CBSN New York presents special coverage of AIDS Walk New York: Live at Home on May 16, 2021.
[MUSIC - "SUNSHINE DAY"]
- (SINGING) I think I'll go for a walk outside now. The summer sun's calling my name. I hear you now. I just can't stay inside all day. I gotta get out. Give me some of those rays. Everybody's smiling. Sunshine day. Everybody's laughing. Sunshine day. Everybody seems so happy today. It's a sunshine day.
I think I'll go for a walk outside now. The summer sun knows me by name. He's a calling me. I gotta get out, gotta get out. Gotta get away. Gotta get away. Get away. Get away. Get away into the sunshine day. Today, the sun shines. Now, the sun are the same. Can't you hear it calling your name?
Well, I think I'll take a walk every day now. The summer sun's shown me the way to be happy now. I just can't stay inside all day. I gotta get out. Give me some of those rays. Everybody's smiling. Sunshine day. Everybody's laughing. Sunshine day. Everybody seems so happy today. It's a sunshine day.
Today, the sunshine. Now, the sun are the same. Can't you hear it calling your name. I think I'll go for a walk outside now. The summer sun's calling my name. I hear you now. I just can't stay inside all day. I gotta get out, get me some of those rays.
Everybody's smiling. Sunshine day. Everybody's laughing. Sunshine day. Everybody seems so happy today. It's a sunshine day. Everybody's smiling. Sunshine day. Everybody's laughing. Sunshine day. Everybody seems--
DANIELLE BROOKS: Good morning. I am Danielle Brooks, and I wish I could be with you in person walking AIDS Walk. I wish we could all be walking AIDS Walk. But this year, since we can't gather in the park as usual, we are uniting in a virtual park and bringing together the AIDS walk events from seven cities across America. We are standing together in solidarity as one great big AIDS Walk community, supporting people who really need us.
Let's start out with a visit to the Big Apple and GMHC, the world's very first AIDS service organization. Please welcome GMHC's CEO, Kelsey Louie.
KELSEY LOUIE: We here at GMHC in New York are so excited to be joining with AIDS Walk from around the country. Let's drop in on our participating cities.
- Hello, from New York City. Whoo. This is AIDS Walk New York, supporting GMHC and over 30 HIV/AIDS service organizations in the tri-state area.
- Hello, from the Bay Area and AIDS Walk San Francisco.
- Hi, from Austin, Vivent Health, home of AIDS Walk Austin.
- Hello, from Wisconsin, home of Vivent Health and AIDS Walk Wisconsin. Whoo!
- Whoo! Hello, from the Seattle AIDS Walk!
- We're live at home with the Want to End HIV. Welcome to New Orleans.
- Hello, from the City of Angels and AIDS Walk Los Angeles. Whoo!
CARSON KRESSLEY: Well, that was just like riding It's a Small World at Disneyland. I mean, without the dolls or the boats or the song. But anyway, every one of our seven participating cities has been fighting HIV and AIDS with its own event for decades. Each one has its own culture and character, but the goals are the same. To be able to come together this way is extraordinary, six cities wrapping up their campaigns and one more launching theirs.
And your being here is proof that no matter what corner of the country you're in, no matter what's going on out there, you will not be deterred from supporting all of the great organizations that benefit from your fundraising efforts. Be sure to share the link to this show on your socials. In fact, take a moment to post about it right now-- I'll wait-- you know, so we can get more people watching and donating.
Oh, and if you haven't donated yet, I'm thinking a good time would be, um, right about now. So click the button on your screen or visit AIDSWalk.net. In just a few moments, we'll all be coming back together. But first, let's hear about what's going on near you.
VANESSA MURDOCK: All right. Good afternoon. We're coming to you live, of course, here in Central Park's Tavern on the Green. Since 1986, AIDS Walk New York has stepped off from just outside this beautiful space. Today, as New York begins to step out into the world again, to do it here as part of GMHC's AIDS Walk with all of you dedicated people feels just right.
