What “Racist” Roseanne Did To My HIV Positive Friend

When I shot to stardom in 1986 playing Phillip Chancellor III on The Young & The Restless, I concealed my homosexuality. I didn’t officially come out until years later, a little before 2009 when my character and I both proudly proclaimed our gay liberation.

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In the late 80’s as a romantic lead I was told it would have killed my career to come out as gay, so I only told my co-stars and friends.

One of my best fiends was a gay stand-up comedian named Steve Moore, who in 1989 found out he was HIV positive. In those years, people were devastated to get that diagnosis which could be a death sentence, but Steve tried to be positive about being positive. In fact, after years of conflict, he courageously became the first stand-up comic to announce he was HIV positive. One of his lines was, “If you don’t laugh at me, I’ll split open a vein and take out the front row.” He was anything but believable as a terrorist though, and exuded complete warmth and openness.

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Steve Moore and me in 1989 maybe. Photo by Barry King.

Steve knew Roseanne before she became a TV star in 1988 because they had supported each other backstage at places like The Comedy Store and Improv, as comedians did. He told me she hired old friend comics to help write her show, and she even hired him as the stand-up to warm up the audience before her live tapings at ABC.

In those days, HIV and anyone associated with HIV had a stigma attached, but Roseanne did not care. She wanted to help Steve pay his bills and meet his insurance costs (and minimum work days with AFTRA to qualify for insurance), and she hired him. He was eternally grateful. After her show left the air in 1997, Steve did an HBO special titled Drop Dead Gorgeous (helped by his association with Roseanne) then left Los Angeles.

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The way he explained it to me was, “If I stay in California, my $20,000 savings will be eaten up to pay medical bills, so I’m moving back to Virginia and buying a small house with my money, because Virginia has different medical regulations.” His doting mother and family still lived in Richmond.

Steve died in 2014 at 60 years of age.

Roseanne has always supported blacks and gays, and I do not think her recent tweet about Valerie Jarrett was racist. I suspect it was political. She told Joe Rogan she did not even know Valerie Jarrett was black. To be honest, I did not either and Googled her nationality, and within a few stories I found she is indeed part African-American.

I am now president of www.AmericanArtAwards.com, where 25 of America’s best galleries and museums score online images in 50 categories of art, so part of my job is to defend all artist’s use of free speech, which is being threatened today. Although I am not a Democrat or a Republican (they both seem corrupt to me), I defend Roseanne’s free speech as I did Kathy Griffin’s regarding her Trump decapitation skit. I would not stop anyone, even celebs, from thinking as they wish, typing as they wish, forming consonants and vowels as they wish, or making bad jokes. However stars do face steep consequences.

But did Kathy Griffin's tour dates and the new revived Roseanne show really get cancelled for “moral” reasons? If ABC, like all mainstream media, is predominately sponsored by pharmaceutical companies and cannot report on anything conflicting with their sponsor’s products, is that really “moral”? If ABC, like all mainstream media, knows we US citizens are against war, but manufactures consent FOR war, is that “moral”? I am a peaceful vegan who is sickened that USA has been in wars over 90% of the time since 1776… for 225 of 241 years our government has been in wars WHEN WE CITIZENS OPPOSE IT. How is this happening? Are the corporations that profit from war running the networks or something?

I am guessing ABC’s decision to oust Roseanne was business, not moral. Not in the sense that it was smart to lose their #1 show, but in the sense it was good business to appease your corporate bosses... ?

In the same regard, I am guessing Kathy Griffin’s tour dates were ended not that it was good business to stop enthralled Griffin fans paying big bucks to fill auditoriums, but rather the establishments did not want to upset the higher-ups… ?

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I painted live at a Hurricane Katrina benefit and played with outrageous comic, Kathy Griffin.

Hey — what do I know? I live in blissful paradise running www.AmericanArtAwards.com (enter your art at site for only $25) from a secluded mountain home in a forest of evergreens with my two rescue dogs. Days go by without me even seeing a human, and I gave up TV a few years after I gave up Hollywood. My days are 98% pleasure.

I posted this on FB earlier regarding tweets / insults / possible racism:

MY POINT IS: “YOU do not yet realize your full potential. YOU create your world — everything in it. You invite in other people’s interaction, but anyone’s else’s words can only affect YOU as YOU allow it. YOU are far too powerful to be diminished by anyone who limits YOU because they themselves feel limited. YOUR energy attracts the same energy from the outside world. When YOU seek to restrict others, YOU do so from fear. YOUR government and educational system has not empowered YOU. They will not. YOUR job is to empower YOURSELF and be all YOU want/allow.”

In other words, if somebody calls me a name, like “fag” or whatever, I’ll just turn the other cheek, walk away…. or block them if it’s on FB, and go on with my amazing life. If they call me “cocksucker” I just admit to it, or say, “Is that supposed to be a bad thing?”

Speaking of cocksuckers, did I mention I am looking for a publisher for my humorous, new sex memoir? Most people will find it objectionable because it is sexually HOMO-graphic, but my overall intent is to combat sex-shaming. Even though I do not speak negatively about anyone in it, I wonder if people will want to limit my free speech because they find it “inappropriate”?

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Oh, well. What anyone else thinks of me is really none of my business.

FB Thom Bierdz


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One of Medium’s TOP ART CONTRIBUTORs, award-winning author, actor, film-maker, painter. 10 new books (6 volumes of art). President of www.americanartawards.com

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