Last Saturday evening, October 5, a crowd of well more than 100 came together at the LGBT Community Center in the West Village to honor the memory and contributions of Andy Vélez, an internationally prominent AIDS activist whose three decades of advocacy work resulted in improved drug access and civil rights for people living with HIV, especially in the Latinx community.
Vélez, who was 80, succumbed to injuries suffered in a fall in his Manhattan apartment on May 14.
Vélez, whose diverse career spanned psychotherapy, book publishing, and arts criticism, was an early and active member of ACT UP, and he stayed involved in the group until his death. Despite health challenges in his final years, he was also an active member of Rise and Resist, which emerged to battle the menace and threats posed by the Trump presidency.
His memorial service drew family members, many of his longtime AIDS activist comrades as well as younger leaders in the LGBTQ community. Speakers remembered Andy and the crowd toasted him — at his request, with real glasses so everyone could hear the sound of the clink.