GMHC is dedicated to helping people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS in all five boroughs. With over 10,000 clients, GMHC provides comprehensive services, including testing, prevention, nutrition, housing, mental health, and substance abuse programs. We're going to hear more about GMHC in just a bit. But first, what we want to do is just welcome everybody around the country watching with us this afternoon on this beautiful day in Central Park.
With the AIDS Walk, we come together in brand new ways this year, uniting as one AIDS Walk community. We at CBS New York are so proud to be part of this year's AIDS Walk live at home. First and foremost, our next speaker is with us today. He is on the board, and let me go ahead and introduce to you the director, Jon Mallow, for a few words.
JON MALLOW: Thank you. Hello, AIDS Walk. I'm Jon Mallow. I'm the chair of the board of directors of GMHC, the world's first HIV/AIDS service organization. It's great to be here live. It's great to be outside of my house doing something and virtually with all of you today. This is the 35th AIDS Walk New York and the 40th year of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We're pleased this year to partner with AIDS Walks in six cities, as these events will support our collective work meeting the needs of those living with and affected by HIV.
GMHC has been on the front lines of the epidemic since the beginning. While much progress has been made, our work is, unfortunately, far from over. We continue to see nearly 2,000 new infections each year in New York City. Thankfully, these numbers are on the decline, but HIV continues to concentrate in low income and communities of color.
GMHC addresses the broad spectrum of factors that drive new infections in these communities such as food and housing insecurity, and with your help, we'll continue to do so until there is no more need. Remembering and honoring those lost to HIV requires that we recommit ourselves to fighting discrimination and ending systemic inequality now. GMHC advocates against social injustice and ongoing stigma that continue to marginalize people living with HIV and AIDS and the communities disproportionately affected by the disease.
Structural inequality has led to unequal health outcomes in the COVID pandemic as well, and we must apply what we know from HIV work to fight on that front too. I want to express my gratitude to all of the virtual walkers and supporters of AIDS Walk New York, as well as GMHC's wonderful clients, volunteers, and staff. I'd also like to thank my colleagues on the GMHC board, some of whom are with us today, and the elected officials who have joined us as well.
Finally, I have the distinct pleasure to thank AIDS Walk New York's sponsors. So I'm going to read them now, and I want you to thank them with me. Our presenting sponsor, ViiV Health Care; our premier sponsor, Gilead; our principal sponsors-- Barclays', Bloomberg Philanthropies, Fiona and Stan Druckenmiller, the Keith Haring Foundation, and Tito's Handmade Vodka; our major sponsors, Lamb Insurance Services, Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation, and Viacom CBS; supporting sponsors, Mesmerize, New York Presbyterian, PepsiCo, PWC, SelectHealth VNSNY CHOICE, TD Bank, Williams-Sonoma; our event sponsors, Amida Care, careRelief, DoorDash, Geico, the Morrison & Foerster Foundation, Oaktree Capital, OraSure Technologies, Paul Weiss, and Target; our co-chair sponsors, Dole, Stop & Shop, Mutual of America; and finally, our media sponsor, POZ Magazine. Without all of these sponsors, we really wouldn't be able to do our work, and without you, we wouldn't either. So let's give everyone round of applause, and please enjoy the rest of the program. Thank you.
- Tito was already doing it on his own before we put a name on Love Tito's.
- He used to give it away, which, of course, included in charitable event.
- Tito allows each of the employees to choose what charity in their local community they want to give back to.
- I think that's the end goal, to do something that has meaning and purpose.
- We're here in this company to make the world a better place, and we'd like to think we're doing it through Tito's Handmade Vodka.
VANESSA MURDOCK: All right. And with that, we are back here live from Central Park. There is so much more to come today for AIDS Walk Live at Home. How is everybody doing? All right, so let's bring you to the rest of the show. I can't wait to sit down and watch along with everybody here. Enjoy.
