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When organizers reach the 30th year of an event like AIDS Walk, it’s difficult to call it an anniversary – that sounds too celebratory. For those who are living with HIV/AIDS, it might indeed be that. But for many others, it’s a time to reflect on the work that they have done to fight HIV/AIDS.

The 2018 fundraising season actually began with the Nov. 29, 2017, World AIDS Luncheon. That event alone raised $94,000 toward this year’s goal.  https://kansascity.outvoices.us/2017/10/31/a-chance-to-mark-world-aids-day-here-at-home.

Michael Lintecum, AIDS Walk event director, and Josh Strodtman, AIDS Walk associate director, along with the AIDS Service Foundation board and volunteers have been busy since then. First was the AIDS Walk 2018 Kickoff Party in January, then team leader workshops, and now they’re on to the March 4 AIDS Walk Open Mini-Golf Pub Crawl.

If you see this story before March 4, there is still time to register a team online at www.aidswalkopen.org, or show up at Missie B’s before 10 a.m. March 4 and sign up that day.

The event starts at 10. The 12 bars participating are Bistro 303, Char Bar, Dave’s Stagecoach Inn, Hamburger Mary’s, Hop Cat, Kelly’s Westport Inn, Missie B’s, Ragazza, Sidekicks, The Foundry, Uptown Arts Bar and Woody’s. The bars get to design their own creative mini-golf holes. Buses will transport people from bar to bar.

Participants get together in teams of four, and many dress up in creative team costumes. Registration is $180 for a team of four; you will also need to bring your own putter and golf ball.

Prizes will be awarded to the top three teams and the “best dressed” team. The grand prize is a case of Miller Lite for each of the four team members every month for a year. Other prizes include gift certificates for Café Trio, Bistro 303 and more.

Michael Lintecum and Josh Strodtman. Photo: J. Long

At our press time, 90 teams were registered. The goal is 120 teams, and both Lintecum and Strodtman feel they will get there with many onsite registrations.

In addition to putting together all the other events that bring money in to meet the AIDS Walk goal, they are building on existing events.

“We are enhancing what we do with World AIDS Day in the fall,” said Lintecum. “We have done really well with that effort. We have grown the committee to include more community folks helping us make contact with new donor groups.”

Organizers carefully consider the amount of work required for an event compared to how much money it raises. The AIDS Bicycle Cruise, for example, ended with the 2016 ride because it required a lot of work compared to the fund tally. AIDS Walk Open, on the other hand, raises around $20,000 in just the one-day event.

The annual Mosaic tile fundraiser will continue this year. It involves local youth, artists and volunteers creating more than 1,000 glazed square tiles and ceramic pieces depicting how they feel about the project’s theme, “A World Without AIDS.” Mosaic 2018 will be April 6 on First Friday in the Crossroads at an art gallery, 2020 Baltimore, in Kansas City.

AIDS Walk Kansas City is raises about $500,000 annually through the walk and other events. Those events include the House Party on June 24, the KC Artists Against AIDS and their annual “KC Strips” fundraiser, “Out with the Royals” in September, events at Bistro 303 and more, even some sponsored by individual team members.

Strodtman said that the walkers who raise $1,000 or more will be invited to a thank you party at the Argosy Casino on May 24.

“In 2019, when the Gay World Series is here, the AIDS Service Foundation is their beneficiary,” said Strodtman.

Instead of calling this year’s AIDS Walk a 30-year anniversary, Lintecum said, “We call it more of a recognition of 30 years of walking or an observance. The distinction of AIDS Walk Kansas City is historic in that it is one of the longest-running walks in the country.”

This year’s walk has two honorary chairs – S. Sloane Simmons, past president of the AIDS Service Foundation of Greater Kansas City, and Jacque Bredius, a longtime fundraiser and the largest single donor in AIDS Walk history.

“We’re also doing a special walk team, which is kind of fun,” said Lintecum. “It’s all former AIDS Walk co-chairs.  If someone is reading this article and has not been contacted, please contact AIDS Walk. Heading up that effort are two former chairpeople, J.P. Crilly and Ryan Gove.

Both Lintecum and Strodtman also ask that people who want names listed on the AIDS Walk Memorial flags to contact them before the walk.

“AIDS Walk L.A. and New York are only maybe two years older than us,” said Lintecum.  And others like the Chicago walk that is back in existence took about seven or eight years off. And so many other cities – due to lack of volunteer and donor support, they just faded away. So we’re lucky that Kansas City has continued to support financially, as well as the intense excitement that our volunteers bring to our efforts.”

AIDS Walk Kansas City is traditionally held the last weekend of April, and that has meant rain some years. Last year’s walk had to be canceled that day because storms and lightning made it too dangerous for the walkers. That had never happened before in the walk’s history.

