Known as the “gay direct-mail guy,” his success in raising awareness and attracting funds was unprecedented. In 1986, for example, his “No on 64” letter was instrumental in helping to defeat California’s Proposition 64, a radical ballot measure that sought to quarantine people with HIV.
When Strub arrived in Washington in 1976 to pursue a career in politics, he wasn’t much of a radical. He had boy-next-door good looks and Midwestern manners, and he was still a virgin. Then he came out of the closet. Set largely against the backdrop of New York City, Strub’s memoir, “Body Counts,” describes his transformation from closeted Iowa boy to gay rights activist at the center of the AIDS epidemic.
Not all of us involved in fundraising for AIDS organizations in the 80s wound up as activists, but Strub did, bringing those talents and contacts to ACT UP. But it wasn't until the death of his lover, Michael that Strub's life took an irrevocable turn. That morning at St. Patrick's was - at least for me - the moment the Catholic boy from Iowa became an activist. From then on, his commitment to the community took on a much deeper meaning. He was fighting for his friends, for Michael, and for himself.
-Broadway World Books, March 13, 2014
Sean Strub’s new memoir Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS and Survival profiles the author’s own experience with AIDS, but also gives an up close portrait of the politics and policies around the epidemic. Strub shares details from the book.
Host Charity Nebbe sits down with Strub to discuss his new book, "Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS and Survival." It details how Strub came of age in the political world of Washington, D.C. and New York City while at the same time coming to terms with his sexuality and then later his diagnosis of HIV.
What makes “Body Counts” a page-turner is that it’s both the chronicle of a young man’s experience of the disease and the memoir of an activist who witnessed a great deal of history. “Body Counts” has the suspense and horror of Paul Monette’s memoir “Borrowed Time” and the drama of Kramer’s play “The Normal Heart.”
-The Washington Post, January 31, 2014
"Body Counts," Sean Strub's moving, multi-decade memoir of one gay man's life, is not only a time capsule of the LGBT movement but also an examination of how far the United States has come in a very brief time to a new understanding of difference and acceptance.
-San Francisco Chronicle, January 10, 2014
Sean Strub’s newly published book Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival provides a vivid, first-hand account of how his own struggle with AIDS intersected with his role as an AIDS activist during the tumultuous early years of the epidemic in New York City.
-Washington Blade, January 27, 2014
His memoir Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS and Survival, relates not just the dramatic life story of one of America’s leading AIDS activists and founder of the magazine Poz, but also, for a younger generation who may not know, how he and others fought to increase public awareness and counter bigotry in the much darker 1980s and 90s.
-The Daily Beast, January 27, 2014
This is not a politically correct history of those awful years when gay men with AIDS dropped like flies. Strub does not revise nor does he hedge regrets. One singular advantage is that Strub’s portrayal of events and individuals comes with the clarifying lens of time. The chapters are lucid, tell stories rather than recite data, and are absent of bravado that dims our view of complex issues.
-Lambda Literary, January 11, 2014
Strub proves to be a rare breed of narrator, one who weaves a rich tale that both predates the early crisis—he arrived in Washington, D.C., in 1976, still swooning over Carter’s liberal optimism even as gay politicos clutched tightly at their closeted power—and managed to survive its darkest days.
-Out, January 10, 2014
Most Recent Reviews
“Strub has a long career with many achievements. This book tells his story and, somehow, he manages to tell it without bitterness, bitchy comments or “settling scores,” another major achievement”.
"The evening was informative, engaging, and especially poignant as Sean shared his own early experiences with his HIV diagnoses and the manner in which HIV impacted the gay community and the lives of friends and colleagues," Distel said. "His experiences mirrored my own as well as others in the intimate space. The evening also provided a level of reassurance relative to the extent to which a younger generation find themselves engaged in the battle against HIV and a vital part of the discourse during the evening's event."
Chicago Tribune Editor's choice, Elizabeth Taylor: Body Counts “is a story of resilience and righteous indignation, touched with wit”.