CARSON KRESSLEY: Oh, hi. It's me again. Did you guys donate yet?
- It's smooth as Jazz. Up in Milwaukee, the sponsors of AIDS Walk Wisconsin provide a lot of cheddar to support Vivent Health. AIDS Walk Austin, also a part of the Vivent Health family is where generosity flows like crude. The sponsors of AIDS Walk Seattle, benefiting Lifelong, boost that campaign like morning's first coffee. As sure as the fog rolls through Golden Gate Park, the AIDS Walk San Francisco Foundation enjoys support from the entire Bay Area.
And down in the City of Angels, AIDS Walk Los Angeles sponsors sparkle like a Hollywood premiere. Some of today's AIDS Walks are fortunate enough to have presenting sponsors. That is philanthropy at its highest levels. AIDS Walk Wisconsin, for example, is honored to have the ongoing support of Miller Lite. Cheers to them and to their commitment to Vivent Health and the fight against AIDS. Here are the presenting sponsors of AIDS Walk New York and AIDS Walk San Francisco.
- Since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, our scientists have been on the front lines, developing medicines across the antiretroviral drug class spectrum. And today, while our robust portfolio offers a range of therapeutic options, we remain committed to innovation, researching and developing therapies that meet the diverse and evolving needs of people living with HIV. But we are much more than just medicines.
At ViiV Health Care, we listen to the HIV community. We activate innovative programs where there are the greatest disparities. We amplify the voices of people living with HIV in every aspect of our work, and we sustain the movement by championing the leaders, organizations, and communities needed to end the epidemic.
Our connection with people living with and affected by HIV helps elevate community-led solutions to some of the biggest challenges, like health disparities that prevent certain populations, especially people of color, from seeking and staying in care. If we're to achieve our mission of leaving no person living with HIV left behind, we must close those gaps in care, but we can't do it alone.
So we collaborate with trusted advocates to develop community programs, or we support organizations who are on the ground and doing the work to address specific needs for people living with HIV. Our expertise and our passion go far beyond science, creating an holistic approach to treating and preventing HIV. We're ViiV Health Care, and we're here until HIV isn't.
- The way we see it, the impossible--
- --is not impossible.
- The impossible is simply what hasn't been achieved yet.
- So we pursue it.
- We chase it down.
- We tackle it for answers.
- We surround it for a way in.
- This is how every once-impossible breakthrough has ever been created.
- A revolutionary approach to cancer therapy.
- A path to a cure for HIV.
- A cure for hepatitis C.
- A better, healthier world for every person to live in.
- None of this is impossible now because of the people you work with--
- --the communities we stand with--
- --and the partners we push forward with.
- Together, we've created what's possible, through science--
- --and courage.
- And we will do it again.
- No matter what.
- No matter the stakes.
- No matter who says we can't.
- When faced with the impossible, we don't falter.
- We band together, and we prove it wrong.
- The impossible--
- --is not impossible.
- It's what's next.
- [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
- [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
- [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
- [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
- [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
- [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
- It's what's next. [END PLAYBACK]
[MUSIC - SUNY ONEONTA STUDENT CHOIR, "CAN YOU FEEL THE LOVE TONIGHT"]
- (SINGING) Ooh. There's a calm surrender to the rush of day, when the heat of a rolling wind can be turned away. An enchanting moment, and it sees me through. Sees me through. It's enough for this restless warrior just to be with you.
And can you feel the love tonight? It is where we are. It's enough for this wide-eyed wanderer that we've got this far. And can you feel the love tonight. How it laid to rest. It's enough to make kings and vagabonds believe the very best.
Ooh. There's a time for everyone, if they only learn that the twisting kaleidoscope moves us all in turn. There's a rhyme and reason to the wild outdoors. When the heart of the star-crossed voyager beats in time with yours.
