POSITIVE VOICES: LEADING TOGETHER Art Zoccole is one of five Ontario community leaders living with HIV/AIDS profiled in this documentary, which has its premiere gala to commemorate World AIDS Day. Saturday (December 1), 7 pm. Free (donations to the Ontario AIDS Network's Positive Support Fund accepted). Bloor Cinema, 506 Bloor West. Rating: NNNNN
How did you become involved in the film?
I was one of the planners for the AIDS 2006 event, and I knew the filmmakers were looking for people. As a person living with HIV who is also involved in the community, it seemed like a good thing to do.
What does it mean to be two-spirited?
It describes an Aboriginal person who self-identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered or intersexed. For us it also incorporates our role in the community and our spirituality.
What are the big obstacles facing Aboriginal people regarding HIV/AIDS?
Getting diagnosed is a big problem. We call it the hidden epidemic. People are not getting the message. In Toronto, there are lots of ways to get information about HIV/AIDS, but in native communities the resources aren't there. There are barriers due to language and culture. There's still a lot of stigma and discrimination surrounding it, especially in the home community. I know of stories where someone was offered $10,000 by the community leaders to just go away because they didn't want that person around any more.
What do you hope people take away from the film?
There are four other people besides me in this film, and we have been given a voice. And we have a voice in our respective communities to remind people that this disease is still very much present and that more work needs to be done. In the early days of AIDS, we had people advocating and demonstrating and making themselves heard, but there doesn't seem to be as much of that any more. We need more voices.