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“The Need is Still There”: PWA Holiday Charities Hosts “Christmas in July” on Sunday

PWA Holiday Charities Executive Director Don Gill (Dalton DeHart)

By Megan Wadding

Thirty years ago, at the height of the AIDS crisis, little federal funding was available to assist those living with the disease.

So Marvin Davis, aka Lady Victoria Lust, used his involvement in various Houston organizations to put together the PWA (People With AIDS) Christmas show and the Lady Victoria Lust PWA Holiday Fund.

Just days prior to Davis’ death in 1996, the organization received nonprofit status, becoming the PWA Holiday Charities. On Sunday, July 30, PWA Holiday Charities will stage its 29th annual “Christmas in July” show at Neon Boots Dancehall and Saloon.

“The [purpose of the show] is to assist men, women and children living with and affected by AIDS during the holidays,” says Don Gill, executive director of PWA Holiday Charities. “This is the same purpose that is stated in our charter, which we hold true to.”

Gill adds that due to advances in HIV/AIDS treatment, people aren’t giving as generously as they once did, which is detrimental to programs and services.

“[It’s about] educating our community and potential donors so that they understand that the need is still there,” Gill says. “HIV/AIDS still affects our clients in various ways, and many depend on the assistance that we are able to provide them.”

Christmas in July is one of PWA Holiday Charities’ two major annual fundraisers.

Crystal Rae Lee Love, who organizes the show, says it will feature a variety of performers from the community, as well as professional talent. This year’s special guest is Deborah Duncan, host of Great Day Houston on Channel 11, who’ll perform the national anthem and do a comedy routine.

Duncan recently did a segment featuring local transgender people, which caught the eye of PWA.

“We were able to suggest some of the people that she invited to the show and we were honored to be in the audience,” Gill says. “One thing led to another and she accepted our invitation to join us for our show.”

Christmas in July will also include an auction, featuring a catered event for six valued at $600, as well as framed prints from the old Brazos River Bottom.

Prior to the show, there will be a social hour with a cash bar and food provided by Railroad Crossing BBQ and others.

Last year, in addition to funding its regular programs, PWA Holiday Charities raised enough to provide Thanksgiving dinner for 60 people.

“Regardless of the amount we raise, rest assured that 100 percent of the money will be used to assist those who need it most,” Love says. “In the words of Lady Victoria Lust, ‘If HIV/AIDS affects one of us, it affects all of us’.”

For more information or for tickets, visit



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