Persephone, Ricky Sheridan during the day, is this year’s Smokeless Diva. Eddiy Hilliard, Dustin Moorehead, and Ariss Mendoza who all co-designed her dress helped Persephone reach the runway at this year’s Nebraska Aids Project Fashion Condom Show.
At the start of the year, University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Center for Reducing Health Disparities (UNMC CRHD) and Metro Omaha Tobacco Action Coalition (MOTAC) start looking for community volunteers and sponsorship. By June, volunteers successfully put together a dress that assists with HIV/AIDS prevention, additionally we tie in tobacco awareness as an associated big issue.
As you may have read me mention in previous blogs, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the US, causing 1 out of 5 deaths each year. However, something that might be new to hear is that smoking is even more of a concern for people living with HIV, who tend to smoke more than the general population.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, smoking rates are 2-3 times higher among adults who are HIV positive. An article in Clinical Infectious Diseases, pointed out that HIV positive smokers compared to non HIV positive smokers lost a mortality rate ratio of 5 years.
In order to fight the incidence of smoking in the LGBT community, MOTAC, UNMC CRHD, and community volunteers find value in coming together to design a symbolic piece that speaks against tobacco.
Last year’s design was about respecting mother nature. This year, we slammed our heels through the runway declaring that “everyone has the right to breathe clean air.” Persephone appeared as the natural clean air we should all be able to breathe.
Congratulations Persephone, volunteers, and sponsors, for making the design a success. This year’s sponsor was Samantha Pagano, a long time supporter of HIV/AIDS prevention. Volunteers included: Eddiy Hilliard; Dustin Moorehead from Creating Atmosphere; Ariss Rogel Mendoza from UNMC CRHD and MOTAC; Liz Brown from the Indian Center Youth Suicide Prevention Program, Alex Mendoza, and of course Ricky Sheridan as the beautiful Smokeless Diva 2014-Persephone.
If you missed this year’s condom show, don’t worry! You can expect Persephone in other events and performances. Next weekend, Smokeless Diva will be performing at the Heartland Pride Stonewall Stage Drag Queen Show at 2pm. So please join us on June 28ath at Stintson Park to see Persephone take the stage.