Gay Atlanta gets creative for World AIDS Day

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imageIt’s only been a few years since local World AIDS Day commemorations consisted of scattered free testing sites and a smattering of events that mostly failed to engage its target audience. Not anymore.

Yes, the statistics are still sobering for gay and bisexual men. While the CDC does a fine job as the bearer of the bad news on an occasion that calls for a measure of serious reflection, other organizations and venues are finally coming around to the realization that “hope and prevention” deserves its place alongside “crisis and loss.”

But how to reach those most at-risk and best honor passed loved ones? After 30 years of AIDS and 23 years of World AIDS Day, gay Atlanta realizes the day’s potential with art auctions, performances, bike tours and shows that may make the message an interesting draw for those who need to hear it most as well as those who remember the sad part all too well.

Topping the pack this year is a whopping 24 continuous hours of World AIDS Day events from midnight to 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 1 at Museum of Design Atlanta. Coinciding with its “Graphic Intervention: 25 Years of AIDS Posters” and AIDS Quilt panel exhibits (top photo), MODA hosts 13 individual programs that entertain, educate and commemorate in a sparkling array that should hold a little something for however you want to honor the day.

imageMODA opens World AIDS Day with a midnight reception followed by poetry readings by Atlanta Queer Literary Festival organizers at 1 a.m. AQLF will record the readings for those who can’t stay up Wednesday to see it live. A dance party into the wee hours leads into breakfast and a lunch with Stories of the Quilt.

Throughout the day on Thursday, look for film screenings, an AIDS Quilt panel making workshop, performances by the Georgia State Opera, Atlanta Philharmonic Orchestra, Serenbe Playhouse and even the Armorettes, just to name a few. The daylong programs wind up with a candlelight vigil. View the whole MODA World AIDS Day schedule to see what strikes your fancy.

Also on Thursday is ARTvision 6 (second photo), the annual art auction that raises money for Positive Impact and its mental health programs for people affected by HIV. The new World AIDS Day event concept – it was previously wrapped with a private-only affair in late December — offers the 2011 theme “RestoreARTive Creative Therapy” and features not just artwork up for bid, but also dancing, cocktails, food and other surprises. Now that’s the way to maximize donations to the cause.

imageNew this year is Action Cycling Atlanta’s 30-mile Remembrance Bike Ride (bottom photo) from Emory University and back to benefit the Emory Vaccine Center. The gang that brings the annual AIDS Vaccine 200 ride in the spring commemorates 30 years of AIDS with this ride through town that finishes with a cocktail and honoree reception.

There are even more Thursday commemorations, from parties to quilting workshops and prayer breakfasts, that mark World AIDS Day in gay Atlanta. Having trouble keeping it all organized in your head? Here’s a big gay roundup of options. Click on the event for further details.

MODA’s 24-Hour World AIDS Day Events
Museum of Design Atlanta, all day and night

Interfaith Prayer Breakfast
with Ecumenical AIDS Coalition
Holiday Inn Downtown, 8 a.m.

Remembrance Ride
30-mile bike ride for Emory Vaccine Center
Emory Oxford Building, 1 p.m.
Reception, 5 p.m.

“Woven Together: 30 Years of Fighting HIV/AIDS”
with AID Atlanta
Piedmont Park’s Magnolia Hall, 4 p.m.

ARTvision 6: RestoreARTive Creative Therapy
art party and reception for Positive Impact
Philip Rush Center, 6 p.m.

“The Color Red” Show & Party
XS Ultra Lounge, 9 p.m.

And fear not. There’s still a bevy of free HIV testing on Thursday. Check in with your preferred AIDS service organization that offers confidential free testing year-round, or look into this list of some extra local HIV testing sites for World AIDS Day.

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