The Maroon

Loyola student organization raises AIDS awareness

Barry+D.+McGuire+performs+a+spoken+word+poem+about+the+difficulties+of+being+a+black+man+in+the+LGBTQ+community+at+Loyola%E2%80%99s+World+AIDS+Day+Cocktail+Party+on+Dec.+1.++The+event+was+hosted+by+Delta+Sigma+Theta+and+Loyola%E2%80%99s+newly+formed+LGBTQ+organization%2C+Plus%2B.+Photo+credit%3A+Hannah+Renton
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Loyola student organization raises AIDS awareness

Barry D. McGuire performs a spoken word poem about the difficulties of being a black man in the LGBTQ community at Loyola’s World AIDS Day Cocktail Party on Dec. 1.  The event was hosted by Delta Sigma Theta and Loyola’s newly formed LGBTQ organization, Plus+. Photo credit: Hannah Renton

Barry D. McGuire performs a spoken word poem about the difficulties of being a black man in the LGBTQ community at Loyola’s World AIDS Day Cocktail Party on Dec. 1. The event was hosted by Delta Sigma Theta and Loyola’s newly formed LGBTQ organization, Plus+. Photo credit: Hannah Renton

Barry D. McGuire performs a spoken word poem about the difficulties of being a black man in the LGBTQ community at Loyola’s World AIDS Day Cocktail Party on Dec. 1. The event was hosted by Delta Sigma Theta and Loyola’s newly formed LGBTQ organization, Plus+. Photo credit: Hannah Renton

Barry D. McGuire performs a spoken word poem about the difficulties of being a black man in the LGBTQ community at Loyola’s World AIDS Day Cocktail Party on Dec. 1. The event was hosted by Delta Sigma Theta and Loyola’s newly formed LGBTQ organization, Plus+. Photo credit: Hannah Renton

Hannah Renton

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Dancing and a cappella aren’t typically associated with a cocktail hour, but for PLUS+ president David-Michael Collins, that is the only way to put on a fun, yet informative event about AIDS awareness.

The second World AIDS Day Cocktail Party at Loyola was held on Dec. 1, but it was the first year PLUS+ was involved.

“This is an event that the Nu Mu Citywide Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta usually hosts, but PLUS+ wanted to hold an event for World AIDS Day as well. So instead of having two separate events, we decided to come together for one big event,” Collins explained.

The Saint Charles Room was transformed into an elegant ballroom with decadent gold centerpieces and large sequin tablecloths. Student attendees paid $10 for tickets, the proceeds of which went to Belle Reve New Orleans, an assisted living facility for individuals living with disabilities and HIV/AIDS.

As guests arrived one by one, they were greeted with smooth jazz and a delicious buffet. The night began with thanks to all sponsors of the event and then a program full of performances, and ended with attendees breaking it down on the dance floor.

POCapella, an a capella group of students of color from Tulane, got people’s feet moving and hands clapping with renditions of “Finesse” and “Killing Me Softly.” This was followed by a spoken word performance from Barry D. McGuire, in which he discussed the hardships of being a black man within the LGBTQ community.

The combination of Loyola student organizations, and Tulane and New Orleans community members participating in the event represented a sense of togetherness in the fight against AIDS.

Shamaria Bell, general studies freshman and member of PLUS+, expressed this sense of solidarity during the event.

“It’s a huge disease that doesn’t get a spotlight often enough, so I thought coming to the event would help bring awareness and action,” Bell said.

Khayla Gaston, communications freshman, echoed Bell’s enthusiasm about the event’s mission.

“I love the fact that this event is bringing awareness to AIDS. We need more events like this in our community to educate people on how to protect themselves,” Gaston said.

Collins said his goal for the event was to empower attendees and encourage them to learn about AIDS and HIV.

“A big part of our mission statement is to educate individuals on different topics and problems within the LGBTQIA community. HIV/AIDS awareness is one of the biggest topics in the community, which is why this event and events like these are important to PLUS+,” Collins said.

While honest conversations about AIDS can often still be considered taboo, according to Collins, he believes the only way to break that stigma is by working through that discomfort and bringing the issue to the forefront of conversations.

“I think we need to normalize discussions about AIDS. As we know, this is a taboo subject, but it shouldn’t be because so many people suffer with it everyday. We need to make sure people know about it and know the right language and tools to use when discussing it,” Collins said.

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2 Responses to “Loyola student organization raises AIDS awareness”

  1. Sierra Ambrose on December 13th, 2018 12:07 pm

    In regards to the recent Maroon piece on the AIDS cocktail banquet, there is missing and misleading information that was given. The AIDS cocktail banquet is an annual event hosted by the Nu Mu Citywide chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. Although, this chapter that has been chartered on Loyola’s campus since 1977, no one from the Maroon has reached out to sorority members to speak on their impactful work. The AIDS cocktail banquet was extremely successful last year not only raising almost $1,000 in donation money for Women with a Vision, but for being the first organization on Loyola’s campus to consistently bring awareness to AIDS throughout its 41 years of being charted on both Loyola and Tulane’s campuses. Nu Mu has also won a regional award for last year’s AIDS cocktail banquet that was co-programmed with the Rho Epsilon chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated (a black fraternity on Loyola’s campus) and has won many awards in the past for their all of their programs. This year, Nu Mu decided to co-program with PLUS+ to host the event. It was never PLUS+’s program. To state, ” PLUS + raises AIDS awareness with cocktail and dance party” disregards all of the hard work that members of this sorority have done for years and it is disrespectful to have interviewed the president of PLUS+ and not the President of Nu Mu. For future references, when writing about Black Greek organizations please recognize the chapter by chartering name, e.g. Nu Mu Citywide Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

    If The Maroon has been “woke” since 1923, these issues would have never occurred. To be “woke” is to also be diverse and inclusive. It is time that The Maroon staff is held accountable for its non-inclusive work. Writing about black and brown organizations and/or students while using the wrong terminology and improperly recognizing these students or student orgs proves to me that the Maroon is using the word “woke” as a buzz word. Please, familiarize your staff with the true meaning of diversity and inclusion before using words like “woke”.

  2. Cristo Dulom on January 8th, 2019 1:31 pm

    Thank you for your feedback. We take suggestions brought to us by our audience in consideration to assess our coverage. However, we stand by our coverage, as we have a an array of campus, off-campus, and national scope events that we cover. Our diversified editorial board, writers, producers and directors strive to shed light to events relevant and essential to the Jesuit values and student interest. We always welcome opinion pieces if you would like to voice your opinion any further .

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