On Thursday, Dec. 1, which is World AIDS day, the MacEwan Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity (CSGD) is hosting “Then and Now: Understanding the Impact of the AIDS Crisis on Queer Communities,” an event to inform attendees about the AIDS crisis, AIDS today, and its effect on the queer community. The event will take place from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on campus in Allard Hall, in the Roundhouse on the ground floor, which is room 11-159. It is a drop-in event, so there is no need to register in advance. All students and members of the MacEwan community are invited to attend.
The event will foster a safe space for questions and dialogue between different generations of the queer community. The guest speakers are community members, people who lived through the AIDS crisis and people who currently work to spread information and work with people with AIDS. The topics of discussion that will be covered include information about what the crisis was, how did the community survive during this time with all the loss and stigma, and how to honour those who were lost.
One of the guest speakers is Michael Phair. He is involved with the Edmonton Queer History project, which shares knowledge in the queer community. He’s also one of the founders of HIV Edmonton, one of CSGD’s partners that help provide safe sex materials on campus and have pop-up HIV/STI testing clinics on campus (there will be a pop-up on November 30th). HIV Edmonton was founded in response to the AIDS crisis. The Edmonton Queer History Project and HIV Edmonton are helping host the event.
Kristie Benson, the program assistant for CSGD and the person responsible for putting this event together, commented that she wanted this event to be a space for “intergenerational knowledge sharing.” The goal of the event is to create a stronger community by having different generations of community members, including the guest speakers and students, engage in open dialogue about their different experiences.
The idea of the event grew from a conversation between students questioning why condoms are always present at queer events. Kristie shared that condoms started being handed out at queer events during the AIDS crisis to encourage safe sex practices, which has continued to this day.
This is the first “Then and Now” event the CSGD has hosted, with plans to do more in the future.