Kalpesh Oza

– June 4, 1995

Kalpesh 2
A photograph from AIDS ACTION NOW!’s “Pill” demonstration. Left to Right: Gary Kinsman, Brent Southin, Maggie Atkinson, Kalpesh Oza, Glen Brown

Yes, Kalpesh, tiny Kalpesh, who moved here from Montreal. We had initially made allies with him. I don’t remember which organization he was with in Montreal. It wasn’t Réaction SIDA. I think it was something else. I don’t remember his formal training, but he was a brilliant scientist, so when he moved to Toronto he became an incredibly important part of figuring out our analysis of what’s going on in the world of science. And so he was more involved in the treatment stuff.
Glen Brown (AAHP transcript, p. 42)

A photograph of Kalpesh Oza and Anthony Mohamed on the TTC, preparing for the People of Colour Float for Toronto Pride 1992

And there were other people who have passed away like Kalpesh Oza, who was a scientist with two Masters of Science degrees, and working on his PhD. And he took over my role in AIDS ACTION NOW! when I left, which was really good […] I remember he would be working in laboratories with cells. He would be at meetings with us on a Sunday and then he’d have to go back and work on this experiment, because experiments take time, and then come back to the meeting.
Sean Hosein (AAHP Transcript, pp.35-36).

Kalpesh did quite a bit, especially around treatment and stuff […] he was quite brilliant around treatment issues. So, he was a big help in treatment action stuff, and around research because he did research for a living.
Brent Southin (AAHP Transcript, p. 28)

Photo – AIDS ACTION NOW! – Kalpesh Oza,” AIDS Activist History Project, http://aidsactivisthistory.omeka.net/items/show/373

Kalpesh was wild… Oh yeah… He was all of about 80 pounds soaking wet. He’d come with his scarves. Or he’d do his Montreal hippie look, which was really not an appealing look. And it all looked kind of great/ bad on him… you know, this tiny little frame. I think he had ADHD. I mean, I probably would have named it if I’d had… You know, it’s the sort of thing that we would name right away now. Then, I think it just wasn’t part of our vocabulary, right – our diagnosing vocabulary. Well, it was just so hard to chair those meetings because he would just be so off the wall. He knew a lot about research, right, because before he came to Toronto he had been doing his MA or his PhD or something in Mark Wainburg’s lab in Montreal. […] and before that [he was from] Windsor, and before that from Gujarat in India. He was quite an amazing guy. He could speak French fairly well for having just been plopped down and acquired it.
Darien Taylor (AAHP Transcript, p 36).


He did this… there used to be an annual celebration of South Asian culture called Desh Pardesh […] So, Kalpesh decided that he was going to do a performance in Desh that year called – this was when everybody was rollerblading and he had a pair of rollerblades – “Rollerblades and Living with AIDS.” Basically, what he did was strap on a pair of rollerblades and he rollerbladed back and forth on stage and really just said whatever came to his mind about living with AIDS. I don’t think he had a script or practiced it. He called out a lot of AIDS activists, especially HIV-negative ones, and questioned their motives. It was pretty scandalous. […] And so the people, like myself as a woman and Kalpesh as a South Asian gay man, those people – us – we had this enormous… it was like a big microphone. And people in that little activist community knew Kalpesh and they wanted to come out and see him do “Rollerblades and Living with AIDS.” He was like a South Asian activist cultural celebrity of sorts.
Darien Taylor (AAHP transcript, p. 36)