Robert “Bob” Creasy, whose acting, directing and buoyant personality enlivened Fresno theater productions for years, died Friday after a brief illness. He was 36.
Mr. Creasy had a long and stellar history with the central San Joaquin Valley theater scene. He directed and acted in productions at StageWorks Fresno, CenterStage Clovis Community Theatre, Children’s Musical Theaterworks, Good Company Players, California Public Theater, Aithon Theatre and Fresno State.
As an adjunct theater instructor at Fresno City College, he directed the 2014 production of “Boeing Boeing,” a chipper farce. (“Creasy gives the play an ease and a bounce that whips up the laughs,” I wrote in a review. “I was impressed with how the cast moved so fluidly and in tune with the audience, with moments held just long enough to wring out maximum comic impact.”)
Continue reading at The Fresno Bee
Our annual Pride Month FREE Raffle is going strong
and we're pleased to announce the items up for grabs!
Over $850 in prizes!!!
|To enter, click here and fill out a quick entry form. No cost and no purchase necessary! You can enter daily, but the contest ends June 30th, so hurry!
A very special thanks to our donors for this year...
The Phantom of the Opera
Two Orchestra Tickets, valued at $148
Reel Pride Film Festival
VIP Ticket, (2) valued at $180
Crazy Squirrel Game Store
Three board / Card Games, valued at $130
Certificate for Studio Session & 8x10 portrait, valued at $150
Amenities Day Spa & Salon Fig Garden
Certificate for Spa & Salon, valued at $50
Gift Certificate, valued at $60
Certificate for Flowers, valued at $50
Two bags of coffee beans, valued at $27
Tabletop Fountain, Flameless Candle set, Candle holder, Lantern combined value of $70
Perfect Blend Fine Cigars
Two certificates for $20 each
Bracelets by Stephen Contreras
Handmade "Know Your Status" Bracelet, valued at $25
Total US Retail Value of all prizes is $765
Our hearts are completely broken.
Over 50 people were murdered last night at PULSE Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Over 50 people were wounded. This was the deadliest mass shooting in American history. This happened at an LGBTQ+ nightclub.
Tonight, we'll gather around the valley to host candlelight vigils to mourn the lives lost, and the lives injured.
Please come out tonight (6/12/16) to show some support for Orlando, and respect for the lives of those we lost in our community.
Orlando's gay community is in "utter shock" and after a mass shooting at a gay nightclub early Sunday morning, a local LGBTQ leader said.
Approximately 50 people are dead and 53 wounded after a gunman opened fire and took hostages at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Rob Domenico, a board member of The Center Orlando, an LGBTQ advocacy and support center in the city, said "absolute devastation" is being felt across Orlando's LGBTQ community.
Our annual tradition of filming the Fresno Pride Parade continues, feel free to watch the entire parade, in 1080p HD video, below:
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines stigma as “a set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something; archaic: a scar left by a hot iron: brand – a mark of shame or discredit: stain: an identifying mark or characteristic; a specific diagnostic sign of a disease.”
In the early years of HIV, stigma was the driving force that influenced most everything connected to HIV/AIDS. Even as death loomed over almost everyone infected, stigma may have been the biggest barrier to research toward a cure, effective and relevant prevention methods, testing and even medical care.
Why so much stigma around HIV?
There are several causes. The obvious is that HIV is linked to sex and drugs. Since the primary means of transmission is through sexual activity and injection drug use, HIV became a taboo subject. Coupled with the fact the first cases were diagnosed in gay men, stigma became synonymous with HIV.
But one of the most stigmatizing factors probably began with President Reagan and his refusal to address the issue until he was forced. The first cases of HIV in the United States were identified in 1981, but Reagan refused to acknowledge its existence until 1987. That fact infuriates many of us to this day.
The response would most certainly have been different had HIV manifested itself in affluent white women. So, how has stigma impacted HIV? As the poet said, “let me count the ways.”
Today, HIV testing is easy to access and, in many places, free. So, why aren’t more people tested? One of the major reasons is stigma.
Just the idea of seeking a test can be frightening. What if someone sees me? Is the tester going to judge me? What if I test positive? Am I going to be rejected by friends and family? What if my employer finds out? All of these questions, all of these fears, relate back to the stigma of HIV. Remember the words used in the definition? Stain, shame, a specific diagnostic sign of a disease.
Seeking and staying in care is extremely important for persons living with HIV. While care is very expensive, Indiana has actually done an excellent job making sure that most folks have comprehensive insurance. In addition, there are programs such as the Ryan White Care Act, which funds HIV-related care and services. We know when individuals are in care, they are healthier, live longer and reduce the chances of transmitting the virus to their partners.
