Updated: Nov 5
In a delightful burst of color and flamboyance, celebrities including Antoni Porowski from Queer Eye, trans actress Michaela Jae Rodriguez, and pansexual musician Jojo Siwa are donning feather boas, rhinestones, and extravagant glasses to channel their inner Elton John this Pride Month. This vibrant campaign is a part of a bold new initiative by the Elton John AIDS Foundation, aimed at tackling the global HIV epidemic.
The legendary "Tiny Dancer" singer, Elton John, and his husband David Furnish, kicked off the foundation's Rocket Fund on Monday. Their ambitious goal is to raise $125 million to combat the rising rates of HIV infections in vulnerable communities.
Elton John shared his hopeful vision, "For years, HIV/AIDS has caused enormous pain across the world, but I pray that soon this epidemic will be a thing of the past. More than 30 years after I launched the Elton John AIDS Foundation, my passion for reaching everyone, everywhere with education and compassionate care is still as strong as ever. The Rocket Fund will turbo-charge our mission and reach those most at risk from this terrible disease.”
The funds raised will be used to enhance access to HIV prevention and treatment services, including HIV tests, antiretroviral therapies, and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). Donatella Versace, one of the Rocket Fund's co-chairs, has generously pledged to match donations up to $300,000 during June.
Versace emphasized the importance of continued dialogue, "It's very, very important that we keep talking about it because it's a very, very bad illness — you can die from it — and not everybody has access to the treatments.”
To boost awareness of the Rocket Fund and to challenge the stigma associated with HIV and the LGBTQ+ community, the foundation has also launched its #InnerElton social media campaign. Supporters are invited to "let their inner Elton out" by sharing photos of themselves dressed in their own interpretation of the iconic singer's signature style, using the hashtag during Pride Month.
Numerous celebrities, including fashion model Heidi Klum, actors Chris Colfer, Colton Haynes, Erik McCormack, musicians Brandi Carlile, and Smokey Robinson, have already shared their "inner Elton" looks on social media, encouraging people to support the Rocket Fund.
David Furnish expressed his optimism, “We want as many spokespeople as we can, because the more everyday conversations that people from all walks of life have about HIV/AIDS, we’re just gonna make more and more progress. We’re going to get where we need to go faster, and more powerfully.”
The fund's donation page highlights the need to address stigmatization, marginalization, and poverty, which have led to high rates of HIV and low access to healthcare. The Rocket Fund works with leading U.S. companies, tapping into their cutting-edge capabilities, to make HIV services available where inequity, stigma, and lack of resources keep people away from the treatment and services they need.
A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that while new HIV infections in the U.S. dropped by 12% between 2017 and 2021, the U.S. is still not on track to meet its goal of reducing new infections by 90% by 2030. There are still significant disparities in access to testing, treatment, and preventive medication, particularly along racial and economic lines.
Both Furnish and Anne Aslett, Chief Executive Officer of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, emphasized the importance of addressing these disparities and connecting vulnerable people with the care and resources they need.
Furnish concluded with a hopeful note, “To end AIDS, we must make targeted investments that can level the playing field, by tackling the inequalities and stigma that prevent people from accessing the care they desperately need.”
In the face of these challenges, the Rocket Fund is a beacon of hope. Its mission is not just to provide funding for HIV/AIDS research and support services, but also to inspire a global conversation about HIV/AIDS, to challenge stigma, and to ensure that everyone, everywhere has access to the care they need.
As we celebrate Pride Month, let's remember that the fight against HIV/AIDS is far from over. But with initiatives like the Rocket Fund, we can look forward to a future where HIV/AIDS is a thing of the past.
Now is the time to act. If you want to be a part of this transformative mission, consider making a donation to the Rocket Fund. Every contribution, no matter how small, can make a difference. You can make your donation here. Together, we can end AIDS.