AIDS Walk 2023 – Manny Xtravaganza Reminds Us, The Fight Is Not Over

Featured Images; L to R: Manny X, Manny X, Maximo Xtravaganza

For over 30 + years, AIDS Walk New York has provided some of the highest publicly-funded donation outcomes in all the years since the onslaught of the devastating AIDS epidemic. 

As a beacon of LGBTQ awareness, honoring and remembering those we’ve lost to the disease, AIDS WALK New York is a notable precursor to the world-famous NYC Pride celebration, where we also acknowledge how far the world has come in treating HIV/AIDS and advancing gay rights and protections. 


When AIDS first ravaged the gay community in the early 1980s, few resources were available, compounded by societal fear, stigma, and blatant homophobia from the public. As a result, New York’s many art, culture, and commerce communities ultimately came together to begin their fundraising efforts. Their social circle of loved ones had been the most impacted by the early HIV epidemic, and collectively survivors took matters into their own hands, forming AIDS Walk New York in 1986.

One of the most committed New Yorkers to support the cause is Manny Xtravaganza – Lopez of the House of Xtravaganza — the legendary Ballroom house founded by Hector Valle, who passed away in 1985. The Grandfather of the house was also named Hector. He passed away in 2019.

Manny at work as a dedicated Nurse Practitioner, NYC.

For years, Manny’s passionate efforts have raised thousands of dollars during the AIDS Walk, which helps to fund a myriad of social services and support for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC). We first featured Manny’s admirable commitment to the cause in a post written by Ryan Shea, back in 2019.


No stranger to the dark times that prevailed in the early days of the AIDS epidemic, Manny explains that he and many other youths were thrown out of their homes because they were gay. Despite being initially alone and homeless, the NYC Ballroom scene became a refuge for kids like Manny. And its vibrant, out, proud characters became each other’s chosen family. 

Photo: Maximo Xtravaganza / Grooming: Darvell Freeman

As this was also the height of the AIDS crisis, Manny shares how he lost many young friends who contracted and lost their battle with the virus. Additionally, a lot of them also struggled with despair and substance abuse issues as they tried to cope and sustain. 

For Manny, a survivor—who today is a successful Nurse Practitioner, AIDS Walk New York is his way of giving back to a community that saved him. He explains,


 At 15 yrs old, I lived on the streets and slept on strangers’ couches, random people I had just met, and was doing anything and everything to survive. After hitting rock bottom, I decided to go back to school. 

I had never finished high school, so I got my GED, Bachelors, and Masters degrees, and I’m currently working on my Doctorate. If it wasn’t for Karl Xtravaganza, my Uncle in the House, and the House of Xtravaganza, I could have never become a Nurse Practitioner. He/they helped me pay for my Licensing exams. That’s what it’s about supporting each other. This is why, now that I’m in a position to help others, I do.

For this year’s walk, which takes place on May 21 in Central Park, Manny proudly shares that he’ll be again walking and representing the House of Xtravaganza. However, this time, it will be dedicated to the memory of the late, fabulous Derrick Xtravaganza, who recently passed away.

The late, great Derrick Xtravaganza, striking a pose!

As a 90s club kid, I used to stand at the edge of the dance floor, utterly amazed by Derrick’s dancing. He was beauty in motion, and I would follow him around Sound Factory, starstruck, just to watch him vogue, in awe of his magical, flexible arms and rubber-bodied moves. Those were the signature traits of the “Xtravas,” and my favorites were the remarkable Jose, Luis, and Derrick. I could watch them dance all night — and many nights, I did. 


As Manny reflects, he shares why it was so crucial for his iconic Ballroom House to dedicate this year’s AIDS Walk New York to Derrick Xtravaganza,

The House has been walking since 1986. Many original members died from the disease, so we started walking and are still walking. This year, we are dedicating the walk to Derrick Xtravaganza, who recently passed. Derrick joined the House of Xtravaganza in 1990, forming strong bonds that he maintained throughout the rest of his life. Derrick committed himself to perfecting his voguing technique. As a result, he developed a reputation as a fierce competitor in the “New Way” style of voguing, a highly technical combination of gymnastics, contortion, and dance.

AIDS Walk New York donations provide the GMHC with invaluable resources to fight for social justice and preventative services, testing, nutrition, legal aid, mental health care, and education and advocacy for thousands of persons living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. The GMHC is an expert in dealing with such issues because it was the first HIV and AIDS care organization in the world. 

Manny Xtravaganza takes a well-deserved break from his nursing work, while still advocating for AIDS Walk New York 2023.

AIDS Walk New York has inspired over 1,000,000 + people to walk over the years and millions more people to donate. The amount it has raised thus far is over 100 million dollars. That is an example of what can happen when people from different communities and all walks of life come together for the common good—well done! 

Let’s join Manny in doing it again this year!

For more information, please check out the official AIDS Walk New York website hereTo donate to Manny’s AIDS Walk New York, please click here.

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