Friday, September 28, 2012

Raninbow Sways and Shifts

Oh Christina!

I don't know about you, but sometimes I not sure what to make of Christina Aguilera and her music. However, it seems that she still keeps bumping out catchy tunes with interesting videos to boot and for some unknown reason, I tend to like a few of them.  As a judge on NBC's hit show, The Voice, she makes judgement calls each week on other up and coming artist, as she whirls around in those nifty big chairs that light up. In this current video Ms. A goes glam gaudy as a seemingly man chasing destroyer babe and apparently loving it. I imagine that this character is what  "Honey Boo Boo," might grow up to be.  It may not be a hit, but it made for a great distraction and in the meantime let the weekend roll! We are over and out as we join the men of STRILITE, The Living Affected Corporation and community service providers at the first ever HELP Fair. Details to come next week. Stay locked and loaded to COP 24/7 to make sure that you are always in the loop!!!! Don't forget to hit us up with your story ideas, tidbits, backtalk and shout out's. We love hearing from you!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Raising Awareness Thursday

Affordable Care Act funds to enhance quality of care at community health centers

More women to be screened for cervical cancer
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced new grants that will improve the quality of care at community health centers and ensure more women are screened for cervical cancer. The grants will help 810 community health centers become patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs) and increase their rates of cervical cancer screening.
“Our health centers are committed to providing high quality health care services and today’s awards help continue these efforts,” said Secretary Sebelius.

The patient-centered medical home is a care delivery model designed to improve quality of care through better coordination, treating the many needs of the patient at once, increasing access, and empowering the patient to be a partner in their own care.

Today’s awards will provide assistance to 810 health centers as they make the practice changes, such as improved care coordination and management, that are necessary to become patient-centered medical homes. The awards will also support health centers’ efforts to increase the percentage of women screened for cervical cancer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 12,000 new cases of cervical cancer and more than 4,000 deaths will occur across the United States in 2012 as a result of this preventable disease. Patients who receive their health care in a patient-centered practice have been shown to receive a higher rate of preventive services, including cervical cancer screening.

A list of grantees receiving Quality Improvement in Health Centers Supplemental Funding is available
To learn more about the Affordable Care Act, visit

For more information about HRSA’s Community Health Center Program, visit
To find a health center in your area, visit

National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Each year on September 27 we observe National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NGMHAAD) to reflect on, and recommit to reducing, the heavy toll that HIV continues to take on gay and bisexual men, who remain at the epicenter of the U.S. HIV epidemic.
Kevin Fenton CDCNew HIV Infections
HIV affects all segments of American society—individuals, families, and communities—and does not discriminate across race, gender, or age. However, since the beginning of the epidemic in the United States, gay and bisexual men—referred to as men who have sex with men (MSM) in CDC data systems—have been hardest hit by HIV, and HIV continues to threaten their health.
In fact, gay and bisexual men who represent approximately 2% of the U.S. population, accounted for 61% of all new HIV infections, and MSM
Dr. Kevin Fenton
with a history of injection drug use accounted for an additional 3% of new infections in 2009. These estimates of new HIV infections among MSM have remained stable overall in the most recent years from which incidence data is available—2006-2009.
From 2006 to 2009, new HIV infections among MSM aged 13–29 years increased about 34%, and among black/African American MSM in that age group new HIV infections increased about 48%. In 2009, about 22% of new infections among MSM were among young black/African American MSM, the highest number of new infections among any age or race/ethnicity group of MSM. These numbers are disturbing and unacceptable.

Reaching Those at Risk
CDC’s high-impact prevention approach ensures resources are directed to activities that will have the greatest effect on reducing HIV among gay and bisexual men. For example, last year CDC awarded 5-year grants to 34 community-based organizations to expand HIV prevention services for young gay and bisexual men of color, transgender youth of color, and their partners.

Furthermore, CDC aimed to scale up HIV testing among African Americans and Latinos through its MSM testing initiative. The goal of the initiative is to establish and evaluate an HIV testing and linkage to care program to identify HIV-infected MSM previously unaware of their infection and link them to HIV medical care.

To raise awareness about the threat of HIV to the health of gay and bisexual men, CDC has released two Act Against AIDS campaigns that include messages for gay and bisexual men. The first, Testing Makes Us Stronger, encourages black gay and bisexual men to get tested for HIV. The campaign includes national and local advertising, materials distribution in targeted cities, a Facebook Exit Disclaimer page, and a dedicated website Exit Disclaimer. The Let’s Stop HIV Together Exit Disclaimer campaign raises awareness about HIV and its impact on the lives of all Americans, and fights stigma by showing that people living with HIV come from all walks of life. They are mothers, fathers, friends, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, partners, wives, and husbands.

Fighting the Epidemic
The gay community once led the nation to fight the spread of HIV and AIDS—today is a day to recommit to the fight. We all have a personal responsibility to know our HIV status, protect our health and the health of our loved ones and our communities.

CDC recommends sexually active gay and bisexual men be tested for HIV infection at least annually. CDC suggests more frequent testing (every 3 to 6 months) for gay and bisexual men at high risk—including those who have multiple or anonymous partners, who have sex in conjunction with illicit drug use, or whose partners participate in these activities. To find overall health information for gay and bisexual men, go to:

To find additional information about National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and resources for action visit

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Streaming in an Overdrive, Part 2

September 27 is National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Men who have sex with men (MSM) remain the population most affected by the HIV epidemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NGMHAAD), September 27, is an opportunity for gay men everywhere to recommit to the fight to ending the epidemic. Started in 2008 by the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA), NGMHAAD calls on gay men to lead the movement to end the epidemic by knowing their status, demanding access to care and support services for those who are positive, and using safer practices consistently to prevent further transmission.

AIDS United's Interim President Victor Barnes will speak at the NGMHAAD press conference on September 27 at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., and Vice President of Policy and Advocacy Ronald Johnson will serve as a panelist during the NGMHAAD conference in Washington, D.C. on September 28. For more information about NGMHAAD, click here.

Congressional Update II:
Countdown to Sequestration

One hundred and two days to the dreaded sequester.

Last year, as part of the Budget Control Act (BCA) legislation, Congress put in place a mechanism to trigger automatic spending cuts that both sides of the political spectrum hated to ensure that a compromise on deficit reduction was reached. A compromise was not found, so the automatic cuts, known as sequestration, will occur on January 2nd unless Congress takes action before that time. Avoiding the sequester is a top priority for the lame duck Congressional session.

