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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

it's like that

7 Important Facts about Strength In Numbers (SIN):

SIN represents a global association of poz gay men (there is no technical "membership" )
Our belief is that any gay guy who has tested positive for HIV is a part of our movement. There's no membership fee as the price for entry has been costly enough already!

SIN respects your privacy and right to keep your HIV status confidential
If you join one of our chapters or email lists, it is never shared with anyone. And we never ask guys in SIN to give us their full name or photo. We believe that everyone living with HIV/AIDS has the right to determine for themselves whether they want to tell no one, someone or everyone about their HIV status.

SIN has an extremely diverse participation (all ages, races, incomes, length in time of infection)
The guys who participate in SIN groups or interact with other SIN chapters come from every walk of life. HIV is color-blind, infects at any age, doesn't disappear over decades, and never, to our knowledge, cared what "poz social group" someone claim allegiance. HIV causes AIDS if untreated, period. So we welcome everyone infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, but we also take care to stick to our mission of seeking to empower and improve the lives of poz gay men around the world.

SIN chapters are locally managed unless we're looking for a manager
We have no paid staff so each local representation of Strength In Numbers is manned by volunteers who donate their spare time to moderate our message boards and coordinate social events for the group. Some of our chapters may not have an active manager at times, and in those cases managers from other cities will temporarily guide that group until a local manager is found. There are no official boards or committees in the SIN model, as we hope to avoid the political infighting and power struggles that have hampered so many other AIDS related organizations.

SIN is currently working on becoming a 501c3 tax exemption & doesn't (and never will) accept federal/state funding
Too many times we've seen AIDS related groups turn into fundraising machines after they become an operating non-profit, quickly losing focus on their original mission. Once that happens, it seems they dictate to people living with HIV/AIDS rather than work hard to serve the best interests of their clients or ever try to involve their membership in their decision making process. When they take public funding, particularly from the federal government, usually they are saddled with a mass of complex and restrictive requirements including burdensome surveys to fill out at every event they administer. While we understand this sometimes is fundamentally necessary for AIDS service organizations (ASOs) offering expensive programs like housing or healthcare, SIN does not offer direct services and therefore we've sought to put off any need for 501c3 filing as long as possible. Currently we are funded entirely by our own contributions, with most costs for our main operations covered by myself as founder of SIN. We have been in the process of determining how best to approach a filing for 501c3 giving our unique mission and global outreach.

SIN seeks to collaborate and partner with other poz social groups
When I started SIN in Los Angeles, it was like pulling teeth to get any of the ASOs to partner with us or dare to even think of collaborating through us with other agencies. My vision for Strength In Numbers has been to break down the territorial barriers that keep so many ASOs from working with each other. Again, our view is that HIV doesn't care about labels and doesn't see any borders itself, so why shouldn't ASOs work together as much as possible for the greater good. SIN chapters and our international headquarters work with almost every AIDS-related program we encounter, unless we feel that the relationship is not mutually respectful.

SIN focuses on empowering poz guys to have fun, meet each other in a healthy environment & support each other
Despite some misconceptions over the years, we are not some covert HIV-prevention campaign run by the government or some ASO. Our belief is that by helping poz guys live better, happier lives they will take better care of themselves and thereby take better care of their sexual partners. SIN works to reduce the transmission and potential fatality of HIV infections by empowering HIV+ gay men to empower themselves. Our main mission though is to help poz guys meet each other, have fun and become as comfortable and happy as they possible can be.

Strength In Numbers (SIN) started as just a simple potluck party in the Hollywood Hills bringing together 50 or so single poz guys who were tired of rejection at bars or online. That was in September 2002, and now the SIN network reaches over 25,000 men. There are over 50 chapters of SIN social groups around the world (SIN NYC has 1500+ itself), some much more active than others, but we're all working on improving all of them. We also help local poz social groups that do not have the SIN name promote themselves and communicate with other groups like them. And this May we launch our 1st poz cruise retreat on the Carnival Splendor to Mexico (www.sincruise. com).

Learn more about SIN at our main website:

Strength In Numbers: Together we're helping poz guys find their strength within!

Copyright 2009, Strength In Numbers International, Inc.

tdday's sound choice is run dmc with "it's like that"



Thomas said...

My problem with Strength in Numbers--at least with the one in Los Angeles--is that they rarely have sober functions. Drinking is a part of everything including brunches, pool parties, trips, etc. I cant be around alcohol (and I don't want to be around alcohol) so I avoid SIN.

Can't the strength within be found without drinking?

Thomas said...

.....oh, and I just checked their website. There is an upcoming cruise and they actually encourage drinking by stating in the promo material that the trip can be enjoyed with "margarita in hand".

Isn't alcohol a drug? SIN is not for me.

warrior scout said...

glad you have stopped by. it's a shame that you see SIN in terms of alcohol. my perception is that it's a venue for people to host the kinds of get-togethers that appeal to them. if you desire a non-alcohol brunch or party, then by all means host one. that's what i've learned works best.

but definitely respect your boundaries..

Thomas said...

Sure, scout, I can host anything I want. It would be great, though, if SIN were a more inclusive, sensitive group that would be more considerate of the sober community.

warrior scout said...

i guess i haven't been clear with my intention. SIN is not a "them" it is a "we" ... my job is to find my place and feel comfortable in "we". doing the reverse has a long history of not working well for me at all.

I have no doubt that there are many many men who share our feelings about sobriety.

Thomas said...

I guess I misunderstood you. You meant start something within the context of the group.

I'm not sure what your situation is, but if I'm around other people drinking and alcohol is available to anyone then I think, well, why not just one, one couldn't hurt, maybe just a single drink......

You see, that is what I'm saying. I can't go on their "margarita in hand" cruise. My journey would be much longer than that boat trip. Can you be around drinking?

warrior scout said...

well, you know your limits and know your boundaries- this is a very good thing.

but you see, i can only imagine that you are but a few hundred gay men in recovery who feel very much the same way. they do not want to be around drinking. this is why the idea of hosting your own thing seems very good. it may not work the very first time, but if you start small and build upon it, it may flourish.

my belief is this... just because you are sober, does not mean you do not need (and i mean need) community. especially around the hiv realm. so if you build it they will come.

i have a reason to be at SIN functions. i am helping to build community and am trying to address hiv stigma which is very oversized in colorado. so i am not drinking at functions and do not feel the need to.

and drinking is not happening at every function. and when it is, i'm not engaging.

respect your boundaries. but i am learning that i cannot expect the world to help me get what i need (like support). i have to be open to it, and ready to accept it when it comes my way....

i am the manager for SIN Colorado. I do not discuss drinking with any of the members. I do not issue memorandums or ultimatums. I prefer to have them feel comfortable being seen and out. There are happy hours. I only attend once in awhile. I am greeting and hosting when I do. and that is all I do....

but this is me..

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