Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01



AFC softball couple on relationship, work and PrEP awareness
Extended for the online edition of Windy City Times
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times

This article shared 6046 times since Sun Nov 8, 2015
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

The AIDS Foundation of Chicago ( AFC ) Sirens, a Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association ( CMSA ) league Sunday summer softball team, has many team members who are taking Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis ( PrEP ), an HIV prevention drug, including Larry "LT" Todd ( nee: Johnson ) Cousineau.

LT is in a serodiscordant relationship with his husband Vincent "Vinny" Cousineau, who is HIV-positive. Vinny, who also serves as the team's coach, has been HIV-positive since 1993, while LT, who's been on PrEP for about a year, is HIV-negative.

The team was previously sponsored by the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus, of which both men are currently members—LT as a singer and Vinny as a chorus husband.

To promote PrEP awareness, the Sirens, who recently won the Division Championship, have #PrEP on their uniforms and the Cousineau's see their involvement with the team as a way to not only have fun but also to educate the public about serodiscordant relationships and the benefits of PrEP regardless of one's relationship status.

"It's a way for us to take away the stigma that people still have about those who take PrEP as being sexually promiscuous people," said LT. "The initial exposure to PrEP information wise was negative in nature and the more I learned about it the more I saw that the numbers don't lie regarding how many people this helps in terms of saving lives and a lot of money. The key is to get as many people on PrEP who are with someone who has HIV so HIV doesn't spread.

"When I first started taking PrEP, which is one pill once a day, it was a huge weight off of my shoulders. We were always well aware of and well researched with what was and wasn't recommended sexual behavior for us but there was always this nagging feeling that I was going to get a positive test and with PrEP that feeling is gone for me. It's a big weight off of my shoulders psychologically. Me being on PrEP hasn't changed our sexual habits either."

The Cousineaus were together for six years before LT started taking PrEP.

Joshua A. Oaks, AFC's digital policy manager, said, "We're proud to sponsor a team of advocates who truly care about making the LGBTQ community aware of this new option for HIV prevention. With the significant amount of misinformation and stigma associated with PrEP, it's so important to meet people where they are and have this conversation. We thank the team for having the courage to take a stand and let their voices be heard."

"The AFC is so proud of the Sirens for not only winning but also for plugging PrEP along the way. Integrating PrEP into fun, healthy, sport and social activities makes so much sense—and it's sexy," said Jim Pickett, AFC's director of prevention advocacy and gay men's health. "We strongly support PrEP—a program consisting of daily pill taking, regular HIV and STI testing and sexual health and adherence counseling—and have long advocated for a variety of new prevention technologies—more things to put out on the prevention buffet beyond male and female condoms—on the global stage."

Both men lost partners ( LT's partner, Thom, in 1987 and Vinny's partner, Steve, in 2005 ) due to complications from AIDS, however, LT never contracted HIV.

"This was back in the early days of the disease and my case is very, very rare and I don't know how it happened," said LT "Maybe it's because we were careful or if I'm immune."

The Cousineau's met in Palm Springs in the summer of 2007 when LT was in town celebrating his birthday and Vinny was in between visits to two Southern California Major League ballparks. They moved to Chicago so they could be together in one city in the summer of 2009 after sustaining their relationship for two years despite living on opposite coasts.

"My good friend Joaquin and I were staying at a gay resort and when I went out to the pool the only person there was Vinny," said LT. "Joaquin was pushing me to talk to Vinny and if it didn't work out then we would go home because it was in the middle of July when no one is in Palm Springs at the resorts. I went up to Vinny and asked him if he would put sunscreen on my back with the line, 'I know this sounds like a pickup line but can you put this lotion on my back.'"

"After Steve's death, the romantic side of me had been completely shut down, but meeting LT woke up that part of me," said Vinny. "He flew to D.C. for a visit in September and that's when I realized this was something serious. The cool thing was that most of the time, all we had was phone conversations, so we'd talk for an hour or more every day and really get to know each other. Sometimes when we were apart we would watch the same movie together by timing it up with each other and staying on the phone while we watched. We would go to restaurants on our own in our respective cities and have headsets on and have dinner dates where we talked to each other via phone. When we were together, we did things we couldn't do on the phone: cuddle, work out or cook together, cuddle some more."

