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Author Topic: VALE Yvonne Gardner  (Read 312 times)


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VALE Yvonne Gardner
« on: October 01, 2018, 03:50:22 PM »

VALE Yvonne Gardner

Yvonne Gardner was one of the first HIV Carers at a time when no-one gave a shit about Positive people and a long time AIDS Activist supporting the rights of HIV+ people in Melbourne.

I knew Yvonne and her work in Melbourne. Yvonne did a lot of work for HIV+ people including cooking and organising a regular lunch club in Fitzroy.

I remember her stories about looking after dying gay men in a hospice and how she would smuggle them out of their "jail" to go for a harmless and often last drink at the pub round the corner.

Yvonne did this because she believed that these kindnesses made a huge difference in the lives of the Gay men she cared for. She was right about that and right about the fact that a small toke on a joint works marvelously at getting sick people to eat!

One of her great sadness's which she expressed to me, was that she was very disappointed (and angry) that she was discarded, bullied & treated like shit by many of the so called "professional liners of their own pockets" in the AIDS Industry in Victoria because she told the truth about corruption, did not conform to their narrow political agendas and defended vulnerable HIV+ when they were under attack by the AIDS Industry.

Like Margaret Court in WA, Yvonne Gardner arguably provided more direct emergency support for HIV+ in need that the taxpayer funded AIDS Council of Victoria.

A cultural Icon on Melbourne's arts scene, Yvonne liked a drink and a laugh and had the most amazing collection of hats. in fact her wardrobe was fuller than a Drag Queen's closet.

Yvonne will be greatly missed by Many & her legacy is Great!

 - MJS

Community Hero: Yvonne Gardner
Our new monthly feature Community Hero shines a light on people who are working to make LGBTI people's lives better, and Yvonne Gardner has been supporting people living with HIV since the epidemic began.

Benjamin Riley — June 19, 2015

IN the early 1980s, Yvonne Gardner began taking food to gay men living in housing commission, diagnosed with what would come to be known as HIV. These men were often isolated from friends and family, but Gardner said after a while, after years of family ostracism, some began to receive visits from their mothers.

“So when I’d go in of course, I was their mum’s age, so I could relate to them, they could relate to me, going there, dropping off meals,” she recalled.

“Some of them travelled up from Geelong by train, and had to be back before their husbands came home at four o’clock. She couldn’t tell them she went and visited her son.”

Gardner’s friendships with these women led to her starting a parent support group based out of the Laird Hotel, then a mixed venue. Despite not being parent to a HIV-positive child herself, Gardner, now 72, had already been working in Melbourne’s gay community for years, long before the virus hit.

She volunteered on committees for community events, and when the first cases of gay-related immune deficiency (GRID — an early name for AIDS) started appearing in Melbourne, Gardner was working at the gay-friendly Middle Park Clinic. Staffed by gay doctors and seeing primarily gay patients, the clinic saw some of the first cases.

“Most of the people diagnosed then were put onto a disability support pension because they were given six to 12 months to live,” Gardner said.

“Whatever savings they did have, thinking they only had a small amount of time to live, blew the lot on an overseas trip, or had dinner parties — they blew it.

“And then of course, they realised they were going to live longer, and they had no money… people were being put into high-rise housing. Elegant young gay men.”

Every week, Gardner began making a big pot of soup, parking her car near the commission flats, and taking the soup up to the men’s apartments. A network or friends grew around the Tuesday soup nights, and when Gardner eventually secured a small amount of funding from the Salvation Army, she was able to grow her soup kitchen into a two-course meal.

In one form or another, Gardner’s weekly lunches for people living with HIV have been running continuously to this day.

“There’s people who come every week, who look forward to it, who have got a reason to get up, have a shower,” she said.

“Some of them even get up the night before, clean their shoes, go and pick up their clothes at the dry cleaners if they can afford it. It’s something to look forward to.”

Gardner has been working to make the lives better for people in the community for 50 years, and while a lot of the people coming to her lunches every week were diagnosed early on, she still has a lot of younger gay friends. She still sees how hard it is for a lot of them.

“It’s scary out there for young, nice, innocent gay men,” she said.

“You’ve got to like yourself first, before anyone else.”

« Last Edit: October 01, 2018, 03:57:37 PM by Mary-Jane »
Definition of Hats aka "Conflict of Interest" Statement: Mary-Jane is Editor of Perth Gay News, The Media Annuncio of the Perth Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence of the Abbey of the Black Swan & Editor @ HIV Institute of WA.

#Twitter @AbbeyBlackSwan1