Sadly, even care is influenced by stigma. Some clients are afraid to be seen seeking care at a clinic or doctor’s office associated with HIV. They stay away from care coordination for the same reasons. What if someone sees them entering the Damien Center or Step-Up?
Imagine having access to great care and services that could save your life, but the fear of being judged and stigmatized overpowers the desire to be healthy. It is not uncommon for clients to experience depression, have thoughts of suicide, abuse drugs and/or alcohol because of the burden placed on them by stigma.
And then there’s research. More than 30 years from the discovery of HIV and there is still no cure. Certainly millions of dollars have been spent on research over the years, but one has to wonder if the stigma of HIV has influenced dollars allocated to finding a cure. It took six years for the President of the United States to say “AIDS,” so it’s safe to say, we got a later than necessary start.
The discovery of new and much more effective medications has been quite successful. What was once a death sentence is now a manageable disease. So, we celebrate the successes while recognizing more could have been done had it not been for stigma.
Because of how HIV is transmitted, there are often moral judgments made about the folks who are living with HIV. They are often blamed for being sick, are the subjects of gossip, fear and even victims of violence.
While this was more prevalent in the early years of the epidemic, I am sorry to say stigma remains a serious issue. Seldom are people ridiculed or judged because they have cancer or heart disease or most any other disorder. They are not shunned or disowned or fired from their jobs or evicted from their homes. They aren’t afraid to seek care because someone might see them enter a particular clinic.
From the moment scientists identified HIV, responses of fear, denial, stigma and discrimination have accompanied the epidemic. Discrimination has spread rapidly, fueling anxiety and prejudice against the groups most affected. It has been said “HIV is as much about social phenomena as it is about biological and medical concerns.” Which is why stigma, that mark of shame, is so prevalent in HIV. Often HIV is seen as a moral failure rather than a medical issue.
Stigma is real and it is dangerous. It’s the scar that reminds us we are different. It can result in isolation, self-loathing and a steady decline in both mental and physical health.
In 2016, it is ridiculous it is still a problem. When I talk to young kids about HIV, one of the first things I tell them is “we don’t stop loving people because they are sick.” Even an eight-year old child gets that. Why, as adults, are we still branding people living with HIV? It’s time to stop!
Paula French is a co-founder of Step-Up Inc., an organization with the stated mission “to promote health and well-being among underserved and hard to reach populations,” especially in prevention and awareness of HIV/AIDS.
If you ever wonder what America is thinking, I’ve found a great barometer of political pinion: laundromats.
Our dryer broke recently, so there have been multiple weekly trips to the neighborhood laundry until it can get fixed. And while waiting, usually on Sunday, usually while reading the Sunday New York Times, there have been multiple opportunities to observe and survey random voters(?) – strike “voters,” insert: “citizens.”
The first real treat came in late January when a scruffy-looking 40ish fellow drove up in a beat-up van, bumper stickers galore (I’ll spare you – let’s just say he won’t give up his guns unless I pry his cold dead fingers from them. And that Obama already came to take them).
He unloaded three bags of laundry, parked his van, and started to put the items into a washer. Out of the first bag cam not one, but six – that’s right, six – Confederate flags. I’m not sure of Confederate flag laundry protocol. I’m not even sure there is a Confederate flag laundry protocol.
Never fear, gentle readers; confrontation was avoided. Another laundry patron made small talk, which I obviously overheard. You might call it “eavesdropping.”
It seems the Confederate ex-pat believes we’re awash in “colored folks tellin’ us all what to do, which is not what George and Mary Washington wanted.” And: “Obama is hanging around Washington after the election to re-start the Trilateral Commission” and to make sure “that bitch, Hillary, appoints his wife to the Supreme Court.”
OK, so all the above was the click-bait to get readers this far, but it really did happen that way. I also talked to several laundry patrons who had strong views on current affairs.
From an Hispanic mother of four: “I’d vote if I could, and I’d vote for Hillary or Bernie, but I’m not registered.” Because she’s, well, ineligible to vote. She added: “We came here in 2004 because we needed jobs. My husband and me, we have had four children here. My husband has gotten several green cards, but not any more.”
She spoke while folding sheets and towels, oblivious to any potential danger in admitting her immigration status.
“We’re here for our kids,” she said, adding, “Donald Trump has a lot to learn about world politics.”
She later said to the laundry attendant, Merle: “The new guy, he’s OK, right?”
The next week, the Confederate guy came back, but without flags.