Sean Strub tells all to Emma McClatchey and Katie Kuntz on KRUI 89.7FM. Listen here
As Strub states in Body Counts, “But I could never have put AIDS behind me, even if I wanted to” (368). Thankfully, Strub didn’t and, as readers, we don’t have to either. Keeping the history, personal experiences, affects and memories of the AIDS crisis alive and part of the present, Strub ends his inspiring memoir with an important discussion of HIV criminalization, one of the many political issues of the present AIDS crisis, reminding readers that the crisis is certainly not over.
IN 1976, at age seventeen, Sean Strub got a job operating an elevator on the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol. He scarcely believed his luck. What could be better than daily contact with the most distinguished statesmen in the country? “There wasn’t much room in my elevator, but I loved how large the world became for me within its walls.”
Sean Strub, founder of POZ magazine, talked about his memoir, Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival, in which he discusses his life and his efforts to bring awareness to the AIDS epidemic during the 1980s. In 1990, Mr. Strub, who himself has lived with AIDS for over three decades, became the first openly gay, HIV positive person to run for Congress. This event was hosted by Books Inc. in San Francisco.
It was his long-term survival that allowed him to look back, at age 55, with some distance from the early years of AIDS that so many of his fallen contemporaries would never have.
Today Sean Strub is known as an eloquent, groundbreaking AIDS activist and the man behind POZ magazine and the Sero project, a network of HIV+ people and their allies fighting HIV-related stigma and injustice.
-The Gazette, February 16, 2014
A politician, an activist, a journalist, an author, a survivor.
Is there anything Sean Strub hasn’t done?
-South Florida Gay News, February 13, 2014
Sean Strub discusses his new memoir with fellow veteran ACT UP activist Michelangelo Signorile on the latter's Sirius/XM radio show in mid-January. In a very lively and involved discussion, the pair talked about the early days of the AIDS movement, the progress made and the work that still has to be done -- especially in the area of HIV criminalization, a legal issue that Sean Strub's Sero Project has pledged to reform.
Sean Strub's intensely honest new book, Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival, captures an era and an ethos through one man's life--a life linked to a dizzying number of well-known people and events. Strub tells his story through vignettes recounted with breathless energy. As he puts it, he wanted his writing to be "off the cuff and intuitive."
-glbtq, February 1, 2014
Book Excerpt: POZ magazine did its best to be a thorn in the side of the Clinton administration, and hold the president accountable for promises he’d made during his campaign. They could not entirely ignore us because our criticism was on target.
-Salon, February 1, 2014
My friend Sean Strub and I met during our days together in ACT UP/New York City, and as two longterm AIDS survivors we keep in touch these days via emails. When he invited me to join him and a few others for some chat with the Luncheon Society in North Beach, I quickly accepted his invitation.
-Petrelis Files, February 1, 2014
There's no faking the numbers of our dead friends, however, as we often went to memorials several times as week until some of us just couldn't go anymore. Some of us have lists; some have stacks of Rolodex cards. Some are forgetting. That's why I'm grateful to those—like Sean—who remember.
-Gay News - FrontiersLA, January 31, 2014
Sean Strub promises “a memoir of politics, sex, AIDS and survival” and overdelivers with Body Counts. This captivating new book from the POZ magazine founder grabs your attention with stories of Strub’s college years in D.C., of standing on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic and all the sex, heartache and growth along the way.
-Instinct, January 29, 2014
Interview segment with Sean Strub
"Author lived with terrifying secret for years"
9 News Now at Noon (WUSA-TV), Anchor: Mike Hydeck, Airdate: 1/27/2014
Weekend Today in New York
Segment: Bill's Books with Bill Goldstein
-NBC New York (WNBC-TV), Anchor: Pat Battle, Airdate: 1/26/2014
The Book Reader with June Thomas of Slate
"The Book Reader: 'Body Counts,' 'The Days of Anna Madrigal'"
-NY 1 News, Airdate: 1/24/2014
But "Body Counts" doesn’t just look back at Strub’s powerful and engaging reports from the front lines; it also keeps an eye toward the future, with an assessment of today’s HIV/AIDS epidemic and powerful strategies for curbing new HIV transmissions while finding an end to the growing phenomenon of AIDS criminalization. As Strub tells it, stigma, not treatment, is now the biggest barrier to ending HIV.
