October 3rd marked the launch of a new philanthropic tradition in San Diego with the debut of the Red Dress Party at the Museum of Man in Balboa Park. America’s Finest City has joined Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Sacramento and Los Angeles in showing solidarity and raising funds for HIV/AIDS services.
The HIV/AIDS fundraiser resulted in a denouement of a promise between two men who were dating at the time they both contracted HIV in the early 1990’s. They agreed when either of them passed away, the other would attend his funeral wearing something more fabulous than the standard black. Everyone who attends the event must wear a red dress. The red dress unites attendees and when seen together represents the 12,000+ San Diegans living with HIV/AIDS. Over 3,000 people in the county are not aware they are HIV-positive. Using protection or a preventative like PREP and getting tested are important factors in curbing the spread of the disease. Until we see an end to the virus, we must take care of those who are living with it. This is the purpose of the Red Dress Parties.
Each party raises funds for its local organizations. In San Diego the dollars raised by the Red Dress Party fund the San Diego HIV Funding Collaborative (SDHFC), a program established in 1990 at the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation. The SDHFC supports these organizations:
- Christie’s Place: HIV/AIDS services for women, children and families.
- Family Health Centers: HIV prevention through the Safe Point Clean Syringe Eachange Program
- Fraternity House: provider of residential care homes for men and women living with HIV/AIDS
- Mama’s Kitchen: nutrition & meal delivery to those affected by latent-stage HIV/AIDS
- Stepping Stone: alcohol and drug recovery agency that offers a variety of treatment and recovery programs.
- San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program: legal resources for persons living with HIV/AIDS in San Diego County
- San Diego Youth Services: an organization aimed at improving the lives of homeless, runaway, abused and at-risk youth and their families.
- San Ysidro Health Center: provider of essential health services to teh most vulnerable families in our community.
- North County LGBTQ Resource Center: services for the LGBTQ community in North San Diego, including HIV/AIDS testing, prevention and counseling.
The SDRDP was organized by the Think Red Project, INc, a pending 501(c)3 founded this year by Steven Shyne and Marvin Hanashiro. Vince Dwyer joined forces and with their combined marketing, management and event planning expertise, they decided they could bring a Red Dress Party to San Diego. Their goal was to raise $10,000 to produce the event. Their Indiegogo campaign raised an impressive $11,006 in one month. The event was sold out at just over 500 tickets. Potential attendees were begging for tickets on the Facebook event page.
The Museum of Man was packed with respectful revelers drinking and dancing the night away to DJ SRO and Drew G. Their beats and the hot, sweet go-go boys kept the dance floor jumping non-stop. A VIP ticket guaranteed access to the open bar and snack buffet upstairs. Downstairs the bar at the edge of the dance floor stayed busy while seemingly endless grand entrances were made by Queens in ballgowns. If one did not have luck acquiring a red dress, a rack of dresses were available at the entrance for a donation of $20.00.
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have naturally been involved with the Red Dress Parties in their respective cities. The San Diego House was no exception. We were asked to work the coat check, which was a blast. Not just coats were checked. As the night progressed, we checked in wigs and broken high heels. We also got the chance to mingle, dance and add to the already elevated joy level.
Recommendations for attending next year: if you wear high heels, bring back-up flats or flip flops. Follow the San Diego Red Dress Party on their social media. Donate to SDRDP fundraising campaigns throughout the year. Purchase tickets early. Upgrade to VIP — the open bar alone is worth it! The Sisters will see you there.
Sister Donatella Soul
Guardian of the Googly Eye
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
The Asylum of the Tortured Heart
Donatella Soul. Elevated to Postulant in February 2013. Elevated to Novice Sister on January 3rd 2014. Elevated to Fully Professed Sister, June 23, 2015.