Also there: A lady who was intrigued by my “Pence Must Go” T-shirt. I saw her eyeing me for about a half-hour. When it came time for her to load her dryer, she took the one next to my clothes.
“I want one of those,” she said, as she pointed to the T-shirt. “He’s a complete douche, isn’t he?” She also had multiple other current events opinions, which she shared without being asked:
“I usually vote for at least one Republican. I wonder who it will be this year.”
“You know, my sister is a lesbian. I wasn’t for marriage equality until it came to her.”
“I’m not sure if I’m registered (to vote). How do I find out?” I explained it to her, and she recounted she couldn’t remember when she’d last voted.
“Can I register online?” We started that process on her phone. “But it wants my address. I’m kinda in-between now.”
Two weeks later, Merle the attendant asked me how long I’d been gay. I asked him how he knew.
“Your HRC T-shirts.” I replied: “For quite awhile.” Said he: “So why is it important to have RFGRA rights?” Whereupon a long discussion ensued about religious freedom. And he said, “Are you sure you’re right about that? Because I thought pastors would be forced to marry you.”
“Mind if I ask how you usually vote?” I said to Merle.
“Oh hell I never vote,” he shot back. “They’re all crooks.”
And so it goes.
I have been watching Donald Trump’s campaign with a sort of morbid curiosity for the last few months.
It feels almost surreal to me that the reality TV star could actually end up winning the White House, but he is certainly closer than any other Republican running for the Oval Office.
Recently I became aware of a visit by the Trump campaign, and took a chance and applied for media credentials to attend the Trump Rally. I really didn’t think that I would be able to get approved, but I thought, “What the heck” – I will give it a shot.
After a short while I received a nice email from a representative for Trumps campaign saying that I and my political editor for The Word, Rick Sutton, were approved to attend the rally as Media.
On the day of the rally, as we made our way through light security toward the media entrance, I noticed that there were very few protesters on the street and out in front of the venue. We made our way into the hall and were greeted by security. I found it fascinating that one of the security people was a more butch, but very pleasant, lesbian who directed us to the media staging area.
As Rick and I wandered through the throngs of media people setting up staging areas and equipment, I looked over the crowd and tried to see if I could identify any potential danger zones. That morning I posted online that I was going to attend, and received a plethora of messages from friends and business associates encouraging me to be vigilant and careful due to the reported escalating violence at Trump rallies across the country.
As I positioned myself for the best vantage point to hear Trump speak, I became aware of several people and small groups of people who clearly looked like they didn’t belong there. They fidgeted and looked around as if waiting for something, and I looked where they were looking to see if I could see some sort of pattern or indication of what was yet to come.
As Rick and I waited we chatted with a few of the other journalists and compared our analysis of the size and makeup of the crowd gathered to hear their candidate speak. We wondered whether or not the artists whose songs were being played would have approved of their work being used to energize a crowd that were blatantly against some of the musicians’ basic civil rights.
Nothing is more exciting than cleaning out your basement, right? So many boxes full of things that make you say: “why the hell did I even buy this?” Clothes that are too small, Jackie Collins novels that once held your interest, and tattered stuffed animals worn smooth from childish affection.
It was during such a journey down memory lane that I dropped a shoebox, and from its interior, my entire love life spilled out.
Snapshots from years past stared up at me from the floor – smiling faces trapped in Kodak amber, frozen in time inside the antiquated art of actual pictures on photographic paper. As I picked them up one by one, I could feel the times and the places blooming in my head, the men and boys that seemed so important to me at one time, now merely reduced to tiny squares of still life history.
Looking at the remnants of the past made me realize that most of these guys were merely crushes and infatuations, not the paragons of romantic love that I thought they were. And looking at myself in these pictures, I realized that at certain times in my life I had compromised who I really was in order to hold on to someone I imagined to be important.
It made me realize that many times in life we barter with our feelings because we are afraid to be alone. We take what we think we can get, because the fear of not being able to find someone makes us do the one thing we should never do: settle for something less than we deserve.
But why would we compromise something as treasured as our heart? In our professional lives, we never stand for being passed over for a raise or letting someone else take the credit for our work, so why make concessions in our love life?
Sometimes people say that our expectations can be too high, so we should settle for Mr. Good-Enough instead of Mr. Right. But why? Don’t you deserve to be happy with someone who makes you feel dizzy and sexy and full of light and laughter? Someone who makes you pant and growl like a wolf when you slide sweaty and naked together?
