Walk Before You March: A Report from AWNY 2023

BY SCOTT STIFFLER | Pride Weekend crowds flocking to LGBTQ+ events in large, largely maskless numbers are as good an indicator as any that the cancellations and eerie calm of COVID is, at present, largely behind us. And tomorrow’s NYC Pride March and Queer Liberation March—expected to have robust participant and spectator attendance—may be the loudest, proudest declarations yet that Gotham is back in the New York groove.

But before you can March, you must Walk.

“On May 21, the 38th annual AIDS Walk New York [AWNY] 2023 brought together over 10,000 people who raised $2,102,534 for GMHC and other tri-state area HIV and AIDS services organizations,” notes post-Walk text on the website of NYC’s Gay Men’s Health Crisis. (Founded in 1986 to address the medical needs of those with HIV/AIDS while “confronting the social ills that fuel it—racism, sexism, homophobia, and poverty.”)

This year’s AWNY marked the event’s second return to Central Park since going virtual-only in 2020/2021 during the height of COVID precautions.

Chelsea Community News contributor Craig M. de Thomas (who took all of the following photos and supplied their captions) was at AWNY 2023 and filed this report:

AWNY 2023 at the starting point.

My participation that day was that I went to observe, be there and have fun. I was not a registered walker. I did fundraise and walk in previous years.

GMHC Staff: A lovely and happy group of people.

It was lovely to experience the joy and happiness. The energy was kinetic! There was a noticeable feeling of excitement by the participants as they kicked off their walks; knowing that they contributed to a very worthy cause. There was a definite sense of accomplishment and progress among the participants.

Being a veteran of AWNY and a former GMHC Board Member, I feel delighted to know that so many people are continuing the work to end AIDS and uplift the lives of those who are affected by it.

Chelsea elected reps represent. L to R, the gents in suitcoats are: NYC Council Member Erik Bottcher, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, and NYS Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal.
Ciua Suella (left). Ms. Full Figured U.S.A. New York, volunteering with her Queens at a refreshment station.
DJ Trevor Fox, provided an array of joyful, soulful and dancy fun music! IG: @djtrevorfox
Pure joy.
Synched with happiness.
Carrying the banner of equality, year-roud, is this group’s mission.
“End AIDS. Live Life.” is the motto that gave the walk its mojo.
The 2023 Walk is over, but GMHC gladly accepts donations year-round.
Congratulations, AWNY and GMHC.
From the pre-COVID years: The late, great Izzy and her Pops (Craig M. de Thomas) walking for the cure. | Photo courtesy of de Thomas


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