Elton John credits Ryan White for getting involved In the fight against AIDS

Sat. November 29, 2014 9:40 AM by OnTopMag.com

Out singer Elton John has credited Ryan White for changing his life around.

White became the poster child for HIV/AIDS after his Russiaville, Indiana middle school expelled him when he contracted the disease from a blood transfusion to treat hemophilia. He died one month before his high school graduation.Had he survived, White would have been 43 on December 6.

In a discussion which included Philip Galanes of The New York Times and Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, John, whose Elton John AIDS Foundation has raised more than $300 million, said that he was "ashamed" that he "did nothing" at the start of the AIDS epidemic.

"I was surprised to learn that it was Ryan White who opened your eyes about AIDS, Elton," Galanes said."Why not the thousands of gay men who were dying all around you?"

"I'm ashamed to say that when the AIDS epidemic started, I did nothing," John said. "I was taking a lot of drugs. It took this boy, Ryan White, who was being kept out of public school because he had AIDS, to open my eyes. He and his family moved me so much. They responded to their hardship with acceptance and forgiveness – with the same values as our current pope."

"Don't we love the pope?" Walker asked.

"He's my new hero," John answered.

"So, I was in Indianapolis in the last week of Ryan's life. My life was crap, and I hated myself. I would complain about this, complain about that. And this beautiful boy never complained about getting AIDS. This may sound like a sweeping statement, but he seemed like Jesus to me – kind and forgiving and full of love. It took a child to die before this country stood up and took any notice of AIDS," John said.

"And within two years of Ryan's death, you're clean and sober, and you started the Elton John AIDS Foundation?" Galanes asked.

"Yes," John responded, "in 1992."

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine