Jack Thompson, 2019 International Mr Leather, was the first openly HIV-positive trans person to deliver the keynote address at the Thorne Harbour Health Annual General Meeting on the weekend, where the recipients of the Thorne Harbour Health Awards were announced, recognising significant contributions to advancing the health and wellbeing of LGBTI communities and people living with HIV.

“Jack’s leadership demonstrates that real progress in addressing stigma can be achieved through bravery, intelligence and inclusion. Jack is a great example to us all,” said Thorne Harbour Health President Chad Hughes.


In its 40-year history, Thompson is the first trans person of colour to win the title of International Mr Leather (IML) and has publicly spoken about living with HIV.

Thompsons “You Are Enough” speech at IML 2019 challenged the stigma, discrimination, and transphobia he has faced and was widely shared on social media.

Prior to winning his title, he has been a sexual health educator and peer test facilitator and has embraced this broader public platform to advance community conversation, advocating for the health and wellbeing of trans and gender diverse communities, people of colour, and people living with HIV.

The AGM saw the recognition of individuals, from leaders to volunteers, who continue to contribute to the health and wellbeing of their communities, with life memberships awarded to community personality and volunteer Luke Gallagher, and community activist and former president Kirsty Machon.

The President’s Award went to Joseph Tesoiero for his work addressing financial barriers to PrEP for the community, while journalist David Marr received the Media Award for his work on human rights, homophobic violence and corruption in the church.

Special service awards were given to Nathan Despott in recognition of his founding of the Brave Network to support LGBTI people of faith, Renea and Charlotte Johnson for their tireless volunteerism in support of Thorne Harbour, Greg Axtens for his work advocating on behalf of LGBTI people living with a disability and Caitlin Grigsby for improving the lives of regional LGBTI people through the Gippsland Pride Initiative.

This year’s Greig Friday Young Leader Award went to Jason Choi for his commitment to and work with the Peer Education Program at Thorne Harbour.

“It’s fantastic to see such a diverse range of individuals being recognized for, not only their significant contribution to the organisation, but their desire to see a better place for LGBTI people in our community,” said Thorne Harbour CEO Simon Ruth.

Formerly the Victorian AIDS Council, the AGM emphasised Thorne Harbour Health’s growth, in terms of the services the organisation provides, and its continued strength through its diverse staff and passionate volunteers.

Thorne Harbour Health is looking for volunteers to distribute red ribbons in the lead up to World AIDS Day. Click here to find out how you can help.


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