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Guest Blogger: Facing AIDS Press Release

22 Nov

Today’s guest blogger, Kristy Scott from CARES, brings us important information about the Facing AIDS campaign!

In July 2010 our president—Barack Obama announced the National HIV/AIDS strategy (NHAS). The National HIV/AIDS strategy’s vision is stated below:

 

“The United States will become a place where new HIV infections are rare and when they do occur, every person, regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or socio-economic circumstance, will have unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination”

 

The National HIV/AIDS Strategy has 3 main goals:

  1. To reduce new HIV infections
  2. To increase access to care and improve health outcomes for people livng with HIV.
  3. To reduce HIV-related health disparities

 

At my internship site, Community AIDS Resource and Education Services (CARES) we want to help do our part in implementing and supporting the National HIV/AIDS stategy. This is why we are in support of the Facing AIDS Campaign started by www.aids.gov. The Facing Aids campaign is a way to get everyone involved in fighting HIV stigma and supporting the goals outlined above by our president. This World AIDS Day December 1st, 2011 CARES is launching our local support and involvement in the “Facing AIDS” campaign.

 

President Barack Obama made it clear when unveiling the NHAS that Implementing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) does not fall to the Federal Government alone. Success will require the commitment of all parts of society, including state, local and tribal governments, businesses, faith communities, philanthropy, the scientific and medical communities, educational institutions, people living with HIV, and others.

 

This means all of us need to do our part! Every individual, business, non profit, government, etc. are all responsible for the success of the NHAS. As busy individuals going to school, work, raising our families, and struggling with our own troubles it is sometimes hard to recognize how HIV/AIDS affects all of us. When one of our fellow citizens becomes infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) every nine-and-a-half minutes, is becomes evident that the epidemic affects all Americans. I want to encourage the Kalamazoo community, as well as all of humanity to recognize that when HIV affects one person in our community, it affects all of us. Therefore, it is going to require all of us coming together as a society to combat the effects of HIV/AIDS in the communities that make up our great nation.

 

The Facing AIDS campaign takes photos of individuals in support of the NHAS holding a sign that says why they are facing aids today. Please come into CARES at 629 Pioneer St., Kalamazoo MI, 49007 and support the cause by taking your very own Facing AIDS picture! On December 1st we will unveil all the pictures taken in our main lobby of our . Please come by and see the unity of our community supporting the NHAS on December 1st. Remember we are all in this together! Come and support your community, state, and nation in fighting for health, equality, and support for all of those living in your community regardless of HIV status.

 

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Cross Post: 5 sources of assumptions and stereotypes about S&M

24 Oct

This article was originally posted at Clarisse Thorn: Pro-Sex Outreach, Open-Minded Feminism. It is written by Clarisse Thorn, a wonderful sex-positive activist and blogger.

Why do BDSMers often feel bad about being into S&M? Why do so many of us freak out once we discover our BDSM identity, or live in secret and repress our desires, or write only under false names, or fear openly joining the S&M community, or ….

Well, here’s a particularly sad example of how bad some of us feel. A BDSMer friend works as a therapist who does couples counseling. He once told me about a couple who had some random argument in his office — the argument, apparently, wasn’t even about sex — during which the wife lost her temper and turned away from her husband. “You know what this freak likes?” she snapped, and proceeded to describe her husband’s biggest fetish. Her husband looked humiliated and was quiet.

Now, from the perspective of my kinky counselor friend and my kinky self, the husband’s fetish wasn’t particularly weird — in fact it seems much tamer than, say, my own desire to have needles slid through my skin — but I can see how the fetish would seem weird to the mainstream. More importantly, it was obvious that this poor kinkster’s wife had been using his fetish as her ace in the hole — her secret back-pocket weapon — for quite a long time. Whenever she wanted to shut him up or shame him, she just mentioned his Deep Dark Fetish and he was silenced and shamed.

So. Obviously, there are a lot of poisonous assumptions and stereotypes surrounding S&M. There are so many of them that lots of kinksters have taken them into ourselves: not only do we fear society’s judgment, but we also feel tons of anxiety from internalized social norms.

And yet I’ve come upon people who tell me that the stereotypes around S&M “aren’t that bad”. I’ve had people (even other BDSMers!) tell me that all our anxiety is internal, that society is totally okay with S&M and if we’d just quit indulging our “victim complex” then everything would be fine. In fact, one person read my coming-out story — in which I wrote about the internal struggle and panic I experienced when I came into my BDSM identity — and snidely said that I was “just being dramatic”.

Then there are people who tell me that S&M is “mainstream”, which is just plain ridiculous. I can see the argument that very mild kink has gone mainstream, at least among young liberals: hickeys, silk scarves, mild choking, mild spanking, and furry handcuffs. Yeah, lots of people try those things, and you’d have a hard time finding a (young, white, well-educated) person who condemns them. But you know what’s not mainstream in any group? Needles in one’s back; blood. Screams for mercy; tears. What appalled me, during my coming-out process, was discovering my need for agony. And I assure you, my anxiety and my self-disgust were real. I wasn’t “making it up to be dramatic”.

Apparently, though, giving examples of BDSMers who feel (or felt) awful about ourselves isn’t enough, so I started thinking about how I internalized that disgust. How did I develop my stereotypes of S&M? I can remember people in my teens joking about how I’m so aggressive, I ought to be a dominatrix; I even remember a girl who brought a whip to summer camp and lent it to me for a costume party. And for years before my own awakening, I was aware that some of my friends were into “that stuff”. Given these positive messages, where did I pick up the negative messages? To put it in academic terms: where can I find instances of BDSM stigma?

Here they are: Continue reading