Meet Our Scholars
San Francisco State University
Health Sciences, Public Health Policy Concentration
He, Him, His, She, Her
John Baird grew up in the foothills of Appalachia, in a small evangelical town in Northeast Mississippi, where every “ism” and “phobia” are the law of the land. Being an effeminate gay man was difficult for John, and he was physically and verbally assaulted. Ultimately, realizing that being gay was not compatible with the life of abuse he was living in the rural deep south, he knew he had to leave. John arrived in Los Angeles in 1986 with a suitcase and five hundred dollars, looking for his new tribe. He soon found himself homeless, and for a year John lived at The Hollywood Spa, a gay bathhouse, and The Studio Hotel, a gay SRO. After a year of survival sex work and IV drug addiction, John amazingly and against all the odds, pulled himself out of adversity only to find he had HIV. It did not take long for his activism instincts to surface. It was the dark days of the AIDS pandemic, and John joined ACT UP to help change the conversation about AIDS. John moved to San Francisco and continued his activism with ACT UP, but that was not enough. Tired of the anger and needing a different connection to the LGBTQI community, John joined The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to “expiate stigmatic guilt and promulgate universal joy.” A lifetime of volunteer community health service has led John to university to get a degree in Public Health Policy and Law.