Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fast Track Tuesday

Here we go again....Its mid-May and everything is everything! Early voting is underway with the Arkansas primary bouncing in next week. There's so much news, views, updates and links to share that COP 24/7 is in  "fast track" mode to get it all in somehow. Let's not waste a nano-second....

SGL Group "Strilite" Emerges
The emerging entity STRILITE, is a newly founded group formed in the fight to deal with HIV/AIDS in the state under the auspices of the D-Up HIV/ AIDS prevention program being facilitated by The Living and Affected Corporation. Pictured from the left to right: Will T. Kevin H., ADH Program Manager, Courtney Hampton, Johnathan G. and Derrick L.
In full disclosure, COP 24/7 has an ongoing collaborative relationship with The Living and Affected Corporation. The group is a Arkansas Department of Health sub grantee in the area of HIV Prevention. Our mutual concern and commitment to the issue of HIV and AIDS in Arkansas links us as allies and partners in demanding a comprehensive system of HIV care in the state. COP 24/7 fully endorses the mission of LA Corp is in efforts to promote empowerment and inclusion while decreasing the prevalence of the disease through education and advocacy. This forum believes that a holistic approach in conjunction with dealing with distinct social determinants must be apart of the mix in rebuffing this health crisis. The prevention grant awarded to the organization was designed to continue to address ongoing issues and barriers of HIV and AIDS, especially in the people of color communities that have been disportionately impacted by the disease. Within the scope of that award the prevention programming attached was centered on a diffusion of evidenced based platform entitled the D-Up program better known as "Defend Yourself." The basis of the community based intervention called for a group of black gay men to serve as conduits within the same gender loving community to discover "Opinion Leaders" who will facilitate communicating prevention messages to their inner and extended networks. As the program has developed, the core group has agreed that the branding and group philosophy will be central in their appeal and ability offer positive images that they have idenitifed as "missing in action" among Black gay men.

The name is rooted in the foundation that each participant had a shared vision of "striving for enlightenment." According to the organizers, "we have to deal with our present as it begins to impact our future." The genesis of the organization evolved from the D-Up curriculum which creates a frame from which participants can forge a self identified group that would resonate among its peers. Currently the group has established itself formally with Articles of Incorporation, internal structure and has decided to be "incubated" by The Living and Affected Corporation as it capacity building provider. The group.has embarked on a journey to play a significant role in becoming involved with setting policy and raising consciousness concerning the messages and services being crafted to serve Black gay men living and or affected by HIV and AIDS. They are developing a schedule of events including a HELP Fair slated for later in the year, developing a support group model, plus participating in HIV Awareness programs and utilizing social media outlets as a medium to share their organizational information and future programming. The organization can be contacted at strilite@gmail.com or Strilite Incorporated, P.O. Box 242281 Little Rock, Arkansas, 72227 The group will be based at 401 North Maple, Suite A in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on National Women’s Health Week

Starting with Mother’s Day, May 13, we are observing National Women’s Health Week; the theme this year is “It’s Your Time.” We can all celebrate the women in our lives during National Women’s Health Week by encouraging them to make the time to address their own health. Healthy, strong women are essential to having healthy strong children and communities, but too often women place the needs of others before their own needs.
Because of the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, being a woman will no longer be considered a pre-existing condition. Women with non-grandfathered health coverage or Medicare can now obtain preventive care, such as well-women visits, mammograms, pap smears, and cancer screenings without co-pays or other cost-sharing. National Women’s Checkup Day, May 14, serves as a reminder that women should schedule a visit with their doctor to discuss which screening tests they need. Regular checkups and appropriate screenings can help detect diseases early, when treatment is most effective.

Also in recognition of Mother’s Day, we want to let mothers-to-be know about Strong Start, the department’s initiative to safely reduce the rate of early elective deliveries and reduce preterm births among women covered by Medicaid by supporting innovative ways that providers and states use enhanced prenatal care. No child should have to deal with a lifetime of health problems because mothers did not have access to the right health care.

Celebrate National Women’s Health Week and encourage the women in our lives to make their health a priority.
To learn more about National Women’s Health Week and to find a National Women’s Health Week event in your community, visit www.womenshealth.gov/whw.

For more information on the Affordable Care Act and what it means for women, visit www.healthcare.gov.
To see The State of Women’s Health Video Townhall with Secretary Sebelius, visit http://www.healthcare.gov/blog/2012/01/video_townhall.html.
To see Women’s Health Living Room Discussions with Secretary Sebelius, visit http://www.healthcare.gov/videos/2012/03/womens-health-baltimore-discussions.html.
To learn more about the Strong Start initiative, visit http://www.innovation.cms.gov/initiatives/strong-start/.

