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Charis welcomes Cary Alan Johnson in conversation with Craig Washington for a discussion of Desire Lines. At once graphic, intimate, and harrowing, Desire Lines is a roller coaster journey through gay New York in the 1980s--the sex, the drugs, and the trauma of AIDS--a moment marked equally by dramatic devastation and the fierce determination to survive. This event is co-hosted by THRIVESS, The Counter Narrative Project, and Abundant LUUv. THRIVESS exisits to achieve health equity for Black gay men living with HIV through direct support, advocacy and building collective community power. The Counter Narrative Project seeks to shift narratives about Black gay and queer men to change policy and improve lives. Abundant LUUv is made up of people of all ages, people of many backgrounds, and people of many beliefs. They create spirituality and community beyond boundaries, working for more justice and more love in our own lives and in the world.
In Desire Lines, a Black teenager growing up gay in Brooklyn is captivated by a vision of life on the other side of the river, where the sparkle and glitter of Manhattan beckon. Coming into adulthood, he finds himself living in a five-floor walk-up in Hell's Kitchen just as the AIDS epidemic is hitting the city. We follow him and his group of friends as they experience the first wave of illness and death, and then accompany him on a two-year journey to Zaire, Central Africa, where he must confront corruption and homophobia in new and unexpected ways. Back in New York, he and his best friend-a biracial straight woman-try to find their place in a rapidly changing and increasingly perilous city that threatens to destroy first their friendship, and then the narrator himself.
Cary Alan Johnson is an author, activist and Africanist raised in Brooklyn and currently living in Central Africa. He studied writing with Wesley Brown, Jane Copper Alexis DeVeaux, Randall Kenan, Louise Meriwether, and Susan Scarf-Merrell and has a Bachelor’s degree from Sarah Lawrence College and a Master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. A long-time innovator in national and international queer politics and cultural activism, he was a founder of several ground-breaking organizations, including the Blackheart Collective, Gay Men of African Descent, Other Countries, and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. A public health and HIV specialist with experience living and working in Guinea, Haiti, Mali, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Ukraine, and Zimbabwe, Cary is currently the country director for Population Services International in Burundi.
Craig Washington served as a Manager of Prevention Programs at AID Atlanta, the largest AIDS services organization in the Southeast. He supervises 5 intervention programs including the Deeper Love Project for Black gay men; the Evolution Center for young Black gay men; the Gay Outreach program primarily for white gay men; HIV Counseling, Testing and Referral Services; and our Comprehensive Risk Counseling Services (REDI Team). He has written various articles and editorials for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Arise, Atlanta Voice, the Black AIDS Institute, Southern Voice, Venus Magazine, and the Washington Blade. He is one of the individuals featured in the 2007 documentary film, “The AIDS Chronicles”. His essay “A Revolutionary Act” is included in the 2006 anthology “Not In My Family: AIDS in the African American Community” (Agate). In October 2007, he received the Phill Wilson Advocacy Award from the Balm in Gilead, Inc. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Master of Social Work degree from GSU in May 2008.
This event is free and open to all people, especially to those who have no income or low income right now, but we encourage and appreciate a solidarity donation in support of the work of Charis Circle, our programming non-profit. Charis Circle's mission is to foster sustainable feminist communities, work for social justice, and encourage the expression of diverse and marginalized voices. https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/CharisCircle?code=chariscirclepage
In-person event guidelines:
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Additional copies of the book will be available for purchase at the event.
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In Desire Lines, a Black teenager growing up gay in Brooklyn is captivated by a vision of life on the other side of the river, where the sparkle and glitter of Manhattan beckon. Coming into adulthood, he finds himself living in a five-floor walk-up in Hell's Kitchen just as the AIDS epidemic is hitting the city.