While I’ve been recognized both locally and nationally as an entertainer, DJ and musician, my current political pursuits came only after facing arduous personal trials as an HIV+ gay man and artist struggling to make ends meet. My life hasn’t been an easy one, but through it I’ve acquired an empathy for citizens living paycheck to paycheck, artists trying to better our community through their creative talents, and minorities who have been subjected to discrimination and even violence.
When I was 19, I chose homelessness in NYC over homelessness in Phoenix because I believed New York offered more opportunities. Couch surfing evolved into sleeping in parks and subway cars, until I bought a 1988 Lincoln Limousine on eBay. That’s where I lived for 10 months while still performing. It took years for me to wipe off the grit of the New York City streets, but I did land back in Phoenix as a bi-coastal entertainer with multi-media success that now includes social media engineering, event production, and live performance.
The Arizona Republic called me “The Glamour Boy of Phoenix”, Echo Magazine recognized me as one of “The 10 of Tomorrow,” and my media appearances have spanned radio, television, and film including guest spots on MTV, the CW’s High Society, Law & Order: SVU, as well as cameos in the indie flicks Between Love and Goodbye, A Four Letter Word, and Bi The Way, but I’m most proud of the privilege I’ve had to work in social activism.
Connecting my artistic talents to social advocacy seemed not only like the most logical progression for me, but also a responsibility. Serving an often neglected segment of our population by DJing and fundraising for the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS and Southwest CARE Center in Santa Fe, and volunteering to empower youth at 1n10 and Tumbleweed here in the Valley makes me feel like I’ve come full circle. I’ve also tried to ensure that my local performances are a vehicle to meet underserved community needs. The End of Days Cabaret with Scandalesque in 2011 raised money for Halo, a no kill animal shelter, while The End of Days Cabaret: Wrath of the Mayan Calendar in 2013 was a fundraiser for the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting.
Perhaps one of my most anxiety producing experiences, however, was coming out as an HIV+ man when being filmed for the internationally televised and award-winning LogoTV documentary Positive Youth. While I had reservations about how I would be perceived, my strong desire to share the film’s important educational message with a larger audience trumped those fears.
Last November, I was physically assaulted at the corner of Osborne and Central in a violent hate crime that fractured several of my facial bones. Waking up in the hospital bloodied and bruised proved to me that no citizen of Phoenix deserves to live in fear or to be subjected to discrimination. This event has prompted me to run as your City Councilman to ensure that all people in Phoenix’s District 4 have the right to affordable and accessible transportation, to encourage a strong platform for the creative arts, and to secure a safe and diverse community.
SWAY Events' SWAGGER AWARDS
Video honoring Austin Head with a Super Swagger Award