Update from the Board Chair, 2022 2Q
It’s been a busy quarter for us at FAM. We’ve held three successful STORIES Circle events in South Los Angeles, Hollywood and Downtown, bringing people together to share their HIV/AIDS stories so that they can heal and feel heard and supported.
In these intimate events, six storytellers and one facilitator are randomly assigned to a circle where they sit around a candlelit table, telling and reacting to stories that some haven’t told in years or have never told anyone. Each event has 8-10 circles, for a total of 48-60 storytellers.
One man at our event in Hollywood told me that until the day of our event, he had never told his story to anyone other than his doctor. A participant from our South LA event wrote: “My heart was warm and encouraged. We had some great stories at my table. I really loved it.”
It is humbling and rewarding to know that our events are having such a positive impact on our community.
These events would not have been possible without our hardworking community partners:
- The AMAAD Institute for our May 19 event at Magic Johnson Park in South LA, where most of the participants were African American (event pictured above);
- The Los Angeles LGBT Center for our June 21 event in Hollywood, where the participants were older adults (50+ years of age); and
- Bienestar for our June 25 event at El Pueblo in downtown LA, where most participants were Latinx (the event was conducted in Spanish with English translation for those who needed it).
These events benefited from funding from a grant to FAM from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.
We will continue to hold these events at a variety of locations and for a variety of communities in the Los Angeles area, so that we can hear and tell diverse stories that expand our awareness and compassion for people with differing experiences and circumstances.
We are planning to do STORIES Circle events focused on young people, women, trans people, the API community and other segments of our wonderfully diverse area. Some of the stories told at these events will be separately recorded by the storytellers and included in our HEAR our STORIES collection of audio recordings that appear on our website and will be available via mobile devices at our Monument.
Please consider participating in an upcoming event so that you can share your personal story!
Also please be sure to follow us on Instagram and FaceBook where you can see and hear videos related to our HEAR Our STORIES audio recordings project. We released the following audio stories (with accompanying video) in the past quarter:
- Jessica Lange’s recording about Oscar-winning director Tony Richardson;
- Kenny Scharf’s interview about his late friend, world-renowned artist Keith Haring;
- Jessica Chastain’s story about activist, pastor and AIDS survivor Rev. Steve Pieters;
- Susan Bluestein’s story about her late husband, actor Brad Davis;
- Jim Parson’s recording about the brave young activist Ryan White which originated with a posting on @TheAIDSMemorial;
- A recording by Patricia, Rosanna, David and Richmond Arquette about their sibling Alexis Arquette;
- Eric McCormack’s recording about The Brady Bunch dad Robert Reed;
- Bruce Vilanch’s recording about Grammy-winning songwriter Paul Jabara;
- Don Lemon’s recording about pioneering Black news anchor Max Robinson;
- Carmen Ejogo’s recording about civil rights icon Coretta Scott King;
- Mallery Jenna Robinson’s story about her HIV diagnosis and her work as an AIDS educator and activist;
- Louis Buchhold’s story about his journey with HIV and sobriety; and
- Hermando Umano’s “coming out” story about his HIV diagnosis which originated with his posting on @TheAIDSMemorial.
We at FAM hope you have an enjoyable summer.
Irwin M. Rappaport