The Positive Project -- tagline: "HIV+ stories for the greater good" -- is a Denver-based nonprofit that's home to the world's largest collection of videos of people infected with and affected by HIV. Reliant on grants and donations for funding, The Positive Project will host its first-ever Sunshine Tomorrow Cabaret tonight at 7 p.m. at Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret to raise money to continue its mission: raising awareness, reducing stigma, promoting prevention and encouraging testing.
"The show tonight is a collaboration of local people from the theater community and the community in general who are wanting to contribute their part to putting an end to HIV however they can do so," says Dawn Shearer, a local mental health specialist who founded The Positive Project in 2000 with psychologist Tony Miles.
The show will include singing, spoken word and, as Shearer says, "true Lannie's campy cabaret drag." About thirty of The Positive Project's videos will be intertwined into the performance. To date, The Positive Project has recorded the stories of more than 150 people from all over the country and of all ages, races and sexual orientations. Their youngest participant was 9 years old. Their oldest? 72.
It takes about $2,500 to make each video, Shearer says. That cost includes filming, editing and cataloging, which helps make the organization's website easy to search.
"Our job is to listen to what people have to say and encourage them to talk," Shearer says. She says the feedback they receive ranges from people who confess they were afraid to get tested before watching the videos to people who say they were scared to let their HIV-positive friend hold their children but now understand the true risks.
"To get through life, you have to be able to cry, to look at yourself in honesty; you have to be able to laugh and just be human and that's what The Positive Project is," Shearer says. "It's human, and we want to showcase that tonight."
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Tickets are $50 and include dinner, one drink and the show. A dinner buffet featuring food donated by Illegal Pete's will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. The show starts at 7 and will be followed by a dessert of cupcakes from Happy Cakes.
See some of The Positive Project's videos below.