Bozeman Men’s Group Begins March 21st

support-group-by-KLatham
Bozeman Gay/Bi Men’s Group
 
This group begins March 21, 2013
Thursday evenings, 6:30-8 pm, in Bozeman, MT
Registration Closes March 15th!
 
Laura Bailey, MS, LCPC, and
D Gregory Smith, MA, LMHC, LCPC
Facilitators
 
This 8-week group will explore
Dating ~ Relationships ~Sex~ Being Out ~ Mental Health
Community ~ Substance Use ~ Being Healthy
Whatever You Need To Talk About!
~FREE, SAFE AND CONFIDENTIAL~
 
Space is limited.
 
If you would like to participate,
please contact Laura Bailey 
406-539-8890
Feedback from past participants:

“This group changed everything for me- thank you!”
“I didn’t know that I needed support until I started attending this group- and now I have the skills to live a better life.”
“I learned more about myself in 8 weeks than I have in 25 years.”
“It’s so amazing that the State of Montana provides this opportunity for us.”
“I wish it didn’t have to end- I really look forward to this every week.” 

Bozeman Gay/Bi Men’s Group Starts October 9

We’re starting registration for our Fall Group! This is an amazing opportunity for personal and community growth, and we’d love to have any Gay/bi men from the Bozeman area call to talk with Laura about the particulars. Info below:

8-Week Gay/Bi Men’s Process Group

This group begins October 9, 2012
Tuesday evenings, 6:30-8 pm, in Bozeman, MT

Laura Bailey, MS LCPC, and
D Gregory Smith, MA, LMHCA, SMS
FacilitatorsThis 8-week group will explore
Dating ~ Relationships ~ Being Out ~ Mental Health
Community ~ Substance Use ~ Being Healthy
~Whatever You Need To Talk About!
~FREE, SAFE AND CONFIDENTIAL~PARTICIPATION IS LIMITED TO 8 MEMBERS.
If you would like to participate,
please contact Laura Bailey
406-539-8890

Pacific NW PFLAG Conference Comes to Hamilton, MT

This Western Montana town of 5,000 people better known for its conservative religious and political beliefs than its embrace of gay people will play host to the annual Pacific Northwest Regional PFLAG (Parents & Friends of Lesbians and Gays) Conference for three days, September 21 through 23. Pride Foundation is a sponsor of this event, and regional development organizer Caitlin Copple will present during the Saturday breakout sessions.

“We are thrilled to bring PFLAG chapters from all over Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, and Montana together, as well as other allied groups, in Hamilton for a fun-filled weekend that will inspire them to renew their commitment to advocating for equality and dignity for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community,” said PFLAG’s volunteer regional director and Pride Foundation board member Kathy Reim, who will travel to the conference from Skagit County, Washington.

The conference kicks off Friday, Sept. 21, at the Bitterroot River Inn (http://www.bitterrootriverinn.com/) with Dr. Robert Minor, professor emeritus of religion at University of Kansas, on how to diffuse religious arguments misused to justify discrimination of LGBTQ people.  Following his speech, there will be a hospitality room with wine and beer and other entertainment by local talent.

Saturday’s offerings begin at 9 a.m. and include workshops on how to avoid volunteer burnout, how to better engage straight allies in the movement, as well as a panel on transgender experiences and how to have a more fulfilling relationship geared toward LGBTQ couples. Lesbian icon, singer-songwriter Cris Williamson will perform a benefit concert for the Bitterroot PFLAG chapter at the Victor Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m.

Conference sessions continue Sunday morning exploring how to build more successful boards of directors and how to carry forth the hope and inspiration of the conference back to the various communities represented from across the region.

For a full schedule and registration information, visit www.pnwpflag.org. For local information on the Bitterroot Valley’s tourist offerings, visit www.pflaghamiltonbitterroot.org.  Those needing a ride to and from the Missoula airport to the conference should email John at cummings1@bresnan.net.

Founded in 1985, Pride Foundation is dedicated to inspiring a culture of generosity to connect and strengthen organizations, leaders, and students who are creating LGBTQ equality across the Northwest states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. To learn more, visit www.pridefoundation.org or email Caitlin@pridefoundation.org.

