• Home

[VIRTUAL] The Counter Narrative Project: HIV Justice & Journalism Roundtable

This year, 2021, represents the 40-year mark of the first official report of AIDS in the United States. Thank you for joining us in a collaborative event with the Counter Narrative Project (CNP) as we recognized both the progress made in response to the epidemic, and what we still face ahead. Over the last 40 years, public perception of HIV has undergone an intense evolution fueled by the media and its shifting narrative of the LGBTQ+ community.

This virtual panel discussion with journalists and writers discussed the relationship between the media, HIV, Black communities, and the South. It offered both a historical perspective on how the media has depicted HIV and insights from their own reporting and storytelling.


Charles Stephens HeadshotCharles Stephens is the Founder and Executive Director of CNP. He is committed to working at the intersection of art, culture, and social justice. His writings have appeared in the AJC, Atlanta Magazine, and Creative Loafing. He previously wrote a column for The Advocate and Georgia Voice focused on Black LGBTQ+ politics and culture. A native Georgian, Charles received his B.A. from Georgia State University.


Gracie Bonds Staples headshotGracie Bonds Staples is an award-winning features writer and columnist with more than 40 years of experience writing for daily newspapers. Before retiring early this year, she spent the last 20 years at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, producing high-impact narratives and the twice-weekly “This Life with Gracie” column, offering her perspective on various lifestyle issues and introducing people making a positive impact on their communities. Before joining the AJC in July 2000, Gracie, a 1979 graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, worked for five other dailies, including the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Sacramento Bee. Her honors include a 2018 GLAAD Media Award for Best Newspaper Article, Phillip Rush Community Builder Award from the non-profit Georgia Equality, Media Professional of the Year, four-time best feature writing from the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists and a community organizing award given in her honor from the Dallas/Fort Worth Birthing Project. She founded the Fort Worth and Atlanta projects. Gracie is a member of Antioch Baptist Church North, where she sings in the choir, edits the church newsletter and is an active member of the Ministers’ Wives ministry. She and her husband of 34 years, the Rev. Jimmy Staples, have two daughters, Jamila, a pediatrician and Asha, a television reporter/anchor.

Craig Washington headshotCraig Washington was born and raised by Anna and Leon Washington in Queens, New York and has lived in Atlanta since 1992. Craig is a writer and social worker who has written extensively on matters essential to Black LGBTQ and HIV+ people for TheBody.com, Huffington Post, The Atlanta Voice, Georgia Voice, POZ.com, Atlanta Magazine, The Advocate and various anthologies including Black Gay Genius: Answering Joseph Beam’s Call. He has created and/or participated in several HIV prevention and cultural education programs. Mr. Washington is a licensed social worker. He has been HIV+ for over 30 years.

Stephen Hicks headshotStephen Hicks is a writer and public health advocate with a background in sexual health and harm reduction, and the 2021 Narrative Justice Fellow at CNP.

About the Counter Narrative Project

The Counter Narrative Project shifts narratives about Black gay men to change policy and improve lives.

Get the Free Speech News You Need

protesters in face masks carrying old Belarusian national flags

PEN America has a new weekly newsletter, PEN Points, bringing you a digest of the biggest free expression news of the week, plus the analysis and insights you trust from PEN America experts.