The GMHC Morning Party Sweet 16.
The GMHC (Gay Mens Health Crisis) Morning Party began in 1983 by a group of concerned Pines community members as a way to bring awareness to the growing AIDS crisis. Originally held at private homes after a night of all night dancing it had grown into a full fledge Circuit party. Circuit parties occurs on a specific weekends and in a specific cities once a year, and there are many parties on “the circuit”, travel and planning are required. Travelling from party to party becomes part of a circuit boy’s lifestyle of travel, networking and partying.
After moving the party onto the beach in 1991 its notoriety had grown among the party circuit. From it’s small beginnings with volunteers hauling speakers in wagons to homes, to the now spectacle on the beach where thousands converged it had come a long way. It had become GMHC’s largest fundraiser. Unfortunately somewhere a long that way the message of health got mixed with drug usage. Drugs used to enhance the experience has always been a part of the dance culture. The mission of GMHC was to create awareness and educate about AIDS, but the message was getting clouded. It was becoming more about the party than what it stood for.
GMHC was aware of the growing drug issue and tried to put out their anti drug message in all their press before the event. “They cited a July 23 ‘Dear Morning Partygoer’ letter in which the group’s executive director, Mark Robinson, wrote, ‘Protect yourselves and the future of the event by not taking drugs at the party.’ The year earlier the New York Times article cites the organization’s attempts to stop partygoers from drugging at the event. The party celebrated the 16th year by calling it “Sweet 16.”
To DJ the GMHC Morning Party was a big credential for any DJ’s resume. DJ’s Michael Jorba, Warren Gluck, Michael Fierman, Susan Morabito, all had had their turn, and now it was DJ Buc from Atlanta’s turn…
The party started like all the others, however this time more security and the First Aid tent was very obvious.
21 people were arrested for drug possession, and it only got worse from there…
”It was like saying, ‘Don’t drink at the party, come drunk,’ said Troy Masters, a GMHC critic and publisher of LGNY, a newspaper whose readership is mainly homosexual. Michelangelo Signorile, a writer on gay issues and another GMHC critic, said: ‘It’s troubling that there were that many arrests. We’re talking about a benefit for a health agency. Would the American Cancer Society throw a drug party?’
GMHC’s supporters are equally vehement. Dr. Howard A. Grossman, a GMHC board member who directs medical services at the party, said that drug use was exaggerated and scolding ineffective. ‘Troy Powers and Mike Signorile are the Nancy Reagans of the gay community,’ he said. ‘”Just say No” doesn’t work.’
“Mr. Robinson called some criticism ‘unfair and self-serving,’ adding, ‘We took huge pains to make a significant dent in drug use, and I think we were successful.’”
As the song goes “The party’s over’, and it was. After 16 successful years GMHC had to distance themselves from what was a conflict of interest. There was, and is still many opinions (see Advocate on right) on what happened. It was a sad moment for both GMHC and the Pines, but the party had run its course.
Out of the ashes would rise another party called the Pines Party…