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Author Topic: Andy Vélez ACT UP Memorial - Saturday, October 5, from 7 p.m - NY  (Read 450 times)

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Offline Jim Allen

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Andy Vélez ACT UP Memorial - Saturday, October 5, from 7 p.m - NY
« on: September 26, 2019, 11:11:11 am »









A celebration of the life of veteran social justice activist Andy Vélez will take place on Saturday, October 5, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the LGBT Community Center, located at 208 West 13th Street, New York City. The event has been organized by members of ACT UP (The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), the direct-action organization to which Vélez dedicated more than three decades of his life.

The program will feature tributes by fellow activists and live music. The event will end with a processional from the Center to the AIDS Memorial, located on Seventh Avenue and Greenwich Avenue. The public is invited to attend.

Andy Vélez, an internationally prominent AIDS activist, whose three-plus decades of advocacy work resulted in improved drug access and civil rights for people living with HIV, especially in the Latino community, died on May 14, 2019 at Mt. Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan. He was 80.

Vélez was a seminal member of ACT UP, joining the group in 1987, its first year of activity, and played a prominent role in its most notorious demonstrations over the past 32 years.

Vélez was born on March 9, 1939 in the Bronx. His family soon relocated to Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, where they lived a few years before returning to the Bronx. Vélez graduated from William Howard Taft High School in 1955 at age 16. Vélez earned a Master’s degree in psychoanalysis in 1976 and worked with the Center for Modern Psychoanalytic Studies. While he was initially an actor in several off-Broadway productions, Vélez found success in book publishing. He became president of Frederick Ungar Publishing. Among his projects was the 1984 release Marlene Dietrich’s ABC, updating the screen star’s 1962 bestseller.

Vélez became involved in several ACT UP committees, including the Media Committee and Actions Committee. However, Vélez found his niche with the group’s Latino Caucus, which focused on the raging but neglected epidemic in the Latino community. Significantly, Vélez and his colleagues traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to help organize a local ACT UP chapter. Vélez became a prominent presence on the international AIDS scene for more than two decades, working with co-organizers of the International Conference on AIDS to guarantee inclusion by people with HIV. He also served for several conferences as the official liaison to the activist community. He served as a consultant to the Latino Commission on AIDS, and was a guest speaker on HIV/AIDS issues across America. Vélez was a founding member of Queer Nation in New York City in 1990.

Andy Vélez was involved in many AIDS educational and service organizations. He served as an administrator and bilingual educator for AIDSmeds.com for more than a decade. On AIDSmeds.com he connected desperate people to lifesaving medical information. Vélez also wrote about the epidemic for community publications, including POZ, Body Positive, and SIDA Ahora. For 10 years he moderated the POZ Forums. He took part in aggressive and effective treatment access work with Treatment Action Group.

Years ago, when asked how he would like to be remembered, Vélez replied, “As someone who was able to help.”

Andy Vélez is survived by sons Ben and Abe, both of Brooklyn, his daughter-in-law Sarah, his granddaughter, his younger brother Eugene of Alamo, California, as well as thousands of comrades in the global AIDS and LGBTQ activist communities.

Donations in Vélez’s memory may be made to ACT UP New York, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and the Latino Commission on AIDS.
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