Luna Luis Ortiz

b.1972

Luna Luis Ortiz was born into art with a father whom had a fondness for photography in New York City 1972. Ortiz always had a flair for arts with drawing and painting. In 1986, he was infected with HIV at the age of 14 from his first sexual experience. Thereafter he picked up one of his father’s cameras and began the birth of his self-portraits as a way to leave images for the family as a remembrance and before he became the images of AIDS of the 1980’s.

In the late 1980’s Ortiz was a part of New York’s ballroom voguing scene and the club kids scene where his creativity for the arts flourished especially as a photographer. In 1988, he began his journey as an HIV awareness spokesperson for youth living with HIV at the Hetrick- Martin Institute. Over the years Ortiz has dedicated his life to HIV prevention and AIDS awareness for people around the world by appearing on MTV, VH1, PBS, Telemundo, NY1, MSNBC, ABC, Time Out with Magic Johnson and Arsenio Hall as well as Living in the Age of AIDS with Peter Jennings television specials.

Ortiz has received letters of appreciation from New York City Mayors Edward Koch and David Dinkins as well as the Distinguished Service Award from the State of New York. In 2015, Ortiz received The City of New York Proclamation from The City Council at City Hall for his 30 years of dedication in the fight against AIDS. HIV Plus magazines 20 Amazing HIV Positive Gay Men in 2014 as well as POZ magazine’s POZ 100 list of HIV/AIDS Celebrating Long Term Survivors also honored him in 2015. At the 10th Annual Visual AIDS Vanguard Awards Ortiz received  The William Orlander VAVA Voom Award.

As a public speaker he has been invited to share his life story and art at New York University, Cornell University, Penn State University and Yale University, Jersey City Museum, Whitney Museum, Queens Museum and American Folk Art Museum.

As a photographer, Ortiz worked along side artists David LaChapelle, Nan Goldin, Shedrich Williames, Shawn Atkins, Frank Moore, Kehinde Wiley and Lisa Ross. He became a member of the Archive Project at Visual AIDS in 1995 under David Hirsh. Ortiz art has been included in exhibitions at New York galleries as well as the Boston Center of the Arts, Whitney Museum and the New Museum of Contemporary Art in NY. In 2001, he joined the permanent collection at the Kresge Art Museum at Michigan State University. His work graced such publications as The New York Times, The London Observer, The Advocate, POZ, The NY Daily News, OUT, Next, Huffington Post, VIBE, Gay Times (London), Teen People, BLUE, GLAAD Kissing Calendar and A&U.

He taught photography and art therapy at The Hetrick-Martin Institute, Home of the Harvey Milk High School from 2000 to 2007. He is one of the co-founders of the House of Frame by Frame Fierce; a project that teaches animation filmmaking to high risk youth as a form of activism. In 2007 the House of Frame by Frame Fierce received a Peabody Award for their work on a documentary short titled “I'm Not a Boy’ about the life of a transgender youth. From 2006- 2009, Ortiz was a spokes-model for the “HIV Stops with Me” campaign.

In 2007, Ortiz elevated his dedication to HIV prevention and youth work at Gay Men Health Crisis (GMHC). At GMHC, he works tirelessly on the agency’s social marketing campaigns as well as host youth workshops, conferences and health fairs to over 300 youth of color monthly. He also plans and gathers a committee of House and Ball members for the annual Latex Ball. The Latex Ball draws a crowd of over 2,500 participants from around the world. Ortiz also hosts “The Luna Show” on www.youtube.com/TheLunaShowNY that celebrates and preserves the ballroom history of the Latino and Black LGBT experience as well as HIV awareness.

Today, Ortiz continues to inspire and empower youth of color around the world with his story of survival with living with HIV for 30 years. His passions as a father of the House of Khan (whose members compete in the voguing competitions at the balls) give him the opportunity to continue to guide and support young people from the LGBT experience with love, compassion and care. 

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"I started taking pictures right after becoming infected with HIV in 1986. At first I was taking self-portraits because I thought I was going to die from complications due to AIDS. I felt the need to photograph myself so that my family had nice images of me. I discovered how therapeutic taking pictures was for me so I began my journey in the arts as a photographer. I was first intrigued with the lighting Josef von Sternberg used on Marlene Dietrich in her early films and also how beautiful George Hurrell made everyone seem God like in Hollywood with the simplicity and drama of light and shadows. I wanted to create my own Hollywood using my friends.  Since I love old Hollywood films, I reflect on characters with my work, my subjects are acting or simply revealing themselves. I never looked at my art as political or about living with HIV. I wanted to show a different side of my life experiences. I lust over the fantasy of a perfect world with good dramatic lighting."

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