NewsBriefs BUTTONS

Fundraising Parties for AIDS Service Organizations Criticized by Gay Newspaper for "Endorsing" Drug Use Associated With Risky Sexual Behavior


September-October 1998

Parties that raise funds for AIDS service organizations are being criticized for "endorsing" drug use considered to increase the likelihood of risky sexual behavior and the transmission of AIDS (Frank Bruni, "Drugs Taint Annual Gay Revels," New York Times, September 8, 1998, p. A27).

This criticism has been particularly leveled at the Morning Party, an annual social event that currently attracts about 5,000 gay men and raises almost half a million dollars for the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC). "It gives the organization not only money, but future clients," said Troy Masters, the publisher of LGNY, a gay and lesbian newspaper in New York. "In a way, it's like a self-perpetuating machine." The Morning Party, held on August 16 this year, is held on Fire Island in New York.

Such criticism has increased recently with the spread of large-scale parties attended largely by gay men across the country, known as "circuit parties," some of which raise money for AIDS service organizations. These parties reportedly welcome people who use drugs, such as cocaine, Ecstasy, Special K (ketamine), and GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate).

"People are partying harder than ever with substances that are more volatile than ever," said Alan Brown, a New Haven management consultant who regularly attends circuit parties. "People have been leaving parties in ambulances routinely for three years now."

Officials with GMHC said that educating the minority of gay men who use drugs about the dangers of drug use is a principal reason why GMHC remains committed to the Morning Party. "GMHC does need to be involved in harm reduction, and it does need to be where the community is," said Jeff Soref, who was president of GMHC board when the organization began to assume full responsibility for coordinating the Morning Party.

Gay Men's Health Crisis - 119 West 24th St., New York, NY 10011, Tel: (212) 807-6664, Web: <>.

LGNY, Troy Masters - 150 Fifth Ave., Suite 600, New York, NY 10011, Tel: (212) 691-1100, ext. 16, Fax: (212) 691-6185, E-mail: <>.