In time we love and care, forever tonight, where we are. It's enough for this wide-eyed wanderer that we got this far. And can you feel the love tonight. Laid to rest? It's enough to make kings and vagabonds believe the very best.
It's enough to make kings and vagabonds believe the very best. Believe the very best. Can you feel the love tonight?
ROSIE PEREZ: What's up, party people? It's Rosie Perez here. You know, I got my first big break in Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing." However, I have been trying my hardest to do the right thing way before I met Spike. It was more than 30 years ago when AIDS Walk asked for my support, and I was there. I have to admit I was a little rough around the edges back then, but I learned louder isn't always better. But sometimes it is, and sometimes it's necessary, and so is good trouble.
I've been doing this for a very, very, very long time. You know why? The same reason why you do. For as long as there is racism and discrimination, homophobia and transphobia, poverty and senseless stigma, we can't be quiet. We can't stay seated.
This country is waking up. Young people are waking up. Young activists are joining us. They are our hope and our future. They are fearless. Here's a taste of what's going on in San Francisco, Boston, New York, Seattle, Milwaukee, and New Orleans, where they've been in the fight against AIDS and where they're going as they try to do the right things.
- I decided to work at GMHC because GMHC saved my life five years ago.
- You know that when you come in here, you're going to get perfect service, that you are going to be walked through all of the services that you need.
- And we come together with you in collaboration so that you can continue to be you and again, live the best of life that you can.
- I feel good at the end of the day because I know I always thrive for the clients so that they can have a better lifestyle.
- It's always been family. I mean, basically, like I said, I've grown up at GMHC.
- We're here. We are the GMHC family.
- So I know that we could continue that legacy of support and love because GMHC was built on love.
KELSEY LOUIE: Greetings from Central Park. My name is Kelsey Louie, and I am the proud CEO of GMHC, the world's first HIV and AIDS service organization. This year marks the fourth decade of the epidemic, and GMHC has been on the front lines since the beginning. Today, we serve more than 10,000 people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.
Over the last year, we have been maintaining our services remotely, including meals and nutrition, supportive housing, legal and workforce development services, and mental health and substitute counseling. This past year, despite the COVID pandemic, we have provided our clients with more than 100,000 meals. I'm proud of the staff who continue to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic and at the same time, confront the two public health crises of COVID and race-based violence.
This past year has taught us, once again, that silence equals death. Thank you to GMHC's board, volunteers, clients, donors, and to those of you today supporting AIDS Walk New York. Your extraordinary generosity is critical for sustaining our lifesaving work through these challenging times. Together, we can end the AIDS epidemic once and for all. Thank you.
MONICA GANDHI: It's a privilege to work here because Ward 86 has had a huge impact, I think, on HIV/AIDS, and our clinic started in January 1983. It's the oldest HIV clinic in the country and one of the largest. We started the San Francisco model of care, the idea being that everyone here gets all their services in one place. We've got many innovations. They are all as a result of our linkage with the community, with advocates, with people living with HIV. That is the history of ZSFG, and that's the history of the HIV epidemic.
CRAIG MILLER: As a 30-year veteran in the fight against AIDS, I can tell you that you see that there's no way we would have the progress that we've had today on so many levels without the cutting-edge leadership of UCSF. Fast forward to today and UCSF is right where it's always been, right at the cutting edge with Ward 86 and the Golden Compass Program focused on helping the aging HIV positive population.
DAVID HOWARD: I was diagnosed back East, in New York, in 1984 around the early spring time. Ward 86 is really a great place because it embraces you in a positive way, but it's a good environment where it makes you stay focused on the negative or the stereotype of what it is. And so you can actually get involved in things that are constructive for you.
MONICA GANDHI: Of course, we're all aging, but people who are living with HIV age a little faster, and so this year, we're starting the Golden Compass Program. It's the first model in the country where we make sure that they have care for their heart disease, care for cognitive issues that may arise. We're going to do memory classes. We're going to do fitness classes, help with social networking, dental and hearing and vision, and then finally, a focus on strength and bone health.
