Gay rights lobby group the Human Rights Campaign has announced that Chuck Panozzo, bass player and founding member of the immensely popular rock group Styx, has elected to go public about his sexuality and HIV status. Panozzo, who will become the HRC spokesperson for the group's National Coming Out Project, tested positive for HIV in 1991 and was diagnosed with advanced AIDS in 1999. Two years of aggressive therapy and the passing of a longtime friend from AIDS were factors in convincing Panozzo to finally live as an openly gay man. "Coming out has touched my life in so many positive ways and really has set my spirit free," claims Panozzo, who adds, "I've lived in Chicago my entire life, but speaking to my gay brothers and sisters about coming out means I am finally home." Out lesbian Candace Gingrich, who serves as HRC's National Coming Out Project manager, says, "We are pleased to have Chuck as a spokesperson and think he will reach a lot of people with his inspirational and hopeful message.... We think he will have a significant impact on those who are still struggling with coming out." National Coming Out Day is October 11.
Styx Founder Comes Out