Category Archives: Gay Health

National Latina/o AIDS Awareness Day

Aids_latino_awareness Today the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) honors National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD). Held annually on October 15, the final day of Hispanic Heritage Month, NLAAD helps raise awareness about the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS in Latino communities throughout the United States and its territories. “The importance of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day cannot be overstated,” says NMAC Executive Director, Paul Kawata. “Like all minority communities, Latinos have experienced increases in HIV infections related to a myriad of social determinants, including lack of access to health care, education and housing.” Indeed, updated HIV incidence data released by the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in August revealed that Hispanics accounted for 17 percent of new infections in 2006, even though they represent only approximately 13% of the U.S. population.

NMAC’s encourages everyone to visit the NLAAD website to find out more about local events honoring the day. NMAC has assisted in raising awareness about HIV/AIDS in Latino communities in several ways. The opening plenary of the agency’s annual United States Conference on AIDS, held this past September 18-21 in Fort Lauderdale, FL, focused on the Latino AIDS crisis. Facilitated by Univision and the Kaiser Family Foundation, with support from the Latino Commission on AIDS, the plenary featured a special screening of the first HIV/AIDS-related Spanish language public service announcement (PSA) targeting Latinos called “Soy” ("I am"). The PSA will debut on Univision and its affiliatestoday. (For more information about Soy, go here.)

Aids_virus “We are dedicated to attaining better data to assess the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Latinos communities, particularly in Puerto Rico,” says Ravinia Hayes-Cozier, Director of NMAC’s Government Relations and Public Policy Division. “The revised CDC numbers are a great place to start in this discussion, but did not include Puerto Rico. This represented a rather major elision, in light of the 11,000 people known to be living with HIV/AIDS on the island. NMAC was further disheartened to learn that the CDC recently announced that it will not be funding Puerto Rico to use the new HIV tracking technology that generated the updated data in the first place.”

To ensure that all Latino communities are included in future HIV incidence and prevalence reports, NMAC and its People of Color AIDS Partnership partners – including Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center, The Balm In Gilead, The Black AIDS Institute, BIENESTAR, National Association of People with AIDS, National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, and National Native American AIDS Prevention Center – are working on a paper about the AIDS epidemic in Puerto Rico for release in 2009.

For more information visit or click on any of the related links provided above.

Corpus Christi

Corpus Terrence McNally’s controversial play Corpus Christi is playing at the Rattlestick Theatre, New York City, October 14-26. Nic Arnzen directed.

Corpus Christi is a retelling of the Jesus story, updated to 1950s Corpus Christi, Texas. Originally opening ten years ago at the Manhattan Theatre Club to intense protest and bomb threats it disturbed conservative Christiana with its depiction of a "Gay Jesus."

The cast includes Nic Arnzen (Peter), Amanda Axelrod (Simon), Jan Ambler (Andrew), James Brandon (Joshua), Steve Callahan (Judas Iscariot), Melissa Caulfield (John the Baptist), Elizabeth Cava (Matthew), Mark "Colby" Colbert (James), Steve Hasley (Bartholomew), Molly O’Leary (Thomas), David Pevsner (Philip), Sheilagh Polk (James the Less — Week One), Scott Presley (James the Less — Week Two), and Suzanne Santos (Thaddeus).

Presented by the LA-based 108 Productions, this revival is performed in honor of Matthew Shepard, whose brutal murder occurred just 24 hours prior to the play’s world premiere in 1998. Proceeds from the show  benefit The Matthew Shepard Foundation, now also in its 10th anniversary, in support of their efforts to "Erase Hate" in today’s society. For more information, visit

My nomination for the Democratic Convention keynote address…

HIV/AIDS, for those of you still paying attention, has not gone away. It is ever so slightly treatable still, but thousands are still dying from it, and for many the treatment is as horrible as the disease. Still, I talk with teacher friends…many of whom still remember the horrible deaths of many friends…and they are dumbstruck by how students today simply think HIV/AIDS is a treatable, manageable disease.

Sixteen years ago…what seems like an eternity now, my friend Bob Hattoy addressed the Democratic National Convention. Bob and I used to drive to work together every morning in Los Angeles. He worked for Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky. I worked for Councilwoman Peggy Stevenson, back before the idea of West Hollywood as a separate municipality was even a glimmer in a few GLBT eyes. I moved to New York. Hattoy moved into the national political scene and excelled in the two areas that remain singularly important even today: health and ecology (actually, sort of the same thing, really…personal health is personal ecology. World ecology is world health). As regional director for the Sierra Club in Los Angeles, he was noticed by the Clintons, who brought him into their campaign as their environmental counsel.

