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Meet Bob Bowers

By Aless Piper

April 26, 2013

In December 2012, I was privileged and honored to run my friend Kenn Chaplin's World AIDS Day roundup, which he had originated in 2010. I called the incarnation "Kenn's Project," and accepted submissions all the way up to 10 p.m. EST on December 1. I received written submissions from many of my amazing friends, including Edward, Emerald (she of the Awake and Alive Project), and Kenn himself. As World AIDS Day approached, I expanded the loose guidelines to include photos, and on World AIDS Day, I received one that I was already familiar with.

It is of my friend Bob Bowers, "a beautiful man with a tattoo on his body for every year he has survived with HIV" (Lee Rayburn, 2008) and one of the first 14,000 Americans diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. He is the topic of a documentary, The Fire Within, which is available for order through, and is also on Netflix; and he is also an HIV/AIDS educator. Did I mention he writes in pirate? His love for life, truly, is unsurpassed.

The caption from the Reuters photo reads: "Bob Bowers of Madison, Wisconsin, weeps as names of those who've died of AIDS are read aloud at the AIDS Memorial Quilt on the National Mall in Washington July 24, 2012. Bowers, who has been HIV positive for 30 years, has lost dozens of friends to AIDS. The international AIDS 2012 conference is currently being held in Washington. Reuters / Kevin Lamarque." You can see it here. It is powerful, and went live on second-last to Kenn's submission on December 1.

Almost five years ago, Bob did an interview with Lee Rayburn, of 92.1 The Mic, that I would like to leave you with. This is an amazing interview. You can watch parts 1 through 6 below.

When you're done, how about following Bob (@OneToughPirate) on Twitter. He can also be found at his website.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

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