Thursday, October 16, 2008

Around Tucson This Time

AIDSWALK Tucson 2008’s theme is “everybody’s walk”. This is a reminder that every day, people in our community walk with HIV and face unique challenges living with this disease. On Sunday, October 19th AIDSWALK Tucson will host its 20th annual 5Kwalk and 10K fun run in support of people living with or affected by HIV. The event will also host a variety of information on how we can all make an effort to stop or reduce the risk of new HIV infections in our own community.

As we look back in U.S. history it was more than 27 years ago when we first started learning about what we know today as HIV. The infection rate was rapidly growing, infecting people and leaving others with little information on how transmission of HIV occurred and how one could reduce their risk. The 1980’s were scary times to say the least- communities had to quickly learn how to support people through stages of death and dying. This explosion of HIV began to cause fear, anxiety, and panic of what was to come. The Government was reluctant to make any kind of public announcement about the virus for several years. Eventually in the late 1980’s and 1990’s medications became available- research had started asking the questions: What is HIV? How does HIV get transmitted? Is there a “pill” we can take? Slowly, information started to become available to the public, and at the same time, many myths were also formed- some that we still fight today (such as ‘Is HIV a gay disease? Can I get it from saliva or a drinking fountain?’ etc…). Infections as well as deaths continued to rise. And universally we understood that this was not just a problem in the U.S., but globally. Communities did what they could to help take care of loved ones and get educated. Through the 80’s and 90’s medications and accurate information made great strides, but there was still a lot to learn to help reduce infection rates. By the late 1990’s and 2000 good information and trainings were out, helping communities learn how to support people living with HIV, death rates were down, and infections continued to see a climb but at a much slower pace. Medications were available that were helping to slow down the progression of HIV/AIDS as well as helping to combat the side effects from HIV medications. The attention and much of the funding started to help support the global effort on HIV/AIDS. Since then, communities have been left to support people in their local communities needing services, support and or prevention education.

That brings us to today and the work of the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation (SAAF). One of the most important days of the year for SAAF is AIDSWALK. It’s an opportunity to walk in someone else’s shoes, support each other and loved ones, and to take the responsibility of getting information that you can share with others on how to reduce your risk for HIV. Every day, people in our community with HIV walk the walk of life- thanks to the many years of medication advancement, and education. It’s because of southern Arizona’s supportive community that others are able to access services, medication, food, housing, prevention education outreach or intervention to help make a step towards a community with no more new HIV infections.

YOU CAN HELP in this effort on Sunday, October 19th, 2008. Join us for AIDSWALK 2008 and learn how much your support of this great community makes a difference. The events that take place on the UA Campus mall are guaranteed to inspire and motivate you to take action. Whether you’ve joined us before or not, this is a truly special day of remembrance, support, and prevention. For more information on AIDSWALK 2008, please visit or call the AIDSWALK hotline at (520)791-WALK (9255).

The date for this year's Pride on Parade and Celebration is Saturday, October 18, with the parade beginning at 10:00 a.m. and ending at 11:00 a.m. in Reid Park.

Pride in the Desert is an all-day festival at the DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center in Reid Park that attracts more than 6000 participants each year. The festival features live local, regional, national and international entertainers on our main stage. In addition, we have multiple entertainment venues, commercial and nonprofit exhibitors, a food court, youth and children’s areas, and much more. Now celebrating 31 Years of Pride in the Desert, this event continues to grow.

This year’s main stage headliner will be former American Idol contestant Kimberly Caldwell. Caldwell is a singer, actress, and television personality who gained national recognition during her time on the second season of the television phenomenon, "American Idol," and is also known for her work as an entertainment correspondent and host for the TV Guide Network.

Rounding out our entertainment on the main stage, Tucson Pride are very pleased to welcome local acts as well as acts from across the state and around the nation. This year’s roster includes: 8 Inch Betsy; Clint Crishner; Namoli Brennett; Sabra Faulk and Amber Norgaard; Liz Stahler; Too Much Information; and Courtney Robbins, as well as presenting on a second stage of live entertainment, the CoffeeHouse Stage! Scheduled entertainers on the CoffeeHouse Stage include: Desert Voices; Lisa Otey & Diane Von Duerzen; Arthur Migliazza; Reveille; and T-Squares.

For more information, go online to

Mangos with Chili, the floating cabaret of queer and Transgender people of color will be appearing at Wingspan, 425 E. 7th St., Monday, October 20, 7:00 p.m.

Mangos with Chili, the floating cabaret of queer and Transgender people of color (QTPOC) bliss, dreams, sweat, sweets and nightmares is touring for two weeks of history-making, electrifying and revolutionary performance. In it they celebrate of the lives, stories, survival, and the legacies created for future generations of queer and Transgender people of color. North America's only annual queer and trans people of color performance tour. Recently named one of Bitch Magazine's Bitchlist of things they love! Mangos With Chili is a multi-racial, multi-gendered and multi-genre traveling cabaret of queer and trans of color performance artists working in theater, dance, spoken word, burlesque and drag.

Founded in 2006 by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and Ms. Cherry Gallete, Mangos With Chili began as an annual touring cabaret of queer and trans people of color performance artists. Their breakout 2007 tour took eight queer and trans performers of color to cities and stages throughout the Northeastern United States and Canada. With no core funding and mostly grassroots publicity, Mangos With Chili was a phenomenally successful tour. They raised their budget through grassroots fundraising and door revenue, and were able to pay artists a fair wage, in addition to covering all travel and housing costs. The show packed world class theaters, underground performance spaces, and campus halls. Audiences everywhere noted the high caliber of work and the life-saving importance of the testimonies shared through art.

The 2008 Queer Borderlands tour moves down the California coast and across the Southwest from October 10 to 26, stopping in Tucson at Wingspan on October 20. Featured artists will create new work addressing the themes of border transgression, migrations, deportations, relocation, displacement, legacy and the struggle to create new worlds. The 2008 Mangos superstars coming to Tucson are: Qwo-Li Driskill, Zuleikha Mahmood, Vixen Noir, Nar, Tre Vasquez, Nico Dacumos, Ms. Cherry Gallete and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. Mangos with Chili (

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