Whoopi Goldberg, Sex, and Unicef

Ryan Richmond, one of this year's Blogger Fellows, tells us about how this unlikely triad is all connected for the betterment of our world. 

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Whoopi Goldberg, Sex, and UNICEF?

Yep, you read that right.

This past weekend at the 8th annual Social Good Summit in New York City, scores of world leaders, politicians, celebrities and activists descended on the 92nd Street Y to take part in different panels discussions focusing on some of the challenges and solutions pertaining to the social good initiatives of our time.

Whoopi Goldberg happened to be one of those panelists. If you’ve ever seen Sister Act; The Color Purple; Girl, Interrupted or have watched any episode of The View – you’ll be happy to know that the larger-than-life charisma and humor she portrays on screen extends into her activism. While onstage, she told the audience how she used to Trick or Treat at Halloween, and how she’d always carry around the small boxes that UNICEF gave out during that time to raise money for child refugees. She credits her foray into activism, in part, because of the UNICEF’s outreach efforts she witnessed as a child.

“As a kid, you just get it immediately. You want to help,” she said.  

Further along in the panel (and mincing no words) she bluntly drove home the need to refocus the message on HIV as a disease that is still very active in the United States and abroad. By extension, she advocated for the need for more robust sexual education.  Whoopi was in San Francisco when the AIDS epidemic was at its height, and she saw firsthand how miseducation and misinformation led to discrimination and outright impediment of research dollars for issues affecting the LGBTQ community. It’s one of the reasons that, when asked by Elizabeth Taylor for help on her HIV/AIDS initiative, she said yes without hesitation.

“Look, sex is going to happen, and for most of you a lot – and often, I hope,” she said to an auditorium full of laughter.

Statistics shared during the panel included an estimate that 1 in 2 African American men who have sex with men will contract the HIV virus.

“But, if we aren’t talking about this, we’re just letting it happen,” she told fellow panelist Quinn Tivey of the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS foundation.

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