The Office of Management and Budget complied with a recently enacted law to produce a report on how sequestration would be implemented. On September 14 th the Obama administration released the report showing estimated spending cuts program-by-program. The report estimates most programs, including domestic health and public health programs, would be cut by 8.2% if sequestration is carried out. These cuts would be on top of the cuts already enacted under the BCA.

Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein has renamed sequestration with a longer but more accurate description: "The Big Dumb Spending Cuts That Nobody Wants." Klein was featured in a segment on MSNBC's The Ed Show with Bob Greenstein, President and Founder of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). To watch the full segment, including Greenstein's comments, click here . The interview with Greenstein begins at 5:15 min mark - ends at 8:30 min mark.

Multiple groupings of Congress Members are meeting to work on plans, both grand scale and stop-gap, to avoid the sequester. Stop gap plans would give Congress time to make realistic deficit reduction proposals, including tax reform to increase revenue and more thought out plans to cut spending for defense and non-defense discretionary programs. President Obama continues to state he will not sign any legislation to change the sequester that does not include both revenue enhancements and spending cuts. Nearly all the plans suggested so far have only included spending cuts. AIDS United has continuously called for a balanced approach to solve the fiscal crisis facing the country with increased revenue and smart cuts to all programs, including defense.

We continue to need to educate the community and Members of Congress on the importance of the non-defense discretionary portfolio, which includes HIV-related spending, both domestic and global. For a tool kit created by the Non-Defense Discretionary Summit to help educate all sides please click here.

For a Kaiser Health News analysis of sequestration on Medicare, see:

Click here for a statement from the Coalition for Health Funding on the sequester:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Content Streaming in an Overdrive

National Voter Registration Day

Today is National Voter Registration Day. Six million Americans didn’t cast a ballot in the 2008 elections because they missed their state’s voter registration deadline or didn’t know how to register. With the commitment of advocates like you, we can help ensure that the HIV/AIDS community (including you) is registered in time. Register online at the National Voter Registration Day website today!

Already registered to vote and want to mobilize people living with and who care about HIV in your state? Join the I Pledge to Vote campaign! Here’s how it works. Simply sign the online form pledging you will vote on or by November 6. Then show and tell why you are pledging to vote in the 2012 elections. Download and fill out this sign to explain why voting this November is so important. Take a picture and post it to the AIDS United Facebook page. Make the photo your profile picture and encourage others to do the same. It’s an easy and fun way to say why participating in the elections is so important.

Want more information on how you can educate, register, and mobilize your community? Check out AIDS United’s Voter Mobilization Toolkit.

Congressional Update I:
Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2013

Congress returned to Washington, D.C. last week from its August recess. While the list of unfinished business is long, the major and likely only legislative agenda item that Congress will take up before the November elections is the Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government for six months in the new 2013 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, 2012. On September 13th the House of Representative passed the CR (H.J. Res. 117) by a vote of 329 to 91. The measure is now being considered in the Senate.

The process in the Senate has not been as smooth as it was in the House. The main roadblock has been Senator Rand Paul’s (R-KY) threats to filibuster the CR unless there is an agreement to have a debate on foreign aid to Egypt, Libya and Pakistan. On a vote of 67-31, the Senate agreed on Thursday to proceed to considering the CR. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is expected to file a cloture motion to limit debate on the CR. All of these parliamentary maneuvers mean that a vote on the CR is not likely before Saturday and may be as late as Sunday, Sept. 23. The Senate is expected to pass the CR and send it to the President for his signature before the Sept. 30 end of the FY 2012 fiscal year. This will ensure that the federal government will operate on Oct. 1. After the CR vote, the Senate will recess until after the November elections. Congress will return in mid-November for a lame duck session (the period between the elections and the start of the new Congress on Jan. 3) to work on the many priorities that are unfinished.

The CR provides a slight 0.6% increase in overall spending for FY 2013 over the FY’ 12 spending level. This small increase is in accord with the Budget Control Act. This means that for the most part, domestic HIV programs will be at their current, FY ’12 funding levels. There are no policy riders in the CR, which means that the ban on federal funding of syringe exchange programs will continue. The CR will expire on March 27, 2013. This means that the new, 113th Congress will need to act to complete appropriations for the balance of FY ’13. Current thinking is that Congress will enact another 6-month CR to the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Express COP 24/7

Gay Men's Awareness Day commemorated with HELP FAIR

Gay Men's Awareness Day, September 27 will be recgnized by the men of STRILITE during their HELP Fair, Friday, September 28, 12-6 pm at 401 North Maple Street inside the Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall and surrounding grounds. According to organizers the provider list is at capacity and additional volunteers are being sought to assist with this multi-faceted event slated as a one stop shop of social service access and health screening including, HIV/AIDS Oraquick testing.

COP 24/7 was proud to be asked to participate in the creative aspect of their media pieces including advertisement currently running on Streetz 101.1 FM. which has garnered quite the buzz as other local media outfits have inquired as to the nature of the event.  "The team at 101.1 did an outstanding job of envisioning and capturing the spirit of the venture and the response has been great said," Jonathan Griggs." Therefore, if 101.1 FM is not your station choice, we couldn't let this forum not let that media outlet have all the glory. Click on the link embed below to hear just what went down and the power of collaboration in creative frame of mind!

Op-ed: Antigay Blood Ban and What It Means to be Gay

As discriminatory as the antigay blood ban is, it's also part of gay history.

BY A.W. Strouse.

As The Advocate recently reported, the Food and Drug Administration may review its ban on blood donations by gay and bisexual men. And many of us have probably signed a petition or “liked” a Facebook status denouncing the ban. But before railing against the policy, let’s first consider that the ban symbolizes the gay community’s connection with HIV/AIDS. Let’s think through the implications of parting with such a symbol.

If we are a people with any sense of communal identity, then the epidemic is, however tragically, a part of that identity. Gay men, regardless of serostatus, must reconcile themselves to the disease. And the ban, in lumping us together, attests to that shared experience. Overturning the ban would distance certain gays from a phenomenon that currently defines us all; it would publicly separate those who are HIV-negative from those who are positive; it would symbolically change our communal identity. What’s at stake, then, is the very meaning of being gay.

