Qmmunity: Lessons From the Past for the Present

Plus, Gender Unbound and Austin Asian American Film Festival kick off virtual programming

March on Austin's Candlelight AIDS Memorial Walk, April 30, 1989 (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Earlier this summer I joined KOOP Radio host Bob Dailey and Lee Manford on Bob's show, Reflections of Community Outreach. Bob and Lee – the latter of whom was the founding board chair of AIDS Services of Austin before serving as executive director – lived through the HIV/AIDS crisis at its height in the Eighties and Nineties; I, being born in the early Nineties, can't relate, but we had an insightful talk about the parallels and differences between HIV and COVID-19. It's a conversation that's spilled into sporadic emails, including swapping articles about how America's HIV response might inform how we respond to today's crisis. Last week I shared a recent HuffPost article, "Will America Let COVID-19 Become the Next HIV?" about the shortcomings of fighting COVID-19 without addressing underlying health inequalities. During the HIV/AIDS crisis, the article details, social scientists realized it wasn't enough to simply tell people to stop engaging in high-risk behaviors – they had to address the root causes of why people might be engaging in that risky behavior in the first place (for example, ensuring HIV testing and condoms were accessible). It got me thinking, "How could we apply that approach to COVID-19?" With COVID, risky behavior means large crowds of people, not social distancing, not wearing a mask, etc. So, what are the conditions preventing people from not engaging in those risks? And how can we mitigate them? That's a difficult question to answer, but Bob was reminded of one of Lee's observations during the show about peer counseling during the AIDS epidemic – "That is, gay men heard the 'safe sex' message from other gay men," wrote Bob. That's one approach, and I think others could be (finally) decoupling health insurance from employment, universal internet access, and more housing models like Austin's Community First! Village, among others. If we know now what we knew during the HIV crisis, there's no excuse, nor time, for repeating mistakes of the past.

2 To Do

Gender Unbound Virtual Showcase Throughout September, Austin's arts fest celebrating trans and intersex artists will feature an interactive 3D exhibition, plus weekly livestreams of musicians, poets, storytellers, and interviews with exhibited artists. Sept. 1-30. Online. Free. www.genderunbound.org/live.

Prismatic Taiwan The Austin Asian American Film Festival (AAAFF) is back with another curated program of rarely screened films. Prismatic Taiwan is a virtual six-film retrospective of ground-breaking Taiwanese queer cinema that spans from 1970 to 2016. See "A Lens on Queer Taiwan" for more. Sept. 4-13. Online. Series pass: $12.99-14.99; film rentals, $3.99 each. www.aaafilmfest.org/prismatic-taiwan.

Q'd Up

OUTsider 2021 Start making mischief and submit by Oct. 1. This year's theme: "Future in FluX." www.outsiderfest.org.

Queer Riot Fest Queer bands, queer art, and a queer market all month long. Proceeds benefit Kind Clinic. Sept. 1-29. Online. $5-10. www.queerriotfest.com.

UnBEARable Bulimianne, Mascara, and Chique wanna stay up all night with you, Louisianna, Diana Fire, and Mad Max. Thu., Sept. 3, 8-9pm. Online. www.twitch.tv/eatmorechique.

Haven Virtual Dance Party Goth and industrial sounds. Sat., Sept. 5, 8pm-2am. www.fb.com/elysiumaustin.

Queerbomb Qmmunity forum and a planning sesh with ATX's DIY alt-Pride. Mon., Sept. 7, 7-9pm. Online. www.fb.com/queerbomb.

ASHwell Food Bank Volunteer Email, call for info. Tue., Sept. 8; Thu., Sept. 10. 512/522-8419; schavez@ashwellatx.org. www.ashwellatx.org.

BoizDSM The Boiz pay tribute to all things kink and fetish, with yer host Alexander the Great. Tue., Sept. 8, 7-10:30pm. Online. $5 suggested donation. www.twitch.tv/papijinxy.

PFLAG Austin A free support group for qmmunity members and their family and friends. Second Tuesdays, 7-9pm. Online. www.pflagaustin.org.

Interfaces A rad showcase centering QTPOC writers and musicians. Second Wednesdays, 7-9pm. Online. www.fb.com/atxinterfaces.

Want more queer? Visit austinchronicle.com/qmmunity

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Austin LGBTQ, Austin LGBTQ, Bob Dailey, Lee Manford, AIDS Services of Austin, KOOP Radio, HIV / AIDS, Gender Unbound, Austin Asian American Film Festival

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