It’s one thing to want someone who can help you run the household and take care of the kids and the dogs and make sure there’s coffee in the cupboard when you need it, but you’re not running a business. Don’t get me wrong – it’s fantastic to find someone who’s responsible and mature enough to know that there’s more to a relationship than knocking your socks off in the bedroom. But even if they can cook and remodel and contribute to the actual shared wealth of your partnership, what’s the point of staying with someone if you don’t really, really love them?
When we were younger, we fell into relationships because they were new and exciting. But when they ended, sometimes self-doubt began to grow, causing us to settle for someone new because we thought that we couldn’t trust our judgment. Before long, we were stuck in a Moebius strip of settling for less and less each time we met someone.
On the flip side, there are the people who settle for someone not because they are attracted to them necessarily, but by what that person can give them: Financial security, status, even whether or not they would be a good parent to their children. All of these things are great qualities in a person, but without heat, a relationship turns ice cold.
Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to chat up a few men who are not involved directly in the Leather/Kink community.
Granted, the reasons for our interactions weren’t necessarily to talk. However, more and more, I’m finding that my quest for carnal satisfaction involves more than just the need for physical gratification. I find that sexual encounters are more satisfying and fruitful if there is some other type of connection involved in the dynamic. So, I make it a point to have some real life, face-to-face interaction.
I was describing to him my own perspective of our community and how my view of my place in the community influences my day-to-day interactions. After hearing my take on being of service and building connections and bridges, his response caught me off-guard. He told me that my approach was very spiritual and based on religious teachings. In my head, I kept thinking the two are totally unrelated, but I also had to recognize that the spiritual component of my sexuality is equally if not more important than the physical aspect.
A couple of weeks later, I read a piece by writer Patrick Mulcahey, who had interviewed members of ONYX, the group for Leather People of Color. Repeatedly, the members of the club described what they believed to be the club’s key to success. Each member interviewed saw their interaction with others in the community as a Ministry. There it was again – the use of spiritual principles in a community where sex and sexual activity are the focus. After some thought and mulling over, I realized or probably remembered that in many ways, the two – spirituality and sexuality – are very much intertwined.
Ministering to someone and being a Minister are very different. Ministering to someone is an activity, an action that addresses an expressed or obvious need.
Bootblacks are a powerful example of the activity of ministering. Not only do bootblacks provide for the care of boots, gear and those things we believe that define us as leather folks, bootblacks also tend to the need we all have to connect with another human being. For those brief moments, at least in my experience, sitting in the bootblacks chair not only restores my skins but it also restores my soul.
Taking the time to disconnect, having someone massage my feet, engage in conversation and releasing tension actually seem to energize me, because it brings me back to myself. I’ve seen kink class instructors who not only are able to provide technical expertise (being a Minister) but are also able to minister to the needs of their chosen scene participant through how they interact and with what they do during the aftercare component of the scene. Whether it be providing water, holding them, talking or just having skin-to-skin contact can and does make a difference in how both parties will experience and remember the scene.
Ministering is about addressing both a physical need and a soul need that will only take place when two people are connected. However, it is born of a desire to be of service, and that is independent of role identification.
Somehow, in our evolution as a community, we seem to be moving away from ministering to our community and becoming more about being Ministers. The drive to have a title, a position, a symbol of our importance (think Covers) has superseded the desire to be of service.
Being a minister is a position of power; ministering to others is an act of empowerment for everyone involved. The feeling of empowerment, at least for me, is pretty sexy. It doesn’t always lead to sex, but it does lead to satisfaction.
This isn't just a Fresno Pride event it regional and the only Pride event that in the Valley that includes a parade!
Up to 5,000 people will attend the parade, parade begins at 10 am and the route is east bound on Olive from Palm to Maroa.
The Festival is a street festival and is roughly at Fulton Street and Alhambra, the festival entrance is at Fulton and Olive.
Admission is only $5
We posted this to our Facebook page on March 29, 2016 after escrow had been opened to sell the bar.
"A little more than a year ago, Karl, one of the owners of The Phoenix, was crossing a street and was hit by a car. The impact broke his pelvis in multiple places and broke his collar bone. In the year that's passed since then, we've been working out which duties we can split up based on his new limitations.
"We were reaching a new balance in this when his previously-diagnosed congestive heart failure (resulting in several previous heart attacks) got suddenly worse in late February 2016.
"Running a bar is simultaneously surprisingly difficult and ridiculously easy; sometimes for exactly the same reasons. Health takes precedence over business so The Phoenix is closing for good on April 23, 2016.
"There are several events already planned in April and they will continue as scheduled. Emperor XL's beer bust on Saturday, April 2, the IDC Beer Bust on Friday, April 8, the Agents of O party on Saturday, April 16. (There may be an additional event added but stay tuned for that.)