In this age of "treatable" "manageable" HIV/AIDS, Bob died from complications of HIV/AIDS, as they say, last year. His voice and spirit should be remembered:

WC77 – Owner’s Manual

Just Say Hello
Feeling Welcome as a Health Concept

By Jeff Huyett

Many of us live in a state of dis-ease. This is not to say that we have an illness that eats away at our body. But we often exist with feelings of nervousness, worry, and just not feeling comfortable in our surroundings. The focus of these columns has been the exploration of the concepts of health. I like to challenge us to think outside the dominant paradigm of our capitalist, sickness treatment model of health care. When we view wellness as a dynamic, multi-faceted state toward which we strive, we must attend to our selves and also to the world outside ourselves with which we interact each day. We have all had the feeling of “not belonging” somewhere. How do these feelings impact our health, especially when they are a recurring sensation?

Recently I visited friends in Puerto Rico. We spent lots of time walking around and going out to eat. During the course of our excursions, I noticed that most of the other Puerto Ricans would nod or say “hola” to my friends. When I mentioned this, one friend said, “Isn’t it great! When I lived on the mainland, I missed that most. People here, all over the island, greet me. I don’t get that anywhere else in the US.” It reminded me of when I moved from a moderate-sized city in Missouri to rural Kansas. When my family would drive down a country road or small highway, people would lift a finger off the steering wheel, wave or nod. At first, we were tickled. But then we realized that this was a great way of making us feel comfortable in this place. It said, “Hi, I see you, I’m here with you, have a good day.” It is a ritual that I see expressed in country Kansas still today.

As queer people, we may sense feeling “out-of-place” over and over each day. There are seldom times when strangers nod or wave welcome to our big Gay self. Naturally, we don’t want to feel this dis-ease so we try to adapt. We may just avoid places or situations in which we don’t feel welcome. We may alter how we act or look or even lead a dual existence. In our “Gay places” we are one way, in “straight places” we are different. What work it is to keep this up! That is where coming out is a lifetime experience. We try to find places of comfort and ease. Often, it is about deciding not to really care about how people perceive or react to us. We can change how we respond and react. We try to control our own internal processes as a way to feel comfortable. But again, so much work!

Some of us don’t adapt so well. We get stuck in culturally imposed values and often turn them in on ourselves in hurtful ways. We begin to develop maladaptive ways to feel comfortable. It can happen on all realms of our being. We may drink or use drugs, including prescribed versions. Our sex acts may express themselves in ways that respond to our homophobic culture. Instead of acting on our desires in public, like straight people can, we may keep our sex in dark places out of any view of others. We may build muscles to appear more strong and manly—more “straight.” These acts of hiding may fuel our shame and guilt; compounding our dis-ease. Sometimes just “keeping up appearances” is plain exhausting.

Workplaces are another place that queer people can face daily challenges of feeling unwelcome. We all have the experience of near-mandatory participation in wedding or baby showers. We endure talk about fiancés, boyfriends or girlfriends, bridezilla experiences, often without being able to share in the same way. Sometimes, though, we should just share. In “butch” work environments we might have daily fear of disclosure of our Gayness and the impact on our colleagues. We can even fear for our safety.

As a nurse, I’m keen to the impact of these issues on one’s health. It can present itself in so many ways. So I assess queer patients for maladaptive behaviors. Identifying these types of health patterns gives information about the work to become healthy. Typically, there aren’t a lot of physical disease states that occur specifically related to our Gay sex. But our health is impacted by homophobia or transphobia and potential maladaptive behaviors develop.

What is your comfort zone about being Lesbian, Gay, bisexual or transgender? How much work do you put into “passing” in the greater world? How do you get support around being LGBT? Who knows? How is your family?

LGBT health and political activists are aware of the impact of homophobia on an individual’s health. The last three decades we’ve witnessed their work to make our society more civil and welcoming to queer folk. Mainstream culture has responded to this activism in positive ways that lets us be Gay in more places. Clearly, there is plenty of work yet to be done. Some of this happens on grander, policy and legal levels. But much of it happens in our individual relationships with the non-Gay people around us. When we are comfortable and authentic with ourselves then we can share that with the majority straight public.