-EDGE, January 23, 2014
He has documented how his personal and professional spheres interconnected as he moved from the Midwest to first Washington, D.C. and later New York and rural Pennsylvania in his fascinating new memoir
-The Bay Area Reporter, January 23, 2014
Strub highlights the real progress that has been made in the 20 years since he founded POZ, the glossy HIV/AIDS-focused magazine.
-Metro Weekly, January 23, 2014
The new memoir covers Strub’s personal experience in the early fight against HIV/AIDS as well as the process of founding Poz. It also argues for a different approach to fighting the virus today.
-Next Magazine, January 22, 2014
At its heart, “Body Counts” is the telling and remembering of LGBT history, the heroic tales of those on the front lines in the HIV/AIDS epidemic, both the survivors and the fallen — our stories, our history never to be forgotten, trivialized or minimized.
-Press Pass Q, January 22, 2014
POZ founder Sean Strub pens new book on AIDS epidemic
-Press Pass Q, January 22, 2014
Strub says safer-sex messaging is more complicated than we think
-Press Pass Q, January 22, 2014
Strub recounts how he took activism to the streets, and the Church
-Press Pass Q, January 22, 2014
This book, which I’d eagerly awaited since learning of its impending publication, is one of the most difficult books I’ve read. Not because it’s written in an impenetrable style, or full needs a dictionary of drugs or a medical qualification, but because of its matter-of-fact accounts of the confusion, terror, hope, tears, love, support, defiance and strength that we people with HIV have lived with for the past thirty-odd years.
-Beyondpositive, January 20, 2014
In this deeply moving, stunningly honest memoir, Strub recounts a story both distinctly his own and shared by many men in his generation. Moving to New York just as the gay-rights movement begins to open closets, Strub discovers sex and love, forging an identity as part of a “jubilant and protective” gay community. When AIDS emerged as both killer and metaphor with which to attack gay men, Strub became an activist for those infected — of which he was one. Here, he recounts a survival as much psychological as physical.
-The Boston Globe, January 18, 2014
Essential reading: Sean Strub's Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival
-Manhattan User's Guide, January 17, 2014
Strub's book presents a compelling and critically important glimpse into some of the most formative years in LGBT history.
-The Bilerico Project, January 16, 2014
Newstalk: The Stigma Surround HIV
-Sean Moncrieff Show, January 16, 2014
Strub has written a vital, inspiring memoir, unprecedented in scope, about this deeply important period of American history.
-Truth Wins Out, January 15, 2014
In his Body Counts: a Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival ( Scribner, out Jan. 14 ), Strub tells all, not as juicy tales at the expense of the players but as honest vignettes of human frailty and success, of human comedies and haunting dramas.
-Windy City Times, January 15, 2014
Book Trailer: Sean Strub's Body Counts
-Joe. My. God. January 15, 2014
The political activist, founder of POZ magazine, hotelier, and executive director of the Sero Project, which combats the criminalization of people with HIV, writes about his remarkable life. A true survivor.
-Editor's Picks of the Week, January 15, 2014
History should always trump nostalgia because “nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.” Whoever first said these words—baseball icon Yogi Berra, French actress Simone Signoret, or New Yorker magazine writer Peter De Vries—they apply to the history of AIDS activism.
-Lambda Literary, January 11, 2014
Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS and Survival, is a riveting tale of a young man’s journey from Iowa City into the political morass of the U.S. Congress, coming out and diving into the gay community. It’s not a unique trajectory, but Strub is a uniquely dedicated activists and his recollections are intensely interesting and detailed, delivering the sort of behind-the-scenes glimpses and insights that other books over-promise.
-Keen News Service, January 10, 2014
This memoir by longtime AIDS activist (and founder of POZ magazine) Sean Strub offers an eyewitness account from the inside of the epidemic at its worst. From the virus’s mysterious emergence to the introduction of the antiretroviral drugs that saved Strub’s own life, this book is a valuable addition to the American AIDS archive.
-Next Magazine, January 9, 2014