HIV/AIDS is inseparable from gay history. Roughly 300,000 of our brothers have died. These men died not simply because of a disease but because of this homophobic society’s genocidal neglect of gay people. And progress in treating the illness has come almost entirely because of the courageous activism of LGBTQ people and allies. The history of this disease is our history. We cannot simply “move on,” and we cannot grant an unwarranted reprieve to the guilty.* Indeed, America has enough of our blood on its hands, and the dead still ache for justice. The ban stands as a monument to the oppression of gay people, and to our resistance. It helps us fulfill our ethical obligation to remember the past, and it maintains our history as a part of our identity. Parting with the ban does not come without a cost.
* There is an ethical value to resentment, as philosophers like Jacques Derrida and Vladimir Jankélévitch have written in their discussions of the Holocaust. Refusing to forgive injustice is, for these thinkers, the most ethical way to relate to the past. To simply “move on” is an outrage against the dead. (sourced from

Friday, September 21, 2012

The COP 24/7 Swirl Mix

Davis to Speak at UALR

Angela Davis is best known as a radical African American educator, activist for civil rights and issues surrounding the private prisons will lecture at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock on Thursday, October 25, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. in the University Theatre in the Center of the Performing Arts. COP 24/7 has learned that a high demand has occurred for the appearance and seating will be a premium. If you haven't done your RSVP, then you may be out of luck. The doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and after 6:10 p.m., seating will be on a first come, first serve basis.

She is currently a professor at the University of California-Santa Cruz, a job she was once fired from for ties to communism. In 1970, she was imprisoned for charges related to her involvement with three prison inmates. Davis is the author of several books, including Women, Race, and Class (1980) and Are Prisons Obsolete? (2003).  As a graduate student at the University of California, San Diego, in the late 1960s, she joined several groups, including the Black Panthers. But she spent most of her time working with the Che-Lumumba Club, which was all-black branch of the Communist Party.
Hired to teach at the University of California, Los Angeles, Angela Davis ran into trouble with the school's administration because of her association with communism.

They fired her, but she fought them in court and got her job back. Davis still ended up leaving when her contract expired in 1970.

Outside of academia, Angela Davis had become a strong supporter of three prison inmates of Soledad Prison known as the Soledad brothers (they were not related). These three men—John W. Cluchette, Fleeta Drumgo, and George Lester Jackson—were accused of killing a prison guard after several African American inmates had been killed in a fight by another guard. Some thought these prisoners were being used as scapegoats because of the political work within the prison.

During Jackson's trial in August 1970, an escape attempt was made and several people in the courtroom were killed. Angela Davis was brought up on several charges, including murder, for her alleged part in the event. There were two main pieces of evidence used at trial: the guns used were registered to her, and she was reportedly in love with Jackson. After spending roughly 18 months in jail, Davis was acquitted in June 1972.

Through the Affordable Care Act, Americans with Medicare will save $5,000 through 2022

5.5 million seniors saved money on prescription drugs and 19 million got free preventive care in 2012
Because of the health care law – the Affordable Care Act – the average person with traditional Medicare will save $5,000 from 2010 to 2022, according to a report today from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. People with Medicare who have high prescription drug costs will save much more – more than $18,000 – over the same period.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius also announced that, because of the health care law, more than 5.5 million seniors and people with disabilities saved nearly $4.5 billion on prescription drugs since the law was enacted. Seniors in the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the donut hole have saved an average of $641 in the first eight months of 2012 alone. This includes $195 million in savings on prescriptions for diabetes, over $140 million on drugs to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and $75 million on cancer drugs so far this year. Also in the first eight months of 2012, more than 19 million people with original Medicare received at least one preventive service at no cost to them.
“I am pleased that the health care law is helping so many seniors save money on their prescription drug costs,” Secretary Sebelius said. “A $5,000 savings will go a long way for many beneficiaries on fixed incomes and tight budgets.”

The health care law includes benefits to make Medicare prescription drug coverage more affordable. In 2010, anyone with Medicare who hit the prescription drug donut hole received a $250 rebate. In 2011, people with Medicare who hit the donut hole began receiving a 50 percent discount on covered brand-name drugs and a discount on generic drugs. These discounts and Medicare coverage gradually increase until 2020, when the donut hole will be closed.

The health care law also makes it easier for people with Medicare to stay healthy. Prior to 2011, people with Medicare had to pay for many preventive health services. These costs made it difficult for people to get the health care they needed. For example, before the health care law passed, a person with Medicare could pay as much as $160 for a colorectal cancer screening. Because of the Affordable Care Act, many preventive services are now offered free to beneficiaries (with no deductible or co-pay) so the cost is no longer a barrier for seniors who want to stay healthy and treat problems early.

In 2012 alone, 19 million people with traditional Medicare have received at least one preventive service at no cost to them. This includes 1.9 million who have taken advantage of the Annual Wellness Visit provided by the Affordable Care Act – almost 600,000 more than had used this service by this point in the year in 2011. In 2011, an estimated 32.5 million people with traditional Medicare or Medicare Advantage received one or more preventive benefits free of charge.

For state-by-state information on savings in the donut hole, please visit:
For state-by-state information on utilization of free preventive services, please visit:
For more information on the estimate that the average Medicare beneficiary will save $5,000 from 2010 to 2022 as a result of the health care law, please visit:


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Rolling and Rocking COP 24/7


From Death Row to Freedom

Ray Krone was wrongfully convicted of murder in Arizona in 1992. He spent 10 years in prison, including time on death row, before the introduction of new DNA evidence led to his exoneration in 2002. He was the 100th former death row inmate to be exonerated since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976. He now travels the country raising awareness about wrongful conviction and speaking out against capital punishment. He serves as director of communications and training for Witness to Innocence, an organization that brings to light the crisis of wrongful convictions in death sentencing in the United States.

When: Thursday, October 4, 2012
6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. – Lecture

Where: Clinton School of Public Service
Sturgis Hall
*Reserve your seats by emailing, or calling 501-683-5239.

Other Upcoming Speakers

Click here for more information.

Monday, October 1 at 12:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall)

Tuesday, October 2 at 6:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall)

Monday, October 8 at 12:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall) *Book signing to follow

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Uptick Wednesday

Fighting for Pan-Ethnic Civil Rights

Karen Korematsu is co-founder of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights, which is named for her father who spent 40 years fighting his 1942 arrest for refusing to be incarcerated in the government’s WWII incarceration camps for Japanese Americans. He appealed his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled against him, saying the incarceration was justified due to military necessity.
Forty years later, the discovery of new evidence allowed Korematsu to reopen his case and his conviction was overturned by a federal court in San Francisco. Founded in 2009 on the 25th anniversary of the vacated conviction, the Korematsu Institute advances pan-ethnic civil rights and human rights through education.

When: Tuesday, October 2, 2012

6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. – Lecture

Where: Clinton School of Public Service

Sturgis Hall

*Reserve your seats by emailing, or calling 501-683-5239.