"Join us for the next three and a half weeks. We'll be having some cool things to give away (Need--or just want--an extra "Beers for Bears" T-Shirt? If you already have one, come get another while the supply lasts. Misplaced an anniversary shot glass? Come get a replacement while we still have plenty. Or, come get one of the misprinted ones.) )
"This is not the failure some predicted; we're on track to have our 4th most profitable quarter ever by the end of this month; and mid-summer last year, we broke even on the investment to open a bar.
"It sounds cheezy (and it seems that every business that closes says something like this; but it makes more sense now) but thank you to everybody who helped make The Phoenix the success it has been. This is a great opportunity for Karl and Bryan to do the things they want to do together while they still can. (Yes. Really.)"
“In the age we live in, every flaw and misstep is recorded on film or video, then spilled like red ink over the Internet and discussed ad nauseam, until even the photographic evidence comes into question.
Whether it’s a grainy, night-vision sex tape, a DUI mug shot or a fashion blunder that results in exposing more than the proper amount of skin, the culture of celebrity has shown us that committing a public mistake or having a bad reputation makes for a compelling read and good television. Just because average people don’t have their infelicities splashed all over TMZ doesn’t mean that the rumors that breed a bad reputation won’t spread like wildfire. And just like the gossip and stories that crowd the pages of tabloids, some of these incidents are self-created.
The question is: How much of our reputation is truly who we are?
As our lives unfold, our personas reveal themselves. These are the aspects of our character that the public perceives as who we are. As a matter of fact, the word “persona” comes from the Latin word for mask, therefore indicating that what people see isn’t always what they get.
The bookish nerd. The dim gym rat. The hilarious drunk. The pretty-boy heartbreaker. These and other facades have a basis in who and what we truly are, but they are built by you to give you an identity so you can find your niche. No one wants to fade into the background, so we embellish, act out and decide who or what we want to be by the actions that we take.
So why do we create reputations that don’t reflect our true nature? Is it because our reputation is who we truly want to be? Or is it because it will mask who we really are? Is it armor to hide behind? Or is it a fictional magnet that we
feel will draw in the people we really want to be with?
A bad reputation may scare off the people you’re afraid of, but if someone is really interested in you, they will look past your reputation and uncover the real person inside. The same goes for someone who catches your eye; believing the hype surrounding someone that you like may prevent you from realizing their true nature. Why judge someone by the mistakes they’ve made? Would you want someone to judge you because of a story they heard on the street from an unreliable source?
Every year, it is our goal to bring a wide array of LGBTQ cinema and entertainment home to the Central Valley. We are pleased to announce our leadership for the upcoming year, including:
Board President & Festival Director
Co-Founder & Director of Reel Pride Endowment
Augie G. Blancas
Vice President & Director of Communications
Vice President & Director of Sponsorships
Director of Memberships
Director of Volunteers
Director of Programming
Fresno Reel Pride proudly presents its 27th Annual LGBTQ Film Festival September 21-25, 2016.
For more information, visit www.reelpride.com.
Join us for a Rainbow Event and Wedding Expo!
We will be offering event and wedding planning information and showcasing inclusive vendors to the LGBT community. There will be a human and dog fashion show, and the 40-50 vendors will offer services for people planning any type of event!
“Who are you? Who? Who? Who? Who?” –Roger Daltrey
I was talking to my romantic partner in crime, Millie, and we were talking about the “invisible colors” sort to speak; those of us in the community who aren’t really represented either in pop culture in general or even within the community itself.
Millie is a part of the asexual community and I’m part of the bisexual community, and we’re both aware of invisibility of our orientations.
Now, it’s not complete invisibility; with the age of the internet, particularly with social media such as Facebook and Tumblr, we can find other members of our communities and see that we’re not alone. Millie has pointed me to dozens of blogs and personal pages dedicated to the asexual community, as I have shown her resources of the bisexual community. Other queer communities, such as the gender variation community (bi-gender, genderqueer, etc.), are using the same power of the internet to reach out and connect.
It has been great to find such a community online. Not only have I made contact with bisexual brothers and sisters all over the world – including being interviewed for the BiCast online radio show by a British bisexual named Becca – but thanks to Millie sharing her resources with me, I have learned a great deal about the asexual community, what their stories are, how they define themselves, and their own struggles for acceptance not only in the broader society, but within the broader queer community.
Saturday Night Live has gotten in on the fun and has provided their own parody of the Pure Flix franchise with this trailer, which could just as easily be entitled God’s Not Gay:
This is one of those “good news-bad news” stories. We seldom get to witness an actual cure to a disease, but that is exactly what’s happening with Hepatitis C.
