Nick Barta

The Victorian AIDS Council/Gay Men’s Health Centre has enjoyed a vibrant and colourful relationship with the Laird Hotel for over 25 years. In particular the Laird has been a strong supporter of the David Williams Fund, raising valuable financial assistance for people living with HIV in Victoria.

The Laird has always been a strong advocate for our work providing a high level of visibility for our organisation through ongoing events and bar donations. They have annually raised amounts in excess of $1900 through bar donations.

This year the owners, Mark and Brett, have taken a more diverse approach to fundraising. They have decided to share their support across the LGBTIQ community by helping to raise funds for the Gay and Lesbian Switchboard, and the Australian Gay and Lesbian Archives through donation tins. This approach means that we are able to have a more strategic focus on their annual calendar events; Midsumma Mooning, Boxing Day Bears and Northside Bizarre, as specific fundraising opportunities for VAC/GMHC.

Being a relative newcomer to the world of LGBTIQ fundraising, I attended both Northside Bizarre and Midsumma Mooning with a degree of trepidation and curiosity. Both events felt somewhat akin to how I imagined Alice felt when she fell down the rabbit hole and descended into Wonderland – or in my case a brave new world of leather markets, fetish paraphernalia and a wonderful cross section of our community on display for all to see. Putting all fear aside I rolled up my sleeves and got down to work. Needless to say I greatly enjoyed the experience of volunteering at both of these events. They helped me to gain a deeper insight into our community whilst serving to reinforce our long standing relationship with the Laird. These fundraising events with the Laird also provided excellent networking opportunities with other community sponsors too.

Over the past year Northside Bizarre and Midsumma Mooning have raised over $22000 for the David Williams Fund. At the same time Boxing Day Bears provided much needed food vouchers for our clients at the Positive Living Centre. With great excitement we have now begun our initial planning for this year’s Northside Bizarre. Being involved with Northside Bizarre also means that we get to work with our friends over at JOY 949. Northside Bizarre benefits both of our organisations as co benefactors from this annual fundraising event at the Laird Hotel. These events are wonderful examples of how community partnerships continue to support our work across HIV services in Victoria.

By Nick Barta  VAC/GMHC

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