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National AIDS Memorial Hosts Light In The Grove On Eve Of 35th World AIDS Day

On the Eve of the 35th Anniversary of World AIDS Day, the National AIDS Memorial Hosts Light in the Grove, a Community Fundraiser Dedicated to Remembrance and Renewal

World AIDS Day Commemorated through Powerful Conversations with 5-time Olympic medalist and LGBTQ+ activist Greg Louganis and Others

The National AIDS Memorial marks the 35th Anniversary of World AIDS Day with a series of events which honor the history of the AIDS movement, highlight current progress and struggles, and provide hope for the future. Light in the Grove, consistently recognized as one of the Bay Area’s best LGBTQ+ community fundraising events, kicks off the commemoration on the evening of November 30. A series of inspiring conversations on December 1 brings to life faces and stories of the pandemic which has taken the lives of 32 million people worldwide and to offer hope and support to the 1.2 million people estimated to be living with HIV in the U.S. today.


Light in the Grove, Thursday, November 30, 6 – 9:30 PM: A magical evening under a big tent in the heart of the National AIDS Memorial Grove. All proceeds directly support the mission and programs of the National AIDS Memorial.

World AIDS Day, Friday, December 1, Noon – 2 PM: Two powerful conversations will offer context around the intersectional issues connected to the struggle of living with HIV/AIDS, and provide hope and inspiration for the future. The annual World AIDS Day National Observance is free to the public.

Opening/Welcome, Noon – 12:20 PM The day begins with a performance of Dance AZTECA, a living, evolving, cultural tradition using the artistic and spiritual traditions of the pre-Colombian Aztecs. An invocation and opening remarks will follow.

Bodily Autonomy in 2023, 12:20 – 1:05 PM: Conversation focuses on what defines

this fundamental human right, how it affects various communities differently, the current legal, social, and political barriers that surround it, and what actions can be taken in its support. This all-BIPOC, female-identifying panel will engage in an insightful conversation around personal freedom, choice, and self-determination.

Insights with Greg Louganis, 1:15 – 2 PM:  In conversation with National AIDS Memorial CEO John Cunningham. Louganis will recount a deeply personal story of living with HIV/AIDS under a public spotlight and how this has shaped his trajectory and inspired his mission.

Following the conversations, participants are invited to the Grove’s Circle of Friends, where nearly 4,000 names of lives touched by AIDS are engraved. A reading of the names engraved in the Circle in 2023, including Louganis, will ensue. A light lunch will follow.


National AIDS Memorial Grove, ‍Nancy Pelosi Drive & Bowling Green Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA 94122. The only federally designated memorial to the pandemic.


      Light in the Grove:

  • Opening Remarks:
    • John Cunningham, CEO, National AIDS Memorial.
    • Daniel O’Day, Chairman and CEO, Gilead Sciences which is the presenting sponsor for the National AIDS Memorial’s World AIDS Day observance.
  • Hope and Inspiration Award Recipient (inaugural award introduced in 2023, bestowed upon an individual who has clearly exemplified through challenge and struggle what it means to be resilient and who serves as an inspiration for the HIV/AIDS community):
    • Lashanda (Tootie) Salinas, active member of the Tennessee HIV Modernization Coalition, a Health Not Prisons advocate, and a member of The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation Council of Justice Leaders. First diagnosed with HIV at 16. In 2006, Salinas was unjustly imprisoned and charged with a crime for living with HIV, forcing her to register as a sex offender. She was instrumental in changing Tennessee state law to decriminalize living with HIV.

      World AIDS Day:

  • Emcee: Karl Schmid, television host and noted AIDS activist.
  • Bodily Autonomy in 2023 Panel:
    • Panelist: Asmara Gebre, University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine faculty in the OBGYN department with clinical practice at San Francisco General Hospital. Gebre founded and leads several initiatives in San Francisco focused on improving access to midwifery-led care and community resources including Black Centering, Black Midwifery Fellowship, BIPOC Aspiring Midwives, Midwifery Mentorship & Belonging, and One Love Black Community.
    • Panelist: Aria Sa’id, transgender advocate and political strategist; founder/President Emerita of The Transgender District.
    • Panelist: Lashanda (Tootie) Salinas, active member of the Tennessee HIV Modernization Coalition, a Health Not Prisons advocate, and a member of The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation Council of Justice Leaders. The inaugural 2023 National Aids Memorial Hope and Inspiration Award recipient.
    • Moderator: Imani Rupert-Gordon, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco, California. NCLR is a non-profit, public interest law firm that litigates precedent-setting cases at the trial and appellate court levels; advocates for equitable public policies affecting the LGBTQ community; provides free legal assistance to LGBTQ people and their legal advocates; and conducts community education on issues facing LGBTQ people.
  • Insights from Greg Louganis:
    • Greg Louganis, Longtime AIDS/HIV survivor, LGBTQ+ activist, Olympic gold medalist, NY Times best-selling author, National AIDS Memorial 2023 National Leadership Award honoree.
    • John Cunningham, CEO of the National AIDS Memorial.


World AIDS Day is an international day dedicated to raising awareness about the AIDS pandemic. Every year on December 1st, the world gathers to remember the stories of those lost, educate others about its impact, and rally to eliminate the devastating stigma associated with the disease. Each year, our community hosts a national observance in the National AIDS Memorial Grove in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. We bring leaders together from across the country for a national conversation to shine a light on the ongoing struggle to end the epidemic, recognize the progress made, and inspire hope for the future. The National AIDS Memorial is dedicated to ensure that the lives of people who died from AIDS are not forgotten and the tragic story of AIDS is known by future generations – so that never again will a community be harmed because of fear, silence, discrimination, or stigma.

November 28, 2023
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