First, a very short Hepatitis C 101: “Hep C” is an ongoing challenge in our communities. It is transmitted through blood. It can be transmitted through needle sharing, sharing toothbrushes or razors, tattoos (including the ink), body piercing, through open cuts or sexual transmission where blood is present (menstrual blood, vaginal or anal abrasions). It is far more prevalent than HIV, is much more easily transmitted and is seen in a wide range of populations.
Many baby-boomers are infected with Hep C. Individuals who worked in jobs or served in the military where they were exposed to blood through open cuts were often exposed to Hepatitis C. They in turn, often unknowingly, infected their wives/husbands/partners.
Folks who inject drugs and share needles are also at high risk for Hep C. The blood can be in the syringe and thus injected with the drug into the next user.
Then, of course, there is the phenomenon of tattooing and body piercing that has become a common practice for people of all ages. When tattoos and piercings are done correctly in a sanitary setting, they are perfectly safe. It’s the ones done at home in someone’s basement by their uncle’s best friend or the shop that doesn’t take proper precautions that have the potential to carry Hep C. They often use the same needles and the same ink over and over, or don’t properly clean their equipment.
One of the big differences between HIV and Hep C is that the Hep C virus (HCV) lives much longer outside the body. A study at Yale University published in 2013 showed that HCV can live on a surface for up to 2 weeks and in a syringe for up to 63 days. While the virus may lose some of it virulence, it is still considered to be infectious.
So, for the reasons stated above, it’s rather clear why there are so many people living with Hepatitis C. If left untreated, Hep C often leads to liver disease including liver cancer and other liver-related problems, which may lead to death. We know that many people living with HIV are co-infected with Hepatitis C, which can complicate both conditions. It is extremely important that persons living with HIV are tested for Hep C.
For years the outcry from folks in the healthcare and prevention world has been that while we can test individuals for Hep C, many had no access to treatment. There have been virtually no programs to help pay for treatment and nowhere to send clients for assistance.
Until recently, the most common treatment for Hep C was interferon. I’ve heard many Hep C clients compare their treatment to chemotherapy. The side effects were nearly intolerable and the outcome was often disappointing. Many people were weakened by the treatment and died.
BUT then, a HUGE change! A couple of years ago we began hearing about the progress in the treatment of Hep C – not just a treatment, but an actual cure!
Last spring, I attended a conference where the instructor, a local physician, used the word “cure.” Just a few days ago, one of our staff members asked a healthcare provider, “is this truly a cure?” and the answer was YES. Most studies have shown a high success rate between 85 and 100 percent.
This is outstanding news, and of course we are very excited. The problem is the cost. The new course of treatment is about 12 weeks, but can be as little as eight or as many as 20. The average cost for that treatment is approximately $80,000 to $100,000. There are some medications coming on the market that claim to be about half the cost, but is even $50,000 realistic for most people? Many insurance companies are refusing to cover these drugs because of the cost. Most drug companies have patient assistance programs for folks who cannot afford their medication, but those programs are very limited and don’t come close to covering the number of people who need help. Hopefully, over time the cost will come down considerably, but for now, many people are left out of the opportunity for a cure.
None of this is to suggest that the pharmaceutical companies are the bad guys. I understand that research is extremely costly and it often takes years to bring a drug to market.
I am thrilled with the fact that people with HIV are living longer, healthier lives because of the ongoing progress of HIV medication. And, here we are with an actual cure for Hepatitis C.
But, it is still difficult for me to accept that $1,200 a pill is reasonable. I have no idea how much profit is in that one pill, but if I had to take one pill once a day for 12 weeks, that is $100,800. So, the good news is, there is a cure for Hepatitis C. The bad news is, it’s going to cost you $100,000.
In a reversal from its previous decision Clovis Unified School District voted Wednesday night to change its dress code policy. Trustees decided to adopt new language that is gender neutral. See video above from ABC 30
Opening in May, theSOURCE (http://thesourcelgbt.org), promises to be an important reSOURCE and focal point for the LGBT community. Serving Tulare and Kings Counties from the main office in Visalia, and with satellite offices planned in Tulare and other cities, it will become the hub of activities, referrals, information, social activities, history, and more. With contacts and advice from one of California's premiere LGBT organizations, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, theSOURCE will provide a central clearinghouse for the gay community and our allies. With special focus on LGBT youth services, transgender issues, and improving access to mental and physical health services, it will be a safe place for young and old to learn and grow.