CRAIG MILLER: We had AIDS Walk San Francisco are just so proud and so very gratified that the Golden Compass Program of Ward 86 is receiving $100,000 in support from AIDS Walk San Francisco to launch this program. As the founder and senior organizer of AIDS Walk San Francisco, I can personally attest to the fact that that event would just not be as big and bold and successful an event without UCSF, and it has been that way since day one.
MONICA GANDHI: We have had enormous progress in the fight. Really, we just found out this week that we are down in the city of San Francisco by 17% in terms of new infections. We used to have an HIV infection a day, and now we're down to 20 a month. We're going to work on that as well.
- There's a word for people who fight tirelessly against a formidable enemy, that has robbed us of wonderful individuals living to their full potential for too many decades. There's a name for someone who's facing the future with their eyes wide open, aware of the risks that lie ahead. And there's a word that means nothing, yet it means everything to people living with HIV and a name for people who face prejudice and are treated harshly for simply living their truth.
There's a word that applauds every step forward in the fight against HIV. There's a name for people willing to fight at the forefront for a cause. And now there's a name for the tens of thousands of patients, employees, and supporters who represent the new face of HIV. Vivent Health, providing comprehensive prevention, care, and treatment for anyone and everyone affected by HIV.
MIKE GIFFORD: Hello, America. My name is Mike Gifford, and I'm pleased to serve as the president and chief executive officer of Vivent Health, America's only HIV medical home where we're dedicated to integrating health and social services to create the very finest outcomes for patients all over the country. Vivent Health believes that we thrive together, and we're so glad to be joining in AIDS Walk Live at Home, a national effort to raise much-needed dollars to assure people living with HIV have long and healthy lives all over America.
Whether it's AIDS Walk Wisconsin or AIDS Walk Austin, we're glad to be here in solidarity with all of you across the country today. Thank you for our walkers in Wisconsin and in Texas, all of you around the country for committing to AIDS Walk again this year. Special thanks goes out to AIDS Walk Wisconsin, presenting sponsor, Miller Lite. And in Austin, we send out our greatest thanks to our presenting sponsor Tito's Vodka. Have a great walk, everybody.
CLAIRE NEAL: Lifelong exists to make sure that no one faces illness and injustice alone. When we first started out 35 years ago. Folks were facing the AIDS epidemic, and they were facing, not only illness, but the injustice that came with it, the stigma, the barriers to care. And so the community came together and not only provided that compassion and support, but fought for people's rights. And so over time, that model grew and grew, and now we're able to do that same thing with people who have all kinds of different needs all across the State.
JAMES STEPHENS: Working with Lifelong, I feel like I'm even more ingrained in the community. They had a delivery route here in the Auburn area that I guess they had not been built for many years. They always had to have their staff do it. So I was like, sign me up. And there's a lot of people in this community who-- they're on the brink. So it's nice that you're able to help them out. So yeah, it's good.
DANA CORDY: Our meals, they're all prepared fresh from scratch here in the kitchen. We find that there is a connection between food and health, and we know that the food that we're providing is incredibly important for people who are living with chronic illnesses. The research shows that when people have nutritious meals, medically tailored meals, their health improves, their readmission rates into the hospital decrease, their visits to the emergency room decrease.
We also know that food is a tool of prevention. So if people have access to really nutritious foods, they can live long, healthy lives and may not develop diet-related diseases that so many people in America are experiencing.
CLAIRE NEAL: As we move into the future with Lifelong, I'm really excited about the work we've done to clarify our mission and to really look at our impact across all of the different areas where we help. I think that's just a huge opportunity for us to expand our impact and be able to better serve the community. And that's what we're going to continue to do, learn from the community about their needs and make sure that we're there alongside them fighting for their right to live a healthy life.