“We ordered ponchos this year,” said Strodtman with a laugh.

AIDS Walk Kansas City will be held at Theis Park on April 28, 2018. Registration begins at 8 a.m., and the walk begins at 10 a.m. To register, raise money online, and find more information, visit: www.aidswalkkansascity.org.




How to talk about transgender issues

So how do we talk about transgender issues (even if you're not transgender)? There are three main things to remember when discussing transgender issues today, so before getting into the meat and potatoes of it all, let's keep these things in mind:

  1. It is not a political discussion, it is a human rights discussion.
  2. There is a rich history rooted in transgender rights that must be considered when discussing these issues.
  3. Humanization should always be at the forefront of the conversation.

Before going into any conversation, no matter who it's with, try to keep these things in mind before you say something that may be inappropriate, misguided, or just plain wrong. Even those with the best intentions can mess up; remember that it is always ok to admit when you do not know something or when you are wrong. That being said, let's get into it.

sign with a 'friendly for all genders' image showing a person in a wheelchair, and a person with half a dress and pants on.

Transgender bathroom bills


So whether you choose to become a transgender activist or if you just want to be a better ally, this easy talking point will generally keep you in line and on the safe side of conversations while still putting forth the effort to encourage and better represent transgender rights.

Easy, all-around approach: This will work for almost all transgender issues and expand on the previous three rules; firstly, trans issues are not a debate. When discussing with someone, do not indulge in hypotheticals and always remember that transgender people are the exact same as anyone else, with the exact same feelings. Keeping this in mind, let's use the bathroom bill as an example. When discussing this issue, one should humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation. How does one employ this, though? Here is an example of how the conversation may go.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restroom, they will rape my daughters.

So this statement is clearly based on reactionary conversation perpetuated by anti-transgender ideals. This means that the person probably has a misconception of the history and oppression of transgender people. They also show concern for their family, which is a step towards humanization, despite the misconception. Here would be an appropriate response that helps to humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation.

Person 2: I don't want men in the women's restroom, either, which is why we need to make sure people who identify as women are using the women's restroom. There has never been a documented case where a transgender person has raped either a man or woman in a public restroom. And by forcing people to use a restroom that does not match their gender identity, it is promoting violence, as there is a strong history of physical violence against transgender people.

By only saying about three sentences, you are able to do the previous steps while discussing the issue in a civil manner without opening it up to debate. The key to this is to keep it short and sweet, stating both the truth and an ally's stance to support the transgender community. It's critical to make sure that what you say is backed with confidence, though, which is why this second approach is more encouraged as it gives the person speaking more confidence in their opinion.

gif of a man in a suit talking about number 1. Number 1 GIF by PragerU Giphy

The second approach: backed by facts and history, is the exact same as before, but this approach leaves the other person with more questions about their stance and gives them something to consider. Before going into this approach, however, it is important to keep in mind that you are not debating the existence of trans people, nor are you trying to change someone's mind. That is not the goal; the goal is simply to get your opinion across in a way that honors both the trans community and their ideas. Let's take the same example as before but add the new sentiments.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restrooms, they will rape my daughters.

Person 2: There has never been a documented case of a transgender person raping anyone in a public restroom, and the only published cases of such were proven to be false. Further, when people say things like this, they are perpetuating violence against transgender people, which has historically (and still does) oppressed and insight further physical violence against them. And honestly, the most common reason there is this stance is because the person typically does not know a trans person and may not even know a person who does know a trans person. But the truth is, they probably do. The probability is more likely that the transgender people around them are just not comfortable enough in the environment to come out and speak up about their gender identity. And yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it is quite sad that some people's opinion does not invite civil discussion but instead incites violence.

This approach is more confrontational, which requires more confidence when using it in a conversation, but it still holds true to all of the previous rules and sentiments. It adds truth based on history, which is an important aspect of trans rights as it reminds people of where we were/ where we are currently with human rights. These ideas can be transferred to most all trans issues and will honor the transgender movement and your allyship. The last thing to keep in mind is the person or reason you are standing up for/with trans rights. The passion -the compassion will shine through in conversation if you keep your reasoning close to heart. Whether it is because of a transgender friend, family member, or just because of your moral values, if you put your emotions into your reasoning, it will create more compelling statements, especially if the statement is well versed with the facts.

Tips to Remember When Discussing Transgender Issues

  1. Transgender issues are not political, they are human rights issues
  2. There is a rich history behind transgender issues
  3. Humanize transgender people through our words and ideas and don't forget to include:
    • 3(b). The facts
    • 3(c).The confidence
    • 3(d). The inspiration behind the support for transgender rights

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