On December 1, 2011, New York City will mark the 24th annual World AIDS Day in a variety of milieus across the city, from candlelight vigils to religious services to art exhibits.
New York City's gay community was one of the hardest hit in the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and tragically continues to have one of the country's highest rates of infection. World AIDS Day was conceived in 1987 by officials at the World Health Organization, and is designed to raise public awareness of AIDS and the ongoing spread of HIV infection.
Once again this year, the floodlights of the Empire State Building will glow entirely red on December 1, an homage to the red ribbon of HIV/AIDS awareness.
Meanwhile, the lights of several other iconic buildings and structures around the city will go temporarily dim as part of the Light for Rights. Participating venues include the Brooklyn Bridge, the New York Stock Exchange, Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden, the Apollo Theater, Radio City Music Hall, the Museum of Modern Art, and 40 Broadway theaters.
The New York City focus of this worldwide event will be Washington Square Park, where on December 1 between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m., celebrities including Kenneth Cole and Liza Minnelli will once again dim the lights of the Washington Square Park Arch.
Several organizations and churches around the city will hold World AIDS Day vigils, including Out of the Darkness, co-sponsored by several groups and held at Trinity Lutheran Church of Manhattan. Names of those who have been lost to AIDS will be read aloud.
Housing Works will commemorate World AIDS Day at their Bookstore Cafe and 12 thrifts shops in Manhattan and Brooklyn. All Housing Works Thrift Shops will be closed for shopping on Dec. 1 in remembrance, but will be staffed to collect donations of clothing, accessories and home goods.
At the Bookstore Cafe, Housing Works will host a screening of the film Untitled, by artist Jim Hodges with Carlos Marques da Cruz and Encke Kingrls, which looks at the activism of the early years of AIDS. You can also stop by the Bookstore Cafe to create a video message for the World AIDS Day Memorial Video Project. You can use your message to add a name of a loved one lost to AIDS or to share a personal story.
Housing Works will also join Occupy Wall Street for a march and rally to demand more funding to fight AIDS worldwide. The march will start at Zuccotti Park at Liberty Street and Broadway at 11 am on December 1.
For the group Visual Arts, World AIDS Day is also the Day With(out) Art, which it will commemorate this year by screening the film Untitled at several locations around the city, including Housing Works Bookstore Cafe (see above), the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation, and others.