NOEL TWILBECK: I'm Noel Twilbeck and serve as the CEO for CrescentCare. For more than 37 years, CrescentCare has served those who are some of the most marginalized individuals in our community. CrescentCare has grown from our humble beginnings as an HIV service organization under the banner of No AIDS Task Force to a much broader critical focus as a community health center. CrescentCare continues to provide care and service for our most vulnerable family members and neighbors in the Greater New Orleans community.
We offer a broad spectrum of services, which continue to include HIV prevention, care and service, primary medical care for women and children, transgender health care, mental health, and substance use services, even dentistry. CrescentCare's goal is to offer culturally humble, high-quality health care for all in our community. Our community deserves the best health care we can offer, and CrescentCare has a commitment to deliver.
- Since 1983, CrescentCare has provided compassionate care for people living with HIV in the New Orleans area. Through our founding organization, No AIDS Task Force, we've led the walk to end HIV since 1989, to support our community with comprehensive medical care, mental health support, meals and groceries, support groups, legal services, prevention, and education. This year, we're proud to join partners across the nation for AIDS Walk Live from Home. Together, our voices will be heard as one, HIV eradication is within our grasps.
BILLY PORTER: "That's What Friends are For," Ryan White. The first AIDS Walk Atlanta. Freddie Mercury, the last song. Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Diana, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, marriage partnership activists, visionaries, friends. David Furnish, Elton John.
For decades, Elton John and David Furnish have used their platform tirelessly in the fight against AIDS. Since 1992, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, at which David Furnish serves as the chairman of their board of trustees, has been committed to overcoming the stigma and neglect that keeps us from ending AIDS, especially in the most vulnerable communities. The mission, to be about powerful voice to end AIDS. No more discrimination, no more HIV infections, no more AIDS deaths, no matter who you love or how you love.
John has written about HIV for "The New York Times" and "The Atlantic" and given speeches at a number of international AIDS conferences. Together, they host their Annual Academy Awards viewing party, one of the world's most visible and effective AIDS fundraisers. Lifetime Achievement Award from AIDS Walk across America, Elton John and David Furnish. Inspired. Deserved.
ERIC GARCETTI: For decades, people have worn these things so proudly. I think about this pin from 2002, the first year I was an elected official and participated in AIDS Walk, how amazing this is. People wear these pins throughout the year. These shirts and these hats, some of these are vintage. Our 20th annual, still very fashionable, gentlemen.
Probably because I work in this building, and I'm talking to you from it right now, there's City Hall, and this was from 2016, five years ago. Congratulations, Sir Elton John and David Furnish on your Lifetime Achievement Award. From all of us here in Los Angeles, thank you for your advocacy and your participation in AIDS Walk Live at Home.
TOM BARRETT: Sir Elton John and David Furnish, I'm Mayor Tom Barrett from the city of Milwaukee here on America's fresh coast. I want to thank you for all the work that you've done to fight the pandemic, HIV, and AIDS through your entire lifetime. You have been phenomenal leaders, and we want you to know how much we appreciate that right here in Milwaukee. Here, we've got a great partner in Vivent Health, where we've worked with them for literally decades through the AIDS Walk Wisconsin to help thousands of people fight this pandemic.
ANN-MARGRET: I want to congratulate my friend and "Tommy" co-star, the fabulous Elton John on being honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his decades of work fighting HIV and AIDS. No one deserves it more.
[MUSIC - HEATHER HEADLEY, "YOUR SONG"]
HEATHER HEADLEY: (SINGING) Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It's a little bit funny, this feeling inside. I'm not one of those who can easily hide. I don't have much money, no, but what if I did? I'd buy a big house where we both could live.
If I were a sculptor, but then again, no, or a man who makes potions in a traveling show, I know it's not much, but it's the best I can do. My gift is my song, and this one's for you. And you can tell everybody that this is your song. It may be quite simple, but now that it's done, I hope you don't mind, I hope you don't mind that I put down in words how wonderful this life has been while you've been in our world. Yeah.
