Michael Kearns

"For four decades Mr. Kearns has used his considerable skills as a gay activist, author and performer to give voice to marginalized GLBT populations including the homeless, mentally ill, elderly and individuals impacted by HIV/AIDS." - Nominator Dr. Zo Harris, student and friend

Michael Kearns photo by Kelvin Jones

2014 LGBT Pride Month Local Heroes nominee

Michael Kearns

Title Artistic Director
Organization/Business QueerWise

  • Kearns founded QueerWise in 2012, a collective of GLBTelders (over 50 years old) who are doing Spoken Word performance at various locations in Los Angeles, including Highways and the Gay and Lesbian Center.
  • Currently the artistic director of Skylight Theater; he has been the artistic director of Celebration Theater and Space at Fountain's End; and has conducted dozens of writing, acting, solo performance, and spoken word workshops all over Southern California.
  • Came out as the first openly gay actor in Hollywood in the 1970's. In 1984 co-founded Artists Confronting Aids (ACA), an organization of artists and others who were focused on producing works about AIDS. In 1988 created the solo piece Intimacies which marked his coming out again as the first publicly HIV-positive actor.
  • Has produced dozens of benefits, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for AIDS charities, including co-founding S.T.A.G.E. (Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event), a fundraiser now in its 26th year, in the early Eighties. For the past six years has produced World AIDS Day events for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
  • Subject of A Family Like Mine, made by his adopted daughter Katherine Kearns, that addresses the topic of same-sex parenthood. Kearns adopted his daughter in 1995 as a single, openly gay, and publicly HIV-positive man.
  • As a humanitarian, he has been honored by the L.A. Weekly, PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), the Gay and Lesbian Rights Chapter of the ACLU, National Coming Out Day and the Victory Fund. In 2002 received the Playwright's Arena Award for Outstanding Contribution to Los Angeles Theatre, acknowledging 30 years of achievements as an artist, activist, and humanitarian.


Ari Ruiz


Talia Bettcher and Susan Forrest