Archive for the ‘HIV POSITIVE T-Shirt’ Category

“Last night was a remarkable experience for me and far exceeded any expectations. I have not attended a candle light vigil for HIV/AIDS in more than ten years. As so many others expressed, the loss experienced over the years is overwhelming. My family of choice disappeared within a matter months as HIV/AIDS claimed their bodies.

Sharing the night with those who attended the Vigil made me aware I have a family by choice today. The vigil is for remembrance of those no longer with us, and also a celebration for those present now. I never expected to laugh and enjoy the night as I did.

Thank you to the men of the L.I.F.E. Project (PALS) for wearing the “HIV POSITIVE” t-shirt and providing your programs to our community.” – Jim

“…the real gift came to me the evening of the candlelight vigil. When I saw the sea of black HIV POSITIVE t-shirts, I was blown away. It was great to see men with smiles wearing their shirts. To see their smiles when they were putting on their shirts and how they stood with pride….letting the universe know their status, was a significant moment for me. It was more than just a t-shirt. It was about us, our friends, our community. Lets continue to stay connected… Stay in the Light” – Joe

For once, I really felt like I belonged.”

“I started walking 18 years ago for my brother who died. Before he got sick, I didn’t know he was Gay and I really didn’t know any Gay people. These walks have connected me to my brother and to the incredible loving world in which he lived.” – Maria

“I was unable to be at the Candlelight Vigil this year due to a bad cold. I am very inspired in several ways. First, your statement of the Black Shirts (tasteful I must add…I am always into ‘simple elegance’) and the number of black shirts was amazing. I am jealous I don’t have one! LOL

“Your ‘shirt’ statement reminded me of what would happen in edgy New York or San Francisco in the past. It also showed how we as individuals can turn a negative situation into a positive one AND be proud. I am SO proud of all of you. Every one of you needs to pat yourself on the back (or where ever you want) and say ‘Great Job!’

“Second, being a photographer I am inspired by the beautiful Black and white photographs. They really add a diminsion to the feeling of the walk and the look of the shirts. Congratulation to the LIFE team and everyone who has benefited from this amazing organization.” – Jeff

I just didn’t think I was ready to wear the Shirt. I put it away deep in my closet so no one would see it. But once I arrived at the Vigil, my fears went away. I found Bob and he gave me a XL. I’m a small guy but it felt good on me. Afterwards I wore it at the Alibi. .”

“With each step I remembered each of my many friends who died and I celebrated them. I also celebrated the many POZ men around me who are my family.” – Micheal

“Walking I felt this incredible energy. Its been years since I last stood up. Amidst this crowd I felt the emergence of new leadership. And I am ready to stand with them. Jim & Joe, we are with you. Thanks!”

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“I drove down to the vigil in a rather somber mood, thinking about all the special people in my life I have lost to AIDS. This is the 1st World AIDS Day vigil I have had the courage to attend. I was afraid during the walk I might break down in tears, because my losses really have been that substantial. But having so many of my friends from the LIFE group around me took my mind off all that sadness. All the friends and loved ones I have lost to AIDS would have been proud to know we are still here, and still living off all the strength and love we shared while they were here with us.” – David

What a glorious sight when I arrived at Hagen Park. They were a hit. I got several inquiries as to where we got them and what PALS and LIFE were about.

“Personally, I felt free and proud – for one night at least, rid of the HIV stigma. It was right there on my chest for all to see. It raised awareness and I did get approached in Bill’s, Alibi and on the street by curious men who said they respected me and my choice to where the shirt.” – Ralph

“Nice work gentlemen. It was an amazing sight. I wanted to share a little something with you too. Jose, Eduardo and I were all wearing our Poz shirts standing together in Alibi afterwards and a guy none of use knew came over and insisted on a group hug. All he kept saying was ‘You guys are just amazing…just amazing.’ Sort of defined the night for me, and you know what? He is right! Thank you!” – Dave

“YES…It was an amazing evening. It was so great to see so many of our fellow LIFEers together wearing the shirts. For me, it was our Graduation! I’m so glad we were all able to share it together.

“Thanks Guys for making this happen and for sharing in this experience together.”

I can hardly express the joy and pride I experienced to walk with such amazing people who made me feel right at home even though I am HIV Negative. I walked mainly for my partner Rudyn to honor his strength and spirit but after last night, my extended family has been enlarged by quite a few special, loving and strong-willed people. Thanks for such an unforgettable experience!!!” – Carlos

To be continued…

– Photos by Bob R.

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Good afternoon Men,

We are very excited to share with you the most recent effort by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services called “Facing AIDS” which is accessible at the following link: http://www.aids.gov/facingaids/

This program recognizes the importance of disclosure. As published on the site. “By Facing AIDS, you’re also supporting the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.” According to the Strategy, “The stigma associated with HIV remains extremely high and fear of discrimination causes some Americans to avoid learning their HIV status, disclosing their status, or accessing medical care.” (Sounds like a few of the co-factors we discussed in the L.I.F.E. program.)

Please visit the web site referenced and read about this innovative program.

Bob, Joe and myself will be at Alibi’s early Wednesday night (about 6:30 PM) to meet and walk with participants of this L.I.F.E. cycle & the POZitive Attitudes group members to Richardson Park. As promised, we will be wearing our “HIV POSITIVE” t-shirts to show support for those persons and organizations who are actively promoting visibility of the HIV positive population to end the stigma associated with this disease.

We encourage you to wear the “HIV POSITIVE” t-shirt donated this past Tuesday night to the participants, facilitators, and staff of PALS/L.I.F.E. Project. We are very glad we can help raise this awareness within our community while giving thanks to each of you for sharing with us your experiences. Please invite your friends/guests to join us and we will make additional shirts available as possible that evening.

We look forward to seeing you.

Our best for a memorable evening,
Jim Cooper, Joe Guerrero, Bob Risse

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HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is December 1, 2010. There are many activities scheduled in the Fort Lauderdale/Miami area to bring recognition to this disease. I encourage you to make an action plan for how you will spend this important day. As Dec 1st is a Wednesday, The Group will be meeting as usual at 7 pm. However, at 7:30 pm the Worlds AIDS Day Candlelight Vigil will also be taking place from Richardson Park to the Rally at the Shoppes of Wilton Manors.

Personally, this year I am choosing to wear a “HIV POSITIVE” t-shirt while out in public to help raise awareness and advance the effort to “normalize” this disease. Joe Guerrero and Bob Risse agreed to join me in this commitment. We will update you with a message summarizing our experiences of that day.

As Annie Lennox so aptly states, “Break the silence. Sing. Let your voice be heard.”

To commemorate this occasion, we’ve designed and printed “HIV-POSITIVE” T-Shirts to give to our friends in the Community. If you would like to join us in wearing the HIV POSITIVE T-SHIRT, please join us at the Shoppes of Wilton Manors at 7 pm where we will distribute any remaining shirts and then walk over to Richardson Park together.

If you have any questions about the shirt or if you like to specifically request one in advance, please contact Bob at Bob33308@yahoo.com ASAP

Thank you for your time,

Jim Cooper, Joe Guerrero, Bob Risse

Please watch the following video by Annie Lennox which explains her reasoning for wearing the “HIV Positive” t-shirt. Her comments address and help to reinforce many of the co-factors identified in the L.I.F.E. Program. Specifically, she emphasizes the need for disclosure and working towards “normalizing” the social reaction to this disease.

Following is a link to her 2007 performance of the song, “Sing”, featuring an introduction by Nelson Mandela. The video is very powerful. The statistics cited are not current, but none the less, stress the severity of this illness as it affects the community of women and children living in the sub-Sahara.

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