Gay Men Are Flunking The Test

Also published on Bilerico.com

Yesterday, I posted an article about  a press release by the Journal Of The American Medical Association:

“…all adult patients, regardless of CD4 cell count, should be offered antiretroviral therapy (ART), according to an article in the July 25 issue of JAMA, a theme issue on HIV/AIDS. Other new recommendations include changes in therapeutic options and modifications in the timing and choice of ART for patients with an opportunistic illness such as tuberculosis.”

This follows the “treatment as prevention” model, based on the scientific research that people with HIV on antiretroviral therapy- with an undetectable viral load- are 96% less likely to pass on the virus.
us-statistics-2.jpgThis seems to be very good news. If you have HIV, you should find out early, get on meds and you’ll have a better chance of living a longer healthier life.

So what’s the problem? The problem is twofold:

  1. People at risk aren’t being tested: 20-25% of all HIV-infected people don’t know they have it.
  2. People at risk are still not being tested: Gay and Bisexual men of all races are the most severely affected by HIV

That’s not a typo- they’re basically the same reason, but there’s a difference. Any guesses?

Hint: It’s probably why most gay men won’t even read this article.

20-25% of all people with HIV don’t know they have it. Why not?

Here’s my take: Denial is one of the strongest mechanisms in the human psyche. It is fed by lack of information, by avoidance and by a strong desire for an alternative reality. If you’ve had unprotected sex, you’ve probably engaged in the process of denial. You’ve probably downplayed the risk, probably lied to yourself a little. You may have even gone over and over it in your mind, seizing every opportunity to deny the possibility of trouble.

“He looked okay”; “He didn’t seem sick”; “He pulled out”; “He would have told me if he had HIV”, etc, etc, and etc.

Well, we all know where that goes…. As individuals, we’re not facing facts. If we were, we’d be getting tested.

us-statistics-1.jpgGay and Bi men of all races are the most severely affected by HIV. Of course. We know that. Don’t we?

Again, denial applies. Gay and Bi men aren’t talking about HIV anymore. Our friends aren’t dying, so there’s no reason to be concerned. People with HIV aren’t out- aren’t well-known in our communities. Why? I was once told “You don’t need to harp about HIV all the time- it’s not that big of a deal.” Except that it is.

HIV has complicated my life in ways many people can’t believe. I am on catastrophic health insurance through the state- almost three times as expensive as my partner’s insurance. I get assistance for my meds- which cost about $25,000 a year- but (crazily), I can’t make more than $30,300 and still qualify for the program. I have joint pain, sleep issues, battles with depression, fatigue and a body that is aging at several times the normal rate– most probably due to inflammation- the hallmark of HIV disease. And yet, if I talk about this to friends or family, I’m seen as a whiner or someone trying unnecessarily to worry people I care about. It’s the “shut up- at least you’re not dying” defense. I know several HIV+ people who haven’t told anyone of their status, mostly because it’s “uncomfortable”.

No shit.

As a community, we’re not facing facts. If we were, we’d be talking to our friends about the importance of maintaining our health. We’d be talking about the hard reality of HIV.

But we’re not. Denial still holds sway, both individually and as a community. We’re lying to ourselves- we’re lying to each other- and infection rates stay the same.

We have a chance to change this trend. But only if everyone with HIV starts treatment, gets into care. This recommendation of the AMA may help with that. But it’s not up to doctors, nurses and social workers, it’s up to us.

We’re being tested, both as individuals and as a community. The problem is, we’re flunking.

Because we’re not showing up.

(Images source)

HIV+ and Partners Retreat

Montana does something that, to my knowledge, is not done anywhere else in the U.S.- we invite HIV+ persons and their partners/support persons to learn about coping and living with HIV. It’s a fantastic weekend filled with information, activity, relaxation, community and support, and I’ve been part of it for five years now.

I highly recommend it. Out-of-staters welcome. To check it out and/or register, click the pic below.

Still time To Register! Young Men’s Retreat

An awesome opportunity for young gay/bi men in Montana to feel less isolated, learn about themselves, talk frankly about life and make some friends!

Click pic for registration link.

Montana Young Gay Men’s Retreat

An awesome opportunity for young gay/bi men in Montana to feel less isolated, learn about themselves and make some awesome friends!

Click pic for registration link.