From the webpage of theSOURCE LGBT Center:
Our MISSION is to provide spaces within our communities for the LGBT+ population to Learn, Grow, Belong, Transform, Question +Support. Our VISION: cultivate new resources through advocacy, partnerships and fundraisingto unite and advance the LGBT+ community in Tulare & Kings Counties.
Fundraising for theSOURCE has rocketed, with the group's initial $5,000 goal nearing achievement in a few short weeks. Hosted at a Crowdrise site, online donations can be made here. Amounts over the $5,000 goal will be directed towards operations and activities of the new center.
On Saturday, March 27, 2016, the VIsalia Times Delta highlighted the new group and it's founders, in a bold and extensive article in the "Inspire" section. That article can be seen here.
theSOURCE will be located at 208 W. Main, Suite B, Visalia. (downstairs at the Montgomery Plaza). Stay tuned for hours of operation. Facebook here. Webpage here. Mail to: theSOURCE PO Box 188, Visalia, CA 93279
With Pride celebrations around the corner, and warmer weather, I’d like to make what I call a “modest proposal.”
Elsewhere, I have admitted to trolling Facebook. Rather than spending the rest of our natural lives discussing whether FB honestly reflects or distorts a clear vision of our communities, humor me and assume this: A lot of folks use it.
If FB is to believed, every group, event and me-too organization needs you to attend, supported by your attendance, or best yet, with your dollars. Now, the Goose is good with all that. There is little question that I use FB to extensively promote this publication and other volunteer activities I find of value. But, I also like to say, as a senior, I know better to wait for an email or a phone call – I learn about most events I attend via FB and “distribution lists.”
My informal non-scientific frequency table of FB topics: Transgender issues, bullying issues, youth events, youth needs, youth housing, youth abuse, pride events and all the other fine stuff from bars (yes, they were the original supporters), and maybe suicide prevention. Note that I didn’t mention all of this season’s political stuff and latest outrage.
Having recently whined publicly about the state of the “communities,” I have been politely welcomed to become part of the modern notion of what gay life is today. This invitation was from a group of younger peers. My friendly pundits suggest that I am much too caught up in the old war crimes against our communities, particularly from the bad old ‘80s and ‘90s.
The message to me was “to stop looking for a boogey man” behind every event. They argue there are many places that are accepting and supportive of us. In other words, to quote someone less kind, I was “a tiring pale copy of Larry Kramer.” Actually, I thought it was a great shot to be compared to Larry Kramer. I admire his passion, but I would not compare to Mr. Kramer or his personal sacrifice.
I am sure that after seeing 200 friends pass on of HIV, and probably another 500 “I knew of,” my world view has forever changed. Some of my readers lived or studied that history and keep that memory alive. No one has to like it, accept it, or even endorse it. Generally, most just ignore it. Even Hillary got it wrong vis a vis Nancy Reagan’s role and the HIV epidemic. Bottom line: Once you have a friend die in your arms from HIV, it changes you. I don’t expect my younger peers to understand. I ask for no sympathy – they are my memories, and they are your history.
Long before we had to suffer through the tired tropes of today’s romantic comedies, we had fairy tales; the sugar-spun stories of our childhood that made us believe in unrealistic things like talking animals, happy endings and Prince Charmings.
They also made us puzzle over another important fact. No, I’m not talking about the obvious problems with wearing glass footwear or how you can apparently remain alive inside of a wolf’s stomach after he eats you. I’m talking about how fairy tales made us believe no matter what our station in life, be it stable boy, farmhand, fisherman or pauper, we could win the hand of our true love with nothing but devotion and a pure heart.
So answer me this question: If you met someone that you felt a connection with today, and they told you they were a stable boy or a fisherman, how would you react? Are you being honest?
Because even in this day and age, when it comes to dating and relationships, we still reside within the confines of the ancient caste system when it comes to the subject of employment. The truth of the matter is, we all work for a living. Whether you are digging ditches or performing brain surgery, a job is a job.
Even though many people use their job as a way of identifying themselves, a job doesn’t make you who you are. When you die, you will be remembered for the feelings you stirred in those left behind. Gravestones don’t say: “Here lies Eric. He was a great pharmacist.” The inscriptions say the person was loved and will be missed; that they were a great father, a wonderful brother, an amazing friend, or a loving partner.
We are defined by our actions and our interactions with the other members of the human race, and your personality will shine through whether you are holding a scalpel or a shovel. But, even though we shouldn’t use our employment or unemployment as a factor, the question of what you do for a living is usually brought up in the first few sentences between two people meeting for the first time – usually right after your name, your age and the place where you reside.
