Emmerdale

Great personal message from outside the US!

Alex Sparrowhawk: HIV & Me

13.01.14

“I’m HIV positive” – not a line I was expecting to hear whilst watching Emmerdale a week ago, they’d kept this storyline quiet from the online spoiler pages and press, but I had an immediate and instinctual feeling that this was a good thing.

There are many reasons why this storyline is important. Firstly it isn’t conforming to modern stereotypes society holds of the ‘typical’ HIV patient. Val isn’t a gay man, a black man/ woman or an intravenous drug user. Val is a middle aged, white and married woman living in the countryside ‘up north’ not a council estate in one of our major cities. She’s not portrayed as someone outstandingly clever but nor is she pictured as stupid. Val has a husband, grown up children, one of whom is gay. She runs a bed and breakfast business, in essence she’s really rather normal.

And that’s the fundamental message…

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Being Me

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I guess I would consider myself a trans guy, but I don’t want hormones or any kind of surgery. I mean, if I were able to and was brave enough to do it. Then yeah, I’d take that chance. But it’s not something I believe is necessary to be who I am. to feel like a real guy, a dude.

Not every trans person wants the hormones or the surgeries, most do though. I feel that it’s not something I need.

Even with the body that I have now, I feel like a dude. My boobs are basically my balls, just up higher on my body. And instead of a penis, I have a vagina that doesn’t hurt much when kicked or hit.

It’s not about the anatomy, it’s about the persons feelings and preferences about it all. It’s different for everybody.

I am comfortable, I am me.

~Damien (aka Tony Taylor)

Damien is a CHATpdx peer educator, an awesome SMYRC activist and a really funny person!

FDA Approves at Home HIV Testing

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It’s important for people of every community and identification to get tested for HIV. Testing can really be a nerve wracking experience – getting tested with a friend or in a space you trust can give a huge sense of security.

After decades of study the FDA has made a ruling that makes that community experience less likely to happen. There are some benefits to approving the at home HIV test but I disagree with their decision. When a person goes to a safe space in their community to get tested there is less of a chance for them to commit an act of self harm or take other drastic measures if their test comes back positive. When someone uses an at home test the responsibility is on them to call the HIV Hotline to confirm their results and connect to counseling and care. It’s hard to ensure people will even follow through  a referral for a confirmatory test.

These tests leave dramatically more room for error than traditional methods. Clinical trials found 8% of those who are truly HIV+ will not receive a positive result when using the at home HIV test. Getting an accurate answer means so much – I believe this 8% rate is too great a risk to allow these tests on the market.

The price for at home testing is prohibitive. Each test can cost between $40 and $60. To me that’s ridiculous – seeing as there are so many places to go and get tested for free. The cost of this test is nothing but a convenience fee. So the next time you are getting ready to take an HIV test I hope that my personal views can open your eyes to making the right decision for your health. Whether you buy an at home test or go in to get tested, the important thing is that your getting tested.

Find a free HIV test near you: http://hivtest.cdc.gov/

– STEFHANNIE J CALHOUN

The desexualization of bullying – A deeper look at bullying’s sexual undertones

Posted on February 16, 2012

by: Kris Gowen, originally posted on Kris Gowens Blog

 

Kids Bullying

You Can Stop Bullying

I was going to try to come up with a fancier more accessible title, but I can’t right now. But I sure better by May! I’ve been invited to speak at an bullying awareness event in Austin Texas this May. While I jumped at this opportunity to share my work (and support my friend who is organizing the event), I quickly realized that I am no bullying expert. But, for better or for worse, not being a total expert on a topic as not stopped me before…

I am an expert on adolescent sexuality and sexual development. I also have a pretty good handle on youth and technology and how that impacts their development (hence, this blog). So, how to use my strengths in the context of this upcoming event? Tie all of these issues together — sexuality, technology, and bullying. I have found my comfort zone!

