’Noah’s Arc’ star, Jesse Jackson highlight AIDS event

by Andrew Davis
Thursday Feb 12, 2009

A packed crowd at Amira Restaurant Lounge, 455 N. Cityfront, noshed on hors d'oeuvres, met several people in quick succession-and witnessed appearances from a TV star and a world-renowned minister.

On Feb. 5, the Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus, Test Positive Aware Network ( TPAN ) and the Chicago Department of Public Health were among those hosting an event that promoted National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

Things started off with dozens of men taking part in speed-dating rounds. Then, the Rev. Jesse Jackson ( who surprised many with his appearance ) spoke to the audience, and stressed the need for unity to fight HIV/AIDS. Illinois Department of Public Health Director Damon Arnold, M.D., then talked passionately about HIV/AIDS funding and gave a moving account about meeting a fashion designer who ultimately died of the disease.

What followed was the main event as Jensen Atwood-Wade from the Noah's Arc TV series and the movie Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom ( now on DVD ) -asked questions in a "dating game" panel discussion that had psychotherapist Boris Thomas, TPAN's Keith Green and research scientist Grady Garner, Jr. ( The emcee, Rainbow PUSH's Tommy Bennett, was the actual "prize." ) However, instead of the usual Dating Game questions, Atwood tossed more thoughtful inquiries that covered everything from jealousy to sexual compatibility.

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