Monday, April 14, 2014

Blood Moon Rising

Blood Moon Rising

The first Blood Moon eclipse in a series of four is coming up on the night of April 14-15, 2014. This total eclipse of the moon will be visible from the Americas. We in astronomy had not heard the term Blood Moon used in quite this way before this year, but now the term is becoming widespread in the media. The origin of the term is religious, at least according to Christian pastor John Hagee, who wrote a 2013 book about Blood Moons. Of course some folks have gone conspiracy with more "end of the world" mantras that we've heard more times than there have been blood moons. Let's just say, COP 24/7 went ahead and produced much of our weekly content with sights in case we are not all "taken" by morning. In the meantime, while we wait on this lunar event coupled with "freeze" warnings, lets turned up the heat a bit here at COP 24/7!  

Saving Ourselves Symposium, 2014

The Red Door Foundation, Inc. [TRDF] is preparing to present its second regional Symposium (SOS) from  June 5th-7th, 2014 in Memphis, Tennessee. I was a proud recipient of the inaugural 2013 Flamethrower Award and I'm excited to continue to support this movement to continue to empower and educate Black gay men across the Mid-South.

_MG_4669According to published media from organizers, this year marks the second year of bringing local and national leaders within various disciplines from across the United States to Tennessee in an effort to address the health and wellness of Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender [LGBT] people living in the South.  Saving Ourselves Symposium is the only Technical Assistance symposium of its kind, especially devoted to providing a safe environment to discuss prudent issues, identifying best practices, and providing technical assistance to direct care providers that work specifically with Black LGBT individuals, with an emphasis on individuals living with HIV/AIDS.

_MG_4994 This year, our theme is: “I AM ENOUGH.”  With the release of HIV/AIDS statistics that highlight the prevalence of HIV among Black LGBT individuals, specially, Black gay and bisexual men, this theme speaks directly to Black LGBT members who continue to struggle with feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, loss of family and friends, and most often, helplessness all because of sexual orientation and/or HIV status. 

In Arkansas, COP 24/7 has thoroughly encouraged young men and women to become more engaged in understanding what's at stake by not being at the policy table nor involved with programming that will have tangible outcomes. I have been terribly disappointed at the tepid and lackluster interest shown locally versus the forward momentum shown by members of the Red Door Foundation. It is this type of mechanism needed that is not only peer driven but seeking to party with a distinct purpose to offer the tools and leadership necessary to address the chaining health care landscape and the funding streams required to create such a entity. It is my hope that maybe some of this enlightening programming would thump area young folk into re-thinking a mature approach instead of petty small mindedness that ultimately leads to nothing accomplished or gained.

This theme, further speakers to creating one community and one unit by encouraging and highlighting the concept of empowering individuals to change not only themselves, but also to empower the community.  Furthermore and without any doubt, “I AM ENOUGH,” will help us to help others and decrease the burden of HIV/AIDS within our community.

This year we have an exciting symposium planned that includes various activities including, but not limited to, Black Gay Men’s Technical Assistance  Meeting, a Twitter Town Hall Meeting, Vendor Exhibitions, Interactive Panel Discussions, a Community Summit Luncheon with a Keynote Speaker and a Red Gala and Silent Auction honoring African American LGBT Trailblazers and our allies as well as a host of other activities. Registration is free and open to the general public. To register visit,

The Red Door Foundation, Inc. mission is to promote social awareness, unity, self-empowerment, mentorship and positive visibility in community of color through education, health promotion, advocacy and coalition building while decreasing HIV throughout Memphis/Shelby County and the South.