I sat on a roof, oh yes, I did, and I kicked off the moss, a few of those of verses, see they got me quite cross. But the sun's been quite kind while I wrote this song. It's for people like that keep it turned on, and on, and on, and on.
Excuse me forgetting, but these things I do, you see, I've forgotten are they green or are they blue. But anyway, the thing is, what I really mean, yours are the sweetest eyes this girl has never seen. And I tell you that you can tell everybody that this is your song. It may be quite simple, but now that it's done, I hope you don't mind, I hope you don't mind that I put down in words how wonderful my life has been while you've been in my world.
I hope you don't mind, I hope you don't mind that I put down in words, it's been a good life, a real good life since you've been in my world. This is your song. Oh, yes, it is. It is. We love you.
RITA MORENO: Our final Speaker is a lifelong organizer, accomplished advocate on HIV/AIDS and other public health matters. For nearly 40 years, he has proven time and again to be a clear-sighted, tough-minded, and hard-driving advocate for those most affected by HIV/AIDS, racism, poverty, gender bias, and hate. He is the founder of the AIDS Walks in Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco and has led the organizing efforts behind the scenes of more than 150 massive events, modest election campaigns, and downright tiny neighborhood rallies and protests for social justice and police reform. Please welcome community organizer, Craig Miller.
CRAIG MILLER: On Sunday, July 28, 1985, 4,500 people gathered at Paramount Pictures on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles for the world's first AIDS Walk. It was not so much a matter of wanting to walk those Hollywood streets that day, it was more a moment of realizing that we had to. Take a look.
ANN-MARGRET: The Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is a deadly killer, and that's why we're all here today, to take those necessary first steps towards raising the funds that are so desperately needed. As you begin your walk, it takes us that much closer to our goal. Bless you for being here.
36 years ago, as the AIDS epidemic was just coming to our attention, I received a letter from Craig Miller, asking if I would come to Paramount Pictures for an event that they were calling AIDS Walk Los Angeles.
CRAIG MILLER: I knew we were onto something good when Ann-Margret said, I'll be there.
GEORGE TAKEI: Ann-Margret.
CRAIG MILLER: I knew we were on to something good when George Takei said, I'll be your master of ceremonies.
GEORGE TAKEI: Good morning, and welcome to Paramount Studios and the opening ceremony of AIDS Walk Los Angeles.
Here we are on the back lot of Paramount Studios and what we call the tank. I have so many memories of this spot.
I can't tell you how happy I am to be here with so many of you, caring people, who want to show your support for those people that are afflicted by this horrible plague on our society.
ANN-MARGRET: Only days before, my friend, Rock Hudson, announced his diagnosis, which finally put AIDS on the front page where it really needed to be. But a few months later, we lost him.
GEORGE TAKEI: I had friends, suddenly, they were sick, and suddenly, they started losing weight. Soon after that, they were gone, but because of prejudice, our own government was abandoning the people suffering from AIDS.
MAXINE WATERS: I came from a community where the African-American ministers were demonizing the young people in the church, many of them directing the choirs.
GEORGE TAKEI: And yet, there were heroes.
MAXINE WATERS: There were those who stood up, Mayor Bradley.
CRAIG MILLER: And when Tom Bradley, that great former mayor of Los Angeles, stood on this property and observed what was happening in the motion picture industry and elsewhere, he said that's nonsense.
TOM BRADLEY: Some movie stars have said, well, I don't think I want to engage in a kissing scene with anybody who is identified as having AIDS. Now, let me tell you all of this is nonsense. One of the purposes of our being here today is to put down these kinds of myths, these kinds of false rumors.
LEIF GREEN: I brought my 1985 journal. This is just some of the pictures from the day of the event. Most of those are friends of mine who were volunteering at the time.
GEORGE TAKEI: And I can't tell you how proud I am to be here with thousands of you people. I've told the latest count was 4,500 registered practitioners.
And the people gathered here for the first AIDS Walk were those people of compassion.
