A local HIV/AIDS-service organization will host its first ball this weekend.
Bebashi – Transition to Hope will host its inaugural Awareness Ball 4 p.m. Jan. 13 to spread knowledge about the organization’s services.
“We wanted to do an event where we can get the young people into a room, where we can let them know about Bebashi’s services and that we’re a service to them,” said Michael Melvin, a Bebashi prevention specialist and organizer of the ball.
The free event will include contests, music, a photographer, testing services, and resource tables and community assessments from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s POSSE (Promoting Ovah-ness through Safer Sex Education) Project.
Bebashi communication specialist Brenda Alexander said this event is part of the organization’s efforts to reach out to the LGBT community.
“This is part of our visibility strategy,” Alexander said. “A lot of people know the services we offer but they don’t really connect those services to Bebashi.
“We definitely want to make sure that people understand that we’re here and know exactly what we do because we do so much more than just HIV/AIDS prevention. This is just expanding upon that.”
Bebashi has coordinated efforts for the LGBT community in the past. This includes SOULS (Society of Unique Love & Support), which provides sexual-health information and treatment access to underserved populations within the city’s LGBT community. Additionally, its Trans Necessities program provides accessories, clothing, wigs, binding materials and other types of clothing for trans individuals.
Bebashi is also reaching out to the ballroom-dance community through this event.
“The ballroom community is an underserved community in Philadelphia, so we wanted to introduce ourselves to them,” Melvin said.
He added that individuals in the house-ballroom scene have been participating in a contest for the past month where they got tested for HIV/AIDS and other STDS at Bebashi or CHOP. Each person tested received one point for their house, and the house with the most points will receive a $500 prize at the ball.
“We definitely wanted to do something to not just service them but also honor them for the work they do in their own community and within the LGBTQ community,” Melvin said. “In addition to that, it’s just another event to celebrate the community as a whole. Yes, there’s the Gayborhood. Yes, they have their own community of friends, but we also want to expand it outside of the Gayborhood, just to let them know, We’re here. Our services are open to you, we love you and we appreciate you.”
Bebashi’s Awareness Ball will be held 4 p.m. Jan. 13 at the Philadelphia Boys Choir & Chorale, 1336 Spring Garden St.
*The original version of this story incorrectly referred to Michael Melvin as Christopher Melvin.