Tuesday, October 09, 2012

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Sally Field Receives HRC's Ally For Equality Award

HRC Dinner Rolls Out Star Power and More

Last Saturday evening, the Human Rights Campaign machine rolled with star power and much political clout to make some noise about the house. In in online recap, the item stated that the Sixteenth Annual event held at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. was an incredible celebration of the momentous victories and achievements we’ve made over the last year, and an opportunity to recognize some of the people who have made these achievements possible. Notable guests included Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Academy Award-winning actress Sally Field, Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson, NAACP President & CEO Ben Jealous, and screenwriter Dustin Lace Black, who won an Oscar for his film “Milk,” based on the life of the legendary Harvey Milk. 

The dinner seeks to both honor those who have contributed to our movement, but also highlight the importance of what we’ve yet to achieve. Mayor Cory Booker perhaps best summed up the sentiment when he boldly stated, “The call to freedom is still loud and hard because we still live in a nation where some people want to deny the rights of others.” He continued, “You cannot deny the rights, freedom, and liberty of others without diminishing your own. This is what we must understand.”
Later in the evening, HRC presented the amazing Sally Field with the Ally for Equality Award. Her speech focused on her role of being the proud mother of a gay son, who, like many LGBT people, struggled with coming out.

Field noted, “Sam was different, and his journey to allow himself what nature intended him to be was not an easy one. As his mother, I consider it one of the great privileges of my life to be part it." She concluded her acceptance speech by thanking HRC and everyone in the room for advocating on behalf of LGBT people like her son. “You all have fought for him as surely as you were one of his parents. You've changed and are changing the lives of little boys and girls who realized somewhere along the way they're just different from their other brothers and sisters.”
The NAACP and its president, Ben Jealous, were honored with the National Equality Award for their steadfast support for LGBT equality, including their public support for same-sex marriage earlier this year. Mr. Jealous stated that the issue of marriage equality hit close to home for him, noting that his parents were forced to move across state lines to get married in 1966, because interracial marriage was banned in their home state of Maryland at the time.

The event also marked Chad Griffin’s first National Dinner as president of HRC. He took the opportunity to point out the advancements that the movement has made, such as the support of marriage equality from both President Barack Obama and a majority of Americans. However, Griffin cautioned, “We have accomplished so much, yet we have so far to go. We can’t get comfortable thinking that this historic progress is enough, for the gains we made are not felt equally across this country. For every loving and committing couple celebrating their equality and marriage, many more are denied that opportunity by their state even by their own neighbors at the ballot box.” As a few of you may recall, Griffin made a swing through the state earlier this year in preparation for this his post. Also he was front paged featured in the Arkansas Times among those mover and shakers to watch in 2013 and beyond. Congrats to HRC! For more info hit them up at www.hrc.org  (material sources from www.hrc.org)

Helping Understand and Treat HIV Through Community-Based Leadership

The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community have helped bring about much of the tremendous progress in understanding and treating HIV, ranging from increasing HIV awareness, to fighting HIV-related discrimination, to volunteering for cutting-edge research. This legacy of community-based leadership was noted on the  5th Annual National Gay Men’s HIV/Awareness Day and should be so on all future awareness day activities.

In 2010, President Obama released the nation’s first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which called for aligning resources where HIV is most concentrated, and implementing evidence-based, high-impact interventions to reduce new HIV infections, improving HIV-related health outcomes, and reducing HIV-related disparities. The Strategy has focused Federal, State, and local efforts on a combination prevention approach for gay men and other populations at high risk, including increasing HIV testing and HIV treatment, because studies demonstrate that increasing diagnosis rates and reducing viral loads will significantly reduce new HIV infections in disproportionately affected communities.

The National HIV/AIDS Strategy also calls for addressing stigma and discrimination as part of a comprehensive response to the HIV epidemic. In keeping with the goals of the Strategy, the Department of Justice has taken steps to enforce civil rights laws that protect the rights of persons living with HIV/AIDS, and has launched a website dedicated to fighting discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS.

In addition to the Strategy, the Affordable Care Act will ensure more Americans have access to affordable, high-quality health insurance and make it illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against anyone with a pre-existing condition like HIV. These changes will help gay men and other disproportionately affected populations get the coverage they need to receive comprehensive care.
This is a transformative time with regards to addressing HIV among gay men: we have made tremendous progress in aligning resources with the epidemic, increasing access to care, and addressing additional factors that contribute to HIV risk.

To fully realize the potential of these accomplishments, and to continue to fight the HIV epidemic, it will take shared commitment and leadership among Federal, State and local governments, community members, LGBT leadership organizations, and other private and public organizations. Today is a day where we recognize how far we’ve come since the early days of the epidemic while also acknowledging that there is more work to do. Through this collective effort, we will realize the goal of an AIDS-free generation.

Tongues Untied Support Starts Wednesday

"Tongues Untied," an emerging same gender loving support group is planning its debut October 10, 2012, 6-7:30 pm at 401 North Maple Street, Suite A in North Little Rock. Under the guidance of The Living Affected Corporation in conjunction with ADH's newest sub-grantee, STRILITE, the venture will be designed to further support efforts to " HIV prevention message" within the same gender loving community and beyond in the people of color construct. Although not HIV centric, the core interest of the group is to facilitate a safe zone for Black gay men to explore similar issues, barriers and challenges in their daily lives which could impact their future.

The new group will feature both an open forum and topical format based around a 90 minute frame or as the group decides. The topics could range from relationship 101 to expressing your inner creativity through fashion. LA Corp, Chief Operating Officer, Cornelius Mabin emphasized that this project was always apart of the STRILITE vision. "From its inception, the members viewed having such a group that would be vital to their consumer driven mission to provide "peer to peer" mentoring, support and prevention education against maladies such as HIV in our community."

Furthermore, " it's became imperative that as we deal with individuals holistically, it was determined that we must continue to cultivate relationships that wholeheartedly support their vision of "reaching our present to change our future". I foresee that this beginning could easily be ramped up to reach out through social media onto creating real time online experiences for those living in Arkansas rural areas. There's so much potential to make connection to all sections of the state that we must embrace. Ultimately we learned that such a group didn't exist and a need was assessed that needed filling, therefore we are doing what we can to make it happen."

For more information contact: info@lacorponline.org or call 855-STIRLITE. Additional meetings will be held November 14, 2012 and December 12, 2012. Dates are subject to change due to scheduling.

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