The Southern Time Community – What is It?
The first question regarding this blog’s title that comes to mind is, of course, what
is ‘Southern Time?’ Southern Time was the first song T wrote in 1997, a few
months after he tested HIV positive as he turned 21. It means “it’s time for the
Global South to shine,” or “time for economic balance between the rich and the
poor, harmony between humans and nature,” or equity for all (including all living
creatures). T also now identified more with people living in the Global South and
personally felt and recognized that despite ten percent of humanity living in
relative ease, ninety percent should not have to suffer for their pleasure.
And as his world was literally falling apart, with no hope for the future, let alone
not knowing if he’d ever be loved again, T realized that with whatever time he
had left, he wanted to use his talents and relative privilege to make a positive
the difference in our world before he died.
T’s new journey began.
Over the next few years, as he played the piano and cello in bands, he wrote more
songs expressing his personal pain and inspiration for a better world. In 2004, he
began recording his songs, and, in 2005, he produced the first iteration of his rock
opera, ‘Southern Time,’ in Vancouver, B.C. The amount of love and support that
came his way from the production’s cast, crew, and audience during these six
tumultuous, but extremely exhilarating months utterly changed him. The
feedback he received was that the rock opera’s message of that despite the gross
inequities and abuse that goes on in our world – we can change the current
human condition for the better, if we all take personal responsibility and have
compassion for all – goaded T to keep going on. The love and support he received
during this production were also the first inklings in T’s mind of the Southern Time
Community that was to eventually come.
T’s story wasn’t over, though. In 2006, after yet another failed relationship and
musically unsuccessful European trip, he threw fancy to the wind and asked his
South African friend if she would mind if he visited her in Johannesburg. She
agreed, rolled out the red carpet (of African hospitality), and then T spent the
best three-week vacation of his life, observing the microcosm of our world that is
South Africa/gross inequities on Earth firsthand. This was the second cogitation in
T’s mind of what the Southern Time Community might become (if we all
peaceably and purposely came together).
Then, after T nearly died from AIDS in 2009, less than a year out of the hospital,
he went to his first World AIDS Conference – AIDS 2010 – in Vienna, Austria. Here,
in the Global Village, thousands of openly-HIV positive people from all around the
world congregated and communed for five days. For the first time since diagnosis,
T did not feel so alone in the world anymore. T was starting to get it.
Skip forward five years, in 2015, T was ready to take on Toronto again. Not long
after he moved, he began hanging out with a group of artists and musicians on
Bloor Street, and, for the first time, he imagined in concrete ways how the
Southern Time Community might function. In 2018, in preparation for AIDS 2018,
he began finding the Southern Time Band members, and, in 2020, the band
recorded their first album and presented a 30-minute music video production for
AIDS 2020’s virtual conference. Also in 2020, T’s first child was born, and he got
married to a beautiful lady. T finally had a good network of like-minded friends
Then, in 2021, with the world falling apart due to the COVID-19 pandemic,
lockdowns, loss of freedoms, and the lack of funding for his production company,
T started to intentionally flesh out what the Southern Time Community might
actually look like, for necessity truly is the mother of invention. For a couple of
years, he had been already thinking there should be a forum page for fans of
Southern Time Productions to virtually meet and not only discuss concerns that
are relevant in our world but strategize to do something about them. Southern
Time Productions was a ‘social innovator’ company, after all. Its health, social,
and environmental mission and messaging are just as important as its profit
motive. Shubham Dhariyal, the company’s IT Manager, suggested that the
Southern Time Community have its own website. T wanted the website/app to
be a place where Cultural Creatives and fans of Southern Time could learn from
and share with one another and create grassroots workgroups to address
concerns in their communities and globally.
T agreed, and thus, the Southern Time Community was born…