No matter who you are or how old you are, everyone loves a Super Hero. Everyone loves the feeling of safety, knowing someone always has your back and when times get hard someone will step in to give you a helping hand to make things all better. I mean c’mon, who in the world doesn’t like or believe in some sort of Super Hero. Our Super Heroes may go by many different names, but in one way or another we all believe in the power of a Super Hero.
When it comes to living with HIV or AIDS many of us find ourselves waiting for some sort of Super Hero to help us wade through all the bullshit, paperwork, case managers, changes to our care, lack of care and sometimes the absence of respect. Many of us just wish we could simply live our lives without all the rules, regulations, red tape and stigma that’s thrown at us from every direction. I think, though, many of us can share stories about people, places and things that appear to be Super Heroes; they dress like a hero, wear the cool colors and seem to have the same powers as a hero, but in the end they are sometimes nothing more than fake.
Many people living with HIV or AIDS live in fear of not being able to pay their rent, buy food or afford basic transportation services. We must figure out changes to our healthcare pretty much alone and when ADAP, Ryan White, the City or County of Los Angeles decide to make changes to our access to care we are the last people to know and are left scrambling trying to figure things out.
However in the midst of all this chaos and confusion, in the sea of people saying “we don’t know” there is a small organization fighting the good fight for us. An organization with a leader that truly gets it and fully understands that services to people living with HIV are paramount. An organization where each and every day Super Heroes are working hard, slaying dragons, breaking through the miles of red tape and bullshit to get us the high quality services we deserve. An organization that calls to check in on us to see how we are doing and how they can help. An organization that demonstrates that peer driven thoughtful and respectful services work best when it comes to serving people with HIV or AIDS.That organization, Being Alive Los Anegles is a beacon of hope.
Being Alive is very much the “Hall of Justice” where a “rag tag” team of dedicated staff are doing all they possibly can to address the needs of people living with HIV here in Los Angeles day and day out without fail. There are no long lines, no long wait times to access services, no mountain of paperwork to fill out or hoops to jump through. Just an amazing crew of peers doing what it takes to be Super Heroes to those in need.
The call to photograph Hard Heroes 10 could not have come at a better time for me. It had been a couple of months since my last paid photography gig, so I was running on empty and almost to the point of having to ask friends for some help with rent and bills, but this gig helped me avoid having to ask. That’s another great thing about Being Alive, they are fully aware of how to actually help their members in ways that are beneficial to them and the member. It’s never one sided with Being Alive. They truly respect and do all they can to help their members live in all areas of their life.
The event was held at the always awesome MJ’s Bar in Silverlake, sponsored by Prism Comics, Can-Am Video, HardHeroes.com, Jet Set Video, Close Up Video, Zeus Video, N2N Bodywear, Wet, Syren, The Stockroom, Rough Trade Leather, Bent-Con, Instigator Magazine, Spandexguys.com and Renaissance Dancewear.
It also featured amazing body and face painting by Face Ronnie Mena and Crew. As an artist and photographer I’ve been to and seen, hell I’ve even curated and hosted an event with body painters, but Ronnie and his crew are the crème of the crop. No one does it better than these guys. Fast, friendly and oh so talented.
One of the cool points of the night for me was having the chance to speak with Sean the President of Bent-con, “a non-profit organization created in 2010 committed to recognizing, celebrating, encouraging and appreciating LGBTQ and our (UnGay) Allies contributions to pop-culture and geekdom. Specifically, comic-books, gaming, sci-fi, fantasy and horror mediums from artists, writers, creators, publishers, directors, actors and producers that create works targeted directly to LGBTQ audiences and the larger realm of mainstream and underground pop-culture as a whole.” Having him tell me my work is good was such an honor. He also extended an invitation to cover the Bent-Con event in November.
Meeting and having the pleasure of speaking with many of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence was a complete thrill. They hosted the event and made certain everyone was having a fantastic time. The work this organization does for the underdogs is simply amazing. They kept the laughs and good times flowing the entire night.
The highlight of my evening was having the chance to meet a fellow write, Evan Hughes, from PositiveLite.com. I had no idea there was another writer besides me here in Los Angeles. In fact, I’ve been reading his articles thinking to myself how up front, open and honest this guy is about his status. It’s very refreshing. So to have the opportunity to meet him and speak with him was a real treat.
The overall vibe of the crowd was welcoming and electric. The costumes were amazing and all of the men and women were all too happy to have their pictures taken. As a photographer it is always nice to photograph an event with people who enjoy having their photo taken.
So I spent the evening in the City of Angels taking photos of some of the most incredible organizations and people (SUPER Hard Heroes) doing all they can to raise money for an organization that truly gets what it means to be of service to over 70,000 people LIVING with HIV here in Los Angeles. Once again I had the honor of holding space with the Director and fearless leader of Being Alive, Kevin Kurth and the Manager Daniel Robinson. Another night to celebrate and raise funds for the amazing work they do.
Being Alive, THANK YOU for being the place so many people can count on. The place where we know we are ALWAYS welcome, ALWAYS cared for and respected. The place where we are not just some client, but a member and a vital part of an organization that cares for us. Thank you for all the hard work you do for us and thank you for always making space for me. YOU ROCK!!!!
Lastly I must say thank you to all the hot GO GO dancers who turned it up when I pointed my lens in their direction and to all the awesome people who came out to help raise money to support services that people like me depend on.
Please consider making a donation to Being Alive.
My photos from the event.
Link to Bent-Con.