Hey there Guys,
As you know I have just been over in New Zealand for the most amazing week at Bear New Zealand. As I mentioned in my post on Get It On! Bear New Zealand I was so deeply impacted by the warm welcome and strong sense of community that has been fostered not only by the creative team but also the many locals.
Very refreshing and exciting for me was how involved the New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF) is with the community. Sure they were present with the traditional sense at the Big Gay Out but for me it was their proactive presence at community events that makes the difference.
On the Big Gay Out there were plenty of hot guys sporting “Get It On!” tattoos. Judging by the lines to get one they were proving very popular. Condoms were abundant. Whether at the sauna, the dance parties or at the pub, there were condoms in easy access, small discrete packs that were simple to drop into my pocket as I left a venue.
As I mentioned above a strong community focus is a definite key to their success.
Take the role NZ icon Maihi has within the indigenous Maori community. Performing at one of the Bear events she not only welcomed us in traditional Maori style, she also demonstrates the NZAF’s dedication to ensure inclusion in all facets of GLBTI health care.[pb_vidembed title=”” caption=”” url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lo0lrWVNAuc” type=”yt” w=”480″ h=”385″]
Other perfect examples of community engagement included distributing ice blocks to the people enjoying the Tri-Nations dance party. I was so impressed to be offered a cooling treat while dancing to some awesome music.
While distributing ice blocks may not sound like a safe sex promotional activity it is actually more important than you think. It’s about awareness of our culture and understanding non interruptive ways to have an “open door” to future conversations and contact. This simple gesture is also an opportunity to check that people at the event were safe and well, and damn, who wouldn’t want an ice block offered by a sexy bloke mid dance set!
Getting down to HIV testing, NZAF has acknowledged many of the “bumps” when it comes to sexual health checks. One of the biggest blockades has been the one week wait for HIV test results. Those seven days can be very anxiety provoking, and nobody likes the “not knowing” for so long. NZAF now offer HIV testing in minutes, not days, with instant tests offered in their health rooms. They were even able to offer HIV tests at the Big Gay Out. Check out a review of this HIV testing experience at Aaron and Andy.com.
When it comes to the safe sex message, NZAF have chosen to head with one clear message: Get It On! This is not a fear based campaign, it is not purely directed at one particular HIV status, it’s simplicity is brilliant and implemented so well.
Another key to their success has been their willingness to offer clear messages in a format that is informative without “pussy footing” around issues like censorship frequently loved by the prudent homophobic factions of some political arenas. Their fantastic videos on safe anal sex are ground breaking. They offer clear, well researched and easy to understand vision and audio on how to have safe anal sex. Clearly demonstrating the importance of understanding their market, both bottoms and tops have their own video catering for both experiences.
I urge you to check out the fantastic website for the Get It On! campaign. http://www.getiton.co.nz/, in particular their page on how to have anal sex. [note videos are NSFW!] Be sure to check out the whole site, there is stacks of fantastic information inside.
I understand that there are many, many HIV/AIDS foundations out there that are doing such awesome work but today I thought it was important to share just how impressed I was with what a small community foundation has been able to achieve.
Today I also wanted to say a big thank you to the three winners of the NZAF packs as well as the signed Tri-Nations posters. So Humphrey, Pete and Dave, please contact me and I’ll be able to send your packages straight away.
Yours in good health.