Two writers awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal

Published 16, Oct, 2012
Author // John McCullagh - Publisher emeritus editor Bob Leahy and contributor Denise Becker have been awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for contributions to the HIV/AIDS movement.

Two writers awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal

It is my great pleasure to let you know that two of our writers, editor Bob Leahy and contributor Denise Becker, have been awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for contributions to work in the field of HIV/AIDS.  

Both Denise and Bob write elsewhere on the site today about what receiving this award means to them. Here I want to outline some of the reasons Bob and Denise were chosen for this prestigious award. 

Denise Becker, who lives in Kelowna, British Columbia, has been involved in the HIV/AIDS movement since 1996. She was one of the first openly HIV-positive Canadian women to speak publicly about her diagnosis and about loosing a child to AIDS. She has continued to teach what it is like to be a woman living with HIV, most recently as one of the spokespeople for Vancouver’s HIV: It’s Different Now campaign. Denise’s achievements over the years reflect the GIPA (greater involvement of people living with HIV/AIDS) principle through her membership on numerous boards and committees, demonstrating that openly HIV-positive women are capable of working in governance and with the media despite living in rural or small town communities, where HIV stigma remains prevalent. 

Bob Leahy, a banker by profession, was diagnosed with HIV in 1993 and since then has held volunteer positions throughout the HIV community. Currently living in rural Ontario, he is a past chair of PARN (Peterborough AIDS Resource Network)  and past executive board member of both the Canadian AIDS Society and the Ontario HIV Treatment Network. He is an honour roll recipient of the Ontario AIDS Network for outstanding service to the community. Editor of since its beginning in 2009, Bob also writes for His interests lie in exploring innovative, technology-based ways to empower people living with HIV, social media, gay men’s sexual health and making HIV-related research more accessible to people living with HIV. 

Please join me in congratulating both Denise and Bob on receiving the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of the 60th anniversary of the accession of the Queen to the Throne and in thanking them for their dedication to the HIV/AIDS movement in Canada. 

An archive of Bob’s articles for can be found here.  That for Denise can be found here.

Want to know more about this award? Watch The Making of a Medal: Peter Mansbridge shares the story of Canada’s commemorative medal, approved by the Queen herself. 

About the Author

John McCullagh - Publisher emeritus

John McCullagh - Publisher emeritus

John McCullagh is the publisher of He's an HIV-positive gay man who’s been active in Toronto's LGBTQ community since immigrating to Canada from his native Britain in 1975. A social worker by profession, he's worked in government and the not-for-profit sector in both front-line and management positions. His experience includes research, policy analysis, strategic planning, program development, project management, and communications.  

In the early years of the AIDS epidemic, John was a counsellor at the Toronto Counselling Centre for Lesbians and Gays (now known as David Kelley Services), an organization he co-founded and which was one of the first agencies in Toronto to offer professional counselling to those infected with and affected by HIV. 

Now retired, John volunteers with the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT) and is a board member of CATIE, Canada’s national HIV and Hepatitis C knowledge broker.  

John regularly contributes articles to about his personal experiences of living with HIV and about issues relevant to Canada's HIV and LGBTQ communities.