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Staying Visible & Vital: Mr & Miss HIV Awareness Pageant 2019

Community Matters

By Sebastian Fortino

This Sunday, May 5th, from 5:00 PM until 9:30 Darcelle XV’s showplace in Old Town will host the Mr & Miss HIV Awareness Pageant. The event is owned by local Allen Cole, known by his stage persona as Cheralyn Michaels.

“The status of the contestant is irrelevant..but HIV is not,” he says on the group’s Facebook page. He defines the event as: “a pageant to spread awareness of HIV/AIDS through education.”

The event promises five miss entries, and three entries for mister. Cole is bringing Sabel Scities, the newly crowned Miss Gay Dallas, along with La Femme Plus International, Vivica Valentine as co-mistresses of ceremonies. The local Portland news is also taking notice. In fact, KOIN 6 news anchor Jennifer Hoff will act as a special guest judge.

The crowns of Mister and Miss will be passed from the current title holders, Don Hood and Chartreuse O’Hara to the new recipients this Sunday. ProudTimes will certainly follow-up letting you know who won the crown, and what they hope to bring to their roles for the next year.

Mister HIV Awareness, Don Hood, took some time to talk about his involvement and what the experience meant to him. Previously, he has served as Mr Oregon Leather. Hood was proud to wear the sash and crown whenever and wherever he could, using the opportunity to speak to the about issues surrounding HIV. On a personal level, the title means the world to him.

“I was the first Mister,” he told ProudTimes. Adding, “and hopefully not the last as a person that is living with and is a survivor of HIV/AIDS. That puts a huge face on it.”

In terms of his service as the first titleholder, he said his biggest accomplishment was through music. The pair put on what they called an AIDS Concert.

“All the music that was performed had to be about HIV/AIDS or written by someone who had died or was living with it,” he said. “The concert was a big hit, it was everything that I wanted in a fundraiser–and more! We had two charities to raise funds for that night.”

The organizations which benefitted were the HIV Day Center, and Women of Wisdom, who are under the umbrella of the Quest Center. We raised over a thousand dollars, and were able to give each charity a little over five-hundred dollars each.”  

Hood is retired and lives with his husband and partner of over 20 years. He tells the upcoming winners to do as much in their role as they can, and says the most important thing for each winner is to have fun with the title.

“I am very proud of what we did,” Hood said referencing what he and his husband were able to raise for local charity.

The theme this year is “A” Scarlett Letter. ProudTimes will be there to see who wins the crowns. Check back in for a follow-up article next week. Be sure to check out the Mr & Miss HIV Awareness group on Facebook for information about the pageant on May 5th. As always, please email editor@proudtimes.com if you know of any upcoming events or fundraisers important to the LGBT community in the PNW.

The Gravity of Alexz Johnson’s Weight


After a Decade, New Track is Worth the Wait

By Kenyth Mogan, ProudTimes LA Correspondent

To listen to Alexz Johnson is to enter a sonic nirvana. Her lyrics are deep, and sensitive, yet relatable. They penetrate your soul while her voice–at once powerful and angelic–invokes emotions which connects you to her songs in ways not all artists can do. To meet Alexz, is quite a similar experience. She’s genuine and sincere. All it takes is a single conversation to realize that beyond the artist, there’s a human being who is nothing less than extraordinary. She welcomes you into her world with such effortless kindness that you immediately feel like you’re two old friends, catching up. As a journalist, I’ve met some of the biggest names in the industry and as an artist myself, I’ve been given the chance to work with incredible men and women regardless of their fame. However, none of them have had as profound of an effect on me as Alexz Johnson.

She’s my go-to artist whenever I need a mood change, or music to relax to, or someone to inspire me. I’ve reviewed almost every single one of her three studio albums, her remix album, the three demo compilations, her two live albums and her five EPs. I’ve loved every single one  of them, but none of them have made me as happy as her newest release Weight.

Cover photo – Shervin Lainez

As a fan, I’ve followed Alexz’s career from the beginning, so I’m familiar with the weight behind Weight and the significance this release not only means to her as an artist, but also what it means to her fans.

Originally scheduled to be included on the debut album she recorded for Epic/Sony Records in 2009, the song and the album were shelved after a shift at the label. This lead to Alexz, and several others, being released from their contracts. However, red tape being red tape, there was still the caveat which meant Epic still owned all the songs she recorded while under said contract. However, Alexz pushed forward to release her music her way, unbeholden to anyone who wanted to make her anything other than who she was.

Eventually a recording of Weight was released on the first volume of her demo compilations, The Basement Recordings. It was also leaked online with a lot of the other recordings from Epic. Still, release of a fully-produced, official version of the song was slim to none.

That all changed when Alexz revealed on Instagram that Weight would be her first official release of 2019. I knew a new song was coming, but the realization that this was it was huge. So, the first thing I did after seeing her post was to purchase the track.

I’ve listened to Weight hundreds of times, and it has brought me to tears. But as I sat there taking in the scope of what I was listening to, it was like I was finally hearing the song for the first time. It gave me goosebumps. Alexz’s voice fit seamlessly with this new production’s synth-pop sound–and I’m not the only one who thinks so. Since the release, Alexz’s fans have been flocking to social media in support of her and the song. Atwood Magazine, who debuted the track, and the music video, called it a “Cathartic anthem of Freedom,” and they’re spot on in their assessment.

Full of hope, Weight is a song of perseverance. Not only is pure pop perfection, It’s a testament to Alexz’s talent as an artist and her integrity. As a fan, I’m excited for the new music, as a friend, I couldn’t be more proud of this amazing and awe-inspiring badass.

“This has been such a special few days,” Alexz told ProudTimes. “I am ever so humbled by the incredible audience I’m lucky enough to share my sound with. Some say fans, I think of the listeners as my friends–people who share so much of themselves and in return gives me the opportunity to be as real as I can be.”

Released on April 19, 2019 Weight can be purchased on all digital platforms including iTunes, and can stream the song on Spotify.  You can see the music video here.

Kenyth Mogan is a Los Angeles-based recording artist who grew up on the prairies of north-eastern Montana. He is an avid lover of cartoons, comic books, puppies, and all things cute and colorful. His spirit animal is something between Rainbow Brite and Kim from Netflix’s “Special.”

Promo shot © by Shervin Lainez