Activism against HIV Stigma

Proudly partnered with the
George House Trust

Kimpton Clocktower Hotel are honoured to host Cheddar Gorgeous’ ACT UP Drag Race UK runway look in The Refuge during LGBTQIA+ History Month 2023. The installation raises awareness of HIV Activism in Manchester, past and present with charity partner the George House Trust.

George House Trust Ambassador and Refuge regular, Cheddar Gorgeous was applauded in 2022 for using their Drag Race UK runway look to start a powerful conversation about HIV stigma.

Wearing a bodysuit embellished with bright pink triangles, Cheddar’s outift was inspired by the activism of the 1980s ACT UP movement, an organisation fighting to end the AIDS epidemic. Its slogan, ‘Silence = Death’, was branded across the outfit and Cheddar used the bright pink triangles, which were reclaimed by ACT UP in response to the Nazis’ use of a downward-pointing triangle to demarcate gay men in concentration camps during the Holocaust.

Cheddar’s strong runway statement was praised following the airing of the episode for raising awareness of HIV stigma with a younger audience, and the reality of living with HIV today.

The statement follows a long history of HIV activism in Manchester. The city has been at the forefront of promoting the rights of LGBTQIA+ people in the UK for decades and continues to be the home of one of the largest LGBTQIA+ communities in the UK.

In 1985 six gay HIV activists set up Manchester AIDS-Line, which later become George House Trust, in response to the arrival of HIV in Manchester. On February 20th 1988, over 20,000 people took to Manchester’s streets to protest against Section 28, which prohibited the “promotion of homosexuality”. Cheddar’s design was inspired by the ACT UP movement, an organisation founded by activists involved in the protests fighting to end the AIDS epidemic.

Gay Men’s Public consultation meeting January 1985. The consultation meeting was about the work Manchester City Council was doing on gay men’s issues at the time.

Manchester ACT UP and George House Trust protesting at the Regional Health Authority against inaction by Health Secretary Virginia Bottomley in 1993.

As an ambassador for George House Trust, Cheddar has been a fierce campaigner against HIV stigma for over a decade and their Drag Race UK appearance helped George House Trust reach a new younger generation with important messaging dispelling any shame connected to HIV.

HIV is a long-term health condition, and, like many other long-term health conditions is now easily manageable with regular, effective treatment. People living with HIV and on effective treatment can’t pass it on during sex – Undetectable Equals Untransmissable. There has been tremendous progress and huge changes in the life experiences and life expectations of people living with HIV. George House Trust’s work inspiring people to live healthily and confidently with HIV is still much needed because of the stigma and discrimination that people living with HIV continue to face today. Find out more

Kimpton Clocktower are proud supporters of the George House Trust. Find out more about our charity partnership here.

Cheddar Gorgeous’ ACT UP Pink Triangle Drag Race UK runway look will exhibit in The Refuge throughout February for LGBTQIA+ History Month 2023.

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