Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Morning-After Mourning; One Death and Three Overdoses Lead Some to Ask If GMHC Should Scrap Its Place on the Circuit

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Morning-After Mourning; One Death and Three Overdoses Lead Some to Ask If GMHC Should Scrap Its Place on the Circuit

Article excerpt

One death and three overdoses lead some to ask if GMHC should scrap its place on the circuit

Frank Giordano of Bronxville, N.Y., and two friends arrived at New York's Fire Island Pines the weekend of August 14 simply to have fun. After all, the 16th annual Morning Party, themed "Sweet 16," was scheduled for Sunday, and with all the preparties and postparties others had planned around the fete--which raises money for Gay Men's Health Crisis, a New York City AIDS service organization--the weekend marked the height of the Pines social season.

But Giordano never made it to the Morning Party. According to Suffolk County police, the three men took the potent party drug gamma hydroxy butyrate (GHB) before heading out Saturday night to the Island Club, a popular dance bar nicknamed "Sip and Twirl" by Pines regulars. Once there, two of the men collapsed and were transported to local Long Island hospitals. Giordano, meanwhile, was helicoptered to Brookhaven Hospital, also on Long Island, after police found him at 2:15 a.m., unconscious, in the home where he was staying. By 3 a.m., Giordano, 35, was pronounced dead.

Although Giordano's death, his friends' overdoses, and an OD by another man Sunday morning did not occur at the actual Morning Party, they have nonetheless stepped up what has become a rite of summer, calls on GMHC to sever its ties to an event that has become a full-weekend affair.

"GMHC is 100% responsible for the death of Frank Giordano," says Andrew Beaver, an outspoken and longtime critic of GMHC's involvement with the Morning Party. "GMHC is responsible for the madness that is Morning Party weekend---the preparties, the postparties."

But GMHC stands by its tried-and-true fund-miser, pointing out that a stringent no-drug policy is strictly enforced at the Morning Party itself. Of the death, GMHC managing director Ronald Johnson told the New York Post, "It's tragic, and I'm not dismissing it, but it had nothing to do with the Morning Party."

According to Michelangelo Signorile, whose book Life Outside details the circuit-party scene, Johnson's reasoning may have held more water in 1982, when the Morning Party got its start as a small poolside event for those who had survived the wrath of AIDS. But the party has since grown into "a stop on the international circuit known for its intense drug use," Signorile says. "The Morning Party differs from other parties thrown for gay and lesbian organizations on Fire Island because it stretches out for the entire weekend."

GMHC officials say they are not sure how the Morning Party got added to the circuit, but according to Circuit Noize, the bible that details all the parties worldwide, it is one of the core events of the year.

Drug-laced weekend-long parties are nothing new to the circuit. Police shut down a party at Atlanta's Hotlanta River Expo, held August 6-9 this year, after three GHB overdoses were reported, and the Heritage of Pride Party on Gay Pride Sunday, June 28, in New York City saw four drug-related emergencies.

And GMHC isn't the only AIDS service organization to benefit from these parties. The boys boogying to the beat at Miami's Winter Party are giving to the Dade Human Rights Foundation, which supports "the needs of the lesbian and gay community." Hotlanta supports local Atlanta charities "to help in the ongoing fight against AIDS. …

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