AFC Celebrates Pride

June 27, 2013

Chicago’s Pride Parade celebrates diversity, but this year there will be a symbol of unity traveling from Broadway to Diversey on June 30.

Six organizations that support the LGBTQ community have created a CommUNITY Pride Float. They include Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN), Howard Brown Health Center, Chicago House, Center on Halsted, AIDS Legal Council of Chicago, and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC).

“This is a message of solidarity,” said Jeremy Hilborn, director of individual giving and special events at Chicago House. “Our histories are intertwined, and we work together closely to complement each other’s unique services, while meeting the distinct needs of the LGBTQ community.”

The development teams from all six organizations meet quarterly to share breakfast, news, and forthcoming events. Over eggs and maple syrup, the idea for a single Pride float was born, with the aim of showing solidarity among Chicago’s AIDS service organizations.

“The Pride Parade is a special event for our city,” said David Dodd, communications manager at Howard Brown Health Center. “It’s a fun, family-friendly time that brings together Chicagoans, regardless of sexual orientation, to celebrate the LGBTQ community and highlight all of its accomplishments.”

The Parade comes on the heels of National HIV Testing Day, June 27, where these organizations joined other service providers in Chicago for a month-long testing initiative: Step Up. Get Tested.

This collaborative has an ambitious goal: to test 5,000 people in June. Though these organizations offer testing throughout the year, this was a special, highly-publicized push to empower individuals and destigmatize HIV testing. The CommUNITY float embodies this spirit and shows that people are proud to know their status.

“Pride can mean different things for different people,” said Ricardo Cifuentes, director of development at AIDS Legal Council. “For me, it’s a celebration of how far we’ve come against the odds. Coming out, creating resources and institutions for our community, leading the charge against the epidemic, and caring for our own—these are all things that we should be proud of as a community, especially here in Chicago. We want people to know that this spirit is still alive and that our organizations and many others are doing vital work every day.”

Categorized under Inside Story.

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