HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JACK MACKENROTH.
THE YEAR IS 1989. IT IS THE YEAR THAT THE WORLD WIDE WEB WAS TAKING OFF, THE FIRST GPS SATELLITE WENT INTO ORBIT AND THE FIRST EPISODE OF THE SIMPSONS AIRED. IT WAS THE YEAR THE BERLIN WALL CAME DOWN AND THE YEAR RONALD REAGAN LEFT THE WHITE HOUSE IN ORDER TO MAKE PLACE FOR GEORGE W. BUSH. IT WAS THE YEAR MADONNA “EXPRESSED HERSELF”. IT WAS ALSO THE YEAR JACK MACKENROTH TURNED 20 AND WAS DIAGNOSED WITH HIV.
In the 1980s, gay men were dying of AIDS in frightening numbers so when Jack Mackenroth went to see a doctor for ulcers in his throat, it seemed only logical the doctor ordered an HIV test. The year was 1989. Jack’s test came back positive, which was at this time basically a death sentence. But not for Jack. Even though people were dying all around him, he kept a positive, hopeful attitude. Jack Mackenroth turned out to be one of the lucky ones. More over, looking back now, he sees his diagnosis as a blessing as it got him to do the life-saving work he is doing now and made him the person he is today.
Jack Mackenroth, American swimmer and winner of multiple Outgames and Gay Games gold medals. Jack Mackenroth, fitness and fashion model. Jack Mackenroth, graduate of University of California at Berkeley and Parson School of Design. Jack Mackenroth, fashion designer who competed on season 4 of Project Runway and in 2008, created a wedding gown crafted entirely of condoms as a visual reminder of the importance of safer sex with a nod to gay marriage equality. Jack Mackenroth, who has dedicated his life to combat the stigma of HIV, HIV education and to helping others infected or affected by HIV. Jack Mackenroth, creator of the national anti-stigma campaigns #weareALLclean, the Shower Selfie Challenge, and HIV Equal (HIVequal.org) and who served as the media strategist at Housing Works—a nonprofit in New York, which fights the duel crisis of homelessness and HIV/AIDS, where he created the #PrEPheroes campaign. Jack Mackenroth, currently the Director of Communications at MSMGF (The Global Forum on MSM and HIV) MSMGF.org. Jack Mackenroth whose only passion in life is life itself.
Today is April 29. It is Jack Mackenroth’s 47th birthday. When Jack was diagnosed at the age of 20, he was convinced he would have about 5 years left to live. At this time there were no treatments other than AZT which was very controversial. Today, 27 years later, Jack doesn’t think about his HIV status much anymore. Today treatments are drastically better and allow people infected with HIV to live a normal life. Jack’s life is now so busy that one of the things he used to do on a regular basis – modeling – has been pushed to the background. This is Jack’s first major photo shoot in 3 years.
We are lucky enough to have the exclusive photos from the shoot with Austin Wondolowski, (“Wondo”), a photographer/graphic designer from San Francisco whose work has been featured by by Mascular Magazine, WEHOville.com, Queerty, NewNowNext and Accidental Bear…to name just a few. Who has a wonderful website displaying his amazing photo work, and an equally wonderful Tumblr blog where you can find his NSFW work. This photoshoot, revealing Jack as a healthy, hairy gay man was to commemorate his 47th birthday. A birthday he never thought he would reach if asked 26 years ago. But here we are. Here he is. Happy birthday Jack. And thank you. –BM-
People who are struggling with HIV and have questions are welcome to reach out to Jack.
Original story published by BeautifulMag, used with permission.