Scenes from World AIDS Day Dallas at Main Street Garden

Seven panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt formed the centerpiece of the World AIDS Day commemoration on Saturday in Dallas’ Main Street Garden.

Members of the Knitting Circle, a group of HIV-positive women from Legacy Counseling Center’s Grace Project, wore red scarves they knitted for the first time. The project is designed to increase knowledge and decrease loneliness for those in communities where HIV remains a taboo subject.

Among the quilts displayed was one with a panel for Tom Davis, founder of the Round-Up Saloon; David Barton, founder of Hunky’s; and Alan Ross, the Pride parade organizer. On another quilt was a panel for Steve Burrus, a Dallas man who co-founded DIFFA.

Another is the most requested panel in the entire 50,000-panel quilt. It reads: “My name is Duane Kearns Puryear. I was born on December 20, 1964. I was diagnosed with AIDS on September 7, 1987 at 4:45 pm. I was 22 years old. Sometimes it makes me very sad. I made this panel myself. If you are reading it, I am dead.”

Puryear made that panel at a quilt-making workshop at Resource Center Dallas, where it hung until he took it to Washington, D.C. in 1989 for a quilt display on the National Mall. On his flight home, he left it in the overhead bin and the original was never seen again. When he died in 1990, his mother made this replica from a picture and it is her replica that is part of the quilt.

Among the speakers were Otis Harris who was featured on Saturday in an MTV special, I’m Positive, and Zach Thompson, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services.

More photos below.

—  David Taffet

WATCH: Dallas’ Otis Harris Jr. talks about living with HIV on MTV

Otis_GTADallas_138For World AIDS Day, MTV is airing I’m Positive, which featuring Otis Harris Jr., a local 25-year-old who tested positive for HIV and is part of the Greater Than AIDS campaign. Dallas Voice featured Harris in a story several weeks ago.

Harris shares his story of contracting HIV and explains the importance of spreading awareness.

For a year, Harris was afraid to tell his father that he tested positive. But his father’s reaction was that he loves his son and now is participating in the Greater Than AIDS with his son. And his reaction to seeing himself on a billboard with his son?

“Now my fat face is up there,” Harris Sr. said.

On World AIDS Day, Harris will be at the Dallas event Saturday at Main Street Garden, from 3–6 p.m. Watch a video preview of Harris’ appearance on I’m Positive after the jump.

—  David Taffet