“Whatever you do, don’t make me boring” – Freddie Mercury

Tomorrow night marks AIDS Services of Austin’s 3rd annual Freddie for a Day event! This event is meant to serve as a night to commemorate the life of the lead vocalist for the band Queen, Freddie Mercury. Mercury is known for being many things: a singer, entertainer, generous spirit, and for having contracted and eventually dying of complications from AIDS.

Freddie Mercury never liked to discuss his diagnosis – he hardly even discussed it with his long time partner, Jim Hutton. Despite never discussing his status, there had been rumors for years about his illness leading up to his death. Although he never shared the details of his health with his band mates, they were aware that he was ill. Because of this, they stopped touring and slowed down on time spent in the studio. During Mercury’s final public appearance in February 1990, his band mate Brian May, had to accept an award because Mercury was too ill to do so. After that, he spent all of his time at home coping with his illness. Mercury publicly announced having AIDS on November 22, 1991—and a little more than 24 hours later, he passed away.

Mercury hated to discuss his illness because of what people would think and the stigma that come with this status. And over 20 years later, this stigma is still around. Many people still think being diagnosed with HIV is a death sentence and do not know how to discuss it. Knowing that this disease is most often transmitted through sex or drug use creates a perception that being positive means you have no morals—which is false. This stigmatization not only impacts people living with HIV, but people who don’t have HIV as well. People may avoid getting tested, avoid taking medications, or avoid asking their partner to use protection.However, like turning your car radio up louder when you hear a funny engine noise, ignoring a problem will not make it go away. If you are at risk for contracting HIV, not getting tested and not knowing your status will not solve anything. That’s why one of ASA’s primary goals is to fight stigma and indifference, which allow HIV to spread and prevent people from seeking care. We also support people to learn how disclose their status and live open lives, free from judgment.

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By joining us at Freddie for a Day, you can help us further the cause by making people aware of their risk, providing free HIV tests, and supporting services locally and internationally for people affected by HIV and AIDS. Not only does the event support AIDS Services of Austin, which works with individuals affected by HIV in Central Texas through many different programs and services, but it also supports The Mercury Phoenix Trust.

In 1992, The Mercury Phoenix Trust was established to commemorate the memory of Freddie Mercury and help use his notoriety and generous spirit to raise money to fund projects battling HIV and AIDS worldwide. Over the past 21 years, MPT has raised over $15 million to finance over 700 projects in 57 countries! Their main event, Freddie for a Day, is just another way to celebrate Mercury with a bit more flair and fun by dressing up as our favorite Queen front man. Freddie for a Day is celebrated on Mercury’s birthday, September 5—but MPT encourages anyone who wants to celebrate to do so on any day of the year. The many ways that FFAD has been spent around the globe includes musical performances, ‘Mercury’ margaritas, flash mobs, and marathons in his honor.

ASA will be celebrating Freddie for a Day in our own way tomorrow night! We will be at The Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co. from 9:00-11:30 pm in an open and spacious setting with delicious food and cold beer listening to the tunes of the Queen cover band, Magnifico. There will be a Freddie lookalike contest, giveaways, and mustaches to go around! The suggested donation of $10 goes towards supporting the fight against HIV and AIDS through AIDS Services of Austin and The Mercury Phoenix Trust.