image credit: james houston
strength in numbers is a social network i participate in that has boldly taken on the task of publishing a newsletter in colorado. its focus is twofold, i believe. there's the social component which is really crucial and interesting. i have always felt somewhat isolated here in denver because of the complexion of the gay community. there is no "center" or "midway" or "ghetto" here really. perhaps there was at one time, but that really is a part of yesteryear. the community is not centralized and very polarized. and i think it's very conservative as well.
so hiv doesn't really get discussed openly. i don't have too much trouble bringing it up, but i don't think it's really considered appropriate to discuss. so for some poz guys in the community this "appropriateness" can be stifling and harsh. and then there's the dating pool. if it's not appropriate how do we disclose safely? how do we date with dignity? what if i want to pursue a relationship with a poz person. how do we meet? on a sexline? .....anyway....
this hushed tone carries over into our local "rainbow" press. poz is mentioned with reference to fundraisers. but poz is not really included in the local rainbow dynamic- at least not visibly.
how do we ask questions? how do we share information? how do we express difficulty or challenges? this newsletter hopefully can address this issue as well.
here is my letter which is following one by Strength In Numbers founder Bryan Levinson:
December 14 2007
The Start of Denver’s UB2
Welcome to the first edition of the Strength In Numbers newsletter. This has been so much fun connecting with other men and putting this together. It certainly is not perfect, but hopefully it will get better over time with your help and input. Individually we all have a fairly good working knowledge of how to take care of ourselves. Imagine how much greater that can be if we put that know-how together. We definitely welcome your feedback and your ideas to help make this periodical a really useful tool for both new positives and for long term warriors.
When Bryan Levinson wrote me a note informing me that he made me the moderator for SIN Colorado, I thought he was crazy. I had so many things going on and I didn’t feel I had any time to devote. But I knew things might be a bit up in the air with Chuck Lane’s passing and so I thought I would temporarily take the responsibility to help out.
Well, it turns out that this has been one of the most fun responsibilities I’ve had in quite awhile. I have met so many great guys who happen to be poz, have had laughs, have had more than my share of coffee, and have rekindled a desire to take better care of my own health and maybe offer some of my insight to other poz guys. And I have learned quite a bit these last few months, especially how good it feels to share what I have lived.
Strength In Numbers is teaming up with the PLWH committee from the Mayor’s Office of HIV Resources, and the Mile High Meth Project to kick-off what will hopefully become a great new tradition in Denver- UB2. There are similar successful regular events in many other cities. It is an opportunity for poz guys to get together and have fun without feeling any sort of stigma. This oddly named event is a direct response to the personal ads that declare "DND FREE UB2". We celebrate the idea that "I’m HIV Poz – UB2".
The first UB2 event will be Sunday January 27 2008 6pm at Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret. There will be no cover charge, but there will be a cash bar. Bryan Levinson, SIN founder, will be a guest speaker and there to meet members. Lannie Garrett will be there to sing a little, and we hope that entertainment, fun, and laughter will prevail.
We definitely are planning on a standing room only event. That would mean 150 poz guys. If you are HIV positive, you are invited. And bring a poz friend, too. Oh, and plan on talking with at least 5 new people. We believe there is indeed strength in numbers. I’ve been poz for 22 years and presume to be for many more years to come…. I hope UB2
Strength In Numbers Colorado
Rebuilt + Committee