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Events set for World AIDS Day

by Seth Hemmelgarn

Panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt from the Names Project hang in the main nave of Grace Cathedral on San Francisco's Nob Hill.
Panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt from the Names Project hang in the main nave of Grace Cathedral on San Francisco's Nob Hill.  (Source:Rick Gerharter)

Events are planned around the Bay Area next week to mark the 29th annual World AIDS Day (December 1), which commemorates the lives lost and the work that remains to be done in fighting HIV and AIDS.

Grace Cathedral
San Francisco's Grace Cathedral will be recognizing the 30th anniversary of the Names Project, with panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt on display. The exhibit, which can be viewed from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, will culminate on World AIDS Day at 7:30 p.m. with an event that will include the rededication of the cathedral's newly renovated AIDS Interfaith Memorial Chapel.

The cathedral is at 1100 California Street. Call (415) 749-6300 or visit for more information.

National AIDS Memorial Grove
The National AIDS Memorial Grove will host its annual Light in the Grove fundraising gala from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, November 30. The event will include a candlelight reflection in the Circle of Friends and a walk through Redwood Grove to the banquet. Cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, and a buffet dinner will be served, and there will be special musical and artistic performances.

"Light in the Grove's theme this year is 'Bending the Arc Towards Justice,' capturing the spirit of hope, determination, and resistance that has been at the foundation of the National AIDS Memorial - and our community's response to the AIDS pandemic - since the beginning," organizers said in an email to supporters.

Gay former San Francisco supervisor and state senator Mark Leno, who's running in the city's 2019 mayoral race, will be honored at the event for being "a longtime friend of the memorial and tireless champion for civil rights, the LGBT community and HIV/AIDS organizations," organizers said.

The grove is located in the eastern end of Golden Gate Park at the intersection of Bowling Green and Middle Drive East, across from the tennis courts.

Tickets start at $250 and are available at

Next Friday, former President Bill Clinton will deliver the keynote address at the grove. In 1996, Clinton signed the legislation spearheaded by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) that designated the grove as the country's sole federally designated national AIDS memorial.

As previously reported, Clinton has never visited the grove, though he did send a video message when he was honored by the organization five years ago. The Clinton Foundation has funded programs in developing countries to combat HIV/AIDS, including lowering the costs of medications for people.

"We are so proud to have President Clinton be such an important part of our World AIDS Day commemoration and honor his global commitment to provide care and help find a cure for this devastating disease," said grove Executive Director John Cunningham.

In addition to Clinton's address, the grove will honor David McMurry, retired global public health manager at Chevron, with its Humanitarian Leadership Award. Ruth Corker Burks, also known as the "Cemetery Angel," will receive the Thom Weyand Unsung Hero Award for her work in the darkest days of the epidemic in Arkansas, where she cared for hundreds of young gay men abandoned by their families.

The event featuring Clinton will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is free, like previous World AIDS Day commemorations. Due to security, it will be ticketed this year, Cunningham said. Tickets for the public became available Monday at Additionally, visitors will have to go through security. Backpacks and other bags are discouraged, since there will be bag checks, he said.

Inscribe in the Castro
Also December 1, students from Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy in the Castro district will lead the third annual "Inscribe" event, where local residents, business people, and visitors will use colorful sidewalk chalk (provided) to write messages and draw pictures on the sidewalks in the 400 and 500 blocks of Castro Street (between Market and 19th streets).

Inscribe is the brainchild of community activist George Kelly. The effort has seen the names of more than 1,000 people written out along the sidewalks.

The Evolution of AIDS Activism, 1981-1990
From 7 to 9 p.m. December 1, the GLBT History Museum, at 4127 18th Street, will unveil "Finding Our Voice, Claiming Our Place: The Evolution of AIDS Activism, 1981-1990," a new section in the permanent exhibition, "Queer Past Becomes Present."

"Curated by longtime AIDS activist Mike Shriver, the display traces the creation of brash, unapologetic, nonviolent direct action in response to the AIDS crisis in San Francisco - one of the first places in the world where militant activism AIDS emerged," an email from the GLBT Historical Society said.

From the beginnings of the movement in 1981 to the ACT UP protests at the VI International Conference on AIDS in 1990, the exhibit draws on historic photographs, stickers, T-shirts, and other ephemera from the historical society's archives.

Shriver and several AIDS activism veterans will be at the opening, which will also include light refreshments. The display is sponsored by the design company IDEO.

Admission is free for historical society members, and $5 for others.

Oakland LGBTQ Community Center
The new Oakland LGBTQ Community Center will hold its first World AIDS Day event from 5 to 10 p.m. December 1 in partnership with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Women Organized to Respond to Life-threatening Diseases, Bay Area State of Emergency, and the drug company Gilead.

The "Mocktino party" will include a drag show, spoken word, a panel discussion, and a transgender day of the dead altar exhibit. Food and refreshments will be served.

The center is located at 3207 Lakeshore Avenue (entrance on Rand Avenue).

Health Trust Benefit
On Thursday, November 30, a benefit for Health Trust AIDS Services will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Silicon Valley Capital Club, 50 W. San Fernando Street in San Jose. For more than 20 years, the Health Trust has worked to serve people who are living with HIV/AIDS in Santa Clara County.

Tickets are $150. Visit for more information.


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