The HIV Writers Workshop
in 1997 as a survivor of full-blown AIDS, I joined the AIDS Project Los Angeles Writers Workshop to rejoin the living and find a creative outlet to process my near-death experience that brought me blindness, crippling, the loss of friendships, community, and a career. In 2007 I took the reins of the workshop, then called the HIV+ Writers Workshop, when our facilitator André Burke died of complications due to long term HIV infection. Having been André’s significant other the members of the workshop asked me what was going to happen to the workshop, was I going to take it over? I stepped in to keep the workshop going, in time developing my own lesson plans and educating myself on pedagogy theory and practice. I took the reigns as a teaching artist and for many years have been the recipient of the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Artist in Residence Grant to support my work facilitating the workshop. Having partnered with Cedars-Sinai Community Education Program we have a solid host venue. Our deepening relationships with varied community-based service organizations has helped the Workshop experience a deeper cultural humility and serve a broad-based community. In 2014 I changed the name of The Workshop to the HIV Writers Workshop, dropping the +, the positive symbol, to open the workshop to everyone. Now all that are infected and affected are welcome, which is everyone, as we live in a world where seen or unseen HIV/AIDS affects us all. Some things are important to be seen.
This 2014 video reveals the HIV Writers Workshop when it opened arms to people without HIV or AIDS. As the epidemic changed over the years the workshop kept in step with those changes. Meet some members of the workshop and hear about their cultural engagement. personal growth and creative enrichment as its facilitator Don Tinling shares their journey with the workshop and the magic that happens behind the scenes.
Our Place with Cedars Sinai
Since 2016 Cedars Sinai has hosted the HIV Writers Workshop through their Community Education Program at the Advanced Health Science Pavilion near West Hollywood. We are grateful for the safe place they provide. We look forward to sustaining this arts program in their educational services.
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
and The Reading of the Names
Write Out Loud is our reading event where we invite the public, family & friends to hear our stories. We have a tradition where we read the names of all the people who have been in the workshop who have died, 99% died of AIDS or long term HIV infection side effects. It is a long cherished tradition and we thank the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence for conducting this ritual for us and granting us their blessgings, expiating guilt and promulgating joy.