20 JUNE 27 2003
www.houston voice.com HOUSTON VOICE
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out on the town johnny hooks
Houstonians can show
their pride anytime by helping
fellow gay Texans in need
Pride lasts all year
"WE'RE HERE, WE'RE QUEER, GET USED
Your first Pride parade is always a memorable experience. I have been fabulously fortunate in my life with opportunities to march in
fhe New York City Pride Parade in 1989, at the
height of the ACT-UP protests; in San
Francisco the year Bill Clinton swept into
office on a dream called HOPE (we sang "Ding,
dong the witch is dead" from "The Wizard of
Oz!"); in Houston's pre-nighttime, Sunday
afternoon, drag queen melting parades of yore
(oh those nelly ribbons!); and its much cooler
sister, the Saturday, only nighttime parade in
the country disco ball over the intersection of
Montrose and Westheimer extravaganza.
As I look around today, in our local community and our national and global ones, it
seems that the years of hard work, loss and
pride are paying off. You can't turn on the
TV now without running into gay and lesbian characters such as Will and Jack from
"Will & Grace." Lena and Bianca on "All My
Children," or real-life couples like Riechen
and Chip from the "Amazing Race," or
recently voted off Ebony and her girlfriend
Renee on "America's Next Top Model."
By the time you read this, the US.
Supreme Court probably will have ruled on
the constitutionality of the Texas anti-sodomy
law, hopefully decriminalizing the actions of
tens of thousands of Texans. There are clearly lots of reasons to celebrate PRIDE this year.
HOWEVER, EVEN THOUGH YOU MAY TAKE
Monday after Pride weekend off to recover,
there are people in this city who can't take
time off before heading back to work, because
they can't work. They are too sick, too ill to
even attend the parade, to enjoy the celebration
that all the hard work over the years was for.
My column usually highlights people, places
and events that are, for one reason or another, of
interest to the GLBT community of Houston.
The Houston Vbice has put together its annual
Pride guide for Houston already I decided to
remind you. dear readers, that after the party
stops, you can make a REAL difference in the lives
of people infected and affected by HTV and AIDS.
It takes as little as one hour a week, but
the help you provide — and the good it does
for our still-young community — insures its
survival, and maybe even your own.
D.I.EF.A Houston. The Design Industry
Foundation Fighting AIDS is the largest
source of private dollars for HIV/AIDS care
in the greater Houston area, according to
DIFFA leaders. The group has granted more
than $2.6 million to local service providers
since its inception in 1987. DIFFA Houston
gives funds to HIV/AIDS services organizations that provide preventive education programs targeted to populations at risk of infection and to providers of treatment and direct-
care services for people living with AIDS.
Throughout the year, DIFFA raises money
with amazing annual events like Dine Out &
Chip In, the Holiday Collection Auction (featur
ing wreaths designed by local artists, designers
and loving citizens like myself!) The heart of
fhe local chapter is Rodney Honerkamp, but
the organization depends on volunteers for its
lifeline. The 2003 Holiday Collection Auction
steering committee meets for the first time this
week and could use YOU. www.diffa.org/hous-
ton has further info on all volunteer needs.
AIDS Foundation Houston. Volunteers
are the backbone of AFH. Officials at AFH
note that it is the oldest HIV/AIDS organization in Houston, and it has a four-step process
for becoming a volunteer: Application,
Interview, Orientation and Placement.
A short walk around then well-organized
Web site shows a need for help in the following areas; Big Brothers and Sisters,
Newsletter, Habitat for Humanity (helping
budd homes for HIV+ families), Camp
Hope/Camp H.U.G, special events, hospital
visitation and lots more; unfortunately, fhe list
is long and continues to grow. Take a minute
and see how you can HELP www.aidshelp.org
Bering Omega Community Services.
Founded in 1986, Bering Omega provides a
continuum of compassionate, quality care to
People Living with HIV/AIDS in Southeast
Texas, according to Bering leaders. Bering
Omega relies heavily on volunteers to deliver care to more than 2.800 people each year.
Utilized in all aspects of Bering's operations,
volunteers contribute more than 23,000 hours of
assistance each year Bering Omega provides
assistance including a free dental clinic for people living with HfV/AIDS. Even simple gestures
like recycling your old magazines for their lobby
can help Patients sometimes have to wait for
hours and a new-ish magazine can help pass the
time and the jitters a dental visit can bring. Adult
Day Care, including nursing, art programs,
transportation assistance and field trips,
Financial Assist Support Network for families
and care-givers and Residential Hospice Care
(The Omega House) for those living out their
final days also are offered, wwwberingomega.org
The Assistance Fund provides much needed
support to individuals living with AIDS by paying their health insurance premiums until they
qualify for Medicare, according to the group.
Assistance Fund also offers financial assistance
for the purchase of medication. Those helped
through this group have reached a point in their
disease process where work is no longer possible and available financial resources are inadequate to maintain quality of life, dignity and
peace of mind, wwwtheassistancefund.org.
After the chandelier comes down, and the
rainbow balloons are stowed for another yeai;
continue celebrating your PRIDE by showing the
city the nation and the world why we're queer
we're STILL here, and they'd better get used to it.