They decided to move to Chicago, in part, because of the city's theater community and scene which LT has said is better than New York City or any other city's theater community due to the diversity of theater companies and venues. They've lived in the same Edgewater condo since moving to the city.

Both LT and Vinny love how friendly and unpretentious everyone is here and the fact that people are more willing to get together without an agenda. LT noted that when they first got here he called a couple of theater people and they offered to give him a tour of their theaters and have lunch with him right away and in Los Angeles no one does that.

Vinny explained that, at his old school, teachers would have two-minute conversations in the hallway and at his current school people sit and hang out for 25 minutes. This was a big shift for Vinny and at first he was criticized for not socializing enough during the school day.

"We're the odd couple because all of the important stuff in our relationship happens in odd number years beginning in 2007 when we met each other and then in 2009 when we moved to Chicago," said Vinny. "In 2011 we did the whole wedding ceremony which was considered a civil union here in Illinois. In 2013 same-sex marriage was legal in California again so we eloped in Palm Springs so we could get a marriage certificate and shortly after that our marriage was legal in Illinois and then this year it was legal nationwide."

Vinny grew up in western Massachusetts in a blue-collar town before moving to Connecticut. He went to the University of Pennsylvania as an engineering major but realized he wanted to be a teacher so he switched and became a math major. Vinny also wrote about gay issues for his college paper.

For the past six years, Vinny has taught math at North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka and was previously a math teacher at Georgetown Day School in Washington, D.C., for 19 years. He's been out as a gay man at both schools and is involved in student leadership and diversity work at his current school.

"This article will be my coming out as HIV-positive publicly and the administrators at my school are completely on board and prepared for the inevitable questions that will come their way," said Vinny. "I'm looking at this as a way to provide educational opportunities for the students, faculty and the world at large."

Vinny also came out as HIV-positive to his previous school after Steve died. At first he told people that Steve died due to non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma but nine months later the school had an assembly where they brought in specialists to talk about HIV and that's when he told the school how Steve died and that he was HIV-positive. That was in 2007.

"I got lucky because I contracted HIV when the cocktail was introduced and haven't reinfected myself," said Vinny. "My viral load is undetectable and I even took a year and a half off of my meds because I felt so good and because of my undetectable viral load. At first I was taking a number of pills with and without food at different times of the day but now I'm down to one pill in the morning with or without food and three pills at night with food."

LT was born in San Diego and went to UCLA for his undergraduate degree in acting. While attending college he did a lot of behind the scenes work in community theater. From the time LT was a kid he was always writing lyrics for songs and since he continued to write musical theater productions while in college he was able to get his work produced at UCLA. He continued his education and got a masters degree in playwriting at Cal State Fullerton.

"In the middle of getting my graduate degree Thom died," said LT. "While he was sick I was writing a show about what would happen after he died. When I met him I knew he was HIV-positive but I still started a relationship with him because I loved him and I thought I would be fine. Right around the time he died that show became a musical theater production called 'All That He Was' at Cal State Fullerton which ended up being my thesis project. He got to see it before he died. It ended up being a hit in the smaller theater world. We toured with the production for a few years and it's still being put on by theaters across the country."

Currently, LT writes for Chicago theater productions and has a day job as an office manager at a financial consulting company in the Loop. He previously spent 15 years at Disney in Los Angeles working as a line producer and on the writing staff of two animated series—Get Ed and Yin, Yang, Yo! as well as writing for other productions outside of Disney including the reboot of the Care Bears show and Angela Anaconda.

LT also sings at venues throughout Chicago and has a show on Dec. 14 at Uptown Underground.

"It's a compilation of original songs called 'Songs From My Holiday Closet' which is 30 years worth of songs that I've written," said LT. "I do this show with four other friends and the songs we sing are original, fun, crazy, gay, holiday songs."

When not working, playing softball, performing with the chorus or hanging out with friends, the couple see lots of theater productions since LT is a Jeff Awards ( Chicago theater awards ) committee member.

Both men have also competed at various Gay Games. Vinny played volleyball in the 1992 games in New York City, was on a soccer team for both the 2006 games here in Chicago and the 2014 games in Cleveland while LT competed in the 5K at the 2014 games in Cleveland and got a medal in his age bracket.