Okello Sam, founder of Hope North

Wednesday, September 26 at 12:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall)

“CeaseFire Illinois: Reducing Violence In Chicago,” Tio Hardiman

Monday, October 1 at 12:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall)

“From Death Row to Freedom,” Ray Krone

Thursday, October 4 at 6:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall)

The Problem With Gay AA

Until gay men sort out their sex issues, they can’t stay sober. And until I sort out mine, I can’t be happy.
By Duncan Roy

Are Gay People More Vulnerable to Addiction?

Does Kinky Sex Lead to Sex Addiction?

Sex and Relationships in Sobriety

Gay men find it impossible to stay sober. They relapse again and again. The reason is clear: sex. Sexual addiction. I am not suggesting that all gay men who claim that they are alcoholic are in fact sex addicts but most gay men who can't stay sober cite sex as the primary reason for relapse.

The simple fact of the matter is that most of the time, readily available anonymous hook ups quickly take the place of alcohol and drugs. When a sober man walks into the apartment of a super hot man doing crystal meth, sobriety is quickly flushed down the toilet along with HIV status.

I hear the story over and over again. Yet, as a community, we think we can get away with this risky behavior. It is an arrogant vanity.
Gay AA is a sad affair. I go periodically—mostly when I flee the super charged straight stag meetings because I find the straight, young newcomers too triggering.

While many straight sober people create a new life with AA that involves abandoning bars and other locations that might lead to relapse, gay sober men often want a sober version of the life they had before, complete with dance parties, bars and gogo boys. Any reason to have a party will do—including the absurd “three-month anniversary.” Or, as one galling invitation I received said, “Help Joe S. celebrate his one-month anniversary.”
Forgive me if I'm wrong but anniversaries are a yearly celebration.

While many straight sober people create a new life with AA that involves abandoning bars and other locations that might lead to relapse, gay sober men often want a sober version of the life they had before.

Many of these sober parties are indistinguishable from their non sober equivalent: scantily clad men line up for espresso machines manned by disco short-wearing super hot straight guys more used to shaking cocktails than dispensing coffee to gay guys jacked up on caffeine. Unable to attend drug-crazed gay circuit parties, many gay sober men in LA flock to the sober circuit parties, such as Hot 'n Dry, which is held annually in Palm Springs. These events are more likely to take someone out than any other reason I’ve ever heard in gay AA. Yearly, after this event, bedraggled gay men turn up at meetings, their eyes blazing from excessive drug use, taking newcomer chips. Should I be surprised? After all, the Hot n' Dry ticket salesman had assured me that it would be “a sex fest from the moment you arrive at the Ace Hotel.”
The absurd idea that we can behave like we have always behaved as long as we have a deluded and lackluster understanding of the 12 steps just doesn't work. Two years ago, after I appeared on Sex Rehab With Dr. Drew, I suggested that within the gay community, we might have a sexual unmanageability problem and was flooded with vitriol. But that’s not going to stop me from sharing what I believe to be serious issues.
The other serious issue within gay AA, in my opinion, is the resistance to God or a Higher Power. Most of my gay sponsees are understandably wary of God. The Christian God—the religious God—hasn't made them feel very welcome in the past and has actually steeped them in shame and misery. To find that at the heart of AA is a God—even if it’s one of their own understanding—is anathema to most gay men. From what I can determine, most gay men just ignore the God part of the 12 steps—a relevant fact when the God part, in my estimation, accounts for roughly 90% of recovery. Working through the God options with gay men can be excruciating. Why bother looking for spiritual validation when they can get immediate validation on Grindr?
I used to love AA in LA; my love for it was actually the reason I first moved to LA. Now I hate it. It's like a cult—sober grandees ruling over desperate men, the film industry providing the sickest of backdrops: men flaying themselves before agents and film executives in the hope of catching crumbs from the sober table I see this everywhere from the straight stag meetings, where misogyny and homophobia are expressed freely, to the sickest meetings of all: Gay AA in LA.
For all of these reasons and more, last November, after nearly 16 years, I stopped going to AA meetings. I was exhausted, disillusioned and utterly miserable. My last meeting in LA, at the iconic Log Cabin on Robertson in West Hollywood, was a gay meeting attended by 300 gay men.
I couldn't walk away fast enough.
And yet yesterday, after a nine-month hiatus, I walked into a co-ed meeting in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I was an hour early. I helped set out the chairs in ten neat rows and then I made the coffee. During the meeting, I shared my resentments and my fears and afterwards, a tiny woman called Dianne came up to me and let me have two full barrels of her tough love wisdom.

"It's time for you to get fucking humble,” she said. “Come back and do fucking 90 in 90 like a newcomer."
She was right. After months away from AA, I felt spiritually bankrupt. I stopped fighting and did what we are all meant to in the rooms of AA: I gave in.
Later that evening, the young man I helped set up the meeting took me for dinner. We talked recovery. This morning, we had sex. There I was, doing the walk of shame, doubled down. I had once again fucked a newcomer, counting days. It's my story in AA. The younger men find my honesty irresistible and I can't say no.
When I first got sober in London, the only gay men I met in AA were old queens at the Eton Square meeting. I met a couple of gay men in NA but within the deluded gay community, at that time, there was a mantra I heard over and over that “quitting was for losers.” Several years later, after celebrities like Boy George got sober, the rooms of AA and NA filled quickly with what we now recognize as gay recovery.

Back then I was accused, by my drinking friends, of being a contrarian—of rocking the boat and spoiling it for the others. As it happened, I was in the vanguard. I remember being hounded by drunken gay men who were outraged that I might, just by being sober, challenge their powerlessness and un-manageability. Of course those very same men now thank me for introducing them to the 12 steps.
After a few months away from AA, I am ready to start again but, as Dianne said, I've got to get humble, forget all those years of sobriety and do 90 meetings in 90 days. For the first time in a long time, I value my life. I should have left LA years ago but I'm a tenacious old queen; I didn't want to let go. Just one more meeting might fix me. Just one more line, one more Vodka Tonic and the crazy opera playing in my head might stop.

Walking back into AA in New York was a relief, a joy—just like it used to be. I want to be sober. The only problem getting in the way of that is me. But I know that if I’m going to be able to do it, I'll have to learn how to say no to sex. As a single gay man, the consequences are dire if I don't.
Duncan Roy is a filmmaker whose movies include AKA, Method and The Picture of Dorian Gray. He appeared on Sex Rehab With Dr. Drew in 2009, and has written for The Sunday Times, The Evening Standard, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Guardian, and The Daily Beast. Roger Ebert has praised his blog as “a moving and evocative chronicle of modern gay life.” This is his first piece for The Fix.
(sourced from

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The COP Handbasket & More Part 2

Oh Queen Martha!

Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner look sort of weather beaten as she weaved and wobbled her way through questioning from the Legislative Audit folks who seemed to swirling around like sharks smelling blood in the water. Shoffner is on the hot seat for her offices alleged miss handling or shuffling or at least maybe incapable of "splaining" what had happen to some investments that were "reinvested" resulting in some questionable or again for all appearances sake, "losses." Ultimately the committee cited that, the committee's audit, which was made public Friday, found that Shoffner's office sold bonds from its investment portfolio before they had matured and purchased similar bonds from the same brokers, resulting in a net loss of $58,172. At this point I'm pondering exactly what fiscal experience does this former real estate agent have and exactly what "financial" experience does one have to have to be the state money person? Obviously not much, since Shoffner seems to have an ongoing history of lackluster performances. Not to mention those past pesky taxes she was forced to pay her $40,000 state owned Tahoe.
 However, as we continually learn, it seems that there's lots of "money speak" involved in whether a "loss is actually a loss or a downturn or any of that other financial assumption gobbly gook." Furthermore, as politics rears its ugly head in this matter, one can't help but wonder the connections of Shoffner's campaign coffers being filled by those in the securities business and how she use those contributions. Plus exactly what checks and balances are overseeing the performances of the investment instruments or practices used to support the public dole probably need checking or at least a look through. I'm sure that its not over and if the committee has anything to do with it, the hot glare of the spotlight is just starting. Just what these politicos are thinking is just beyond me...

Latino AIDS Commission Seeks Focus in Arkansas
The Latino AIDS Commission of New York City and will be collaborating with local community based organization, The Living Affected Corporation ( as well as with additional area groups in a capacity building effort utilizing focus groups. The exercises will be surveying the use of social media among Black MSM statewide. The Deadline to participate is September 21, 2012. The groups are slated to meet in the Central Arkansas area September 25- 26. The focus groups will be used as a further community discovery process as a conduit to disseminating future HIV/ AIDS risk reduction messages and themes. "We felt that it was a timely collaboration  since Hispanic Heritage Month was recognized September 15," said organization CEO, Diedra Levi. She continued, " its vital that we continue to outreach into our states changing demographics and shifting needs to address health disparities." For more information contact: or

Lesbian Authors on Alcoholism, Abuse, and Acceptance

Marianne K. Martin, author of The Indelible Heart, and Joan Opyr, author of Shaken and Stirred, reflect on the power of humor in overcoming life's tragedies.

BY Sunnivie Brydum

Marianne K. Martin, left, and Joan Opyr.
Marianne K. Martin and Joan Opyr come from very different backgrounds, and write very different books. But an uncanny ability to temper the tragic with humor unites the two lesbian authors. Martin shares her memories of a chosen family of fellow lesbians in her home-state of Michigan, recalling that such community informs her novels, including her most recent, The Indelible Heart. Martin also coached both high school and collegiate championship basketball and softball teams, and in 1973 won a landmark legal case establishing equal pay for women coaches.

Opyr, on the other hand, comes from a Southern Baptist household, and is all too familiar with the sense of isolation that comes from growing up in an antigay environment. Her latest novel — written between classes and working on her Ph.D. dissertation — takes a page from her own upbringing in a family that struggled with alcoholism and abuse. Shaken and Stirred finds the humor in tragic moments, as the Idaho wife and mother of two shares in the following conversation.
Joan Opyr: Though you and I write very different kinds of books, we're both pretty damned funny. Do you ever find yourself laughing at your own jokes as you're typing? Or is that just my own bad habit?
Marianne K. Martin: I do, indeed, especially if the story has been particularly emotional or heavy. I need to laugh or to find a way to relieve the tension, so I let one of my characters jump that line and do it for me. But your humor has an innate quality to it. Where does that come from?
Opyr: Life. Life is ludicrous. That's the foundation of all humor. Bugs Bunny, happily tunneling across the countryside, pops up through a random hole and meets Elmer Fudd and his shotgun. Of all the holes in all the world, why did Bugs pick that one? It's a mystery with potentially tragic consequences — for Bugs, it's hassenpfeffer! In the face of death and destruction and despair, some of us fall to pieces. That's tragedy. Others of us think, I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque. That's comedy. We laugh to defuse tragedy but also to understand it. (excerpted from  to read more click it to this site.)

Monday, September 17, 2012

The COP 24/7 Handbasket and More Part 1

Its been another wild and woolly weekend not only locally but most definitely globally. It seemed that the world took a shift into mayhem as extremist, jihads and everything in between or from the fringes took a hard left. What we learned was that a obscure film "trailer" that was suppose to be supporting a full fledged negative bent film on Islam caused devotees to explode into rage. Ultimately causing the deaths of Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans caused all of us to take notice that our Middle East diplomacy policies may be no match for those anti-American sentiments or those not feeling that "democracy" stuff. From this vantage point, it appears that our "Billions of Dollars" of nation building and foreign aid often leads to unleashing the underbelly of forces that are beyond our control or reach. Meanwhile, as that region of the world teeters in chaos, there's much else going on that has not fallen into that "going to hell in handbasket" category. Let's dive right in...

The Perversion Files

When I first heard that the Boys Scouts of America had a series of "Perversion Files" that had been discovered and accessed by the Los Angeles Times, I thought "WTF!" What type of organization has a system that would be developed to capture "perversion" among its ranks. Really!? But it was true. I had been a "cub scout" in my youth and later enjoyed being in the Explorer program. Yet learning that BSA had did its best to cloak inappropriate sexual behavior for nearly a century was amazing.

Incredible as it seems, all of this information had been stored in locked cabinets in its Texas HQ and there had been according to the LA Times report, "more than 1,200 files dating from 1970 to 1991 found more than 125 cases across the country in which men allegedly continued to molest Scouts after the organization was first presented with detailed allegations of abusive behavior.

Predators slipped back into the program by falsifying personal information or skirting the registration process. Others were able to jump from troop to troop around the country thanks to clerical errors, computer glitches or the Scouts' failure to check the blacklist.

In some cases, officials failed to document reports of abuse in the first place, letting offenders stay in the organization until new allegations surfaced. In others, officials documented abuse but merely suspended the accused leader or allowed him to continue working with boys while on "probation."