This is just an excerpt from this issue of White Crane.   We are a reader-supported journal and need you to subscribe to keep this conversation going.  So to read more from this wonderful issue SUBSCRIBE to White Crane. Thanks!

Owner’s Manual is a regular feature of White Crane. Jeff Huyett is a nurse practitioner in NYC. His clinical work has primarily been in Queer health with a focus on HIV, rectal and transgender care. He is the Radical Faerie Daisy Shaver and is involved with the development of Faerie Camp Destiny Radical Sanctuary in Vermont and can be reached at

Anal Health

72cover_2 A year ago, White Crane health columnist, Jeff Huyett, wrote an important piece on anal health and HPV-related cancer in Gay men in an article HPV…Yes! I’m Talking to You! This is a problem that is not going to go away on its own, and as usual, unless Gay men take care of themselves, no one else will.

Now (an excellent health resource) has a piece about further science and treatment options for Gay men. A leading HIV specialist and two HIV-positive men who’ve survived anal cancer argue that anal Pap smears are lifesavers…for Gay men as well as women.

Until 50 years ago, cervical cancer was the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in the United States. It now ranks 15th. Experts credit a simple procedure called a Pap smear—in which a doctor swabs the cervix and sends the sample to a lab to check for abnormalities—for the plummeting death rates. Now some treatment opinion leaders are saying that Pap smears around back may help protect against anal cancer, notably among HIV-positive men and women who may already be facing a higher risk of this potentially fatal disease.

Don’t die of ignorance…love your sexlove yourself…check out

New from Sandi Dubowski…


Opens Wednesday, May 21!
May 21 – Tue May 27:
11:20am, 1:15pm, 3:10, 5:05, 7:00, 9:30pm

"Revealing and moving… a gifted filmmaker." – Wall Street Journal


A groundbreaking look at Gay and Lesbian Muslims, A JIHAD FOR LOVE uncovers a hidden face of the world’s fastest-growing religion. Shot over five years in 12 countries and produced by Sandi Simcha Dubowski (Trembling Before G-d) this moving documentary explores reconciling faith with sexuality in societies where "debauchery" can be punished by imprisonment and even death.

Embodying the literal meaning of jihad as "inner struggle," the film’s subjects reveal the hopes of a community fighting for its place in the heart of Islam.

Uncommon Sense…


Killer Gay Sex!

by Tony Valenzuela

The clueless tabloid and public health hysteria over man-on-man sex may be hindering HIV prevention efforts. From an imaginary "super strain" of HIV to the sci-fi MRSA superbug: What is it about Gay sex that makes U.S. health officials want to play Chicken Little with AIDS prevention and public safety?

In February 2005, a New York man with a multidrug-resistant strain of HIV and a crystal meth dependency became the source of the most reported AIDS story of the decade, but he had never, until now, spoken about his trying ordeal.  A slew of chilling claims was made about this man – that he carried a new, more virulent strain of HIV dubbed a "supervirus" that progressed from infection to AIDS in as little as two months; that his meth-induced promiscuity would instigate a deadly epidemic potentially undoing a quarter century of progress against HIV; that he signified what many in the Gay community had been dreading would occur, given that Gay men—stubbornly, recklessly—refused to give up their uniquely nefarious brand of promiscuity.  It is, then, no less remarkable that these allegations that gripped the world with renewed fears of Gay plague proved comprehensively false, yet the cycle of alarm that equates Gay men with disease—as seen once again this past January in San Francisco with a drug-resistant "Gay staph" scare—continues unabated to this day.  By the time the man with the "supervirus" disappeared from the headlines, those still paying attention would learn he did not have a never-before-seen strain of HIV nor did he set off a new epidemic.  Instead, he carried a very rare and difficult-to-treat multidrug-resistant virus that is today fully suppressed as he adheres to a complicated regimen of antiviral medications.

In Paris, the same year the "supervirus" story broke, the late Gay-rights pioneer and scholar Eric Rofes declared to an audience of international activists, "The pathologizing of Gay men’s communities and cultures and spaces is the most powerful challenge we face to promoting Gay men’s health."  Three years later, this man’s story lays bare how far too many who work and report on Gay health narrowly imagine the sex lives of Gay and bisexual men inside a realm of disease and dysfunction. 

This article continues at