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

In case you didn't know, COP 24/7 has not only a state side readership but according to our Google Analytics, we are truly a global read as well. With that said, it is imperative that this forum embrace the plight of those individuals who find themselves persecuted and in some cases murdered in foreign lands. Also this movement caught my eye as a former community ally Ryan Olson who also served locally at CAR, is apart of the "As I am" campaign. It often pains me that so many talented individuals have come through our city but seem not to be able to fulfill their passions and discover their place within it. The list of talented folks who attempted to make a difference in this town is varied and long. And many of you would be totally surprised as to who worked and lived in Little Rock.  In a future post, I will share those alumni and explore why we can't keep such talent in this community. Its no secret that the allure of "big city" living and "all things gay" within them have a siren call to individuals who believe that Little Rock is not progressive enough for them. I've lived with the "big girls in the big city" and its not all its cracked up to be. Of course there's "gayborhoods" as well as manner of interesting groups and mash-ups, but having staying power can be extremely challenging. Every time I get a chance to get back to that city vibe it is infectious to me and I experience the pull of the rhythm of the city. It's as if I never left it and somehow it knows that I've returned while ushering me into a sense of feeling metropolitian with a urban swag. I miss it and often I wonder if my energy is being wasted as I look around the landscape of this city.  In the meantime, take a moment to check out this e-blast from the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia organization. Then perhaps lite a candle, say a prayer, meditate, or share some of your time or treasure with a local organization trying to stay in the fight to assert our right to love, life and the pursuit of happiness in America.
An impressive global program for the 7th edition of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia is taking place around May 17th with hundreds of events planned in over 50 countries. The Day’s activities take place among growing international tensions between progressive developments and reactionary outbursts, including the now infamous Ugandan ‘anti-gay’ bill which again risks being passed in the Parliament this very week.

All over the world, thousands of activists are gearing up for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, also known by its acronym IDAHO. This year’s IDAHO will break records of mobilisation and outreach, as an estimated 50 million people will be exposed to campaign messages in about 50 countries, calling for an end to discrimination and violence against people on the grounds of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Amongst many noteworthy events, organisations in 14 countries across Latin America will unite in a common campaign and unfold dozens of public activities to denounce the ‘Cures that Kill’, the so-called ‘therapies’ to supposedly ‘cure’ sexual and gender diversity, often driving people to suicide. This regional campaign has launched an appeal and invites citizens across the world to support this call online.
Other breaking news include the presence on May 17th of Lady Gaga as guest Editor in Chief in the 17 national editions of the free daily ‘Metro’; the organisation of activities in 12 cities across China and the mobilisation of the Japanese LGBT in solidarity with the victims of the recent catastrophes, to name but a few. Events will also be organised in places as critical as Iraq, Indonesia, Uganda or Sri Lanka, and other countries with strict criminal laws where activists need extreme courage and expose themselves to permanent death threats.
States, cities, corporations and institutions also mark the Day. The European Parliament will hold a series of events, while many United Nations agencies unfold a range of declarations, publications and events, including a landmark publication encapsulating the most prominent UN statements on sexual orientation, gender identity and human rights, which is being translated and disseminated in a vast range of local languages by campaigners around the world.
The IDAHO Committee, the organisation which launched the Day in 2005, expresses its enthusiasm at the range and diversity of the mobilisation. IDAHO Committee founder Louis-Georges Tin notes : “Croatia and Nepal will probably very soon join the list of the countries, which includes Brazil, Mexico, France, the UK the Netherlands, etc… which have recognised the Day officially, giving one more sign that the Day increasingly becomes a major annual focus for action at all levels. In France for example, 12 ministries take official action on the Day”. “It is very impressive to see such a wave of activism, ranging from huge national marches like in Brazil or Turkey, to small community events” says Joel Bedos, international coordinator for the IDAHO Committee, “but it is also badly needed. Despite some recent progressive developments, with the recognition of same-sex marriage in Argentina and Mexico as important landmarks, the global climate is still predominantly one of fear, hatred and violence against sexual and gender minorities.”
The Day’s celebrations indeed take place within a very tense international context, for example in Uganda, the ‘anti-gay’ bill now risks being passed by the Parliament in forthcoming days, in spite of outrage both from regional, national, and international stakeholders.
The IDAHO Committee organisers also note that the issue of Transphobia is increasingly being addressed both by organisations and institutions. Says Sophie Lichten, a lesbian Trans women and vice-chairperson of the IDAHO Committee: “We need to remind everyone that all over the world Trans people bear a particularly heavy burden of violence, with Trans people being killed every day, as a report by the Trans Murder Monitoring project to be released on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia uncovers.”

To react against ignorance and hate, one of the IDAHO Committee’s initiatives this year is to create a global community of people uniting to celebrate diversity in nature but unity in spirit. “We named this campaign ‘As I Am’. The idea is to invite individuals to submit testimonials, artwork, photos or videos on what makes them special and beautiful” says Ryan Ubuntu Olson, campaign manager. “We invite all decision makers in the media, the blogosphere or Facebook pages to spread the word and contribute to the success of the day and its campaigns worldwide”.

For more information on activities and campaigns : www.dayagainsthomophobia.org
Media contacts : For general information, contacts of activists in countries, international projects : Joel Bedos, International coordinator (English, Spanish, German, French) jbedos@dayagainsthomophobia.org +33 (0)664715921
For historical perspective on the IDAHO and specifically activities in France :
Louis-Georges Tin, Chair (French, English)
lgtin@dayagainsthomophobia.org +33 6 19 45 45 52
For information on the ‘As I Am’ campaign Ryan ‘Ubuntu’ Olson, campaign manager (English) http://www.dayagainsthomophobia.org... contact@dayagainsthomophobia.org + 1 303 587 8126

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