So, does the person’s response to “What do you do?” affect your decision on whether or not to go any further? Because I can pretty much guarantee someone’s talent for flipping burgers or dealing priceless art is not going to make a difference once you hit the sheets.
Here’s an example: Years ago, I met a guy and we had been hanging out for a few weeks and none of my friends had met him yet. When they asked me what he did for a living, I told them straight up: “He’s an assistant manager at a Burger King.”
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. It’s probably exactly what they were thinking as they scoffed about it for a couple days. Then they met him. He was goofy-sexy-cute like Chris Pratt with perfect teeth, curly brown hair and the body of a collegiate wrestler. Needless to say, I didn’t hear much more derision after that.
Prevention efforts to halt the spread of HIV traditionally focused on HIV-negative individuals.
But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a strategy centered solely on HIV-negative persons is not enough to stop HIV transmissions. The Atlanta-based CDC says it is crucial to include HIV-positive persons in efforts to reduce the risks of transmitting HIV.
POZ Magazine (Jan. 2015) reported the CDC accented the “centrality” of HIV-positive people to prevention efforts because targeting them is more probable in reducing HIV incidence than working to change the behaviors of millions who are at risk for infection.
The AIDS Education and Training Center (AETC) Program, the training arm of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, informs the rate of new HIV infections in the United States has remained in the stable range of 50,000 per year. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) – sometimes referred to as highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) – improves the health of HIV-positive individuals who are in appropriate medical care and lowers the risks of HIV transmission.ART reduces the HIV viral load, which can prevent new infections, an outcome termed “treatment as prevention.”
It is important to understand that maximal suppression of the HIV viral load does not mean one is cured of HIV. The CDC defines viral load suppression as less than 200 copies per milliliter of blood; an HIV-positive person is considered “undetectable” when the HIV viral load is less than about 40 copies per milliliter of blood. Current medical literature indicates there has never been a recorded case involving an undetectable HIV-positive person transmitting HIV.
Unfortunately, not all HIV-positive Americans are taking antiretroviral therapy, which means many people have yet to achieve maximal suppression of their viral load. Clearly, other risk reduction and behavioral modification methods are needed in the fight to prevent new HIV infections.
The clinical interaction with HIV-positive persons about transmission risk behaviors with the goal of reducing HIV transmission is referred to as “prevention with positives” (PWP).
While many people with HIV infection have a real desire to prevent others from being infected with HIV, it can be challenging for some people to disclose their HIV+ status when engaging in high-risk behaviors that could place others at risk for infection. HIV-positive individuals who repeatedly present with sexually transmitted infections may be placing themselves and others at additional health risks, as STIs are often accompanied by increased risk for HIV transmission. In these cases, information alone may not be enough to change risky behaviors in sexual practices or drug use. Personal conversations involving a harm-reduction approach may provide clear concepts of the risks of certain behaviors and strategies on how to reduce those risks or avoid them completely.
Some HIV-positive persons may have trouble sticking with their safer goal behaviors; a referral to a mental health clinician or to prevention case management could be beneficial. A mental health assessment can reveal disorders that can increase the chances of risky sexual and drug use behaviors. Health care providers can counsel an HIV-positive person to understand risk and to work to modify harmful behaviors to self and to others.
What is involved in “prevention with positives?”
The CDC now counsels health care providers to encourage their HIV-positive patients to begin ART within three months of diagnosis, regardless of CD4 count. The chance of an HIV-positive individual transmitting the HIV virus is virtually eliminated when ART treatment is successful and an undetectable viral load has been achieved.
There can sometimes be interruptions in a person’s medical care. These gaps may be created by personal patient circumstances such as mental health issues, substance abuse, or lack of financial resources. Maintaining consistent contact with a healthcare provider is key when a person is trying to suppress their viral load. Many HIV services now have a component designed to helping clients with multiple barriers stay active in care. (Having not referenced the cascade until now, it might be better not to bring it up, as it is rather an in-depth topic.)
Partner notification may be one of the most difficult issues for the HIV-positive individual. HIV service professionals (that is a big word for people not in the field) can help patients who are newly diagnosed by offering confidential partner notification – helping disclose to partners who might have been exposed with or without the patient present. Generally, HIV Testing counselors help clients identify which option works best for them.
Health professionals are advised by the CDC to assist people with HIV in finding insurance. Providers are also urged to counsel HIV-negative patients about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis. When someone tests positive at an AIDS Service Organization here, they are immediately linked to case managers that will assist them in securing the necessary resources they will need to initiate and remain engaged in care.
If you have questions about PWP, I encourage you to contact your health care provider.