It’s a cold, overcast Sunday and I decided to take the day off. The past couple of weeks have been very hectic because I am stepping in new terroritory. I have been putting together my first POZ event in Toronto. And boy has it been a lot of work. On Sunday December 2nd, the first POZ-T.O. event will take place at CLUB 120 on Church Street. I am so excited!
I guess I should start from the beginning. Last year, Jon Chaisson approached me about DJ-ing for a party called POZ-N-SEXY at Goodhandy’s. To my knowledge, there had not been a club event catered to the POZ Community before. Of course, I said yes. Jon and I ended up doing two of the parties together, but unfortunately we parted ways because he didn’t pay me for the last event. And then he moved away to another city for a job. The POZ-N-SEXY events were catching on, but nothing had been done since.
So, when Todd Klinck, one of the owners of Goodhandy’s (now rebranded as CLUB 120) asked would I be interested in doing the party again I said yes. But I didn’t want to use the same name as before. I realized that Jon was trying to encourage the POZ Community to be out and proud about their status, but with the pornstar hosts he hired for the events I think it made the parties look like they were sex driven. And I wasn’t really comfortable with that. So, I came up with POZ-T.O. I was looking at other POZ groups and events and realized that there was a POZ-DC and a POZ-NYC. So, why not a POZ-Toronto group.
And who knew that there would be such a frenzy around announcing a POZ event?
Over the past couple of weeks, I had done radio interviews along with a couple of magazine peices written about my latest effort to help end the stigmatization of being HIV+. I hadn’t really thought about it, but in a way I have become a specialty item on the scene. I am the only Out HIV+ DJ/Drag Performer in Toronto right now. And what better way to use my voice than to raise awareness about the POZ Community and turn it into a benefit.
You see, this event is going to hopefully raise money and get food donations. There is no cover, but we are asking that you donate $5 for the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT) or donate food to the People With AIDS Foundation (PWA). I have also gotten a gay-owned supermarket to be a silent sponsor for this event as well.
Now, I know that there are several POZ groups around Toronto. But to be honest....none of them seem appealing to a younger demographic. And unfortunately, there are young people who are being diagnosed everyday. I’m not as young as I used to be, but I am definitely not interested in playing cards at an afternoon tea. And although the bar and club business has taken a hit because of the internet and sex sites, nothing beats meeting a person face to face. In fact, I believe that all the information you need to know can be learned in the first five minutes of talking with someone.
At the last POZ-N-SEXY party, the people who showed up were excited to have a space where they could feel comfortable about their status. And for some of them this was the first time that being positive wasn’t an issue. The conversation was already laid out for you. Because let’s face it....disclosing can be very difficult.
One of my best friends always talks to me about how to tell someone you are positive. When I was single, I usually told on the first or second date. I figured....why waste your time or mine if you are gonna have a problem with my status. But the other good thing about this kind of event is that you could meet other people to talk about the challenges that the POZ Community face on a daily basis. Between the fear of someone finding out and the isolation some feel, the three “D’s” might creep into your life...Depression, Drinking and Drugs. The support of other positive people might be just what you need to cope with a new diagnosis. And if you are in your 20’s, it could be scary to go to an OUT-N-POZ meeting. This event could be used as outreach and to provide a space where the positive and positive-friendly could meet. I have been encouraging my friends who are not positive to come out and show their support. I mean afterall, if you are friends with me you already know someone who is positive. You might even make a new friend at our event. It doesn’t have to be a hookup. I want people to start connecting again and stop self-segregating.
So, I am very optimistic about this event. The owners of CLUB 120, Todd Klinck and Mandy Goodhandy have also talked with me about making this a monthly event. Which would be fantastic!