LEIF GREEN: And this was a letter that I've kept since October 2, 1986. He said, "After we discovered that we had raised a million I, overheard a fellow walker say, 'I wish they would have a walk and raise a million for me. And I thought to myself, wow, they did raise this for me because I have AIDS.'"
MAXINE WATERS: I'm so proud of the LGBTQ community. We passed the AIDS Act, the House of Representatives, just a few weeks ago.
ANN-MARGRET: And I never imagined that we'd be standing here now. We learned about our own tenacity, our own strength, our own compassion.
CRAIG MILLER: The HIV/AIDS epidemic in America is now rather old, but the lessons have rarely been more relevant than they are today.
GEORGE TAKEI: And we are here today, as we struggle against another pandemic, when another group of people who are suffering because of prejudice. When will we ever learn?
CRAIG MILLER: So the charge for us is to remember we should not have to relearn those lessons.
GEORGE TAKEI: Today, we come together as compassionate people for what we have done, but also, to fight this kind of mindless prejudice and hate.
ANN-MARGRET: And I am honored to stand with you and grateful to every one of you who stands with APLA Health, GMHC, Vivent Health, Lifelong, CrescentCare, and the AIDS Walk San Francisco Foundation.
CATHERINE HOUSER: On behalf of Paramount Pictures, it is my honor and privilege to be sitting between these two beautiful trailblazers. I wanted to say how proud I am of working at Paramount Pictures, who continue support of the AIDS Walk. Thank you both. It's just thrilling to be here with you.
ALEX NEWELL: And last, one has to face a huge assortment of nauseating fads and good advice. There's health and fitness diet, and deportment and other pointless forms of sacrifice. Conversation, wit, I am a doubter. Manners, charm, they're no way to impress. So forget the enemy. Observe the outer. I am what I wear and how I dress.
[MUSIC - ALEX NEWELL, "DRESS HAS ALWAYS BEEN MY STRONGEST SUIT"]
(SINGING) Ooh. Oh now, I believe in looking like my time on earth is cooking, with a polka-dotted stripe or even checked. With some glamour guaranteeing every fiber of my being is displayed to quite remarkable effect. From your cradle via trousseau, to your death bed you're on view, so never compromise, accept no substitute. I would rather wear a barrel than conservative apparel, for dress has always been my strongest suit. Over wear. Underwear. Anytime. Anywhere.
I'm staying in or hitting townward, from the top and working downward, I ensure that every stitch is stitched in time. Is stitched in time. Whether wig or hat or turban, whether clog, boudoir, or urban, not to strut your stuff outrageously is a crime. And the few who were invited to a wardrobe are delighted, as they wander through my things and finding a route. That in negligee or formal, I am anything but normal, for dress has always been my strongest suit. My strongest suit. Yeah.
So bring me out my finest, most audacious, my divinest, most revealing, most expensive and to boot. Most arresting, most heart-stopping, most free-flowing, most eye-popping. Dress has always been my strongest suit. Most strongest suit. Overwear, underwear, anytime, anywhere. Dress has always been my strongest suit!
BILLY PORTER: In 2017, I released an album of music of the great Richard Rodgers. There is a Richard Rodgers and Hammerstein song though I did not include, a song of hope and inspiration, affirming the best of humanity, and it has served as the AIDS Walk anthem for many years. During this pandemic, when so many of us have felt isolated and alone, it has taken on new meaning.
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart, goes Oscar Hammerstein's timeless lyric. It's good stuff to keep in mind because even if you're out there today walking all by yourself, as the song says, you'll never walk alone.
[MUSIC - LIZ CALLAWAY, "YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE"]
LIZ CALLAWAY: (SINGING) When you walk through a storm, hold your hand up high, and don't be afraid of the dark. At the end of the storm is a golden sky and a sweet silver song of a lark. Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain, though your dreams be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart, and you'll never walk alone. You'll never walk alone.