Name: Jack Mackenroth
What is your job?
I wear many hats. I’m trained as a fashion designer, which I have done in New York for 17 years. However, after I was on Season 4 of “Project Runway,” I have done a lot of TV work in front of the camera and on the production side. I’m currently producing a web series on Gay.com called “The Queens of Drag: NYC”, which launches September 8th. It’s like a “Real Housewives” type of show with drag queens and better wigs. I also do a lot of speaking around the country about my personal story living with HIV. You can find out virtually everything about me at Jackmackenroth.com.
What social causes are most important to you?
Well, I have been HIV-positive for almost 21 years; so HIV- and AIDS-related causes are obviously very personal and important to me. I also think that related issues like Nationalized Health Care and equal rights for LGBT people are crucially important.
What charities do you support – and how?
This list of charities I support is really endless. I try to focus mainly on HIV/AIDS-related charities so my message has more impact. I have done work with most of the major AIDS service organizations in Fort Lauderdale, Houston, New Orleans, DC, San Francisco, Chicago, Las Vegas, Boston, Philadelphia and New York. Of course I wish I could actively support every cause that I believe in, but it’s obviously not possible. I’ve done a ton of AIDS WALKS and fundraisers that raise money for various organizations that benefit people living with HIV and AIDS. Specifically I have done many events that benefit GMHC here in New York. I used to deliver food to home-bound people with AIDS for God’s Love We Deliver, which is also an amazing organization.
I also have my own HIV education campaign in partnership with Merck & Co. called Living Positive by Design. I travel around the country and share my perspective as someone who has lived with HIV for more than 20 years, working with HIV and AIDS community organizations. I highlight the importance of having a positive outlook on life while effectively managing HIV and fighting the stigma. There are so many reasons to be hopeful now. It’s much different than when I was diagnosed 20 years ago.
I co-host an internet radio show called POZIAM every Sunday at 9 p.m. EST, in which we talk to other people infected or affected by HIV who are doing cool things and making difference in the community. Readers can listen live or download the shows on iTunes.
Why do you have a passion for this one in particular, is there a personal tie?
Well obviously since I am HIV positive this cause is personally important to me. I have many friends who are living with HIV and in the late eighties and early nineties I went to so many funerals I can even count. Something like that changes you forever. I will fight against the disease and the stigma associated with it until it is eradicated.
Is there a particular way you would want to encourage readers to be involved?
Please visit LivingPositiveByDesign.com and get involved with your local HIV/AIDS organizations in your area. There are over 1.1 million people living with HIV in the US alone and the CDC estimates that approximately 25-percent of those people don’t even know it! You do know someone who is infected or affected by HIV. So everyone needs to get tested as well.
How would you define social responsibility?
I think it just means being aware of social issues that you think are important and doing your part to make changes for the better. Even the smallest effort will have a ripple effect and create change. Complacency is deadly. It’s also about thinking beyond yourself and realizing that there is a huge world full of people that could use your help.
Do you have any tattoos that relate to your work?
Not specifically. About 10 years ago I thought about getting a very prominent tattoo that said “HIV+” and just be very in your face about my status. But in retrospect I’m glad I didn’t for many reasons. I am visible enough with the work I do and one day I’m confident there will be a cure and then that tattoo would be obsolete.
Quick list of artists:
Most of my tattoos were done by Anil Gupta from Inkline studios in New York. He’s amazing. I have a crown at the base of my neck, a torch with a crucifix wrapped around it on one forearm, a flaming skull with wings on the other forearm, stars on my elbows, a massive Celtic design on my back and a lizard on my ankle and a tiny star on my left hand.