At OUTMemphis, we are celebrating STD Awareness Month with an acknowledgement of all the LGBTQ people who have transformed the ways we fight HIV and other STDs.

Every week we will be highlighting an LGBTQ person whose work in sexual health has impacted the lives of LGBTQ people nationwide.

Spotlight: Cecilia Chung (1965)

Cecilia Chung is an advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness, health, social justice, and LGBT rights. Immigrating to the U.S. from Hong Kong as a child, Chung grew up in Los Angeles, and had an early career as a court interpreter and a corporate trainer. In the early 1990’s, she went into transition, and became estranged to her family. During this time, she ended up living on the streets, which caused her to turn to sex work to support her livelihood. She later tested positive for HIV.

Her story mirrors that of many transgender people in the U.S., and her circumstances turned her into a fierce advocate for people living with HIV. Her story is featured in the ABC miniseries When We Rise, and her rise from the low point during her transition included a number of firsts. She was the first transgender woman and first Asian person  to lead the Board of Directors of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration, the first out HIV positive person and transgender woman to Chair the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, and she made San Francisco the first city in the U.S. to help pay for transition medical care for uninsured transgender people.

Chung co-founded Trans March in San Francisco, was the architect for the Transgender Economic Empowerment Initiative, and founded and runs Positively Trans in her role as staff at the Transgender Law Center.

Cecilia Chung’s work connecting HIV to the economic and criminal justice barriers faced by transgender people is groundbreaking.

Learn more about Cecilia Chung: Wikipedia, Berkeley Law, Transgender Law Center, Biography.com, Positively Trans

STD Awareness Month is in full swing at OUTMemphis, and that means that plushy STDs are up on the whiteboard.

Feel free to drop by and leave a little note. Share something you wished you had learned in school, let people know about local resources, or just give one of our cute plushies an evil mustache.

While you are here, check out our wall of LGBTQ heroes in the fight against STDs.