The Best of Times for Chuck Panozzo
BY Winston Gieseke
August 26 2011 4:00 AM ET
Since then you’ve been active in AIDS charities and gay rights causes.
Yes, I did some benefits for the Human Rights Campaign and I was asked to be part of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. My partner and I did a painting, which was sold. He’s a portrait artist and I’m an artist. Well, I used to teach art — I’m hardly an artist. [Laughs] But we did it. The painting sold for a thousand dollars. Locally here in Florida, we do a thing called the Smart Ride [TheSmartRide.org], which is a bicycle ride from Miami down to Key West. I was very involved in that last year. I also performed at one of our local clubs and auctioned off guitars. I’m more than happy to give my time in service. I feel an obligation to do that. I got a second chance in life.
As an activist, what would you say to young, 20-something gay men who think it’s no longer important to practice safe sex because the only consequence of HIV is that you have to take a pill every day for the rest of your life?
What a lot of these younger people don’t realize is the ramifications the medication will have on them, physically and financially. If you lose your job or you don’t have medical insurance, who’s going to pay for that pill?
You did a year in the seminary. How do you feel about politicians who use religion as an excuse for passing antigay legislation?
Anybody who wraps themselves around the Bible or the Constitution to condemn the way we live is ridiculous to me. I hate to sound like a geezer, but I’m part of the Harvey Milk generation. I was in a couple of bars that were raided, and while I wasn’t teaching at the time, I remember when they [tried to oust] gay teachers in California. I was appalled. I took four extra years of schooling in order to teach children, and now I’m going to be clumped into a group of pedophiles? What are they thinking? And as far as the Catholic Church goes, I have three words for them: “Shame on you.” I don’t hate Catholicism, but I dislike their inability to tell the truth and the way they pass these pedophile priests from church to church. That kind of stuff infuriates me because it’s based on lying. If you believe in the church, it’s supposed to be about love and truth. And if it’s anything but love, what kind of a church is it?
Last question: Is there such a thing as male groupies for men?
Yeah, I have a few. [Laughs] There are a few guys that I know, but I’m beyond the stage of ... I’ll meet them after the show. It’s just a real nice and polite thing.
Read more about Chuck at ChuckPanozzo.com.