Heroes in the Struggle Presented by Gilead Sciences is a photographic tribute to Black Americans and allies who have made heroic contributions to the fight against HIV/AIDS and includes individuals from all walks of life—celebrities, doctors, policy makers, advocates, caregivers, and people living with HIV/AIDS—have been inducted into the exhibit since its inception in 2000. Since its debut, the Heroes in the Struggle exhibit has traveled the world, raising awareness, challenging individuals and institutions to get involved in their communities, and generating critical conversations about HIV stigma, testing, prevention, treatment and care.  

Each year, The Black AIDS Institute (BAI) inducts a select group of individuals and organizations that have made heroic contributions to the fight against HIV/AIDS in Black America into the Heroes in the Struggle Hall of Fame. We'll be honoring an illustrious group of 2020 changemakers including Dr. Eugene McCray, Laith Ashley De La Cruz, Karamo, Tarell Alvin McCraney, and more. Previous Heroes include Hill Harper, Jurnee Smollett, Laverne Cox, Ledisi, Billy Porter, Taraji P. Henson, Patti LaBelle, Jennifer Lewis, and others. 

This year’s theme: 

“Black Resiliency: Celebrating Men in the Struggle.”

The Heroes in the Struggle Dinner Presented by Gilead Sciences and A Russelli & Hall Production is BAI's flagship fundraising effort, generating crucial support for BAI's lifesaving work. In addition to being the 20th annual Gala and one of the largest AIDS events of its kind in the country, this year's Gala will commemorate National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness week. BAI is launching several initiatives over the weekend, including expanding clinical services in South Los Angeles, releasing a new national report, launching a new website and unveiling a new logo.  


Founded in 1999, BAI is the only national HIV/AIDS think tank focused exclusively on Black people. BAI's mission is to end the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Black communities by engaging and mobilizing traditional Black Leaders, Institutions, and individuals in efforts to confront HIV/AIDS. BAI disseminates information, conducts trainings, offers technical assistance and capacity building, advocates for sound, inclusive, culturally responsive public & private sector health policies, delivers high quality comprehensive local primary care and treatment in Los Angeles, and provides advocacy and mobilization from a uniquely and unapologetically Black point of view.  

Our motto is "Our People, Our Problem, Our Solution!"

2020 Heroes

Karamo --- Advocate  

Karamo is best known for being the beloved “Culture Expert” on Netflix’s Queer Eye, opening the heroes’ eyes and hearts to fully embrace their authentic selves. He has brought his experience from working with homeless LGBTQ+ youth and his work in social services to the mainstream. Along with his son Jason ‘Rachel’ Brown he recently released the illustrated children’s book I Am Perfectly Designed meant to uplift and encourage all that we are enough. He started his career in television in 2004 on the hit show The Real World: Philadelphia and was the first openly gay black man on reality television. He co-founded 6in10, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting black gay and bisexual men living with HIV and ending the epidemic and stigma in America. Karamo partnered with Janssen for their Positively Fearless campaign to empower gay and bisexual youth living with HIV


Tarell Alvin McCraney -- James Bladwin award 

McCraney’s work is most notably seen in the film Moonlight, the amazing play Choir Boy, as well as the critically acclaimed show, David Makes Man. He has so far seen 8 plays produced, written two screenplays, won a MacArthur genius grant, and adapted Shakespeare for the Royal Shakespeare Company in London. His mother passed early in life due to AIDS related complications and he committed to telling full stories about the impacts of HIV through community theater growing up. After matriculting through Yale University and working with Steppenwolf, McCraney began writing compelling stories that truly highlighted the aunthticity of Black gay life in America and shed ligh on the very unique and nuanced struggles endured. He is committed to always writing and composing full,compelling stories that bring a raw, tender humanity to Black gay men on and off the stage and screen.

Laith Ashley --- Trailblazer  

Ashley committed his early work to LGBT youth in New York at the Callen Lorde LGBT Health Center where he worked as a social worker to assist homeless LGBT youth. He began to pursue a modeling career in his early twenties and landed a very coveted spread with Calvin Klein which became his big break in his career. This campaign exposed him to much scrutiny as an out transgender model. He has appeared on the hit show, Strut, representing for trans masculinity in the industry. He has spoken out consistently about the importance of trans masculine representation and also the intersection of trans masculinity and patriarchy. He has gone on to model for Barneys and Calvin Klein and has appeared in Britich GQ, Vogue France, Out Magazine, Elle UK, and has walked in many runway shows including those at New York Fashion Week. In his spare time, Ashley works with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation to raise awareness and provide support for trans and gender non conforming people.


Eugene McCray --- Policy Maker  

 Eugene McCray, MD, is the Director of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention (DHAP) in CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. He is a medical epidemiologist and began his career at the CDC in 1983 as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer. He has since served in various capacities throughout CDC. Dr. McCray’s work is critical to ending the HIV epidemic in America as the division he oversees works to prevent HIV infections and reduce the incidence of HIV-related illness and death across the United States. He had worked tirelessly in recent years to destigmatize PrEP and increase it’s availability to Black women.

Dr. Keith Green --- Activist  

 Dr. Green is an out, proud leader living with HIV. Having been diagnosed at the age of 17, he has been committed to raising awareness about the virus and helping to develop solutions for Black gay men to lead healthy sexual lives. He currently serves as an assistant professor at Loyola University Chicago. He had contributed writings around ending the HIV epidemic to publications such as TheBody.com and Positively Aware early on in his career. He’s a foudnign member of the Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus and through his work on Project PeEPare, he bacame integral in leading a study focusing on biomedical HIV intervention.

In Memorium

Ronald Henderson has served the state of Florida in the public health arena since 1989, beginning his public health career as a Health Services Representative with the Leon County Health Department. In 1999, he was selected to serve as the Statewide Minority AIDS Coordinator with the HIV/AIDS Section, Florida Department of Health where he coordinated a variety of minority-focused prevention, care, and early intervention projects and activities that bring awareness and assistance to minority communities. Mr. Henderson has served on several national and statewide advisory groups. Mr. Henderson also served in the capacity of Health Equity Manager for the Bureau of Communicable Diseases, Florida Department of Health where he worked across the bureau to address the needs of all racial/ethnic minorities. He fathered reports and initiatives that gained national recognition that included, Silence Is Death, Organizing to Survive, Man Up, Out In The Open, and the states largest HIV mobilization initiative, Sistas Organizing to Survive (SOS).

BAI will be honoring Mr. Henderson posthumously for his brilliant work.

Purchase Your Tickets Here!

When: February 8, 2020 6:00 PM PST Where: California African American Museum (CAAM), 600 State Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90037

The Gala has been completely underwritten by corporate sponsors. Every dollar raised from ticket sales and individual donations goes directly to Institute programs—which range from raising HIV/AIDS awareness; to training communities in the science and treatment of HIV; increasing HIV testing; helping to link and retain people living with HIV/AIDS or at risk for infection into care and treatment; and mobilizing leaders, institutions and individuals in efforts to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic

Tickets and sponsorship packages are priced at various levels, from VIP packages to a limited number of community seats for as little as $100.00. The event is completely underwritten by major donors and every penny raised thru ticket sales goes directly into efforts to end the epidemic, help people get into care and stay in care, prevent new HIV infections, and advocate for sound HIV/AIDS policies. For more information about purchasing tickets, becoming a sponsor, joining the host committee, or placing an advertisement in the program book go to http://hits.eventbrite.com or contact Kelly McConville -- hits@blackaids.org