Rural areas suffered the brunt
of private and federal AIDS cutbacks after 9/11—but Susan MacNeil’s
town, steeped in AIDS stigma, hardly cared. The ASO she directs in
Keene, New Hampshire—AIDS Services for the Monadnock Region—lost nearly
a third of its funding by 2003. So MacNeil proposed
an HIVer boardinghouse in nearby Gilsum—and locals immediately banned
Without money or support, MacNeil went
searching for glass slippers—size 13. “Some locals thought the sky
would fall when I brought in drag queens,” she says. Instead the Ladies
of the Rainbow Lounge and their pumps brought the house down—one
townsman even leaped onstage. The fourth performance, on March
19, sold out all 127 seats, raising $2,500.
In MacNeil’s April 8
fundraiser, Living Beyond the Lab Results, five positive women
recounted their life stories. The director, Jo Schneiderman, says it
shows “how these women live their lives in [areas] where people think
there’s no AIDS.” On June 25, look for the “Karaoke Idol” competition—and community cheer even Simon Cowell couldn’t sour.
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