Local Briefs

KNON bringing Hightower to Dallas

KNON 89.3 FM, Dallas’ Community radio station presents national radio commentator, writer, public speaker and author Jim Hightower in a speaking engagement and dinner on Saturday, March 26, at Historic Sons of Hermann Hall, 3414 Elm St. Dinner will be catered by Cajun Alligator Café.

Dinner begins at 6 p.m. Hightower’s speech, followed by a question-and-answer session, begins at 8 p.m. For dinner and the speech, admission is $25. Admission for the speech and Q&A session only is $10. Tickets are available at Forever Young Records in Grand Prairie, Bill’s Records in Dallas and on KNON’s website, KNON.org, via PayPal.

For more information call 214-828-9500, ext. 222 or go online to KNON.org.

Ramirez named to national board

Ruben Ramirez, community health programs manager for Resource Center Dallas, has been named to the national board of cultural experts for the Mpowerment Project.

It is a program developed by the University of California-San Francisco’s Center for AIDS Prevention Studies.

Ramirez is attending his first meeting of the board this week in California.

In his job at the center, Ramirez works with program staff to create, develop and enhance innovative primary and secondary HIV prevention programs, syphilis elimination initiatives, and other efforts relating to sexually transmitted diseases. The programs target gay/bisexual men, other men who have sex with men, African-American, Latino and other at-risk populations.

The Mpowerment Project is an evidence-based, community-level HIV prevention intervention for young gay/bisexual men ages 18 to 29. CAPS developed Mpowerment, and it collaborates with organizations around the country to understand how it is being implemented in diverse communities.

Ramirez has been involved in HIV/AIDS prevention efforts since the 1990s, first in the Austin area and later with the Center. He earned an associate’s degree from the Community College of the Air Force, and both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Texas-Austin.

GAIN presents real estate program

Resource Center Dallas’ GAIN program will hold a program titled “Keeping it ‘Real’ in Today’s ‘Senior’ Real Estate Market — finding out the truth about your real estate options” on Thursday, March 24, at 6:30 p.m. at the resource center, 2701 Reagan.

Realtor Ed Abenante with Keller Williams Realty, Ron Watterson with Prime Lending and Alan Hopper with RE/MAX Associates will attend to discuss issues including how and when to sell, downsizing and reverse mortgages.

The event is free and open to the public.

Women’s History Month program set

Resource Center Dallas’ Phil Johnson Historic Archives & Research Library and JEWEL women’s group will honor Women’s History Month by hosting a talk  titled “Honoring and Preserving Women’s History: The Centrality of Labor and Feminist Activism,” presented by Clark A. Pomerleau, history professor at the University of North Texas. The lecture will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 26 at the center, 2701 Reagan Street in Dallas.

Pomerleau is an assistant professor for U.S. women’s and gender history at University of North Texas. He specializes in sexuality studies, 20th century social movements and alternative education.

The event is free and open to the public.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

We are ‘greater than AIDS’

A LOOK BACK | Elton John, right, is joined by Ryan White, left, and Jason Robertson, both suffering from AIDS, as he performs at “For the Love of Children” benefit for children with AIDS and other serious illnesses in 1988. (Alan Greth/Associated Press)

As LGBT community grows more complacent, HIV infections in gay, bisexual men continues to rise

DAVID FURNISH  |  Special Contributor

This year marks 30 years since the discovery of the first case of what was later identified as AIDS. With that news, our lives and relationships as gay men were forever altered.

We witnessed an unthinkable tragedy that has taken the lives of more than a quarter million of our gay and bisexual friends and lovers.

In the face of this devastation, leaders emerged. The crisis helped to shape our community’s political agenda, and it provided a platform around which gay leaders could advocate for rights and equality. We realized that if we informed ourselves and acted on what we learned, we could be greater than the disease.

Thanks to the efforts of gay men and our allies, our community saw a dramatic decline in new infections by the late 1980s. Many of us can look back with immense pride at the collective response in those early years.

The availability of effective combination drug therapies in 1996 fundamentally changed how we thought about HIV. No longer was HIV the death sentence it had once been. We had new hope. For many, HIV was a manageable chronic disease.

Many of us turned our attention to marriage equality, adoption rights, the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and other pressing issues facing our community. While we broadened our focus, AIDS did not.

When we become complacent, HIV thrives. New HIV infections among gay and bisexual men in the United States are on the rise. Yes, on the rise.

We are the only risk group for whom this is the case. According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control, one in five of us — that is, gay and bisexual men — in some of the largest U.S. cities today are living with HIV. And half of those who are positive do not know it.

Unless we act now, we will see these numbers rise even higher, and quickly.

My partner, Sir Elton John, often talks of his friend Ryan White, a boy whose tremendous courage in the face of AIDS forced our leaders to take action and inspired many of us. Today, Ryan’s story continues to remind us that just as HIV began one person at a time, it will end one person a time.

Elton and I recently had a baby boy. Becoming fathers has given us new perspective on what it means to take care of one another — as parents, as partners and as members of a community.

And, it reminds us that we cannot be complacent in helping to create the kind of society in which we want our son to grow up. In short, we must take responsibility and each do our part to create a future free of HIV, by being informed, using protection, getting tested and treated — and by getting involved.

And so, as we mark 30 years of this disease, Elton and I have recommitted ourselves to being greater than AIDS. As chairman of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, I’m proud of the community organizations with which we are working to fight stigma and prevent the spread of the disease. And I’m proud that leading LGBT companies — like HERE Media, LOGO TV and Dallas Voice — are refocusing attention on this epidemic. And I hope more will join us.

As a community, we once showed that we could be greater than AIDS. Now is our time to do it again. Visit GreaterThan.org/pride to get started.

David Furnish is Chairman of the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF.org). The Elton John AIDS Foundation is a supporting partner of Greater Than AIDS (GreaterThan.org/pride), a national movement organized in response to AIDS in America with a focus on the most affected communities. Columnist photo courtesy Richard Leslie.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 4, 2011.

—  John Wright