June 26, 2014 / 11:42 PM / 5 years ago

Why Michael Stipe Was Afraid to Be Tested for HIV

NEW YORK (TheWrap.com) - R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe says he was once afraid to be tested for HIV not just because of fear that the test would be positive, but that he would suffer government repression.

“In the early ‘80s, as a 22-year-old queer man, living during the Reagan-Bush administration, I was afraid to get tested for HIV - for fear of quarantine, the threat of internment camps, and having my basic Civil Rights stripped away. I waited five years to get my first, anonymous test,” Stipe says in Logo’s “Trailblazers” special, airing Thursday.

Stipe spoke from the heart about his fears while introducing Ugandan gay rights activist John Abdallah “Longjones” Wambere. Stipe said he was grateful attitudes about HIV and LGBTQ issues have advanced in the United States, but said gay Ugandans are suffering exactly the kinds of oppression he once feared.

The first “Trailblazers” special, timed to the one-year anniversary of the Defense of Marriage Act’s repeal, honors pioneers for equality. Besides honoring Wambere, the one-hour special will also recognize Edie Windsor and Roberta Kaplan, who fought to overturn DOMA, as well as NBA star Jason Collins and Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black.”

It will feature performances from Sia and A Great Big World and appearances by former President Bill Clinton, Daniel Radcliffe, Adam Levine, Jared Leto, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Ed Sheeran, Nate Ruess, Iggy Azaela and more.

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