Tuesday, February 09, 2010

BAR, Clinton Fein:
Healthy Gay Men
Forum on Wednesday

An important town hall with the theme of Health Gay Men, is happening tomorrow night, Wednesday, February 10, starting at 7 pm at the San Francisco gay community center.

One of the panelists, longtime gay advocate and political advocate Clinton Fein, penned a great letter to the BAR, and I'm publishing it here to give it some extra attention. Clinton succinctly lays out why we're gathering for the meeting and the issues that will be discussed. Clinton also designed the fabulous banner ad image above, and you're free to copy and paste both the letter and ad to your site.

So stop by the LGBT center, hear what the panelists have to say, and add your own comments about any positive aspects of gay health today. We've set aside plenty of time to hear from community members.

Here's Clinton's letter, from the BAR, and click here to read his Wiki entry:

Remember that awful headline back in January 2008, "S.F. gay community an epicenter for new strain of virulent staph"?

It began with a San Francisco Chronicle article by Sabin Russell, which in essence "reported" on a University of California, San Francisco study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine related to a MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) study, which resulted in widespread misinformation and fear of a "pandemic," which could magically spread from gay men in the Castro to the "general population" (of which gay men were supposedly not included).

Binh An Diep, a researcher at San Francisco General Hospital and lead author of the report, contributed to a UCSF press release that mischaracterized the results of the study, resulting in a global blizzard of sensational headlines, immediately seized upon by the likes of right wing groups, demonizing gay men, and endangering everyone else by its absurd implications that the virus was contained within the gay community, or could only be contracted through gay sex.

Whether a MRSA pandemic resulted seems unlikely, given how little attention has been given to the matter since. You would think.

But MRSA infections are not only on the rise, they're even being linked to H1N1 (swine flu), and a new study by the Henry Ford Hospital's division of infectious diseases, released Sunday, relating to USA600 is alarming. As expected, being gay has nothing to do with neither the transmission nor incidences.

At the time, together with activists Michael Petrelis and the late Hank Wilson, we demanded that UCSF meet with us to help understand how they could have released such an ill-informed press release, and figure out what concrete and immediate steps they could take to ensure such a debacle never happened again.

Following a request in November 2009, in which I asked UCSF for an update on progress that had been made based on recommendations from our original meeting, we agreed to form a panel to discuss gay men's health by focusing on what was working, rather than having to deal with the constant drumbeat that something was wrong. And most importantly, to open up the dialogue to the community.

Far too many gay men, from school kids to seniors, are fed a constant diet of misinformation that inspires guilt and ends up perpetuating myths and stereotypes through a process of self-fulfillment. Media images, sometimes with the best intentions, serve to alienate and condemn people, impacting health in ways both psychological and physiological.

Our panel, "Healthy Gay Men: Messages, Media & Messes," includes Francis Broome, Black Coalition on AIDS, HIV educator and athlete; David Gonzalez, SF LGBT Community Center, Latino health educator; Bill Jesdale, gay health writer and community activist; Michael Scarce, gay health writer and community activist; and myself. It will be moderated by Shane Snowdon, director, LGBT Resource Center, UCSF.

We encourage you to join us. The panel takes place in the Ceremonial Room at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, 1800 Market Street (at Octavia), on Wednesday, February 10, beginning at 7 p.m.

No comments: