Tag Archives: Sunset Beach

VIDC at the PRIDE FESTIVAL 2015

It’s been a long time coming, but here it is — updates (and of course, PHOTOS) from PRIDE FESTIVAL 2015

As previously mentioned, VIDC is proud to have been part of this year’s PRIDE FESTIVAL. We’ve been in the community for so long, it was only a matter of time before this happened — and now is the time!

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The VIDC Information Booth set-up — with flyers, pamphlets, booklets, wristbands, and a glimpse of what we had for breakfast that day!

PRIDE is a time to celebrate acceptance and to stand up against discrimination — and since HCV and HIV/AIDS do not discriminate, we wanted to be present at the festival to promote awareness about these diseases and the treatments available.

It was a very interesting and informative day for us as we got to see other organizations who support PRIDE, the initiatives they are involved with, and the health programs they have for the community.  It was a great reminder that although HIV and HCV are negatively affecting a lot of people, there are also a lot of people working together to help those affected.

Our research assistants Ghazal and Dr. Sahand Vafadary posing for a photo before the festival opens.
Our research assistants Ghazal and Dr. Sahand Vafadary posing for a photo before the festival opened.

It was also very encouraging how receptive people were to the information. Festival goers were generally very inquisitive, and it was our great pleasure and delight to educate them about the diseases (HIV and HCV) and the treatments available.

One of our research coordinators and nurses, Candice, was handing out Hepatitis C Information Booklets and answering questions about testing and treatment options for Hepatitis C.
One of our research coordinators, Nurse Candice Tan, handing out Hepatitis C Information Booklets and answering questions about testing and treatment options for Hepatitis C with a huge smile!

We focused mainly on providing information on Hepatitis C. Why? Because we feel like the awareness of HCV isn’t as widespread as HIV; also, at PRIDE, there were a number of organizations with information booths spreading awareness for HIV already. We tried to fill in the gap where we saw fit. Hepatitis C is a serious disease, and we want people to know that they should get tested and that treatments are available!

Here is our Communications Assistant, Ivan, and volunteer, Marianne, handing out condoms, booklets, and bookmarks while telling people to “Be safe and get tested!” (The people in the back were on their lunch breaks.)

The VIDC team had different shifts in staffing the booth. We wanted to make sure we got the chance to enjoy the festival while also ensuring that we always had a medical professional to address people’s questions and concerns. We had all three of our nurses, a couple of our research coordinators, assistants, and volunteers present on-site at various times of the day — all ready and equipped to spread the good word that HCV is now curable and people should get tested.

Research Assistant, Riley, and our HCV Nurse, Yashna rocking the VIDC shirts -- not everyone can make them work.
Research Assistant, Riley, and our HCV Nurse, Yashna rocking the VIDC shirts — they’re one of the blessed ones who can make those shirts work!

We clearly had a lot of fun at! And we look forward to being a part of the PRIDE FESTIVAL again next year. Who knows, maybe we’ll have a float for the PARADE too!

Our volunteer, Marianne, embodying our main message for the day: Be safe! Get Tested!
Our volunteer, Marianne, embodying our main message for the day by giving out HCV information AND condoms — Be safe! Get Tested! (Yes, that’s Nurse Shawn Sharma in the background.)
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VIDC STRUT!

As promised, here are the photos and updates from when VIDC went out to STRUT our stuff down Sunset Beach last June 6 in support of Foundation of Hope’s (FOH) fundraising efforts for LGBTQ+ Refugees. It was a surreal experience to be part of this momentous event! The energy and the support from everyone who came out was simply overwhelming; although we don’t all fully understand the struggles of being an LGBTQ+ refugee, we all understood the importance of STRUT for them.

Only three of those feet belong to females, VIDC males represent!
Only three of those feet belong to females, VIDC males represent!

We got a good taste of the pain and the struggle of walking (even standing!) in heels! We got a full dose of what STRUT was all about — enduring a bit of pain to get an extremely minuscule glimpse of what LGBTQ+ refugees have to suffer.

That mile was the

L      O      N      G      E      S      T          M      I      L      E

our team has ever walked, especially since it was a first (walking in heels for THAT long) for a lot of us.  The blisters and muscle pain we’re still feeling is a constant reminder of the privilege we have in a world that’s just all kinds of unfair.

VIDC is no stranger to working with marginalized, oppressed, and at-risk individuals, and still STRUT was quite surreal for us. It’s one thing to work closely with someone, it’s another to physically get a (very very small) taste of what they’re going through.

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VIDC would very much like to thank Foundation of Hope for organizing this event and for giving us the privilege to be a part of it. We partnered with FOH and attended the event to engage the community and provide financial support to the cause; and yet it seems as though we got so much more than what we gave.

Don’t get the wrong idea though! It was a very meaningful event, but it was also FUN!

Check these photos out for proof!

Colorful doesn't even begin to describe STRUT!
Colorful doesn’t even begin to describe STRUT!
We were told to wear
We were told to wear “whatever we would define as heels” — clearly, we were outdone.
Yes, those are heels too!
… and outwitted. (Yes, those look like the most comfortable pair of “heels” ever!)
Definitely the cutest STRUTer that day!
Definitely the cutest STRUTer that day!
Kárà-Kátà Afrobeat Group got things started with very groovy and contagious music.
Kárà-Kátà Afrobeat Group got things started with very groovy and contagious music.
VIDC Team at our booth BEFORE the walk -- we didn't really know what to expect yet.
VIDC Team at our booth BEFORE the walk — we didn’t really know what to expect yet.

We definitely got more than what we gave, thank you to everyone that came out and supported STRUT!

Click here for more photos — including a video of our HCV Nurse, Shawn, taking his first steps in heels!

You can also read more about STRUT here from The Georgia Straight.