Last Sunday afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting with Dean Thullner at Tartine on Davie Street. Over lunch, we discussed his new charitable fundraiser: RED – A Positive Day! Dean and his Husband David are the owners of
Volume Studio Hair Salon
on Bute Street, and Dean is a well-known figure in the city. He was one of the first business owners to move into Yaletown in the early 1990’s. At that time, his Yaletown hair salon was legendary and so were his parties!

Today, Mr. Thullner is applying his expertise to throwing more phenomenal parties for charitable fundraising. HisBrilliant Mental Health and Addictions Fundraiserfor St. Paul’s Hospital has raised over 2 million dollars; a portion of which was used to support a dedicated street youth outreach medical clinic in the Granville Street corridor.

This weekend’s event, RED – A Positive Day! (Saturday, Feb. 20), is Mr. Thullner’s inaugural fundraiser for Positive Living BC. Proceeds from RED will be donated to Positive Living BC and its 5,700 HIV-Positive members across the province.

I asked Dean what motivates him in his tireless charitable fundraising efforts. He told me that in the late 1970’s to early 1980’s, the Davie Street Village was a thriving gay community. He described it as a “hub of acceptance” and said that, back then, there was a lot of diversity. It was a vibrant, happy, fun place to spend time. Things changed rapidly when the AIDS epidemic hit Vancouver.

“One day you were walking down the street and saw 10 people you knew, and the following week, there were only 7,” said Thullner.

In effect, AIDS nearly wiped out an entire generation of the Davie Street Village’s founding gay members. In later years, this meant that young gay men entering the community suffered a lack of mentorship. What the survivors experienced is something that is not talked about enough.


WWW.METROLIVINGZNE.COM NEWS IMAGE CREDIT 1983 Pride Parade on Burrard St and Davie St. Photo courtesy of the BC Gay and Lesbian Archives. Contact Ron Dutton: rondutton@shaw.ca

Dean went on to explain how a lot of Vancouver’s hospitals originally treated those afflicted with the illness like pariahs. He stated that it was St Paul’s Hospital – located in the heart of the Davie Street Village – that was the first local hospital to “open their doors and their hearts”. He credits the staff at St Paul’s Hospital for saving his life.

To date, the “three pill HAART cocktail” is the most effective HIV treatment. It normally includes the use of multipleanti retroviral drugs in an attempt to control the infection and has been credited for dramatically increasing the life expectancy for those living with the HIV virus. This treatment has been so effective that some people have mistakenly taken the view that HIV and AIDS is no longer a deadly epidemic, but rather a chronic illness that can be treated. Some health care professionals have even noted a decline in the use of condoms and other preventative sexual health care measures since the wide spread use of the three pill cocktail began.


WWW.METROLIVINGZINE.COM NEWSD IMAGE CREDIT DEAN THULLNER

Thullner believes that he is still alive because of the readily available HAART cocktail, along with the staff at St. Paul’s and his commitment to a healthy lifestyle. He is also quick to note that his survival is largely due to the privilege of being a part of the Davie Street Community.

It is once again thriving, but to the northeast of Vancouver’s Downtown East Side, there are many people living with HIV/AIDS who do not have access to the basic necessities of life (such as food and stable housing). In addition to this, many also suffer from mental health and addiction issues and do not take their medication on a regular basis. Thullner believes that “sexuality knows no borders and what happens on the DTES is everyone’s problem.”

Dean’s way of saying thank you to the hospital and community that he credits for saving his life is to work around the clock 12 months a year, producing charitable fundraisers. Mr. Thullner is committed to giving back and has proven himself to be a stellar role model for future generations. Please see below for more information about The RED Ball and where to buy tickets.