Arkansas HIV Planning Group Moves Forward

Member partners of the Arkansas HIV Planning Group have agreed to move forward with further planning centered around a strategy and capacity building session scheduled for June 18-19, 2014, tentatively to be held at the Rockefeller Institute. According to AHPG Co- Chair, Courtney
Hampton, the meet up will focus on the entities signature 2012-2015 Comprehensive Plan which outlines the states current epidemiology data, available services and providers, assessed barriers and challenges for consumers and responses to noted gaps in prevention or education across the state. "I am excited about the planning stage which will include some experts in the field who will engage participants in some robust discussion and brainstorming in preparation for our response to the CDC later this year."

Additionally the group discussed CDC driven suggestions on consolidation and collaborative merging of interested groups that have a similar agenda or complimentary outlook on the groups mission to decrease HIV infection rates in Arkansas. Nationally as funding levels are trending toward health disparity integration, both CDC and HRSA ( Health Resources and Services Administration) are working to align a guidance to meet the need of a integrated HIV plan that will be due in 2016.

AHPG will be reviewing it current plan with special emphasis on clarifying how the group will streamline approaches to HIV planning for effective prevention, care and treatment services. Community Co-Chair, C. Mabin stated that "I have specifically asked that all grantees be on hand to present on their current grants status. It's imperative that if we are to realistically plan for high impact prevention in the state, then we must know what the current status of what current grantees are accomplishing or other possible deficient outcomes."

Section Chief Ralph Wilmoth reported that a new initiative on ramping up Hep C testing is a upstart stage with a gradual roll out that will begin in selected site. He emphasized that policy review and additional deployment development has support throughout the agency and final announcements will be forthcoming.

The Marketing sub committee reported that Ms. Zuakemeh Belo, MPH was chosen to continue to develop new AHPG marketing materials that will be completed to be presented at a Riverfest kiosk in May and utilized in a series of planned public appearances and video presentations. Belo commented, " I was glad to be apart of the process to create pieces that would help promote the group and its mission." She continued, " as I understand we will be able to acquire sets of banners and stands plus other associated materials to assist with organizational branding." The group will also be formalizing an official tag line for it's new materials and web presences.( )

AHPG meetings are scheduled bi-monthly with membership open to service providers, advocates, consumers and individuals who are committed to decreasing HIV infections rates in Arkansas.  

Diversity: A Three Hour Tour

Congratulations to the organizers of Arkansas Initiative for Marriage Equality on its first fundraiser held Sunday at West Little Rock restaurant haunt Thirst and Howl.
Amazing as it was there was a
capacity crowd amidst a raging severe thunderstorm outside and at times appeared to be a busy but overwhelmed restaurant staff. Organizers stated that they wanted to use the venue because they wanted to have their event at some other place other than the usual places. Although they are certainly welcome to do so and there's nothing wrong with expanding our options, but often times such planning doesn't always take into context that everyone has the privilege to be able to attend for various circumstances whether it be economics or mere transportation.

The event was hosted by George Piggot of New Orleans who was billed as " a wild fool, but he does stay true." kind of a guy. Let's just say that I'm not sure if a audition tape was seen or any references checked before this character was let loose on the mike. His droning on, random banter about his ability to make babies and other unimpressive stage presence would not have been my first choice for my first fund raising outing.

Meanwhile,  there were an assortment of entertainers ranging from a "Girl Like Me"send up by local favorite GiGi Galore to others in the variety show line up including comic Michael Brown. Let me be clear I love earthy and bawdy comedy but I didn't really find "cat fart" jokes all that funny. Also I was basically over this guy when he quipped that "homosexual guys can now make the same money as a women?" Then he proclaimed that "this gig was better than the Marijuana event he performed for and he hoped that if marriage equality passes maybe we all could get together for a mass toke on a joint." O.K. I guess you have to go with whoever you can get for free.

In the program, AIME stated that the event was being held in response to raising funds to support its petition gathering drive including printing cost, graphc design and other supportive services. The event was supported by various notable businesses such as Ethel Cook Jeep to the Stonewall Democrats plus a few political candidates. Event totals were not available at post time but will be reported as they become available. Great job guys and gals on keeping the drive moving forward!


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