By Brian M. Rafferty
During the holiday season, many people look inside
their hearts to see how they can help those who
are less fortunate. With a great number of Queens
charities that can help brighten a needy person’s
day, it is hard to choose where to begin.
Perhaps a great starting place is to look at
children and adults in Queens who are living
with HIV and AIDS.
Often, treatments for the disease are paid out-of-pocket,
and force families to make hard decisions when
it comes to the holidays.
The AIDS Center of Queens County makes sure
that their clients, which include some 500 families
in Queens, don’t spend the holiday without
the same sort of joy that many children feel
across the borough – the simple happiness
that comes from opening a holiday present.
The Center, which has four locations throughout
the borough, will host holiday parties for staff
and clients, and at these private parties, which
will be held Dec. 16, the children living with
HIV and AIDS will receive donated presents thanks
to the generosity of the ACQC staff.
But they could always use a little more help
to bring smiles to these kids, and they are
hoping that the rest of Queens could take the
time during this holiday season to consider
the children in families affected by this deadly
According to Executive Director Philip Glotzer,
donations of toys and gifts for children ages
12 and under will be accepted throughout the
month, and can come from individuals as well
as corporate entities.
“If anybody wants to make a donation they
can call Paulette Zimmerman at (718) 896-2500
to make an arrangement,” he said. From
there, donors would be directed to the center
closest to them. They can also arrange for the
center to pick up the gifts, especially it is
World AIDS Day
While the children and families affected by
HIV/AIDS are ACQC’s focus during the holiday
season, they also set their sights on World
AIDS Day, an international recognition to raise
awareness of HIV/AIDS throughout the world.
In Queens, there is plenty going on, including
a Queens HIV CARE Network-sponsored day-long
forum to be held at York College in Jamaica,
which is a co-sponsor of the event.
The day will begin with breakfast and a welcome
from Dr. Marcia Keizs, president of York College,
and will continue with Simone Marie-Meeks, Senior
Policy Associate, Division of Health Policy
at New York Academy of Medicine, who will introduce
a panel of community leaders that will discuss
The participants include: Dr. David Ajuluchukwu,
Associate Professor of Public Health & Chair
for Physical Ed. and Gerontological Studies
at York College; Herold Homere, Provisional
Level-II Supervisor at HASA; Philip Glotzer,
MPH, Executive Director, AIDS Center of Queens
County; Leroy Comrie, Council Member of District
27, Dr. Marc Johnson, MD, New York Hospital
of Queens, Dr. Monica Sweeney, MD, MPH, FACP,
Assistant Commissioner for the Bureau of HIV/AIDS
Prevention and Control – NYC DOH-MH, the
Rev. Stacy Latimer, Founder of Love Alive Ministries;
and Yvonne Reddick, District Manager, Community
In the afternoon, there will be a wide range
of entertainment and resource tables set up
for people to learn more about this disease
while having a good time.
For more information on the World AIDS Day 2008
event, which drew 400 visitors last year, contact
Network Coordinator Robert Steptoe or Program
Assistant Melissa Robertson at (718) 739-2525.
In addition to World AIDS Day itself, the Annual
Queens Arts observance of World AIDS Day, Framing
AIDS, run by Queens Media Arts Development will
kick off Sunday, Nov. 30, with the opening of
an exhibition at Queens Museum of Art that will
run through Dec. 22 featuring performances by
local spoken word poets Emanuel Xavier, La Bruja,
and Simply Rob.
Emanuel Xavier is the author of the poetry collections
Pier Queen and Americano, the novel Christlike,
and editor of Bullets & Butterflies: queer
spoken word poetry and Mariposas: A Modern Anthology
of Queer Latino Poetry. He has been featured
on Russell Simmons presents Def Poetry on HBO
and selected finalists for Best Gay Erotica
2008. He performs regularly throughout the country
as an openly gay spoken word artist and is considered
a role model for queer youth, particularly queer
youth of color. He is recipient of the Marsha
A. Gomez Cultural Heritage Award and a NYC Council
Citation for his many contributions to gay,
Latino and New York City arts.
La Bruja is a poet, Hip Hop/Reggaeton artist,
and activist. Since her auspicious spoken-word
debut at the famed Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe
in 1996, Bronx born and raised, Caridad De La
Luz, aka La Bruja, has appeared on HBO’s
“Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam”
and performed internationally at dozens of respected
venues. La Bruja has long been regarded as one
of the leading American spoken word poets.
With the release of “Brujalicious”
she joins the ranks of artists such as Mos Def
who infuse music with the power of word.
Simply Rob is a spoken word artist, actor and
photographer. He was born and raised in NY of
Salvadorian and Greek descent. Roberto Esteban
Vassilarakis a.k.a. Simply Rob has been writing
and performing his poetry since 2003 and has
appeared at an array of different venues. He
is the founding member of El Grito De Poetas,
a collective group of diverse Latino and Latina
poets. For 15 years he’s worked with “at
risk” and LGBT inner city youth in The
Bronx and Manhattan.
On Dec. 1, LaGuardia Community College’s
Performing Arts Center will host a Framing AIDS
film presentation and discussion from 3-5 p.m.
and 7-9 p.m. in the Little Theater.
The first film, “68 Pages: Marked by Pain,
Bound by Hope,” is directed by Sridhar
Rangayan, India, 2007, and runs 90 minutes.
Coming from a country like India that is still
in denial, where being HIV+ is still a curse,
“68 Pages” rips open the underbelly
of its society to reveal how it stigmatizes
and shuns those who are HIV+ or even those who
just want to be what they are.
Through 68 pages of a counselors diary, we see
the stories of Paayal, a sex worker; Nishit,
an ID user; Kiran, a gay man and Umrao, a transsexual
bar dancer – their stories of pain and
fear, humiliation and rejection - not only by
the society, but even by their loved ones. While
these stories expose the shallowness of the
system, it also offers hope and healing by trying
to bring about a better understanding of their
fight to live with dignity. The film is a tribute
to the human spirit of optimism and survival.
The second film, “HIV North South,”
directed by Diego Torres, Bolivia-Spain, 2007,
runs 34 minutes.
The reality of the HIV/AIDS through the testimony
of a group of HIV Positive men and women from
Bolivia and Spain. The visibility and the voice
of various individuals affected the World Pandemic,
provides us with an authentic and direct vision
of the situation of the HIV/AIDS in the north
and in the south of the planet.
This documentary was produced with the support
of Hivos Holland to inform and conscientizise
how countries in the industrial and developing
world deal with issues of infection, prevention,
and medical care.
The entire Framing AIDS project will have a
multimedia project running online at www.framingaids.us,
and will use digital animations and vidcasts
created by NYC college students in their senior
year, telling stories about living with HIV/AIDS.
From the collages about pregnancy and infection,
to stop motion photographic animation about
drug abuse, or METH and its connections to the
spread of HIV, the projects educate, inform,
and raise a much needed awareness about the
For more details about FRAMING AIDS 2008 contact
Hector Canonge, firstname.lastname@example.org,
or Ada Cintron, email@example.com.
For more information about QMAD, visit: www.qmad.org.