What’s odd is that while so much of bullying has a sexual undertone or is blatantly about sex or sexuality or at least gender, most bullying curricula, anti-bullying campaigns, etc., do not acknowledge this important association. Bullying is seen as harassment, teasing, isolation, and assault. But under no circumstances should one put the word “sexual” in front of any of those terms and call it bullying.

Why this separation? Why not discuss sexual harassment while discussing bullying? Where is the conversation about sexual respect and self-worth in curricula that addresses the need to be nice to others? Are (anti) bullying experts afraid to talk about sex? Does it complicate things too much? Does it narrow their message?

Whatever the reason, I think it’s important to accept the fact that a lot of bullying has to do with sexuality. An obvious example is about name-calling due to sexual orientation and/or gender expression (and the “Think Before You Speak” campaign does a good job of calling this out). But what about sexting under pressure? Spreading rumors? Calling someone a ho or slut? These are unfortunately very common ways to bullying another, but where’s the conversation about the sexual components?

I hope to be able to speak more eloquently about this topic in the future. For now, I will continue to explore this rift and see if I can’t begin to bridge the gap between my interests and the important work done to decrease bullying among youth.

 

It’s your turn, what do you think we should do to change this? How has society removed Sexuality from bullying? Is this a bad thing? Comment and share your thoughts and then share this blog with someone you know.

Bully Victim Bystander

Stand Up Against Bullying

 

Being An Ally

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, being an ally is defined as “one that is associated with another as a helper”. The same goes for the New Oxford version “a person or organization that cooperates with or helps another in a particular activity:” Any way you put it, an ally is there to help another person, community and in some instances a country when they need that support. Historically, there were allies assisting to free Africans being enslaved in the United States, America served as an ally to European countries during World War II. And civil right activists were allies to the thousands of African-Americans fighting for civil rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution of the United States of America. Most recently, there has been a movement across the country of young people, educators, and parents supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth as allies.

Allies play a vital role in making schools safer for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. In fact, the first Gay-Straight Alliance was the idea of a straight ally. Although this isn’t a “new” movement, recent headlines about anti-LGBTQ bullying have brought to light the importance of allies to the LGBTQ community.

Being an ally means being there for people when the world marginalizes and discriminates against any one. Even today when we see more media representation of LGBTQ individuals, by in large, we still live in a society where to be anything other than heterosexual is not accepted. This is where allies come in! An ally for the LGBTQ community can be anyone, whether they are black, white, old, young, gay, or straight. Allies can be a support for LGBTQ people when they decide to come out to family, friends, community, church, or to anyone else. LGBTQ allies can stand up for LGBTQ youth and pledge: “I believe all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression deserve to feel safe, and supported. I will not use anti-LGBT language or slurs. I will intervene, if I safely can, in situations where students are being harassed, and support efforts to end bullying and harassment.”

Personally, as an ally I have had very rewarding experiences that made me really proud of what I stand for. Those experiences made me realize that the work I do isn’t in vain. In early October, a good friend of mine asked me, “What would you think of me if I told you I was attracted to men?” I told him, “I would think of you the same – who am I to tell you who you care about is wrong?” From then on he told me about his feelings and how he has been holding them in because he doesn’t want to be a part of the stereotype that society has created for gay men. He doesn’t want anyone to look at him differently because of his sexual orientation. We attend a university that is the most diverse in the North Carolina school system, and yet there is stigma around being a gay African-American male.

Being there for him was the best feeling I could have ever felt. After talking to me, he has since made strides in coming out to his peers and wants to tell his mother soon. I remember he told me once “I respect, support, and appreciate straight allies because they are the ones in society that are ‘normal’ in strong support of something that society sees as ‘abnormal.’ You all take the slack for all of that.” Although I let him know that he is in no way abnormal or wrong for his sexual orientation, I appreciated his words. I felt like I had a purpose.

