Friday, February 15, 2013

The Day After A Go-Go

The Lavender Cloud
Smoking in the LGBTQ Community

The Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program partnered with Gustavo Torrez, Program Manager for the Network for LGBT Health Equity to facilitate a LGBT Coalition Workshop last Tuesday (2.12.13) in response to smoking issues in the community. As a national advocate for LGBT health equity, Mr. Torrez focused specifically on the smoking prevalence of the LGBT community concentrating on identifying stakeholders and prospective coalition members, assist TPCP staff in outlining the structure of programming and the coalition. He also discussed the challenges of coalition building and the key areas of opportunity to address. Torrez opened the discussion with asking "who is or is not at the table" which was to determined the identifications of those in attendance and who perhaps should be at least invited. It was noted that the "table" was glaringly missing possible key representative of the "gay" community that was being discussed. To this point, COP 24/7 has often asked when there are policies or assessments being done about the gay community why does it seem that either the "usual suspects" show up or either there is a lack of interested folks from the gay community. So this situation continues to begs the question, if there's policies or laws being considered that affect this community, will the community continue its "reactive" stance instead of creating infrastructure to answer to these measures or inquires.
A variety of possible reasons was speculated upon as to the lack of attendance or response. Organizers cited that they had reach out but thought maybe the day part could have played a part or either individuals didn't understand the scope of the meeting. Certainly these could have been factors, but the $64,000 question is "if there was outreach done, to what extent did it cover in lieu of the fact that those in attendance have had extreme limited interaction with the gay community." In other words, if you don't really know anything about "us" then doesn't anyone find it strange this a local entity would engage a expert from another part of the country to direct them as to what to do about a community that they've not engaged? Even more so, another question that needs to asked is "why the hell does this type of approach keep happening, when apparently it does not bear much fruit."  
Therefore is COP 24/7 to assume that the community is "hiding in plain sight?" Are we to believe that the ineptness and lack of capacity is so great that we are unable to chart or make determinations as to what does work for us by some of us? Or have the usual suspects simply become overwhelmed as well as over taxed with trying to attend a dizzying array of meetings, conferences, teleconferences, webinars and seminars juxtaposed to keeping their own sanity.
There appears to be much to be done but only a teacup of committed individuals doing anything to answer inquires, monitor the possible impact of polices or put a concerned "face" on issues being directed toward the gay community. This forum has been ostracized as one that offers great criticism without resolutions. Although I beg to differ, lets speak resolutions shall we.
First up, what's vitally needed is "committed" as in not offering "lip service" to being concerned then missing in action when the need arises. Secondly, its all about the Benjamin's. If you can't offer your time, speak with your treasure whether it be in the form of in-kind, gift cards, frequent mileage points, full filling items on a wish list, and of course cash donations work beautifully. Third, if you are not going to do nothing, then don't say nothing about what's not happening in this community. Use you voice to either make a difference, empower advocates and activist, or share your expertise to move the ball forward.
So there. Those are the suggested action steps and we will close with some facts from the informative website CRUSH, which was designed to address LGBTQ smoking in the Fruit Loop of Las Vegas. Yes a place that has developed sustained infrastructure and folks to do stuff with. Check out there site and let us know what you think about it and smoking in the LGBTQ community. Click it to :

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