In recognition of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, Mazzoni Center will put on a show that includes performances of real stories written by local residents living with HIV/AIDS.
The 40-minute production, entitled “Living: Untold Stories of People Living With HIV/AIDS,” will include two drag-queen performances by Omyra Lynn and Goddis Isis, entertainment by local emcee J E Tha Rapper and a lyrical-dance segment in addition to the three local stories.
“The idea stemmed from wanting to see people act out the stories of people who are currently living with HIV — whether it’s their current story or how they contracted HIV,” said Christiawn Wilson, coordinator of the center’s Trip Project — a social movement for men of color who have sex with men. “We want to show what it means to be living as a person with HIV and what that looks like,” Wilson said.
The performance is a collaborative effort between Mazzoni Center’s Trip Project, the care-services department and OUR Way, a transgender health and wellness program. Mazzoni Center put out a call to community members to anonymously submit their stories for the production. Local actors will perform the three “raw and authentic” stories that were selected.
“We’re telling the perspective of living with HIV at three different ages,” said Tatyana Woodard, community-engagement specialist of OUR Way. “The goal is to take away the stigma that’s attached to people who have contracted HIV. This could be something that’s an inspiration to others who have the disease because they’re hearing stories that may be similar to their own that’s portrayed in a way that isn’t shameful or misleading.”
Woodard will also be one of the lyrical-dance performers included in the show along with Roberto Rodriguez-Garcia. Woodard will dance to “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke.
Wilson said that he hopes the overall show will enlighten audience members about the barriers that people living with HIV face on a daily basis.
“I’ve developed friendships with people who are positive and they thought that I would treat them differently as soon as they disclosed their status. That’s a reality they have to face having HIV. They don’t want to be treated differently because of that label,” he said.
The performance will be part of a larger day of events that will include educational workshops led by GILEAD Sciences — a researched-based biopharmaceutical company that develops and commercializes antiviral drugs — on sexual health, living with HIV and PrEP and PEP. The event is free and open to the public.
“Living: Untold Stories of People Living With HIV/AIDS,” will be held Dec. 1 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Mazzoni Center, 1348 Bainbridge St. For more information, visit www.mazzonicenter.org.