I once saw an interview with Diamanda Galas in which she showed on her fingers the tattooed words, "I am HIV positive." She had done this, she said, because she felt that the worldwide AIDS and HIV epidemic is everyone's problem, not just the people who are infected.
Growing up in the eighties, I remember the media coverage about this new disease. It was reported that it only affected gay men, and I remember thinking, "well aren't gay men a part of the human race? And therefore couldn't any humans be affected?"
I am always in awe of people who devote their lives to a good cause, and are brave enough to take a stance, though it may be controversial in their time. A few brave people around that time started speaking out against the marginalization of this disease and of gay culture, and activist groups were formed -- among them a group called "Housing Works."
Housing Works, is an organization in New York that describes itself as "a healing community of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS." They have a "mission to end the dual crises of homelessness and AIDS through advocacy and provision of lifesaving services." They have "pioneered the concept of social enterprise-businesses whose profits fund the mission of the parent not for profit organization." They run thrift shops, bookstores and cafes which provide employment opportunities to the community in addition to fundraising.
They have an extraordinary social calendar which includes events and entertainments from book clubs, speakers and musical acts. They have support groups, all kinds of ways to volunteer and a highly regarded catering company, to say nothing of the essential health services and legal support they provide. It's a successful business model which supports the at-risk community, while at the same time giving back to, educating and welcoming the community at large.
To me this is an heroic endeavor.
I was recently asked to perform a concert for the "Live from Home" series to benefit Housing Works.
I am excited to say that I'll be at their downtown Crosby Street location this year on April 18, to sing my little heart out and help raise some dough for this great group.
One ticket costs only $15 and 100 percent of sales go directly to Housing Works. You may purchase a ticket or make a donation by visiting HERE.