In at least 50 cases, the Boy Scouts expelled suspected abusers, only to discover later that they had reentered the program and were accused of molesting again.

One scoutmaster was expelled in 1970 for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy in Indiana. Even after being convicted of the crime, he went on to join two troops in Illinois between 1971 and 1988. He later admitted to molesting more than 100 boys, was convicted of the sexual assault of a Scout in 1989 and was sentenced to 100 years in prison, according to his file and court records."  Even though additional measures have been layered into the system, I was blown away with the fact that it wasn't until 2010 that any suspected sexual abuse was to be reported to law officials. And yet all this time it was revealed that BSA had maintained a "ineligible volunteer" files in one form or another since at least 1919 to keep track of men who failed to meet Scouting's moral standards. Files that involved allegations of child sexual abuse were dubbed "perversion files." A master list of those banned from Scouting has been computerized since 1975 and is used to vet applicants for volunteer and paid positions. I loved scouting and never experienced any type of this abuse or entertained that such a possible could have occurred during that time of innocence. Its so ironic that even as I embraced their concepts of "lead, inspire, explore"  then, yet currently as a proud same gender loving man they would have no part of me now.

Comprehensively and Jurisdictionally Yours

The Arkansas Planning Group better known as "ARCPG" received and adopted a formative plan to be considered by the Arkansas Department of Health in regards to HIV/AIDS Prevention. The Center for Disease Control encourages the use of collaborative efforts utilizing interested individuals and organizations within the jurisdiction to offer insights and observations as to what the plan should consist of and how its implemented with the community. For ARCPG, this task was plagued with uncertainty, delays, shifting participation, and other stifling roadblocks that had to be overcome before meeting submission deadlines. Even more glaring is the fact that although it was reported that the plan has been circulated, there may have been some entities that were missed or accidentally left out of the information loop. This is most troubling due to the fact that as COP 24/7 has engaged in discussions with numerous individuals or entities only to learn that there seems to be a lack of knowledge as to what is contained within the document.

Despite all the back story, what's more important is the fact that this plan should be leveraged within a coordinated and strategic advocacy campaign to educate legislative policy makers as to the plight of "HIV/AIDS 2012" in the state of Arkansas. This compelling information should not be simply submitted to the CDC as a "year end tool" to meet a deliverable but rather it should be the definitive package to lobby our body politic on why Arkansas needs to contribute to a line item funding for HIV/AIDS prevention, what is the "plan Stan" to address those not linked to care or retained in care and support a better crafted "Opt-Out" legislative piece. Furthermore it is imperative that the tenants of the plan become energized in conjunction to President Obama's National HIV AIDS Strategy.

Also in this mix is ADH's Hep C/ HIV/AIDS section's ability in determining if our tracking processes are factual, the impact of the affordable care act and how the social determinants known as the "HEFTE" concept will be included in the care delivery system. COP 24/7 applauds the collaborative work that brought the plan to fruition, but firmly believes that " if you make a plan, then you must "work" the plan that you've made." Nothing good comes of something sitting on a shelf waiting for someone to use it. If you are interested in accessing this information contact the Arkansas Department of health's Hep C/HIV/AIDS Section.

National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day

Tomorrow, September 18, 2012, marks the 3rd annual National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day. This special day provides us all with the opportunity to focus on the many challenges related to HIV prevention, testing, and treatment facing our aging population. “Aging is a part of life; HIV doesn’t have to be,” the theme for this years National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day, reminds us that there is more we can do to make older Americans aware of HIV prevention and testing. With 15% of all new HIV/AIDS cases occurring among people aged 50 and older, it’s clear that we can and must do more to inform individuals and service providers about the importance of educating older Americans.

Increased prevention is one element of the call-to-action the National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day provides, but we must also focus on treatment and care. Research indicates that by 2015, half of the people living with HIV in the U.S. will be over age 50. As people live longer with HIV, we must continue to learn more about how to manage the long term effects of HIV and how this intersects with the aging process and other common health conditions. Aging services providers and HIV care providers must work together to ensure that the special needs of these men and women can be effectively addressed in an integrated and collaborative fashion.

Please join the Administration on Aging and our network of community-based aging services providers in heeding the call-to-action of the National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day and join us in raising awareness across the country of the prevention, testing and treatment needs of our aging population.

Kathy Greenlee is the Assistant Secretary for Aging in the Department of Health and Human Sevices


Friday, September 14, 2012

TGIF Rainbows and Confetti

HELP FAIR 2012 Scales UP

Local community based upstart, STRILITE continues to prepare for its first event in recognition of Gay Men's Awareness Day, September 27 with it's HELP Fair, Friday, September 28, 12-6 pm at 401 North Maple Street inside the Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall and surrounding grounds. According to organizers the provider list is at capacity and additional volunteers are being sought to assist with multi-faceted event slated as a one stop shop of social service access and health screening including HIV/AIDS Oraquick testing. COP 24/7 was proud to be asked to participate in the creative aspect of their media pieces including advertisement currently running on Streetz 101.1 FM. The team at 101.1 did an outstanding job of envisioning and capturing the spirit of the venture. Therefore, if 101.1 FM is not your station choice, we couldn't let this forum not let that media outlet have all the glory. Click on the link embed below to hear just what went down and the power of collaboration in creative frame of mind!
Show Salutes DIVAS!

As shows go, some folks believe "if you've seen one, then most likely you've seen them all..." and so on and so forth. However, there are shows and then there are shows, even in these parts which claim to want to roll with the big girls. However, even as The House of DELEVI prepares for its debut show on its new landing pad at The Quarter Note. I would hope that those girls get it together and bring it for that night. In the meantime, just as a kicker I wanted to share this high charged performance from Epiphany B. Lee who brought down the house during an August 21 breakout show at The Howard in Washington D.C.( Now be warned, this performer worked and then worked some more. I'm presenting this as a "heads up" to those performers who will be gracing the Q-Note stage or any local stage for that matter. The party is getting started at 4726 Asher, Saturday, September 22, 2012.  $8.00 before 11pm and $10 afterwards. Showtime is 11:30 -12:30.  Id's will be checked and security is in full affect. From what I've been told, "if you're the messy type, then this is not your destination!" Enough said. Stay tuned for cast line up and possible table reservation information. To get in on the act, this forum may throw out a prize package, so keep reading for that happening. Meanwhile, get ready because The House of DELEVI has landed and all systems are go....



Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lavender Lights in the City

Arkansas Times Festival of Ideas

The September 5 issue of the Arkansas Times celebrated 50 of the most influential people in Arkansas in a wide variety of fields, ranging from furniture makers and gardeners to retailers and philanthropists. Next Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Clinton School, five of the honorees will conduct classes and demonstrations of their expertise. They include:

"Arkansas’s Future is Tied to the Immigrant," Mireya Reith (11:00 a.m.) – Reith grew up in Fayetteville and has dedicated most of her adult life to trying to help Hispanics become leaders in the communities. She’ll speak about her United Arkansas Community Coalition and helping immigrants help themselves.

"Organic Farming Before it was Cool," Rusty and Sue Nuffer (12:00 p.m.) – Want to protect your garden without pesticides? Sue and Rusty Nuffer were some of the first organic farmers in the state.

"Finding Trust in Horror," Brent and Craig Renaud (1:00 p.m.) – Arkansas’s most decorated filmmakers will show scenes from their latest documentary works and talk about the future of film in Arkansas.

"Turning a Magazine into a Cultural Institution," Warwick Sabin (3:00 p.m.) – The publisher of The Oxford American, Sabin will discuss the future of the magazine, including building on partnerships with NPR and PBS.

"How to Start a Tech Company in Three Months," Jeanette Ballazea (4:00 p.m.) – Balleza directs Fayetteville’s The ARK Challenge, a business incubator that provides fledgling entrepreneurs with access to business leaders, office space and seed money to launch technology companies in 14 weeks.

When: Saturday, September 22, 2012
11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. – Lectures begin on the hour

Where: Clinton School of Public Service
Sturgis Hall

*Reserve your seats by emailing, or calling 501-683-5239.
Know Now Campaign Develops Local Color
In case you haven't been keeping up, the "Know Now" HIV prevention campaign has been ebbing and flowing since it stepped off as the centerpiece of National HIV Awareness Day a few months back. The campaign was met with a bit of a sour note as a competing ad entitled "Know Not," was created as a counter to the fact that the campaign lacked local images or recognition of same sex couples from a positive prospective. Wednesday, ad company Advantage Communications "retooled" and further developed the campaign using local same gender loving men whom were recruited to be apart of a photo shoot.

"I was glad to be apart of the shoot and felt that what we accomplished was what was needed to as a "buy in" for the designated population being sought." said Kevin Holmes.  Holmes actively posted notices concerning the shoot as well as recruited from his friendship network. During the shoot participants were fashioned in numerous outfits and scenarios that were intended to mirror gay life. The group STRILITE spearheaded the "Know Not" effort as a means of bringing  the issue of cultural competency to those developing the project on behalf of the Arkansas Department of Health.
Jonathan G. of STRILITE stated, " we were glad to learn that AC wanted us to be apart of the process and invited us to help find models. This is what should have happened perhaps from the beginning before we produced our rebuttal video." He continued, " hopefully we are off to having a campaign that will be high impact while delivering a sound message that will be seen from a more positive angle throughout the community." Just as a reminder of that little production, COP 24/7 is embedding that video here for a re-look which also included yours truly as a supporter. This forum was also on the scene for the photo shoot and will share an update next week on who made the cut as models and further development on the status of the project. Stay locked and loaded to COP 24/7, come follow us, opt-in e-mail or bookmark us to stay in the info loop!!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Upward Bound and Forward

New resources help older Americans and people with disabilities maintain their independence

Seniors, people with disabilities and their families get assistance from local resource centers
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced $12.5 million in awards to Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) to support older Americans and people with disabilities stay independent and receive long-term services and supports. In recognition of  National HIV and Aging Awareness Day, September 18, 2012, COP 24/7 will be highlighting a series of items that address this significant population and the result impact of the HIV/AIDS health delimma has played within it. This is most notable due to the fact that many long term survivors are now reaching ages that most likely will usher them into the medicare
realm as some now have crossed the threshold of Sixty years of age.
This forum will continue to explore the challenges and barriers that present themselves as well as
possible solutions that should be considered for those dealing with "aging issues."

These grants, funded by the Affordable Care Act and the Older Americans Act, support counselors who help individuals and their caregivers identify and access long-term services and supports, regardless of income or financial assets.
“Whether someone is in the hospital and ready to be discharged, or living at home but needing additional care, an options counselor can help them evaluate their needs and sift through the options available in their community to create a plan that meets their needs,” Secretary Sebelius said.
ADRCs are “one-stop shops” for older adults, people with disabilities, their caregivers and families to get the information and services they need as their health and long-term care needs change.

ADRCs offer a single, coordinated system of information and access for people seeking long-term services and supports and help consumers and their families identify options that best suit their needs.
ADRCs also make it easier for state and local governments to manage resources and monitor program quality through coordinated data collection and evaluation efforts.

The ADRCs are made possible through a collaborative effort led by the Administration on Community Living and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), both agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Veterans Health Administration, an agency of the Department of Veterans Affairs, is a key partner.
Currently, all 50 states and four territories are operating or are in the process of implementing an ADRC.

Two different types of grants are being announced. Part A is for states or territories receiving an initial ADRC grant for an Enhanced ADRC Options Counseling Program. Part B is for states and territories receiving continuation funding.
For more information about the grants, recipients and the ADRC initiative, see

 Institutional Discrimination and the Case of Dr. Franke

“What if there are many other older people, and this is the first wave of them, who are not used to speaking out about anything, and they’ll just quietly pack up their blankets and leave? And I thought, damn, that’s not right.” —Dr. Robert Franke, Little Rock, AR

When the Reverend Dr. Robert Franke decided he was no longer able to care for himself, he relocated to Little Rock, AR, to be closer to his family. After a thorough search for just the right place, he applied to – and was accepted by – a tony assisted living facility in North Little Rock where he thought he could be happy. Less than a day after he moved in, Dr. Franke was forced to move out of his new home because of his HIV-status. With the help of Lambda Legal, the family sued; the case settled in 2010. Even though his case was groundbreaking including a visit to the White House,  the Rev. Dr. Robert Franke on December 27, 2011, died at the age of 78. His commitment to raising awareness and fighting injustice will surely have a positive impact on the lives of many. His fight will be honored in his memory; the commitment of his family and their legal champion, Lambda Legal; and the hard work of all those who fight against HIV-related discrimination every day.

