Michael Hinson Jr.a longtime AIDS and housing activist, and leader in Philadelphia's Black LGBTQ+ communitydied Aug. 27 of an undisclosed cause at age 55, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
An obituary in the Philadelphia Gay News stated he died at Penn Hospice at Rittenhouse.
Hinson grew up in Hemingway, South Carolina, where he dreamed of becoming a lawyer, like his favorite courtroom drama television characters, he told Philadelphia Gay News. He ultimately chose a different path to helping those in need, as an activist for people in his community who were dying of a then-new virus (AIDS) and neglected because of their race.
One of the things Hinson did was found Colours Magazine. The publication included news and information about AIDS but also much more, according to activist Abdul-Aliy Muhammad. In 2000, Mayor John Street appointed Hinson the inaugural liaison to the LGBTQ+ community of the city, where he was a trailblazer in public policy surrounding LGBTQ+ issues in Philadelphia.
Hinson also co-founded Philadelphia Black Gay Pride, now a popular annual celebration; secured funding to expand health services at the Mazzoni Center, a leading medical center for LGBTQ+ individuals; and taught at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, a historically Black university from which he earned a master's in public administration. He was also president and CEO of SELF (Strengthening and Empowering Lives and Futures), Inc.
According to The Philadelphia Tribune, Bebashi, the country's first and oldest Black-led HIV/AIDS service organization, said on Twitter that it was saddened to hear of Hinson's death. "Mr. Hinson was a dedicated advocate for the Black LGBTQ community and was instrumental in the creation and development of other HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ committees and organizations," the group said.
"We're deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Michael Hinson Jr.," said a statement from the Mazzoni Center, which offers health care to Philadelphia's LGBTQ community. "We are forever grateful for his service to our community. He helped grow and expand Mazzoni Center and many other organizations, including COLOURS, which he founded. His work will always remain an inspiration."
However, Hinson's sphere of influence extended far beyond Philadelphia (and showed Hinson's capacity to create and maintain friendships). For example, Chicago activist Dr. Keith Green posted a photo on Facebook of the Hinson and himself kissing with the caption, "We were friends for many years before this picture came about. And I'm grateful that we were able to remain friends when that part of our journey didn't work out. I will miss your wisdom and your silliness but most of all your friendship. The world lost one of its greatest treasures this morning. Rest In Peace, Michael Hinson."