Gayest & GreatestGayest & Greatest 2023HIV AwarenessNightlife

25 Years of Impact and Fun

PWA Holiday Charities connects communities while fighting HIV/AIDS.

Executive Director Don Gill (l) and president Kirk A. Wylie (Photo by Alex Rosa)

FAVORITE HIV/AIDS SUPPORT ORGANIZATION

Outsmart readers selected PWA Holiday Charities as their Favorite HIV/AIDS Support Organization. The group has been a staple in queer Houston and a lifeline for those it serves since becoming a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 1997. With events like their Christmas in July Show, Daddy Don Dowden’s Dynamic Dog Days of Summer Extravaganza, and their sponsorship of Boy and Girl of Montrose contests, this organization not only raises funds but has fun while doing it.

“On behalf of the board of directors and the membership, we are honored to be selected by the community for our continued efforts supporting the HIV/AIDS community,” says president Kirk A. Wylie. “PWA Holiday Charities has been a stable part of the Houston community for over 25 years. We have stayed true to our mission, focused on helping those who are less fortunate at the holidays, but have also grown with the times and adjusted to social and societal changes, to stay connected to the community of which we are part.”

The organization provides gift cards to members of the community who are HIV positive and live in assisted housing. They typically deliver cards from Target so that the people they serve can do something nice for themselves, and from Kroger so they can have food on the table, according to Wylie.

“Despite the social and economic advances that the LGBTQ community has made, as well as the advances in treating the virus, there are still those in the community who are not as fortunate as others,” says Wylie. “That need is still here, just as it was back in 1989 when Lady Vitoria Lust started this with a Christmas show as a candidate for the Court.”

As the LGBTQ community has become the target of unprecedented attacks, there are concerns that funding to fight HIV/AIDS will be targeted next. Some Republican members of Congress have proposed eliminating funding for initiatives like PEPFAR, which was signed into existence and is one of the few highlights of the George W. Bush administration. Although PEPFAR is a program primarily focused on fighting HIV and AIDS in Africa, the sense of alarm is real. Local and domestic funding is next.

Even under current funding conditions, there continues to be a need for organizations like PWA Charities to keep moving forward to help and connect the community. When funding allows, the organization will also support Positive Living Houston or other organizations that fall within its mission.

“Our organization is about this community. Not only those who we support, but for the greater good of all. As an example, we partner and support many other events and organizations in the community, such as the National Leather Association Houston Chapter, ERSICSS, TGRA Houston Chapter, and Bayou City Pups, just naming a few. We, all of us, are not in this alone and we are stronger as one than we are as many,” says Wylie.

“People can connect with us via our website or see us out and about at many of our events throughout the community, not only representing our organization, but supporting the other organizations in our community that also do incredible work.”

For more info, visit pwaholidaycharities.org.

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Ryan Leach

Ryan Leach is a frequent contributor to OutSmart magazine. Follow him on Medium at www.medium.com/@ryan_leach.
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