Lambda Legal has created a variety of tool kits that can inform members of the LGBT and HIV/AIDS communities about their rights in different contexts, including “When Health Care Isn’t Caring,” the first survey to examine barriers to health care (including refusal of care) among these communities on a national scale. They have also produced helpful Fact Sheets on a variety of topics, including “HIV Stigma and Discrimination in the US.”
An assisted living facility is both a form of housing and a health care provider. Legal mandates regarding housing discrimination can vary from state to state, but federal fair housing laws explicitly forbid housing discrimination “based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status…and handicap (disability).” According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), “An individual is considered to have a ‘disability’ if he or she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such impairment. Persons with HIV disease, either symptomatic or asymptomatic, have physical impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities and thus are protected by the ADA.”

If you or someone you care about is experiencing HIV-related institutional discrimination, there are a number of resources out there that may help:
The Well Project’s website can answer many basic questions about your rights; care providers might find many of their questions answered by the “Discrimination and HIV/AIDS: A Factsheet for Practitioners” page on The National Association of Social Workers site. The website for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has an entire subsection that focuses on fair housing laws that includes, among other things, a library of relevant publications and links that allow victims of discrimination to file a complaint in eight different languages. The US Department of Justice is also committed to protecting your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
But sorting through all of the information out there can be overwhelming, and it is often wise to consult with an attorney to clarify how your rights are — and are not — currently protected under the law. Lambda Legal can take on only a small number of cases, but through their legal help desk (in English and in Spanish) they can refer you to other organizations that can help; can answer some of your questions (if you fill out their on-line form); and can suggest some important questions to ask when you looking for an attorney who can help you with your situation. The National Senior Citizens Law Center offers a number of links to other organizations that might also be able to help, including the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.
Not surprisingly, institutional discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS in health care settings is a worldwide problem. The HRH Global Resource Center offers a variety of articles, training materials, and other resources that speak to how these issues are being addressed in other countries. The World Medical Association very clearly outlines the rights of patients to receive quality care without being subjected to provider discrimination. A number of researchers, organizations, and independent projects (like The Graying of AIDS) are looking at how we might best tackle issues related to HIV-related discrimination on the part of care providers; this article from the Journal of the International AIDS Society offers an excellent introduction to some of the issues involved when fighting discrimination in health care settings.
Around the world, provider ignorance and fear are getting in the way of quality patient care; we must work together to better educate those providing care today and the care providers of tomorrow.
(sourced: /

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering 911

COP 24/7 Special

How To Cope With the Events of 9/11

Gay Victims of 9/11

By , Guide
The mere mention of the date September 11 conjures up feelings of grief, sorrow and pain for the family, friends and strangers who loss their lives at the hands of terrorists. At that very moment a young nation was united as one. There were no classifications or judgements only sympathy for all. And as we approach the anniversary of this tragic event, many look in retrospect as to how this affected their community. The gay community is no exception.

Many gay men and women lost their lives or loved ones during the morning of the 11th. How many? If we consider those not yet out, it is difficult to calculate, but at that moment it didn't matter. What mattered, if only for a moment, is that the nation experienced togetherness and unity. All people, including gays, felt the embrace of the entire country and many around the world. Mark Bingham is just one of many gay people deemed a hero for his efforts to liberate and protect an airplane filled with people of diverse backgrounds. His focus, like others such as Father Mychal Judge, was one of protection of human life. They didn't seek to help and protect only gays. They risked their lives for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, because a human life is one to cherish and death does not discriminate.

These events marked a special moment in history. It was a time where differences did not matter and all of our causes seemed simplistic as we watched thousands of lives be taken for granted. But why in such a time of unity do we retreat back to our own communities to reflect? It's because we find comfort and support in familiar places. Gays around the world will mourn on September 11th of each year not just for the gay men and women who lost their lives, but for all. It's a time to reflect on loved ones and cherish the lives and relationships we have before us.

Here are a few suggestions on how to support each other on the anniversary of September 11th:

Spend time with your friends or loved ones.

When experiencing loss or grief, it's good to be in the company of those closest to you. Invite your friends over for dinner, to watch a movie or just to talk. Friends can be a great support system and they will more than likely be experiencing many of the same emotions you're experiencing. Many gays are also prone to depression. So, situations like these may be extremely difficult. Surround yourself with a positive and supportive environment.

Don't be afraid to express your emotions.

Remember, different people express their emotions in different ways. So don't worry if your friend who lost his partner in the tragedy wants to go out dancing at the club. That may be his way of dealing with his loss. The best thing to do is to be there for him and tell him how much you care. This is also a special time to tell all those close to you how you feel. Time and life are precious. If you feel you don't have anyone to express your feelings and emotions to, then post your thoughts in a Gay Life Discussion Forum. It's healthy to release your emotions and may help other gay people in the same situation.

Show sensitivity.

During this time there will be an array of emotions from your friends, loved ones and even strangers. If someone's behavior seems hostile, sad or unusual try to be patient and understand that they are dealing with loss. Some people may also seem distant because they feel uncomfortable expressing their thoughts. Not all gay men feel comfortable openly discussing their relationships in in mostly heterosexual environments. Be sensitive and lend an ear.

Lend a helping hand.

It may help you cope by giving back to other gay people in need. Visit someone suffering from HIV or AIDS or volunteer at your local community center for other volunteer opportunities. There are many gay people that would welcome a smile and helping hand from a friend or even a stranger.

Reflect on what it means to be part of a community.

The gay community is vast and diverse and can often be overwhelming, especially when coming out. Take a moment to reflect on what it's like to belong to a community. This is a time to celebrate life as individuals and as a whole.

Don't be afraid to ask for help.

There are many gay-affirmative therapists that can help you cope with tragedy or loss. Don't be afraid to talk to a professional.
Ramon Sahib Johnson is the founder of, a website dedicated to men's culture and wellness. With over ten years experience in digital journalism and new media field, Ramon has dedicated his career to advance the equal representation of disadvantaged and underrepresented peoples. Ramon is currently an integrated PhD student at the University of Essex in Colchester, England where he studies masculinity, myth and emotions.


In 2008, Ramon was named 'GLBT Person of the Year' by GayAgenda and in 2009, Gay Life at was selected as 'Best Gay Lifestyle Blog' by Ramon was regular speaker at youth diversity organization Live Out Loud Reciprocity Foundation, and a youth mentor at The Ali Forney Center, an LGBT homeless youth service organization. He was named one of Clik Magazine's 25 Most Influential Gay African-Americans in media for his contributions to the LGBT community and has been a guest gay lifestyle expert on Proper Television's "TV Made Me Do It," Q Television's "On Q Live," "The Derek and Romaine Show" on Sirius Satellite Radio and New York's Power 105 morning radio show.