More to Me Than HIV

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More to Me Than HIV

First published in Gscene July 2020 For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library.For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library. For the project I spoke openly about my journey having being           Read more

More to Me Than HIV: GScene post Aug 2020

More to Me Than HIV is a project that aims to breakdown the stigma that has historically been attached to this virus.  When I saw my piece in last months Gscene to promote the More to Me Than HIV project, I was extremely proud, but a small part of me was filled with anxiety; but why should I feel this way? I have been on effective antiretroviral therapy since the Read more

More to Me Than HIV: first published in GScene July 2020

For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library. For the project I spoke openly about my journey having being             diagnosed HIV+ 32 years previous. Back then there was no treatment and a lot of fear and misinformation concerning how HIV was transmitted. As such stigma was rife, Read more

Health

More to Me Than HIV

First published in Gscene July 2020

For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library.For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library.

For the project I spoke openly about my journey having being             diagnosed HIV+ 32 years previous. Back then there was no treatment and a lot of fear and misinformation concerning how HIV was transmitted. As such stigma was rife, which caused me to not be vocal about my status outside of the safety of those HIV+ forums and groups.

I felt empowered by talking about my own HIV+ status at my place of work and was moved by those who spoke so eloquently and openly about living with an HIV+ diagnoses. Straight after the project had finished, I knew I wanted to build on what we had collectively presented.

From here the same team came on board and collectively we have shaped this years visual presentation for World AIDS Day 2020.

The photo project is called, More to Me than HIV; it’s main purpose is to help breakdown the stigma that many people living with an HIV+ diagnoses experience. The project will culminate in an online public gallery as well as a physical exhibition of photographs at Jubilee library and a selection of branch libraries across Brighton and Hove who are supporting the project by allowing us to use the space free of charge

We are inviting people from all communities, gay, straight, BAME and transgender, who are living with HIV to submit three photos: one self portrait, (format, vertical), and two other photos (cropped, squared to fit beside your portrait photo) These two images must convey other aspects of what makes you, you; from a hobby, your career or passion.

Please send three empowering words to accompany the images. We will format and add these to the partite image. 

Submissions will be exhibited on our online public gallery, which we will launch a week before World AIDS Day as part of the national HIV+ testing week.

From these submissions we will choose a cross section of 30 entries to make up our libraries exhibition. When submitting your photos, there will be an option to opt out of this part of the project and to have your images online only. 

From the 30 entires we would like to invite you to write  300 words (100 words for each image) to give further context to the images and what it means then we say there’s more to me than HIV. 

The team behind the project understand there be a lot of questions  participants want to ask which we will strive to answer via the website, here are a few that may come to mind.

Can I be assured of confidentiality?

Yes, we live with or are affected by HIV ourselves and recognise the importance of confidentiality. For example, when you subscribe to our email list, you don’t have to give your name, we only use it to politely address you.

How do I submit photos, which format should I use and size?

Send your photos by email to the webpage address, there will also be easy to follow details of what format and size we would like you to use.

How do you approve images?

We reserve the right not to use images that break any UK law, contain any hateful or obscene content, or are too small to represent on our platform without distorting the image.

What if I don’t want to be identified?

We will not attach any name to the portraits for the project. You may choose not to show your whole face in the portraits, however, we would like to encourage you to combat stigma by being visible.

I’d like to take part, but I’m uneasy as I’m not out about my HIV Status?

We recognise that choosing when and who to disclose your his positive status to can be difficult, as we have been there ourselves. You may want to choose this project as part of your disclosure strategy to show others how diverse we are. Being pictured with others may be of comfort to you, as you are not alone. 

If you would like to speak to an HIV positive Peer Support Volunteer, the Sussex offers a one to one bespoke service to help you stand with you on your journey.

Our website will be updated throughout the project as more questions come in so please do check the website. We look forward to seeing your images as we all stand together and say, there is so much more to name than HIV.

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Movember Update.

 

Glenn’s tach, 16 days later

16 days later and my tach is taking some shape…I’m even considering not growing my beard back. At the beginning of this project I wanted to raise £100, I’m getting close to that goal with £68.00 raised so far.

As fun as it has been to cultivate the hair on my lip for the last couple of weeks, I also wanted to highlight the reason why I, along with thousands of other men and their supporters are doing this…

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Return of the Names Quilt Project

Return of the Names Project.

Back in 1985 a man called Cleve Jones, was marching with hundreds of other people during a candlelit vigil. The March was in remembrance of the assignation of Harvey Milk. Through the 1970’s, Milk had campaigned for LGBT right in San Francisco. His campaign led him to be the first openly gay man to be elected into public office where he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.  Milks career was cut short when he, along with San Francisco’s Mayor George Moscone where both shot dead by Dan White, another Supervisor who had recently resigned from his job.

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Maggie! Maggie! Maggie! Out! Out! Out!

