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

May 15, 2013


Angel Dumott Schunard and Mimi Marquez

Angel Dumott Schunard and Mimi Marquez

Rent made history for several reasons. A musical about a group of people living in New York's Lower East Side in the days of bohemian Alphabet City against the backdrop of HIV/AIDS and poverty, it went on to win the Pulitzer Prize (a rarity for a musical). It also won the Tony Award for Best Musical, and Wilson Jermaine Heredia won a Tony for his performance as Angel Dumott Schunard, the HIV-positive Latina drag queen character.

The show features many HIV-positive characters, chief among them its two Latino characters -- Mimi Marquez and Angel Dumott Schunard. Angel's romance with the character Tom Collins begins when Angel finds him beaten on the street on Christmas Eve. Angel is often considered the heart and soul of the show -- he is the only character to die in the play, and his funeral serves as a major plot point for the characters.

Mimi Marquez is the lead female of the show. She is an exotic dancer at a club called the Cat Scratch. Mimi spends most of the show going in and out of a relationship with Roger Davis, who lives in her building and is also HIV positive. The ending of the show finds Mimi on the brink of death, but she ultimately does not succumb and is reunited with Roger. Mimi has been portrayed most notably by veteran actress Daphne Rubin-Vega and, in the film version, by Rosario Dawson.

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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Yaeger Fri., Jul. 31, 2015 at 12:11 am UTC
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 UTC
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 UTC
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 UTC
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 UTC
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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