Monday, August 04, 2014

PrEP Forum Far From Revolutionary 

The Gay Men's Community Initiative forum on Thursday, July 24 at MCC in the Castro was provocatively titled "Does PrEP = a New Sexual Revolution?", and it was a conversation in a safe space environment.

Let me start with what I thought was excellent about the forum. Approximately fifty men showed up, about a dozen wore TruvadaWhore shirts, microphones were used, some of the panelists had prepared points to make and several community members offered wonderful personal insight either about using Truvada or their sex lives.

The depth of concern for queer individual and communal wellness was proudly and unmistakable. Everyone was committed to preventing new HIV transmissions and keeping sexual liaisons fun, full of healing goodness and romantic.

But overall, for me, the meeting was frustrating and I left early because the conversation jumped all over the map, the agenda on the white board wasn't readable by everyone and we didn't follow it as far as I could tell, the lead moderator didn't give enough time for audience comments and frequently added his interpretation about what was said, and there wasn't a stack monitor.

(A stack monitor, for those who don't know, keeps a list of folks who raise their hands when it's time for comments, so speakers don't keep their hands up waiting anxiously to be called on.)

Here are my suggestions for future forums:

(1) Have a moderator who facilitates a chat, isn't too controlling and a stack monitor;

(2) Make sure the agenda is understood and visible to everyone;

(3) If there's a panel, keep it small, say, to only two or three speakers;

(4) Set adequate time aside just for comments from the audience;

(5) Audience comments should be between two and three minutes per speaker;

(6) Make an extra effort to have shy guys pipe up and share their thoughts.

I hope the organizers of the forum take my remarks and suggestions in spirit in which they are offered, to foster the best forums possible.

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