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Viva Mi Gente!: 12 Latino Celebrities and Characters Who Thrust HIV/AIDS Into Popular Culture

May 15, 2013


Extraño/Gregorio de la Vega

Extraño/Gregorio de la Vega

Looking down the (short) list of gay superheroes, you will see a lot of names of Caucasian characters -- and many of them did not come out until the '90s, 2000s, or 2010s. However, DC Comics did have a (horribly stereotyped) gay Latino superhero in the 1980s, and his name was Extraño -- which literally means "strange." Extraño (whose real name is Gregorio de la Vega) is a master sorcerer from Peru who when introduced was an effeminate man who wore loose, colorful clothing and was lively and jovial. He usually referred to himself as "Auntie," and often acted as a parent-like figure to other people on his superhero team -- The New Guardians, a group selected by the Guardians of the Universe to take part in an experiment on human evolution.

Here's where things do get a little "strange": Extraño was not handled well by DC, and many have since tried to talk about his history. People have tried to explain what happened to him, and some gay geeks have tried to resurrect his legacy. Extraño never came out, but he utilized a lot of slang terms, spoke in over-the-top sexual innuendo, and embodied a lot of other stereotypes. It was later revealed that Extraño was HIV positive, after being attacked by an "AIDS vampire" that was called ... wait for it ... "Hemo-Goblin." Though he came out as HIV positive, it was unclear whether he was previously positive or actually infected by the AIDS vampire. Even weirder, the storyline goes that Hemo-Goblin was created by a white supremacist group to eliminate anyone who was not white by infecting them with HIV.


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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Yaeger Fri., Jul. 31, 2015 at 12:11 am EDT
Oh my how things have really changed, that it has become almost fashionable to be hiv positive. I remember when the disease first came to be, and where I was when I heard about this unknown disease, where it seemed that many people were dying around me.Was I scared of course who was not. But as some people I knew were passing over with this disease I still went to see them in the hospitals as often as I could. I think they really appreciated that about me, that fear never stopped me from going to see my friends, and associates on the bus. Therefore, I treated them the way I would have wanted to have been treated. But I really thought by now there would be a cure for the disease.
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Comment by: Anonymous Sat., Jul. 11, 2015 at 8:19 am EDT
Hola me hize la prueba hace dos crmanas pero me comenzo el sangrado despues paro y ahora otra ves tengo un poco de dolor en la caders y un poco enfrente y me hago la prueba muchas veces mas y sale positiva no se que hacer
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Comment by: Miguel (El Centro Ca,) Sat., Jul. 12, 2014 at 10:57 am EDT
I am 52 years old and want to find a woman who is HIV positive. Recommend places to contact me. Thank you
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Comment by: OhioMan (Alliance, Ohio) Wed., Jun. 19, 2013 at 11:20 am EDT
I recall Pedro quite well...I was living in Los Angeles at the time and HIV was so new and scary. Pedro was an Idol to us all and helped to explain this horrible illness...Thanks Pedro..
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Comment by: Marta L. (richmond va) Sun., May. 26, 2013 at 12:23 am EDT
my soul can take it it is my body that fails me some times I am 63 years old and hope to live some more don't know how many more. I fell very happy and some times so sad is all part of the prossees . learn to take it one day at a time.
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