AIDS crisis being only one example. That is part of the DNA of LGBTQ people. I want younger folks to be incredibly proud of their lineage.

    Michele Karlsberg: Are you feeling your legacy, releasing a book of your work from decades of writing?

    Mark S. King: I’m feeling my age, for sure, just being asked that question.

    For more information on King and his work:

    Michele Karlsberg Marketing and Management specializes in publicity for the LGBTQ+ community. This year, Karlsberg celebrates 34 years of successful marketing campaigns. For more information:

    Published on December 21, 2023