Dr Ron Simmons. Activist. Teacher. Mentor. Organiser. Leader. Survivor. Black gay icon.
1 June 2020. Related: In memory.
By Marc Thompson, cofounder of Prepster
One of our elders has passed over.
I first met Ron Simmons in 1992 when he visited London and came to our Black gay men’s group Let’s Rap. He inspired us UK kids to organise, teach and support in those dark days of the epidemic.
On a visit to Washington DC in 1996 I had the honour of hanging out with Ron at Black gay pride over Memorial weekend. He invited me to his organisation Us Helping Us, set up to support Black folk living with HIV.
It changed my life.
I’d never been with so many Pos people that looked like me. I declared my status openly, in public for the first time. I remember Ron giving me the biggest hug and telling me everything was gonna be ok.
That evening I called my mum and told her I knew what my calling was. That my HIV was a gift for me to do good for my community.
Ron’s strength and guidance enabled me to do that.
Even years later at conferences around the world, Ron would greet me with that beautiful smile and same big hug. He connected and impacted many of us across the diaspora and his legacy lives on in the work we do for Black queer men.
I often hear younger Black queer men say we don’t have role models. Not entirely true.
I‘ve been blessed to have had some amazing and inspiring ‘uncles’ that have guided my path and Dr Ron Simmons was at the front.
Rest in Power King.
Marc Thompson has worked for many HIV and sexual health organisations and is a cofounder of Prepster.
Obituary in AU magazine
Obituary in Poz magazine
The Ubuntu Biography Project: Ron Simmons