Press Release

August 9 to 19, 2018

The Claude-Tourangeau Award – Montréal Pride Honors a University Professor and a Drag Queen for Their Work against HIV/AIDS and Serophobia

Montréal, August 16, 2018 – Montréal Pride today unveiled the 2018 recipients of its Claude-Tourangeau Award, presented each year to a person or an organization in recognition of their contribution in the fight against HIV/AIDS and serophobia. The award goes to Maria Nengeh Mensah, Professor at the School of Social Work and the Institute for Feminist Research and Studies at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and to Ryan Ong Palao, an L.A.-based drag queen known as Ongina on stage, this year’s honorees.

An advocate for the respect of the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS since the 1990s, Maria Nangeh Mensah has successively been a volunteer companion, teacher, facilitator and researcher. She has written extensively to promote openness and respect towards people living with HIV. In 2017, she ran the well attended Témoigner pour agir exhibition which showcased the personal and intimate stories of artists living with HIV. A committed researcher, she leads the Testimonial Cultures action-research group under the auspices of the COCQ-SIDA, GRIS-Montréal and Stella organizations. According to Maria Nengeh Mensah, public testimony does not only serve to inform. “Its impact resides in its capacity to elicit reaction and provide food for thought,” she says.

In 2009, Ryan Ong Palao, the man behind the adorable Ongina, became one of the first reality TV stars to unveil his HIV positive status on Season I of the RuPaul’s Drag Race show. Since then, he has actively been advocating for prevention and HIV-testing, even teaming up with OraQuick, maker of the first at-home oral HIV test. Ongina also hosts a web series called HIV+ Me with guests living with HIV talking about their experience with the disease. “I think it is important to show these stories so people don’t feel alone nor isolated and can deal with the news of their positive status,” says Ongina. “It also shows people the disease is still part of our lives.”

About the Claude-Tourangeau Award
The annual Claude-Tourangeau Award is presented by Montréal Pride to individuals or organizations in recognition of their outstanding contribution in the fight against HIV/AIDS and serophobia. The award was established in honor of activist Claude Tourangeau who spent the last years of his life fighting HIV/AIDS and supporting people living with HIV. Recent honorees include researcher Joanne Otis, scientist Dr. Mark Wainberg (posthumously), Ken Monteith, General Manager of COCQ-SIDA, Jean-Luc Romero, French politician and the following organizations: RÉZO, ACCM and l’Actuel medical clinic.

About the Montréal Pride Festival
Since 2007, at the initiative of Montréal’s LGBTQ+ communities, the Montréal Pride Festival has promoted their rights and celebrated their cultural wealth and social advances. The largest gathering of the communities of sexual and gender diversity (SGD) in the Francophone world works locally on a daily basis while serving as a beacon of hope for people living in LGBTQ+ hostile regions of the globe. In 2017, the festival generated a total attendance of 2.7 million visitors. In 2018, the festivities will be held from August 9th to 19th. More information is available on the web page, the Facebook page, as well as Twitter and Instagram accounts.

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François Laberge
Communications Director
[email protected]
Telephone: 514 903-6193, ext. 3523

Interview Requests:
Nathalie Roy
Consultant, Media Relations
[email protected]
Telephone: 514 889-3622

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