Reflections on a weekend of togetherness.

The last weekend of September was a pretty epic one for me, and other members of San Diego’s LGBT and HIV communities. For me, it began Friday morning, September 29, and just kept getting better. I’d like to share my weekend with you, our friends and supporters…

Friday, September 29: Some of you may know that, among other things, I write a column for Gay San Diego, focused on the individuals, programs and organizations that make up the fabric of San Diego’s advocacy community. This year I’ve been working on a series of pieces, highlighting programming at the San Diego LGBT Center. On September 29, my piece was published about The Center’s founding, including interviews with founding members, and some of the early leaders, from the 1970’s. Having the opportunity to hear and share their stories is a privilege I will not forget, and I (as well as many of us) truly owe a debt of gratitude. The Center continues to be a huge part of my journey, from the time I spent in my 20’s as a front desk volunteer, to them opening their rooms for HIV education classes I coordinated in the 2000’s, to being a site where, still today, I join friends in times of triumph, sorrow and reflection.


PHOTO COURTESY OF LAMBDA ARCHIVES SAN DIEGO

Saturday morning, September 30: To the best of my knowledge, I have not missed an AIDS Walk San Diego since 1996, my first full year in San Diego. From selling jello shots for and walking with the “Hillcrest Hooligans” team, to representing Community Rx Center, UC San Diego and now San Diego Human Dignity Foundation, it has always been a “can’t miss” event for me, one at which I get to re-connect with folks who I might not otherwise see. This year, I had the opportunity to join up with Mo’s Universe and Red Dress Party folks in our joint “Paint Hillcrest Red” team, and was plopped right in the middle of the sea of community members. Walking down Park Boulevard and seeing folks stretched as far as my eye could see, is one of the most gratifying experiences I could ask for at 8:00 a.m., on a Saturday morning!


PHOTO COURTESY OF RED DRESS PARTY SAN DIEGO

Saturday night, September 30: Engaging in traditions, established and new, is such an important piece of community building. The Red Dress Party San Diego, now in its 3rd year, has become a premiere celebration of the amazing strides we have made in our understanding, prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, while raising much-needed funding for HIV services at non-profits throughout San Diego County, granted through the San Diego HIV Funding Collaborative. Nearly 800 folks, of all ages (21+) , gender-identities and orientations donned their version of a “red dress” and made their way to the San Diego National History Museum, for a high-energy feel-good celebration! To cap off the night, Rich’s San Diego hosted the Red Dress After Party, with free cover and VIP entrance for folks who attended in their red dress!

Sunday morning, October 1: For the morning after an event, what could be more appropriate than brunch at Urban Mo’s? I had an opportunity to sit down with Red Dress Party San Diego founders, board members and volunteers, to revel in successful events, for a great cause. It’s that perfect sigh of both relief and satisfaction, when you’ve worked hard and made some good happen in your community!

One of the aspects of San Diego’s community that I have always loved, is our ability to work together to be the change that we need in our lives. From the bars that gave seed money to start “The Center”, to the bars today that sponsor our events; from the founders in the 1970’s, to the myriad of staff members and volunteers who keep our LGBT Center vibrant and evolving; and to those who both maintain our traditions and create new ones – on behalf of myself and San Diego Human Dignity Foundation, thank you for making our community amazing!

Ian Morton
Director of Operations,
San Diego Human Dignity Foundation