Housing Works clients, staff and supporters had even more reason to celebrate at June 29’s Heritage of Pride Festival when Governor Cuomo announced his advocacy-based plan to end the AIDS epidemic in New York by 2020, a goal Housing Works has been working toward since the organization’s inception. One of the revelers, Eric Bartley, a Housing Works client, board member and advocate for over 10 years. Bartley is the epitome of not just surviving, but thriving. He parlays his entertainment background and vivacious personalty to advocate for Housing Works and create unique events for our West Village Health Center. We recently chatted with Bartley about his experience with the organization and his upcoming journey to Australia where he’ll represent Housing Works at the International AIDS Conference.
Housing Works: Tell us about yourself, where are you from and what brought you to New York City?
Eric Bartley: I’m an HIV/AIDS Activist, Artist, and Entertainer, living with AIDS for over 33 years. I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. I realize that I’m resilient and a survivor. I’m part of the newly released book “ The AIDS Generation” and the new film documentary project coming out soon under the same title. My secret weapon is my since of style and I utilize it in every aspect of my life. I love God, and believe that God dwells within us all because “Wherever God is I’m am too and all is good”.
HW: How did you discover Housing Works?
EB: I moved from Los Angles, CA in 2006 to New York City to expand my entertainment goals and entered into the Adult Day Health Care Program at Housing Works. Housing Works gave me the opportunity to remove the shame about having AIDS and being gay. Through the harm reduction philosophy, I have overcome crack, crystal meth and sex addictions.
HW: This month, you’ll be representing Housing Works at the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, our belief and message is that we can end AIDS globally by 2030. How do you think this can be accomplished and what can individuals do to ensure that happens?
EB: I not only believe in the Housing Works message, but I live it. We can end AIDS globally by 2030 by increasing awareness, reaching and maintaining an Undetectable status among those who are HIV+ and increasing funding and support for community based health organizations. My personal comment is to remain undetectable (to date it has been 11 years and counting), practice safer sex, and to continue to reduce the harm in every area of my life. I also serve on The Executive Board of Directors for Housing Works as a consumer representative.
HW: We heard you are organizing a fashion show at our West Village Health Center, tell us about that.
EB: I’m so proud to announce “Positively Sexy 10” Housing Works 10th annual fashion show fundraiser this fall. It features HIV Positive models, with no modeling experience, who model their own personal fabulous fashions. Waiters serve gourmet delights, and we showcase premiere live musical artists. This event is produced, directed and organized by clients of Housing Works.