In Our Own Voices: Serving the needs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgendered
People of Color,
our Friends and Families.

In Our Own Voices launches Public Awareness Campaign
to acknowledge the presence of Black Gay Men in the Capital Region.

From December 6, 2010 through February 28, 2011 the “ We Are Part of You” campaign will be featured on billboards, CDTA buses & shelters in Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer, and Montgomery Counties. The campaign will depict Black Gay Men in familial, religious, and recreational settings with the tag line: “We have always been a part of this community. We are your sons, fathers, brothers, uncles, nephews, and friends. It's time to treat us with the love we deserve.” 

The “ We Are Part of You” campaign initially launched in 2007 in New York City to address the rise in HIV cases among Black Gay Men (BGM) which were believed to be caused in part by the stigmatization of Homosexuality in the Black Community. As In Our Own Voices (IOOV) seeks to promote the health & well-being of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender People of Color, we felt it was necessary to bring this campaign to the Capital Region. 

For more information, Please contact Phillip A. Burse at 518.432.4188.

With warm regards,

Tandra LaGrone
Executive Director

We are a part of you

The WE ARE PART OF YOU campaign was originally produced in 2007 as a project of The New York State Black Gay Network and Boston's JRI Health.  In Our Own Voices is adapting this campaign to spread this important message to the Capital Region.

Why a Campaign?
To respond differently to HIV! As early as 1988, studies found high rates of HIV among African American/Black men who have sex with men (MSM). Now, in 2010, NOT MUCH HAS CHANGED! As you read this, the HIV epidemic is continuing to ravage Black MSM. "The response to such devastating and heart wrenching news from Black gay and non-gay communities, as well as mainstream America has been shamefully inadequate." (NYS Black Gay Network, 2007)

This campaign is about challenging the belief that our lives don't matter and aren't worth saving. It exposes and confronts homophobia, which we see in the form of inaction, silence and even violence. It interrupts that silence with a loud voice: Black gay men's lives matter! 

In recent years Black Gay men's lives have been devalued in our own communities. There have been reports of shootings and stabbings of Black gay men throughout the country. The campaign seeks to mobilize Black gay men and our allies in the community to end homophobia and the violence it spreads.

What Is Homophobia?
Homophobia is a word often used to describe a fear of homosexuals. However, it is more useful to consider the ingredients - it's created using societal norms of masculinity/femininity, gender roles and difference. For individuals, homophobia can lead to deep rooted low-self esteem, fear of familial and community rejection and various mental health issues; including feelings of isolation, depression and suicide. In the community and larger society, the impact of homophobia can mean increased violence in communities and increased rates of HIV. In all its forms, homophobia makes health education, HIV prevention and treatment extremely challenging. We must not let hateful and abusive treatment from others undermine our ability to care for ourselves and each other.

Health Info

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.) The virus enters the body and attacks the immune system, the body's defense against illnesses and diseases. Once the immune system has been severely weakened by the HIV virus, which can be determined by a blood test or the development of an AIDS related infection, you are diagnosed with having AIDS.

It usually takes years for HIV to lead to AIDS. Most people have few, if any, symptoms for several years after they are infected. People who appear perfectly healthy may have the virus, without knowing it, and pass it on to others.

HIV Transmission:

There are three main ways to give or get the HIV virus. The first is through unprotected sex (sex without a condom) that involves anal, vaginal or oral penetration. The second is by sharing "works" (needles and syringes, cookers, cottons and water) when injecting drugs or other substances. The third way is through breast-feeding.

Blood transfusions use to be another way to get the virus, but that rarely occurs now. You can't get HIV through kissing, mutual masturbation, or by getting another person's semen/cum or vaginal fluids on your skin. You can't get HIV from tears, saliva or sweat. You also can't get HIV through casual contact such as a hug or handshake, or from objects like forks, knifes, phones or toilet seats.

Who's At Risk?:
Anyone can get HIV - young and old, men and women, straight, gay and bisexual, rich and poor, and all racial and ethnic groups Your risk comes from what you do, and who you do it with - that is, how likely it is the person you have sex or share needles with is infected.

Making Choices:
Think about what you find pleasurable about sex, where, and with whom. Consider what risks are involved, and whether those will worry you later. Then try to think about how you might lower the risks while holding on to the pleasure. Some people have decided not to have sex with people they don't know well, or made certain kinds of sex off limits. Some have reduced the number of their sexual partners. Only you can decide what risks are worth taking and what risks are not.

Staying Safer - Tools of the Trade:
1. Using a new, clean needle is by far the best protection against the virus if you are shooting drugs. Some states, including New York, have needle exchange programs (where you can get free, clean needles) or needles for sale in drugstores.

2. Latex condoms ("rubbers") prevent HIV infection. Using a condom may not always be easy, but it can save your life or someone else's. When used right, condoms seldom break, tear, or slip.

3. Plastic wrap and dental dams stop HIV when used for oral sex on a woman or for oral-anal sex. Dental dams are latex squares available in medical supply stores and from some adult shops.

4. The "female condom" is a plastic sheath that can be inserted in the vagina or anus for protection against HIV. The female condom can be inserted up to 8 hours before sex, has rings at both ends to hold it in place, and can be lubricated with oil-based lubricants that stay wet longer.

In Our Own Voices has free condoms, lube and other safer sex supplies.

To Test or Not to Test:
It can be scary to consider, but taking the HIV test is one of the best ways to stay healthy. Finding out that you have HIV can be an important step toward taking care of your health and planning for the future. Learning that you are HIV negative can help you figure out how to stay that way.

Standard HIV tests look for HIV antibodies, which are cells the body makes after HIV enters the blood. It can take up to three months to make enough antibodies so that they will show up on the test, although in most cases, infection can be detected in four weeks. If an infected person tests too soon during this "window period", the HIV test may not find infection, but the person can infect others.

Where Can I Get Tested?
In many states, public clinics offer a free, anonymous test, which means they do not take your name. Private clinics and doctors also give the test, and they can promise to keep your name "confidential," or allow you to use a name without showing identification. "Confidential" means that while they are required to tell their local health departments the names of all persons who test HIV-positive, they will not otherwise release your name without your consent.  Call 518-432-4188 to find a location for a free HIV test. 

What About Treatment?
People with HIV or AIDS can do a number of things to stay healthy, which is why it's important to know your status. Although there is no treatment that cures HIV, drugs are now available that can prevent AIDS-related pneumonia and other serious diseases; other medications help the body fight the virus itself. However, many of these drugs may have unintended, harmful side-effects.