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Film screening highlights AIDS epidemic, work of LGBT leaders

January 17, 2013

"Faced with their own mortality, a group of gay men, lesbians and their straight allies broke the mold as radical warriors taking on a government and medical establishment unresponsive to the AIDS crisis." This is the story behind the acclaimed documentary film “How to Survive a Plague.”

The documentary will be the subject of a free film screening Thursday, Jan. 24, on ASU’s Tempe campus, sponsored by Ubiquity, ASU’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender faculty and staff organization; LGBTQA Services and ASU Wellness.

“We, the Ubiquity Board, felt this movie is something that is important to bring to light at ASU,” says Carol Comito, president of Ubiquity. “For those of us who lived through this era, it is important to recognize the power of a group of people to affect change.

“For the younger people, it is important to understand the impact the activists had, and that this AIDS epidemic – while it is better than it was in the 80s – is still affecting so many people throughout the world.”

Ubiquity was formed in March 1994 as a result of Arizona’s political climate at the time, and remains relevant today. The organization has been instrumental over the years in helping the university’s LGBT employees obtain Domestic Partner Benefits, Comito says.

“This issue is currently in the courts, but we are hopeful the benefits will remain in place.”

Comito, who is currently serving her second term as president of the Tempe Staff Council, has been part of Ubiquity for as long as she has worked at ASU – more than eight years.  

Ubiquity often collaborates with other LGBT organizations and universities, and does not just serve the LGBT community, she says. Its meetings and social events are open to everyone, as the organization supports the work of its allies and various university groups.

“We meet once a month as a board, and we have a social event at least once a semester. We also try to have meetings or events as they are appropriate, such as this film screening.”

The screening event is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., Jan. 24, in the Pima Auditorium of the Memorial Union on the Tempe campus. Refreshments will be provided, and there will be a post-screening speaker to lead discussion. "How to Survive a Plague" was made an official selection at various film festivals, including Sundance, and has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Documentary Feature category.

Comito says the film speaks to the mission of Ubiquity: “We have to be able to stand up for what we believe and continue to care how these issues affect everyone.”