Vinny's soccer team won at the Out Games in Montreal in 2006.

For more information on LT's work, visit . To purchase tickets to LT's show visit .

This article shared 6046 times since Sun Nov 8, 2015
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

NATIONAL Carl Bean dies, LGBT History Month, military events, Dykes on Bikes
Archbishop Carl Bean—an openly gay former Motown singer, longtime AIDS activist and leader in the LGBTQ church movement—died at age 77, The New York Daily News reported. In a statement entitled "The Giant Sleeps," the Unity ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Genera+ion' axed, sports items, Wilson Cruz, k.d. lang, Lil Nas X
HBO Max did now renew Genera+ion, its OC-high-school-set dramedy, noted. "We will not be moving forward with a second season of Genera+ion," a spokesperson for HBO Max said in a statement. "We are very proud ...

Gay News

SPORTS Aces rout Sky 103-70
In WNBA action, the Las Vegas Aces routed the Chicago Sky 103-70 at Wintrust Arena on Sept. 17. A day after Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot declared Sept. 16 to be "Candace Parker Day," the Sky forward ...

Gay News

SOCCER Lloyd scores five goals as U.S. women rout Paraguay
Scoring five goals in a soccer match can be called a glut or even a "repoker." Whatever it's called, Carli Lloyd accomplished that incredible feat as the U.S. women's national team routed Paraguay 9-0 in Cleveland ...

Gay News

Gay Games XI postponed because of pandemic
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the upcoming Gay Games XI have been moved from November 2022 to November 2023, Outsports reported. "Given the ongoing uncertainty regarding the state of travel restrictions internationally and in Hong Kong, ...

Gay News

HHS awards $48M to health centers to expand HIV prevention, treatment
On Sept. 16, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), awarded more than $48 million to 271 HRSA-supported health centers across 26 states, Puerto Rico and ...

Gay News

USWNT national soccer team slams contract offer
The United States Women's National Team Players Association (USWNTPA) is calling the U.S. Soccer Federation's offer of identical contracts for its women's and men's national teams a publicity stunt, according to Yahoo! Sports. On S ...

Gay News

SPORTS Sky come up short vs. Mystics
At Wintrust Arena on Sept. 12, the Chicago Sky lost to the Washington Mystics 79-72. Sky center Azura Stevens scored a season-high 18 points in the Sky's loss. Earlier this season, the former first round pick ...

Gay News

Three Red Stars join USWNT for upcoming games against Paraguay
Three Chicago Red Stars will join the United States Women's National Team (USWNT) later this month as the squad takes on Paraguay Sept. 16 and 21. Defenders Casey Krueger and Tierna Davidson will be joined by ...

Gay News

SPORTS Blackhawks tickets available Sept. 14; Pride Night on April 12
The Chicago Blackhawks announced that single-game tickets for the team's 2021-22 regular season at the United Center, 1901 W. Madison St., will go on sale to the general public on Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 12 p.m. ...

Gay News

New safety precautions announced for 30th annual AIDS Run & Walk Chicago Oct. 2
--From a press release - CHICAGO — AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC) has announced proof of full vaccination or negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of event will be required for all in-person participants for the 30th annual AIDS Run & ...

Gay News

Chicago Red Stars open nominations for 2021 #SHEINSPIRESME Award
--From a press release - CHICAGO — Nominations are now open for the Chicago Red Stars' 2021 #SHEINSPIRESME Award. #SHEINSPIRESME is an annual award presented to women who exemplify leadership, practice social responsibility and who inspire and uplift their community. T ...

Gay News

SPORTS Sky clinch playoff spot with Sept. 5 win
The Chicago Sky officially secured a ticket to the postseason. By virtue of the team's 92-84 victory over the Las Vegas Aces at Wintrust Arena on Sept. 5, the Sky will advance to the 2021 WNBA ...

Gay News

WNBA names 25 greatest players in history
On Sept. 5, the WNBA commemorated its landmark 25th season by announcing the selection of "The W25"—a collection of the 25 greatest and most influential players in WNBA history, according to a press release. The unveiling ...

Gay News

Baseball player Bryan Ruby comes out as gay
Bryan Ruby has become the only active professional baseball player at any level to be publicly out, according to USA Today. He's a professional baseball player—a member of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, an Oregon team that's a ...


Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.