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PrideAlive Hosts 10th Anniversary Bash

By Lavender November 6, 2008

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PrideAlive is producing a keepsake that will be distributed at the 10th Anniversary Bash—a yearbook with write-ups about every activity it has done over the past decade, and with photos of participants in some of those events. PrideAlive (PA), a program of the Minnesota AIDS Project (MAP), is 10 years old. To celebrate, it’s having a 10th Anniversary Bash on November 15, 7-9 PM, at Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Avenue South, Minneapolis. You’re invited.

The free event, billed as an evening of “food, drink, and drag”—will be an evening of memories as well. Hostess and Mistress of Ceremonies is Helen Back. Performers include Evie Black, Gosh Alice Jones, Cee Cee Russell, and a host of other talent. The Independent will cater food. Of course, birthday cake will be served.

PA is the gay, bi, and queer men’s health initiative of MAP. Its outreach is to adult men who have sexual contact with other men, regardless of whether they identify as part of the GLBT community. Another MAP program, Positive Link, provides outreach specifically to men who are HIV-positive.

According to its mission statement, PA “is gay and bisexual men and our allies working together to stop the spread of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases by creating and sustaining a healthy sexual community. We empower individuals to participate in their health through social, political, and civic involvement. By serving as leaders, mentors, and partners in the fight against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, homophobia, and heterosexism, we envision an empowered queer community that promotes healthy choices.”

When PA was created in 1998, many men had lived through years of education, sexual-behavior changes, and dedication to stopping the spread of HIV. But new treatments for HIV, in many people’s minds, had made AIDS a “manageable disease,” instead of a terminal illness. Many men had started to let their guard down, and the rate of AIDS infection had started to increase again.

MAP’s response was to create PA, a program intended to be much more than “latex only.” During its 10-year history, representatives have been out and visible on the streets, as well as at area bars, coffee shops, and public-sex environments, providing information, and distributing hundreds of thousands of safer-sex supply kits (some of which were distributed to delegates at both of this year’s political conventions).

PA has done thousands of HIV tests at area bars. It has hosted many intimate group discussions about sex, sexuality, and health centered around, but not limited to, HIV. It has presented more formal educational seminars, including the current SaferZone workshops, in the Twin Cities and throughout Minnesota. It has offered special presentations like the recent “Beyond HIV: What Gay and Bi Men Should Know About Their Sexual Health.” It even held a “Guess the Lube” Contest.

Every week, PrideAlive has volunteer nights at Queerspace, its comfy drop-in-and-hang-out area on the second floor of the MAP Building at 1400 Park Avenue, Minneapolis. Volunteers gather to eat, talk, watch a movie, and engage activities such as assembling the safer-sex supply kits mentioned above. In a small plastic bag, they insert one or two condoms; a packet of lube; a piece of candy; and a decorative and educational printed liner.

PA, which has created many ’zines and other publications, increasingly is moving into doing outreach online in Internet chat rooms and on social-networking sites.

In addition, PA builds community through myriad social events, such as Gay Day at Valleyfair; the Hand Hold In at Mall of America; the Bachelor Auction; dozens of camping trips; journeys to Pride festivals in Duluth, Fargo, Mankato, and Rochester; the Liquid Discourse; Café Chats; and many more.

PA is producing a keepsake that will be distributed at the 10th Anniversary Bash—a yearbook with write-ups about every activity it has done over the past decade, and with photos of participants in some of those events.

The object of the evening, in the words of Keith Pederson, a PA Health Education Coordinators, is to “gather up anybody and everybody who’s been a part of Pride Alive over the last 10 years. It’s a celebration of the program’s history and successes, and an acknowledgment that the fight against HIV isn’t over.”

For more information about PA’s 10th Anniversary Bash, about attending other educational and social events, or about volunteering, call (612) 373-9165, or visit www.pridealive.org.

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