Both here in Canada and around the world, HIV stigma operates interpersonally and institutionally. It lies at the root of a plurality of issues confronting people, couples, and communities affected by HIV. Whether access to treatment and care, social isolation and abandonment, criminalization of sexual relations, demonization of drug-use—all these issues lead back in some way or another to stigma. For people who are in relationships where only one of two partners are HIV-positive (‘magnetic’ or ‘serodiscordant’ relationships), both people can also face stigma for their relationship. Positive Plus Poems is a community-building event that hopes to raise awareness about how stigma can emerge from the casual assumptions we make about HIV, and relationships.
Positive Plus Poems is a one-time, free public event in the Buddies in Bad Times Cabaret, accompanying Toronto-based playwright Sky Gilbert’s play ‘It’s All Tru,’ and writer/actor/educator thom vernon’s ‘looking at you – looking at me’ video installation. Dr. Liviana Calzavara of the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health will introduce the event with Gilbert and vernon. At this event, guests will have the opportunity to engage creatively with the testimonies of sero-discordant couples (one HIV+ and one HIV-) by composing their own “found poems” using the couple’s own words. These poems will then be shared back with study participants to offer support and solidarity
Attendees will also have the opportunity to visit Vernon’s compelling installation and Gilbert’s provocative new play.
‘looking at you, looking at me’ is a video installation, featuring filmed silent portraits of people directly affected by HIV/AIDS; intended to provoke viewers into evaluating the assumptions they make based on a person’s appearance, and to confront the ways they may be unconsciously perpetuating stigma. The installation opens May 3, 2017 and remains throughout May.
Tickets will be available for purchase through Buddies in Bad Times for ‘It’s All Tru,’ which tells the story of “Kurt and Travis…a perfect gay couple – a young prince charming and a charming silver fox – whose marriage is threatened by the appearance of a sexy street boy named Gideon.”