The 27th annual World AIDS Day and its 24th annual Out of the Darkness observance took place on December 1. While events all around the city marked the day, the one on the Upper West Side of Manhattan included a candlelight vigil at Trinity Lutheran Church of Manhattan, on West 100th Street; a candlelight march along Broadway; and an interfaith gathering at the United Methodist Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, on West 86th Street.
Endorsing this event were ACT UP New York, Aid for AIDS, the American Run for the End of AIDS (AREA), AXIOS—Eastern Orthodox LGBT Christians, Congregation Beth Simchat Torah Red Ribbon Initiative, Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), Heritage of Pride, International AIDS Prevention Initiative, the Keith Haring Foundation, Latinos/as Unidos de New York, Lifebeat: Music Fights HIV, New York City Faith in Action for HIV/AIDS Prevention, Care and Education Coalition, Prevention of HIV/AIDS Action Group of ACT UP, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), Trinity Place, the United Church of Christ HIV and AIDS Network, Visual AIDS, and VOCAL-NY.
Speakers at Trinity Lutheran, home of the Trinity Place shelter for LGBTQ youth, were Vicar Matt Zemaneck, who read Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Hey, Father Death,” and AREA and Out of the Darkness icon Brent Nicholson Earle.
Participants in the ceremonies at Trinity Lutheran and St. Paul and St. Andrew read the lengthy list of names of those that we have lost to AIDS. The Out of Darkness Ensemble—bass Daniel Alexander, soprano Wendy Baker, baritone, pianist, and music director Douglas O. Drake, tenor Noren Fromm, soprano Sarah Griffiths, tenor Eric Lamp, and alto Guadalupe Peraza—offered haunting renditions, a cappella, of Sweet Honey in the Rock’s “Would You Harbor Me?” and Michelle Lanchester’s “Patchwork Quilt” and, with piano, Mark A. Miller’s “Roll Down Justice!” Flaggers and fanners offered a colorful dance to Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler).”
St. Paul and St. Andrew Pastor Rev. K. Karpen gave a welcoming speech. Forty-one-year-old Philip Tan spoke about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) with Truvada and 28-year-old GMHC volunteer and youth program facilitator Charlie Diaz spoke about his work with the organization. After a Blessing of the Safer Sex Kits, 22-year GMHC veteran Krishna Stone explained the situation of Black and Latina women with AIDS, who may also be dealing with the issues of sexual abuse and substance abuse, and Barbara Martinez, of the Out of the Darkness Planning Committee, enlightened us about the history of World AIDS Day and the AIDS Quilt panels on display around us, including ones that came from Venezuela, France, and Belgium.
A reception in the sanctuary, to which all were invited, concluded the evening.