“Politicians, ugly buildings and whores, they all get respectable if they last long enough.” These words from actor john Huston in the film Chinatown, feel rather appropriate when considering the release of The Iron Lady, starring the scarily convincing Meryl Streep, as Maggie Thatcher.

Now that Thatcher no longer has the ability to breathe fire of fear into anyone, there will no doubt be those who will watch this film, championing the girl of a grocer, who came to power and promised her voters to make the world a better place…

Of course there are many who benefitted from Thatcher’s breaking up of the unions, selling off our utilities, and giving many people the opportunity to buy their council homes; but all to quickly the dream turned sour, with a generation now paying for a decade of excess and greed. But there is also a more sickening legacy from Thatcher’s era that the film makers have glossed over. These include; the introduction of Clause 28 and the lack of care or understanding regarding the devastating effect the AIDS crises would have on the UK’s gay community.

At the beginning of the AIDs epidemic in 1981 when large groups of gay men, drug users and hemophiliacs, began getting rapidly ill and dying, both Thatcher and Ronald Regan decided to ignore the impact this new disease was having. The national press was quick to flame the fire calling AIDS a ‘Gay Plague’. Those diagnosed with HIV found themselves treated with fear by the general public as well as the health professionals. For example in the early days of the disease, those seeking treatment would find health professionals using the  barrier method, wearing gloves, masks, gowns and hats; making those already feeling alienated even worse. However, there was a huge response from the LGBT community, with support groups springing up, doing much of the work that was lacking from the Conservative Government.

Six years into the epidemic, the Conservative Government brought us the Don’t Die of Ignorance campaign, which basically said ‘Abstain from sex and you’ll be fine.’ The campaign failed to address the real issues and year on year those diagnosed HIV+ has continued to rise.

In 1994 a new AIDS campaign was produced at the cost of £2 million pounds including a pocket guide “Your Pocket Guide to Sex” aimed at educating 16 – 25 year olds on safer sex. However, the Conservative Government got all hot under the collar and had the whole project deleted from existence, much to the disgust of its author, Nick Fisher.

“I don’t believe this government has teenagers’ interests at heart, it has become a political exercise to be seen to be stamping on things that are considered rude. Have they actually thought about how many teenagers are getting pregnant, how many are screwed up because they don’t know whether they are gay or straight, how many are not using condoms because they don’t know where to buy them or how to use them properly? If people are so messed up about sex that they deny its existence on such a massive scale, then there really is something wrong.”                             Nick Fisher.

Fast forward to present day and we find that once again Thatcher’s legacy living on, with the Conservative Government unwilling to provide funding for HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns.

With funding for HIV treatment costing the NHS 1bn per annum, there seems little reason to celebrate the mass destruction Thatcher has caused in her lifetime; and then there’s section 28.

Things first kicked off with the Daily Mail newspaper ranting that there was a campaign by the liberal left to pursued children to be homosexual, feeding the public with the idea that homosexuality was a choice which people could be persuaded to make. Books like Jenny lives with Eric and Martin were used in the propaganda war, with suggestions that such books were being used to undermine the heterosexual family.

Although no school was prosecuted, Clause 28 stopped many schools from teaching or talking about alternative sexualities, which without doubt had an effect on many young people growing up as either lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender with feelings that they are in some way wrong to have these feelings. It is all too easy to think there are many support groups like the brilliant Diversity Role Models for young LGBT teenagers to get in contact with, but back then there was no internet and just a couple of gay magazines which were only marketed at the older LGBT groups.

One of the best things to come from Section 28 was the way the LGBT community pulled together, stood united and fought back. Lesbians assailed into parliament, while others stormed onto the live set of the BBC’s Six O Clock News, with one woman managed to chain herself to Sue Lawley’s chair. From here, MP’s and famous actors like Sir Ian McKellen came out, as did film director, Derrick Jarman about being HIV positive. These high-profile people added their voices of support and helped form LGBT action support groups including Stonewall and OutRage and even a couple of protest songs

When the Labour Government came to power, they began to pave the way for the Clause to be removed from the statutory books. It is worth noting that those unelected people in power in the House of Lords tried time and time again to keep Clause 28 in place, however, the Clause was eventually scrapped by the Labour Government pushed through the abolishment of the clause on the 18th November, 2003.

Interestingly, when David Cameron was an unelected Conservative member, he spoke out against a repeal of Clause 28 and accused Tony Blair of being ‘anti family’. Although he has since apologized and said equality should be taught in schools, the new legislation, Sex and Relationship Education (SRE), guide mentions that schools are obliged as a minimum to talk on issues of HIV and AIDS, but there is still no legal requirement for schools to talk about LGBT relationships. This may certainly leave many young people believing the way they feel is wrong and unacceptable, showing just how Thatcher’s legacy continues to do more harm than good.

Instead of spending money on seeing Meryl do an impersonation of Thatcher, I have invested my money in the Chumbawamba single, a celebration of Thatcher’s demise to be released on the day she pops her steely clogs.

