Last month, former E! News correspondent and Hollywood red carpet personality Marc Malkin took the most important bike ride of his life. Along with his husband, Fabian Quezada Malkin, the entertainment journalist completed the AIDS/LifeCycle ride. An annual event that goes from San Francisco to Los Angeles—a 7-day 545-mile bike ride that raises awareness to end the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS and that raises vital funds for HIV/AIDS medical care and prevention services. For Malkin, the ride was extremely personal as immediately after his victorious ride he made the important decision to come out publicly as being HIV positive.
For Malkin, the decision to speak his truth has given him wings. He has risen as a spoke person for HIV positive visibility and with his new platform is inspiring many to have a have a new perspective on life.
Since his big news, Malkin has been at the forefront of the visibility conversation, sitting down with close friends on radio shows, podcasts, and his own Facebook Live to empower—and also dish about the hottest Hollywood stories.
Malkin has been an integral part of entertainment media for many years, appearing frequently on CNN, MSNBC, “Today”, “Good Morning America”, as well as countless publications in Premiere Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, the New York Daily News, the New York Post, Us Weekly, and New York Magazine. Today, Variety announced that Malkin will be joining the Variety family as senior events and lifestyle editor—which will oversee all events coverage.
I got in touch with Marc Malkin to talk about how his life has been since coming out positive:
How was your ride for AIDS/LifeCycle?
I can’t say it enough, my first AIDS/LifeCycle was life changing. It was my experience on the ride that convinced/pushed me to reveal my status and my recovery. Visibility matters. ALC is about raising funds for much needed HIV/AIDS services but it’s also about visibility—visibility of people living with HIV and visibility of those continuing the fight. It’s about the visibility of letting the world know that HIV hasn’t gone away.
I also proved to myself that I can ride a bike 551 miles! That’s crazy. I never thought I could do it. I watched my husband do it year after year but I convinced myself that I wasn’t strong enough. But with training and the support of the ALC family, I DID IT!
What kind of training did you do and how long did you train?
I hadn’t really been on a bike in who knows how many years before I started training for ALC. I bought my bike from a former ALC rider. I began training in February. Most of my training was one long training ride on the weekends (anywhere between 30 miles and 100 miles) followed the next day sometimes with a spin class. I was nervous I wasn’t training enough but it worked out just fine. I’m certainly not the fastest or strongest rider by far but that didn’t matter to me. It was about riding safely and at my own comfortable pace.
Would you do it again?
Yes! I signed up for it next year before the ride was even over this year. My husband, including his year, has done it eight times in a row. He was thinking about taking next year off but once he saw how much I loved it, he signed up again with me for 2019.
Since finding out your status, why was now the right time for you to come out as HIV+ to the world?
I had been thinking about going public with my status for about a year. I was a volunteer with the ALC media team in 2017. During that year’s Poz Peddlers presentation during dinner, one of the speakers asked anyone who was positive and was comfortable doing it, to please stand up. I stood up and I immediately felt like I was at home. I felt love and support like I had never felt before. I teared up looking at others who were standing. The room exploded with applause. I told myself that it was time to live my truth. It was time for me to show others that I was a proud—and healthy—gay man living with HIV.
Has anything changed for you since coming out positive?
I feel lighter. I no longer live with a secret shame of being positive. I didn’t realize how much shame I had around my status until I revealed I was positive. I always thought I was OK with it. I took my one pill and day and that was it. I was in a beautiful marriage with someone who also happened to be HIV positive but we didn’t talk about it much. Not that we avoided talking about it, but it just seemed there weren’t many reasons we would need to talk about it. (We told each other from almost day one of dating that we were both positive.) I’ve realized my shame had a lot to do with my recovery. It took me many years to get continual sobriety. Now that I have it, I’ve shed the shame of my past and my status. I hope I can show others who are struggling that they too can live a wonderful, beautiful and fulfilling sober life. So many people reached out to me on social media after I posted about being positive to thank me for showing them they that they’re not the only one and that I gave them hope. That truly has been the best part of this journey.
Why is it important to create more visibility in our community?
It’s been a long time since being positive was a death sentence. Young generations haven’t experienced the worst of the epidemic. I’m happy we have the treatments now that have transformed HIV into a manageable condition. However, there’s also no reason anyone has to be contracting HIV now—especially with Prep but the reality is gay men, particularly men of color, are seroconverting. They need to know that with the proper treatment that they’ll be OK. If one of those men see me and then realize that their world isn’t ending then I’ve done my job.
Who inspires you?
My husband is my biggest inspiration. He came to this country from Mexico when he was just 17. He didn’t know English nor did he know many people. But he knew he needed to leave Mexico to survive. His journey is one of struggles but resistance. He has strength and a heart that blows my mind every day. He is a survivor. We’ve been married for almost five years. As soon as we got married, we began working on getting Fabian his green card. Our five-year fight with the government was more times awful than not. There were times I cried thinking my husband could be deported. But through it all, Fabian was strong. He was able to stay in the now and felt that everything would eventually work out. After getting his green card in April, we traveled to Mexico, where Fabian reunited with his family after not seeing them for 14 years.
I’m also inspired by our communities first AIDS activists, like Peter Staley and Larry Kramer. Their strength and persistence and resistance are the reasons so many of us are alive today. I also think of all the men we lost to AIDS. When I stand up and say, “I’m HIV-positive,” I do it with them in mind. My mom lost her two brothers to AIDS early in the epidemic. I think of them often. Their memory inspires. They inspire me to do more to support people with HIV/AIDS. My uncles’ deaths at such young ages inspire me to live my life to the fullest, to have gratitude for all that I have. I also think of them as my guardian angels. I believe they’re watching over me. When my husband and I got married I cried on our wedding day because my uncles were robbed of the chance to see how far we’ve come, to see their gay nephew marrying his husband. But I also believe they were there with us.
As a person in the media, do you feel people in the LGBTQ community who have a platform should be using it to be agents for change?
I began my career in the gay press. My first job out of school was as a reporter for Bay Windows, a weekly LGBT newspaper in Boston. So I’ve been reporting and writing about our community from day one. I’ve been an entertainment journalist for almost 25 years but have continued covering LGBT issues through the lenses of Hollywood and pop culture. The media, in and of itself, is an agent of change. The media provides information that has the ability to changes minds, policy and the hearts of everyday people. Depending on what side of the issue you are, that could be a good or bad thing.
What else would you like to add?
It’s no secret there is an administration in power that is openly fighting to strip away so much that the LGBT community has fought for, from adoption and marriage rights to access to HIV/AIDS treatments. The epidemic showed us that we will not allow out future to be dictated by people who want to erase rather than raise us up. It’s up to every individual to do what they can to secure a promised future for the generations to come.
Congratulations on the new journey, Marc! The world is watching and listening every step of the way!