Fundraising for People with AIDS

During the 1970s, one of Atlanta’s favorite bars was the Armory. The bar created its own drag troupe, The Armorettes. The main focus of this troupe was to promote AIDS fundraising in Atlanta, the United States, and Canada. The Armorettes were also members of Hotlanta Softball League and not only did they raise significant funds for AIDS charities but they also were Hot Softball league champions and won several national and Canadian tournaments. Gregg Daugherty was a member of the Armorettes for six years as they traveled around the country competing in softball tournaments at the same time performing in AIDS fundraisers. Daugherty worked with many Atlanta AIDS fundraisers and was co-founder of The Window of Hope, a cabaret event with many local and national singers that raised funds for Atlanta AIDS organizations, including the Jerusalem House, AIDS Survival Project, AID Atlanta, and PALS. The Armorettes raised 2.3 million dollars alone just for People with AIDS (PWAs), many of whom were their friends or people they knew.

Photograph — “Maytag and Bubba D. Luscious” May 1995

Charles Dillard, better known by his stage name, Mr. Charlie Brown performed as a drag queen throughout much of the South before settling in Atlanta and becoming a major figure in the city’s gay community. After over 40 years of performances, Brown still performs locally in Atlanta as of 2019. Here is an exerpt from Brown’s oral history interview relflecting on the early days of the pandemic,

“When AIDS broke out in Atlanta, several kids got it. They couldn’t go home for Christmas. I started Christmas for PWAs (People with AIDS) through AID Atlanta. Me and the entertainers in Atlanta, we held benefits in every club in the city. There was a lot of clubs. We would take jars into a club, and let the management know that we were there to collect for Christmas for PWAs. We would walk through and collect the money and go to the office, give it to the management. They would untape it, count the money and give me a receipt. And then the first of December, we’d have a big huge benefit at Backstreet. And all the club owners and managers would come in and they’d bring a check for the amount that we had raised in their club. And we’d raise $10,000, $20,000, $25,000. That money was turned over to AID Atlanta that night. Within two weeks, it was broken down into checks to each PWA in Atlanta, GA. We did that for years until there got to be so many that we couldn’t do it anymore. We wouldn’t raise enough money for them to get anything decent.”Mr. Charlie Brown, March 26, 2019