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in film, Health, HIV/AIDS, Human Rights, LGBT, Zhoosh 4 Comments

Count Down to World AIDS Day

A report from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) showed that last year, 3,000 gay and bisexual men received a positive HIV test, the highest since records first began twenty five years ago. This announcement can be seen in two ways; the ongoing campaign for sexually active people to be come forward and take an HIV test is proving a great success. On the other hand, the campaign urging people
to look after themselves and each other and practice safer sex is not getting through.

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“The Need to Renew the HIV+ Message.

30 years ago when the realisation that sexual intercourse was a dangerous pastime, everyone was bombarded by the Conservative’s safe sex television and leaflet campaigns. Images of icebergs and tombstones filled our consciousness along with the tag line, “Don’t die of ignorance.” From then on in the safer sex message cropped up in stage plays, (The normal Heart), films (Longtime Companion) and soap opera storylines, (Eastenders) reminding all of us almost on a daily bases that HIV existed and that as a LGBT community we had to take responsibility in looking after ourselves and each other, and we did. From the terror of what this virus was doing to people we loved, support groups sprung up in the backs of bars and people’s homes making sure the message of safer sex was out there, loud and proud and that anyone who needed
care and support received it. As the years have rolled by, the subject of HIV has slowly dwindled away from the wider public domain, with the issue given an airing to the masses once a year on December the 1st, World Aids Day. Read more

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in Health, HIV/AIDS, Human Rights, Positive Nation, THT 5 Comments

Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing.

All of us from time to time will have days when we just can’t find a smile to put on our face. Having a blue day, feeling under the weather, (particularly if that weather is stormy and grey) a bit depressing. Thankfully the majority of the time we find that by the end of the day we have found some way in resolving such matters and are able to wake up the next day with that smile firmly in place.

However, for some people getting up in the morning can become a daily challenge as they feel they can not face the world and in turn find themselves trapped. Such feeling may stem from, problems at work, money worries, relationship difficulties, coming to terms with your sexuality, particularly for those who are LGBT and living in a household that have expressed a dislike for all things “queer”. For others it may be receiving an HIV diagnoses and all the mixed emotions that can be potentially thrown up. Read more

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in Brighton & Hove, Health, HIV/AIDS, Human Rights, LGBT, THT, Zhoosh 5 Comments

30 Year Ban on Gay Men Giving Blood to be Lifted.

After thirty years, the lifelong ban on gay and bisexual men giving blood is set to be lifted later this year…with certain conditions attached. The main one being that a gay/bisexual man will only be allowed to donate blood as long as he has abstained from any sexual intercourse with another man for twelve months. The reason for such a time limit is due to what is known as the window of opportunity infection. For example, someone who may have had unprotected sex (sex without a condom) may take an HIV test and receive a negative HIV diagnoses, but this does not mean that HIV is not present in the blood. A further test, twelve months later is the only sure indication that the person is not carrying the virus.   Read more

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in Brighton & Hove, Health, HIV/AIDS, Human Rights, LGBT, THT, Zhoosh 3 Comments

Outdoor Positive: a walking group for eveyone affected by HIV.

Outdoor Positive.

The idea for Outdoor Positive, a group for anybody affected by HIV first came about when David, one of the main organisers of the group, got talking to a nurse at the Sussex Beacon.

“The conversation got round to the benefits of outdoor walks. I spoke about my time as a youth in the scout movement with many activities involving getting out into the countryside and the enjoyment I got from such activities.”

            David: Outdoor Positive.

Other people said how they didn’t really identify with the pub/ club scene so much and found the only time they connected with other HIV positive people was either through visits to the Sussex Beacon or the Lawson unit clinic. From this initial conversation a group was put together with the simple ethos meeting up away from the bars and clubs and to take a walk around the countryside of East Sussex. Word quickly got round of the new group and its first walk last year in March taking in the sights of Stanmer Park and the surrounding area. The team behind Lunch Positive were on hand to provide the refreshments with around thirty people turning up on the day. The feedback was extremely positive with many people saying how nice it was to get out and see parts of countryside that they had wanted to explore but would never have done so on their own. Since then Outdoor Positive have explored many different parts of East Sussex’s country side, with all the starting and finishing points accessible via public transport. Read more

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New LGBT Project for Brighton

LGBT Health Involvement Project

The staff at Terrance Higgins Trust Brighton has been working on a variety of new and exciting projects. New staff member Nick Douglas is the coordinator for a new initiative working with LGBT organisations in Brighton, (LGBT switchboard, THT South, Mind Out, Allsorts Youth Project, Brighton Both Ways and the Claire Project)     to get a better understanding of the core groups health needs. Read more

Posted on by Glenn Stevens in Brighton & Hove, Health, HIV/AIDS, Human Rights, Leisure, LGBT, THT, Zhoosh Leave a comment