All Are Invited to Celebrate Their Inner Diva

The Allies' Free for All "Night of A Thousand Divas" is this Friday, May 3

This Friday, Allies for Health + Wellbeing will celebrate their annual Free for All, a fundraising event for the nonprofit. Allies’ event architect, Thommy Conroy, shares details about this year’s party, which is themed “Night of a Thousand Divas.” 

Allies for Health + Wellbeing is a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit dedicated to providing HIV and STI treatment and testing at an affordable cost. Conroy has worked with Allies since 2006, and has been doing work with the parties since 2017. 

“I’ve always tried in my work to get back to the causes of people affected by HIV,” Conroy says. “Growing up, in my experience being a kid in the 90s, being gay meant you were going to die. So I owe a lot to organizations like the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force and all of that work done from the early 80s through ACT UP in the 90s.” 

Conroy shares that the mission started by Kerry Stoner, one of the founders of the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force, is important to him, and is part of the reason he wants to work to give back. 

This year’s Free for All theme came from a rewatch of the 1975 film, Gray Gardens, and a want to pay homage to earlier queer culture. Conroy explains that it is a common practice for queer bars to have themed nights for different pop divas – such as “Night of a Thousand Britneys,” or “Night of a Thousand Dollys.” While joking amongst friends to do a “Night of a Thousand Edies” from the film, Conroy thought the idea could be fun for the Free for All theme.

“It should be anyone’s choice of diva to dress up as, and it’s a thing that has happened in gay bars for years,” he says. “Instead of being told ‘It’s going to be Britney girls, let’s get out your red vinyl or your snake or your schoolgirl outfit,’ the diva notion is more of a personal thing. We’re celebrating the queer culture that has always had these sorts of parties.” 

This year’s Free for All is different from previous years. While the Allies Ball and Free for All are usually two events, this year the ball was cut, and the Free for All encompasses both events. 

Conroy explains that the event happens towards the end of Allies’ fiscal year, and with the generous partnerships and sponsorships from places like 5801 and Tito’s vodka, they decided to invite everyone to the party. 

Donors to Allies will have a lounge, and the party will consist of an open bar for those of age and food trucks for attendees to enjoy while at the Free for All. 

“What’s fun is it’s both a fundraising event as well as sort of an awareness event,” Conroy says. “Because now anyone can come to the Free for All and learn about what Allies does. And if they choose they can donate that night to support the cause.” 

At the Free for All, 10 Bright Young People will be honored, and the Kerry Stoner award will be presented to Daphne Curges. 

The Bright Young People are those who work primarily in diversity, equity, and inclusion. The idea came to be a few years ago when Allies decided they wanted to honor those who are working to make the future better for those in underserved communities. 

“I want to celebrate the new guard of young people who are bringing about change and making a better future,” Conroy shares. “It’s important for us to look ahead for a brighter future.”

The Allies Free for All will be held this Friday, May 3. 

Tia (she/her) is a recent Point Park grad who majored in journalism. She loves all things movies, music, and Pittsburgh! As the summer 2022 QBurgh intern, she’s looking forward to writing about Pittsburgh’s LGBTQIA+ community and highlighting all the cool people doing cool things in the community.