You, too, can be an ally. High school students can join their gay/straight alliance at their schools, or if there isn’t one make an effort to be the founding member. College students can also join an organization that advocates for the issues relevant to LGBTQ youth. Within in that organization, plan a project, pass out flyers, ask questions, and most importantly, BE AVAILABLE! Go out into your communities and tackle the issues that relevant to the people around you. Take notice of abusive language, support your friends and their events. The Gay Lesbian Education Network, Advocates for Youth, and YouthResource are all great resources on how to plan events on campuses and in communities and ways to speak to your peers to ask questions to be a better ally.

I hope that the information that I have provided to you will make you more aware of the people around you and I hope that I have influenced you to stand up for the youth in your communities. Be the change.

As an ally, there will be instances where you will have to direct your peers to resources to deal with their specific situations. To start you off on your journey here are a few resources:

Share your own stories of being an ally. What does it mean to you? How important is it?

-Amara

National A&PI HIV/AIDS Awareness Day May 19th 2011

Asian Pacific Islander Pride and Cascade AIDS Project will be commemorating National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Thursday May 19th.  We invite everyone in our communities to join us!  We will be discussing HIV/AIDS related issues during our Monthly Happy Hour (Element Restaurant & Lounge, 1135 SW Morrison Street, Portland, 5-9pm). This event is part of a larger effort organized by The Banyan Tree Project, a national social marketing campaign to stop HIV/AIDS-related stigma in Asian & Pacific Islander (A&PI) communities.  
There are similar events being held in many cities across the country (visit www.banyantreeproject.org for more information).
  
The theme of the 2011 Campaign is HIV/AIDS and API Women.  While HIV is still seen as a men’s issue, the disease continues to rise unchecked among A&PIs and A&PI women in particular. Recent analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that A&PIs have the highest rate of increase in new HIV infections in the nation, the only statistically significant growth among any racial or ethnic group, and yet two-thirds of A&PIs have never been tested for HIV. The rate of increase for A&PI women is actually higher than that of A&PI men, but the misconception that A&PIs are not at risk for HIV persists–even among healthcare providers who discourage A&PIs from getting tested. In fact, a recent study by Dr. Hyeouk Chris Hahm (a leading researcher on A&PI women’s sexual health from Boston University) indicates that A&PI women are less likely than other ethnic groups to be offered an HIV test in OB/GYN settings. A number of factors contribute to the HIV risk for A&PI women, including a lack of targeted HIV prevention information for women, unequal power dynamics in sexual relationships, biological differences and the fact that a woman’s HIV risk is often indirect. A woman’s HIV risk is her partner’s HIV risk and many women in monogamous relationships are shocked when they test positive. Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of A&PI women living with HIV got it through heterosexual contact (86%).
 

“By 2050, A&PIs will represent about 11% of the US population,” says Lance Toma, executive director of A&PI Wellness Center in San Francisco. “We could be facing a public health disaster if we
fail to address the rise in HIV and STD infections in our communities now.” Another significant issues related to HIV/AIDS that is relevant to the API community is HIV-related stigma, which refers to the severe individual, family and community shame or disgrace associated with HIV. API’s living with HIV are blamed for their condition and are punished—by exclusion, isolation, prejudice and discrimination—for contracting the disease. They are often vilified and reduced to stereotypes—drug users, gay men, sex workers—with little regard for their individual experience or situation. In the A&PI community, HIV-related stigma is so powerful that people avoid talking about sex or HIV entirely. This silence feeds the fear and misconceptions about HIV transmission. For A&PIs, an HIV-positive test result can shame and disgrace the individual, as well as the family and community.  By raising awareness and openly talking about HIV/AIDS, sexuality and sexual health issue, we can help to erase this stigma and reduce HIV transmission and its impact in API communities.

API Pride is an organization led by and for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent in Oregon. We provide safe and supportive environments and opportunities to celebrate, educate and bring our communities together. For questions or concerns, please contact us by email at api.pride@gmail.com or visit our blog:  http://api-pride.blogspot.com