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in the news
Volume 16/Issue 10

15th International AIDS
Candlelight Memorial & Mobilization

The 15th international AIDS Candlelight memorial and mobilization will be held on May l7. This grassroots event is the largest annual community-based AIDS event in the world. Over 300 cities and over 40 countries will participate on May 17. This event, which began in San Francisco in 1983, commemorates the lives lost to AIDS, demonstrates support for people living with HIV/AIDS, and mobilizes community based response to HIV/AIDS.

This year's theme is Rekindle the Flame, Renew the Fight For a Global End to AIDS. In the Baton Rouge area, Acadiana C.A.R.E.S. will host the event which will take place in Girard Park near the Pond-side stage. The general public is invited to attend on May 17 at 7:30pm. For more information, contact Lee Hubbell, 318.233.2437.

In New Orleans, New Orleans AIDS Candlelight Memorial and Silent March Committee hosts the event which will take place May 17 at 5:30pm in Woldenberg Park at the Hibernia Pavilion. Appearing will be the New Orleans Gay Men's Chorus and the Metropolitan Community Church Choir. The silent march will commence at sundown and proceed down Decatur St. to Dumaine and then to Chartres, ending at the site of the future AIDS Monument on Esplanade. Ceremony and march are to take place after the historic groundbreaking ceremony for the AIDS monument.

For more information, contact Aaron Folse at 504.454.7178.

LEGAL to Roast Outgoing
Executive Director Hartig

The Louisiana Electorate of Gays And Lesbians (LEGAL) will be hosting a night of celebration soon to honor its outgoing executive director and co-founder Brian Hartig. The fundraiser, to be held in the form of a roast, will take place at Sleepy Hollow Plantation in Baton Rouge on Sat., May 30, from 8-11pm.

Tommy Dillon and Lisa Lemoine, members of LEGAL's Board of Directors, have been working with a local group of members to put the evening together. Dillon and Lemoine feel that the celebration will be a fitting farewell to Hartig who has served as the group's executive officer for more than five years.

"He's served more than just LEGAL," said Director Tommy Dillon. "Brian's literally created and nurtured a network around the state that has accomplished so much for Louisiana's Lesbian and Gay community."

Hartig, who has led the statewide organization in his capacity as its president/executive director for its first three years and as its executive director for the past two years, recently announced his intentions to move on.

"I am really going to miss a lot of people in our community," said Hartig, "I could selfishly go on doing this forever, but I really feel that now is the perfect time to bring some new blood into our organization and I'm stepping aside to provide that opportunity."

Hartig, who left Peace Corps in 1992, settled in New Orleans, co-founding LEGAL soon thereafter. He will be leaving the organization in June to rejoin Peace Corps in its East European Region.

"I have been aching to go back ever since I left," he said. "And the timing was simply perfect for both myself and LEGAL."

Hartig was first approached with the idea of creating the statewide Lesbian and Gay civic action organization (that became LEGAL) in 1993 by longtime civil rights activist and attorney John Rawls. Hartig remembers visualizing the positive affect that a grassroots human rights organization could have for Louisiana's Lesbian and Gay communities, particularly as there was no existing non-profit group like it.

"We wanted to create an organization that worked beyond New Orleans," said Hartig, "because there was clearly an interest with local organizations around the state in tying themselves in with all sorts of issues from the legislature to local Pride events. I felt we could provide that connection."

So Rawls and Hartig incorporated LEGAL, bringing aboard accountant Steve Wolf as its treasurer. Soon Hartig was traveling the state with little more than the idea of a "working" organization and a dream of statewide inclusion, activism and volunteerism amongst Louisiana's lesbian and gay community.

"I met a lot of incredibly productive and supportive members of our community around the state," said Hartig. "The desire for this idea to work was so evident in so many people that I never had to worry where I was going to lay my head at night. I never once had to step foot in a hotel room."

From unestablished groups of individuals who worked with LEGAL on its various projects to organized local citizens' groups and student groups at universities, Hartig worked to create a network of communities that could learn from one another, grow with and nurture one another.

Now as Hartig leaves that network in the hands of LEGAL's Board of Directors, members of LEGAL are coming together from around Louisiana to show their thanks for his dedication, commitment and selflessness.

"I had hoped to be able to silently slip out of Louisiana without any fanfare," said Hartig. "It looks like they're not going to let that happen."

For those wishing to attend the event, Sleepy Hollow Plantation is located directly across the street from the home of State Rep. Woody Jenkins at 933 North Foster Drive in Baton Rouge. The celebration will include food, drinks, entertainment, tributes and a silent auction. A twenty dollar donation is requested.

Anyone wishing to help sell tickets, purchase tickets, contribute to LEGAL's silent auction, provide a venue for ticket sales, or help out in any way, please call Kevin Morgan in Baton Rouge at 504.383.8033. Tickets for the event are being sold by various LEGAL members, at Hibiscus Books located at 635 Main St. in Baton Rouge, and are available through the mail by making your $20 cheque payable to LEGAL and sending it to LEGAL Celebration, c/o Sleepy Hollow Plantation, 933 North Foster Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70806.

"The Mad Toddler"
At the Lesbian & Gay Community Center

The Lesbian and Gay Community Center is proud to announce the opening of The Mad Toddler: Paintings and Dolls by Michele Zanca on Sat., May 16, from 6:30-8:30pm.

Zarica's fanciful works range from paintings to watercolors to pastels to dolls to a phantasmagoric quilt made from old T-shirts. In a single image, she encapsulates the emotional dynamics of her subjects so as to both reflect and transcend the reality of the moment she chooses to capture.

"The idea of 'The Mad Toddler' occurred to me after I had done a sketch from a childhood photo of myself," says Zanca. "Dressed in all my Easter glory, frilly frock and scratchy white hat, I clearly could not have been less happy to be forced to stand there with the sun in my eyes while being asked to 'smile.'

"Now I am old enough to pick my own clothes. I never have to pose unless I feel like it. And I take revenge for that child of the photo and paint things the way I want them to be. Faces come in all shades of the rainbow. Many of my subjects wear no clothes at all. I portray humanity in as many varieties of gender as I can dream up.

"Sometimes when I am painting or after I finish a piece, I wonder if only a person who is quite mad could produce such a thing. For this reason I have claimed the name of the 'Mad Toddler' for she was mad then and she is certainly proud to be mad now."

Zanca was born and raised in New Orleans and attended the Academy of Holy Angels. She moved back here last year after living in Philadelphia, Chicago and Fresno. The exhibit will also feature her handmade dolls which she has been creating since she was nine years old.

"My mother thought I should learn how to use a sewing machine ," she says. "Instead of making my own clothes, I started making dolls for my brothers. Now my doll designs tend to be mostly for adults as opposed to children's toys."

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of artwork from this show will be donated by the artist to the Lesbian and Gay Community Center. The Center is located at 816 N. Rampart St.; call 504.522.1103 to confirm daily exhibit hours.

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