We are proud to report on the amazing work of Center staff at The 2012 Gay Men’s Health Summit held July 20-21 at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Since 1999, the Gay Men’s Health Summit has worked to lay the groundwork for an expanded activist gay, bisexual, and transgender men’s health movement in the United States.
This year the summit was organized around eight core issues:
- Exploring the longings for intimacy and connection with other men and the social structures, networks, and ideologies that promote or prevent such connections.
- Understanding the meanings of anal sex, penetration, and the exchange of semen and exploring the relationships between various racial, ethnic, and class-based masculinities and anal sex practices.
- Addressing the emotions, pleasures, and wounds emerging from childhood and adolescent experiences with boys and men.
- Tapping into the sources of resilience, creativity, determination, humor and playfulness in diverse gay men’s cultures.
- To support the healing from trauma: violence, abuse, homophobia, racism, poverty, AIDS and addiction.
- Examining the ways transgression, risk, and cultural taboos interact with gay men’s sexual desires, practices, and subcultures.
- Confronting the ways in which privileged youth masculinities present challenges to, and opportunities for, the well-being of men as they grow older.
- Reviving and recreating community rituals, social structures, and networks to replace those lost during the most intense years of the AIDS crisis.
The workshops conducted by our talented Community Services Directors included:
Celebrating Male Diversity: Emotional Support and Community Building for Trans-Men
Andres Hoyos, MS, LCSW, NYC LGBT Center
Making decisions about their bodies and talking about isolation and depression are often difficult topics for trans-men to discuss. For this reason, the space created at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York City is vital for trans-men to be able to connect with others. The goal is to increase knowledge and strengthen minds and confidence in the ways trans-men think about health and wellness while sharing experiences and celebrating their manhood.
During the meetings, we discussed identity, sexuality, sexual desires, safety, community and taking control of our lives. There is a real fear within the trans-male culture of talking about mental health. This workshop sought to normalize the conversation by facilitating a discussion around the similarities between cis-gendered gay men and trans-men. The workshop fostered a respect for the diversity of trans-men and focused on building healthy relationships between gay trans-men. The group also confronted trans-phobia among masculine identities and feelings about being gay by celebrating trans-identities as an important part of the continuum of masculine identities.
Magical Transformations: Work done by, for and with Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Immigrants
Andres Hoyos, MS, LCSW, NYC LGBT Center, and Luis Nava-Molero
This interactive workshop explored the unique challenges and strengths of working with GBT immigrants in a community based organization in NYC and the different modalities of work done with them. These include: outreach, assessment, referrals, individual counseling and support groups, support for asylum seekers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, community events, trainings and advocacy using peers, peer-professionals, and professionals. The impact of substance abuse and HIV prevention (primary and secondary) on the population will be discussed, as well as the overall impact of moving people from a place of need to empowerment and finally to becoming agents of change. The presentation was based on knowledge gained after seven years of working with more than 600 immigrants from over 50 different countries, where a considerable amount of the work has been providing support for asylum seekers and fighting isolation through promoting community building.
Not Quite Ready to Quit, Motivating Gay and HIV Positive Men to Quit Smoking/Smoke Free Queer Man: Eliminating health disparities in our communities/Policy & PrideFest: Impacting the Health of Our Queer Communities through Effective Tobacco Prevention & Control Policies
Andres Hoyos, MS, LCSW, NYC LGBT Center
This interactive workshop provided participants with current research on the interaction between tobacco use, cigarette and cigar smoking, general health, and HIV related health risks. In addition, minority stress in gay, bisexual, transgender and other men who have sex with men and the vulnerability to initiate tobacco use or difficulty in quitting, was discussed. The presentation consisted of myths and facts about smoking and health, information about support to quit smoking, and nicotine replacement therapies especially for people living with HIV/AIDS. Participants engaged in the “decisional balance” approach to increase personal motivation and explored challenges and barriers to taking action. Participants viewed and learned how to use social media in smoking cessation and other behavioral change. In addition, information about how the Center has put in place a comprehensive approach to the issue by participating in community organizing, advocacy and public policy around smoking cessation was discussed.
“Getting There from Here” The Ongoing Effects of Crystal Meth on Gay Men and the Use of Harm Reduction and Abstinence-Based Interventions in Treatment
Antonio Ruberto, Jr., LCSW, CASAC, NYC LGBT Center and
Josh Riley, LPC, NCC, Whitman Walker Health
Over the past several years, crystal meth has become entrenched within our community creating a call to action among service providers not seen since the early days of the AIDS epidemic. While this drug continues to be highly visible among gay white men, there is increasing evidence of its use by other members of our community.
Historically there has often been a divide between the recovery community and practitioners of harm reduction. Whether real or imagined, this divide perpetuates the belief that these two approaches are mutually exclusive and in conflict with one another. Can harm reduction and abstinence-based recovery work together in a way that is complementary? Can these two seemingly different approaches support and motivate change in users?
This workshop explored the continued effects crystal meth is having on all gay men, including gay men of color. The importance of examining the use and abuse of crystal meth within a larger framework of gay men’s health (mental health, physical health including HIV and Hepatitis C, trauma history) provided participants with a holistic view on how to more effectively approach treating gay men struggling with this addiction.
The presentation explored different treatment approaches that operate from both a harm reduction and abstinence-based perspective. Examples from evidence-based treatment interventions, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, contingency management, and others from a variety of settings, were used to illustrate how harm reduction and abstinence-based recovery can work together to support individuals to achieve their substance use and sobriety goals.
Men Becoming Parents
George Fesser, LMSW, NYC LGBT Center, John Weltman, Esq. and Emily Sonier, LICSW, Circle Surrogacy and Dr. Ann Kiessling, Director of Bedford Stem Cell Research Foundation
This workshop was open to all men and focused on the specific needs of gay, bisexual, and transgender men who are HIV positive and interested in learning more about how they can become parents. Information focused on biological methods of reproduction with the use of a surrogate and egg donor, but information was also provided for other parenting alternatives. Participants at this workshop obtained knowledge regarding artificial insemination, sperm washing, surrogacy, parenting partnerships and other methods for becoming a parent.