API center hosts AIDS awareness events
by Roger Brigham
An appearance by movie star Jason Scott Lee, a free art show, and community awards presented to Cable Positive, PlanetOut and HIV activist Steve Lew will highlight the second annual National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day at AT&T Park this Friday, May 19.
The Banyan Tree Project Awareness Art Show offers a youth-focused exhibit featuring original works by emerging and established Asian and Pacific Islander artists interpreting and responding to HIV-related stigma through visual and performance art. Opportunities to meet the artists will be available and light refreshments will be served.
The theme of the 2006 Banyan Tree project is "I Am Still Me." Other awareness day events are being held concurrently in such cities across the United States as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Honolulu, Seattle, Boston, and Washington, D.C.
The free art event, from 5 to 6:30 p.m., will be hosted by Lee. The actor, who has starred in such films as Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story , The Jungle Book , and Lilo & Stitch , will highlight the role that API mainstream celebrities can play in the fight against discrimination. A short program with Honey Labrador, formerly of Queer Eye for the Straight Girl , as moderator will feature performance artists Justin Chin, author or Attack of the Man-Eating Lotus Blossoms ; hip-hop group Mini-Shock; and the Caroline Chung Trio.
Following the show from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. will be MIX '06, marking the API Wellness Center's 20 years of service.
"This year we are thrilled to name our first Public Policy Award after Steve Lew to publicly recognize the tremendous impact his advocacy has had on HIV/AIDS in communities of color," said John Manzon-Santos, executive director of the API Wellness Center. "Both Cable Positive and PlanetOut Inc. have demonstrated unprecedented leadership nationally in promoting and Asian and Pacific Islander visibility and fighting HIV-related stigma."
In addition to the live entertainment, the fundraiser will have a silent auction for vacation and travel prizes, Asian art objects, gourmet restaurant dinners, and art and cultural performances. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased by calling Kim Teevan at (415) 292-3400, ext. 343; e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org; or visiting www.apiwellness.org/mix06.
Also, as part of Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month, U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Richard Carmona planned to hold a news conference today (Thursday, May 18) with Manzon-Santos, Miss San Francisco Carol Chen, and Tien Bui of Monogram Biosciences to raise awareness of the need to fight stigma and discrimination against those at risk for, or those living with, HIV and AIDS.
Throughout May and June, a Banyan Tree Project public service announcement will be carried by Comcast and other broadband and broadcast companies to call attention to HIV-related stigma in API communities and urge people to sign the Banyan Tree Pledge against discrimination. Already signed to the pledge are Olympic diver Greg Louganis, actor Russell Wong, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco).
The petition states that: API persons "deserve access to quality HIV care, testing, treatment and prevention in their native languages, regardless of their immigration or economic status;" all API persons living with HIV/AIDS and API LGBT people should be treated with dignity; "discussion of sexual health, reproductive health, and safer sex should be open, accurate and support informed decision-making"; health data on API persons should be reported by ethnicity in order to deepen understanding of the HIV epidemic and strengthen the ability of health providers to meet community needs; and the federal government has a responsibility to fulfill and increase its commitment to fight HIV/AIDS.
The pledge is available at: www.banyantreeproject.org/pledge.