The 29th annual World AIDS Day, and in particular, the 26th Out of the Darkness observance of it, took place in the Village on December 1, and consisted of a candlelight vigil at the New York City AIDS Memorial, across Seventh Avenue from the erstwhile St. Vincent’s Hospital, which treated so many of the earliest People with AIDS; a march to Christopher Street, with a moment of silence in front of Stonewall; and an interfaith gathering at St. John’s Lutheran Church, a block from Stonewall.
At the AIDS Memorial, Brent Nicholson Earle, from Out of the Darkness, celebrating the 30th anniversary of his American Run to End AIDS (AREA), welcomed the marchers, followed by Gay Officers Action League (GOAL) Officer Dineen Lopez’s singing of the “Star Spangled Banner.” Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) CEO Kelsey Louie spoke; Barbara Martinez, one of the event’s organizers, read names of those we’ve lost to AIDS; and Reverend Romall Smalls offered a prayer.
The GOAL bagpipers and Color Guard led the line of march, followed by Out of the Darkness, ACT-UP New York, Gays Against Guns (GAG), and Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. “Resist and Persist” was the apt theme of the evening.
At St. John’s, festooned with International AIDS Quilt panels, the Out of the Darkness ensemble, led by Douglas Drake, sang “Would You Harbor Me?,” “How Long,” and near the close of the ceremony, Michelle Lanchester’s “Patchwork Quilt,” with the assembled invited to join in singing the refrain. Flaggers and fanners danced to Bronski Beat’s “Smalltown Boy,” sung by Jimmy Sommerville, and dedicated their dance to the memory of Jeff Hettinger, and closed the evening, dancing on the altar and in the balcony, with Giorgio Moroder and Philip Oakley’s “Together in Electric Dreams.”
Speakers were St. John’s Reverend Mark E. Erson; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer; GMHC’s Krishna Stone, who introduced representatives of Mayor Bill De Blasio and Public Advocate Letitia James’ offices, bearing proclamations; New York State Senator Tom Duane, who concluded his presentation with an ACT-UP chant of “Act Up, Fight Back, Fight AIDS;” Corneille Dixon and Gigi Desir, from Recharge, GMHC’s program combating drug abuse; Brent Nicholson Earle; Parade Stone, Krishna’s daughter, and Maura Lefervre, leading the Blessings of the Safer Sex Kits; Barbara Martinez; GAG’s Cathy Marino-Thomas, backed by white-garbed “human beings,” mentioning icons Gilbert Baker and Edie Windsor, who passed away earlier in the year, and remembering trans people lost to gun violence; Brooke Guinan, NYC’s first openly trans firefighter; GOAL President Brian Downey; and Out of Darkness’ Bruce Pachter.
A reception followed the moving ceremony.