Let’s Kick A.S.S.

Founded in 2013, by San Francisco activist Tez Anderson and other HIV long-term survivors, Let’s Kick A.S.S. (LKA) is the first nonprofit founded to address the unmet needs and issues facing women and men living longest with HIV and AIDS. A California 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, LKA is an all-volunteer, grassroots movement united in compassion, committed to action, and insisting on visibility, intent on ending isolation and envisioning a future that long-term survivors never imagined they’d live to see. Before LKA’s first town hall in September 2013, no agency in San Francisco or elsewhere had prioritized HIV Long-Term Survivors (HTLS).

AIDS Survivor Syndrome (ASS) describes the spectrum of sustained trauma resulting from living through the AIDS pandemic and its aftermath. It may be best described as a crisis of demoralization: depression, isolation, economic hardship, careers put aside, and a feeling that society had no idea what you had been through and didn’t much care. As with many psychological issues, AIDS Survivor Syndrome falls outside of the limited diagnostic range of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5). Most of the time, the trauma affecting HLTS is referred to as “PTSD.”

Let’s Kick A.S.S. collaborates with the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (ANAC), SAGE USA, HealthHIV, the CDC, The ACRIA Center for HIV & Aging at GMHC and other local and national HIV advocates, providers, and researchers to ensure that long-term HIV survivors can thrive. Their goal is and always has been to kick AIDS Survivor Syndrome.

Tell Me More: Among the many items that Let’s Kick A.S.S. sells to raise funds for their activity (totes, coffee mugs, water bottles), we are featuring their most proudly visible, wearable wares. The LKA T-shirts and sweatshirts all feature bold lettering declaring HIV+ LONG TERM SURVIVOR on the front and the LKA website (www.LetsKickASS.hiv) printed on the back. The T-shirts are available in black, light blue, and navy with white lettering in sizes small to 5XL; the sweatshirts, both crew neck and pullover hoodie styles, are black with yellow lettering and are available in sizes up to 2XL.

How Much: The T-shirts range from $22.99 to $24.99; the sweatshirts range from $36.99 to $38.99.

Who Benefits: All profit from the sales these items will help to fund Let’s Kick A.S.S.’s advocacy for long-term HIV survivors.

How to Order: The Let’s Kick A.S.S. T-shirts, sweatshirts, and other merchandise can all be ordered at https://letskickass.creator-spring.com/.

As we approach the holidays near the end of this calamitous year, many of us may struggle to find reasons for celebration. It’s been a challenging year on multiple levels. Climate change set the West Coast on fire, while it drowned the Southeast and Northeast in freakish rainstorms. Even if the effects of climate change haven’t kept us awake at night, we’ve had to cope with the still-spreading, still-deadly COVID-19 crisis (and its accompanying epidemic of disinformation) for nineteen months. And of course these calamities have impacted the HIV community, with reduced HIV testing, the closure of many clinics, and a dangerous drop in funding for HIV/AIDS-related organizations and services.

It’s been an exhausting year.

Perhaps that is why celebrating the holidays this year is so important. For the sake of our sanity, we need some spirited revelry, some levity to light the darkness that has surrounded us. As Jerry Herman wrote for Mame, “For we need a little music, need a little laughter / Need a little singing ringing through the rafter / Yes we need a little snappy happy ever after.” We need the human contact of gathering together, sharing a holiday feast, toasting each other’s health, exchanging gifts.

In our 20th Annual Holiday Gift Guide, you’ll find a wide array of gifts that perform triple duty—they will delight the recipients of your gifts, you will enjoy the spirit of giving, and each gift helps to raise funds for one HIV/AIDS-related organization or another. Greeting cards, jewelry, T-shirts, hats, food stuffs, artwork, holiday ornaments—you name it, you’ll find the perfect gifts here in a broad range of prices.

So be of good cheer! Get out your gift list and get busy spreading love and joy among your friends and family. We sure could use some love and joy these days!
Happy Holidays!

—Hank Trout

Hank Trout, Senior Editor, edited Drummer, Malebox, and Folsom magazines in the early 1980s. A long-term survivor of HIV/AIDS (diagnosed in 1989), he is a forty-one-year resident of San Francisco, where he lives with his husband Rick.