Q&A: Ted Allen, honorary chair for AIDS Walk Ohio 2015

Abernathy Miller, Columbus Alive

"Chopped" and "Queer Eye For The Straight Guy" star Ted Allen knows the AIDS crisis isn't over, and he wants Ohioans to know it too. The AIDS Resource Center Ohio (ARC Ohio) - a non-profit organization that addresses the physical, social and emotional needs of people living with HIV/AIDS ranging from medical care to prevention outreach - has named Allen an honorary chair for the 2015 AIDS Walk Ohio. Throughout his television career, Allen has worked with equal-rights groups and non-profit organizations, but after Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed The Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law in March, Allen finds himself fighting with even more fervor than before. On April 18 Columbus participants will come together for the 5K run/walk to bring awareness and raise funds for the ARC's mission. Participants who raise $1,000 or more in donations will be treated to a VIP brunch with Allen prior to the event. Though Allen admits society isn't where it should be with HIV prevention, he hopes AIDS Walk 2015 Ohio will be a few steps in the right direction.

The AIDS crisis isn't over. HIV is a very serious and expensive thing. New infections are occurring every day, and largely among younger people. Those people weren't around to see the horror of the AIDS crisis in the '80s firsthand. Even though people with the virus can now lead healthy lives, new infections are happening. You see the ads for the medicines that treat the virus - which probably cost a fortune - and they show strong, healthy people. The unfortunate message becomes that this is "not a big deal anymore," which is not the case.

Prevention is better than treatment.As a gay man who works for The Food Network, it makes sense for me to work with LGBTQ and hunger-related non-profit organizations. Not only do we need to help treat those who have HIV/AIDS, but we also need to stop the virus from spreading. I hope my involvement incentivizes participants to raise as much money as possible, and gets the word out about HIV/AIDs prevention. Plus, I hope everyone has a nice walk. The fresh air is good for you.

It's not just LGBTQ people who are at risk. In Indiana something like 80 new HIV infections happen per month from intravenous drug use. The same governor who signed that stupid law [allegedly protecting religious freedom] is finding himself needing to put a needle-exchange program into place. It can affect everybody and anybody.

If you're going to start denying a public accommodation to one group of people, where do you draw the line? The answer is you don't. You can't.I will confess when the wedding cake story broke about the bakers in Oregon, a part of me felt sympathetic. I could see why those particular people could have had a problem with [making a wedding cake for a same-sex couple]. But if you're in the business of providing a service to the public, then you have to provide it to the entire public. That's what civil rights is! That's why Rosa Parks didn't move to the back of the bus. You can't pick and choose. For the state of Indiana to regress 50 years with this policy under the obviously bullshit guise that Christianity needs to be protected from gay people gets me fighting mad. That's why organizations like the ARC and so forth are important; we aren't a perfect society, but organizations are working to take two steps forward.

AIDS Walk Ohio 2015

McFerson Commons

9 a.m. Saturday, April 18

218 West St., Arena District

arcohio.org

Ted Allen

Hometown: Columbus

Currently residing in: Brooklyn

Day job: Host of The Food Network's "Chopped"