LGBTQ FAITH LEADER AND HIV ADVOCATE FROM WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF DIVINITY TO APPEAR AT GLAAD MEDIA AWARDS IN NEW YORK

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REV. DR. SHONDA JONES TO SHARE HOW FAITH COMMUNITIES ARE “WORKING TO TELL A NEW STORY ABOUT HIV” TO ERADICATE STIGMA AND ACCELERATE UNDERSTANDING TO STOP THE SPREAD OF HIV

(Wednesday, May 4, 2022) - GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, today announced that faith leader and HIV advocate from Wake Forest University School of Divinity Rev. Dr. Shonda Jones will appear and speak from the stage at the 33rd annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York, Friday, May 6th.

The GLAAD Media Awards honor media for fair, accurate, and inclusive representations of LGBTQ people and issues. Since its inception in 1990, the GLAAD Media Awards have grown to be the most visible annual LGBTQ awards show in the world, sending powerful messages of acceptance to audiences globally. 

GLAAD was founded in 1985 to monitor and demand accurate and respectful representation in the media about people living with HIV/AIDS. That mission remains a core tenet of GLAAD’s work today to increase accurate coverage of HIV and LGBTQ representation across entertainment, news, social media and gaming. GLAAD urges all media to include facts about HIV that can help end the epidemic: 

  • HIV is preventable with a daily pill
  • with proper treatment, HIV can be suppressed to the point of being undetectable and therefore untransmittable, U=U
  • people living with HIV on proper treatment live long, full healthy lives

Rev. Dr. Shonda Jones will appear at the GLAAD Media Awards with Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Gilead Sciences, Dr. Shanell McGoy, to discuss the work of Gilead COMPASS Initiative® Faith Coordinating Center at Wake Forest, included in Gilead’s $100 million commitment to address the HIV epidemic in the Southern U.S. The Faith Coordinating Center launched in 2021, working with grassroots nonprofit grantees, faith leaders and communities to change public perception about HIV.

At the GLAAD Awards, Rev. Dr. Jones will explain her work as a faith leader in the fight against HIV: “Ours is just one of many faith communities working to tell a new story about HIV. This is particularly important to me as both a faith leader in the South, and a member of the LGBTQ community. With Gilead’s help we are shifting the narrative about living with HIV, and erasing HIV stigma through education, grantmaking and storytelling. Stigma is a root cause of HIV, and like GLAAD, we know that sharing stories makes a big impact. The North Carolina Council of Churches, for instance, is disseminating loving and affirming HIV education and resources to over 6,200 congregations with about 1.5 million congregants and advocating for and creating sacred spaces for people living with HIV and their chosen families. They are among our trusted partners on the ground who are building the capacity of faith leaders and faith communities to talk about HIV in a new way. Whether you’re a person of faith, someone living with HIV, or a human being trying to create more empathy, understanding and compassion in our world – maybe all of the above – please join our efforts to amplify this work.”

The Gilead COMPASS Initiative® Faith Coordinating Center at Wake Forest is also hosting a conference June 21-23: "Proclamation at the Intersections: Faith, Healing, and HIV," an unprecedented opportunity for interdisciplinary and cross-sectional learning and collaboration between faith leaders, lay ministers (e.g., youth and young adult, singles, health, men and women, and music ministries, etc.), religion scholars, public health scholars, health providers, nonprofit organizational leaders, and graduate students. The conference will feature workshops on how to integrate programming and messages about HIV and faith into spiritually-integrated counseling, community religious education, ministry work, and preaching; how to establish partnerships with medical providers, public health institutions and HIV nonprofit organizations; how to engage faith leaders in training about HIV, sexuality and health. Details on speakers and how to register, here.

Rev. Dr. Shonda Jones, Principal Investigator at Wake Forest School of Divinity, has worked in the HIV/AIDS arena as an employee and board member in several organizations, including the HIV and Faith Advisory Board for the COMPASS Initiative®. Dr. Jones’ scholarly interests include the intersection of theological school choice and race, faith and health, and she examines intercultural practices that promote communal thriving with and among faith leaders and faith communities. Dr. Jones is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, a certified administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), and a trainer for intercultural competency and relationship-building. She earned her BA in English and Religious Studies from Texas Christian University, and MDiv from Brite Divinity School, and EdD in Higher Education Administration from the University of Alabama. 

About the 33rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards

GLAAD announced 246 nominees in 30 categories for the 33rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards. Across categories, transgender and Black LGBTQ stories made a large impact, with nominees including Lil Nas X, West Side Story, Eternals, Pose, Sex Education, RuPaul's Drag Race, We’re Here, Saved by the Bell, 9-1-1: Lone Star, Star Trek: Discovery, Batwoman, Changing the Game, I Am Jazz, Harlem, With Love, Twenties, BROCKHAMPTON, Mykki Blanco, among others. For a full list of nominees for the 33rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards, clickhere.

The GLAAD Media Awards in New York will be hosted by celebrity Peloton Instructor Cody Rigsby and transgender recording artist, actress, GLAAD Board Member, and RuPaul's Drag Race alum Peppermint. Actor and LGBTQ advocate Wilson Cruz will be honored with the Vito Russo Award, presented to a LGBTQ media professional who has made a significant difference in accelerating LGBTQ acceptance. The Award is named after Vito Russo, a founder of GLAAD and celebrated ACT UP activist, who pushed open the door for news and entertainment industries to include LGBTQ performers and stories. This year’s Academy Award-winner for best supporting actress Ariana DuBose will present Judith Light with GLAAD's Excellence in Media Award, presented to allies of the LGBTQ community who have made a significant difference in promoting LGBTQ acceptance. 

The GLAAD Media Awards, which fund GLAAD's work to accelerate LGBTQ acceptance, were held in Los Angeles at the Beverly Hilton on Saturday, April 2, and will be hosted in New York at the Hilton Midtown on Friday, May 6. GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis serves as Executive Producer of the GLAAD Media Awards, alongside GLAAD staff Rich Ferraro and Anthony Allen Ramos. Juana Guichardo and Jose Useche serve as Associate Producers and Wendy Shanker will serve as Headwriter.

The 33rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards are presented by Gilead Sciences, Inc., Hyundai, and Ketel One Family Made Vodka. Delta Air Lines is a Major Sponsor of the events, Sony Music Group is an Official Sponsor, and Comcast NBCUniversal Telemundo is a Titanium Sponsor.

On socials please follow @GLAAD and #glaadawards

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About Gilead COMPASS Initiative Faith Coordinating Center

The COMPASS Initiative® Faith Coordinating Center focuses on preparing ministry and nonprofit leaders to address the needs of vulnerable populations such as rural communities in Appalachia, African Americans and LGBTQ individuals. These groups, particularly in the South, often experience a higher number of cases of HIV/AIDS with access to fewer support and prevention resources. The Faith Coordinating Center is part of Gilead’s 10-year, $100 million COMPASS Initiative®. In its fourth year, the initiative includes coordinating centers at Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work and the Southern AIDS Coalition.

About Wake Forest University School of Divinity

The Wake Forest University School of Divinity is a dynamic and ecumenical theological institution that prepares men and women to be religious leaders in a changing world. The School currently offers the Master of Divinity degree and several joint degrees in law, bioethics, counseling, education, and sustainability, and a dual degree pathway in management, offered in partnership with other schools of the University. Through imaginative courses and diverse programs of community engagement, students are equipped to be agents of justice, reconciliation, and compassion in Christian churches and other ministries.

About The Gilead COMPASS Initiative®

The Gilead COMPASS Initiative® is working to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Southern United States by collaborating with local community organizations and stakeholders to use evidence-based solutions to meet the needs of people living with and impacted by HIV/AIDS. COMPASS Coordinating Centers are Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, Southern AIDS Coalition, University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work and Wake Forest University School of Divinity.

About GLAAD

GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.

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