GMHC and Photographer Mike Ruiz Want MSM in NYC to "Kiss and Tell" During LGBT Pride Month
On May 28, Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) launched its print HIV awareness campaign, "Kiss and Tell," in phone kiosks across Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn. The mission is to encourage and empower African-American and Latino gay and bisexual young men, ages 13 to 19, to have open and loving discussions with their partners about their sexual history and HIV status.
Hence, kiss and tell.
The campaign was co-created by CLUB1319, GMHC's youth leadership-development program, and was a play on words off of the U.S. military's former "Don't Ask Don't Tell" (DADT) policy.
"The Kiss & Tell campaign underscores the message that the lives of young black and Latino gay men are valued and not dispensable," said Marjorie Hill, Ph.D., chief executive officer of GMHC, in a press release. She added, "In GMHC's 30th year, we remain committed to ending health disparities for youth and highlighting what is possible for young gay couples as they express trust, respect and commitment for one another."
In a recent Huffington Post article, Mike Ruiz, the celebrity photographer who shot the campaign, wrote about being compelled to be part of this campaign and why the message is so important:
This campaign's message is one that needs to be amplified and shared with everybody possible and anybody willing to listen. The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show an alarming 48-percent increase in HIV infections among young, black gay and bisexual men between 2006 and 2009. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reports a 50-percent rise in new HIV infections among young gay and bisexual men under the age of 30.
And here is the full circle that I've come into: As an adult, I count my blessings for having survived my tumultuous youth, especially realizing how, as a gay teenager, I lacked tools and guidance, which put me at high risk for a whole host of problems. As a consequence, I find it imperative that I do my share and speak of these issues affecting our community as frequently as possible, and I'm grateful when others do so, as well.
In my generation I was one of the "lucky" ones. I survived and thrived. But not all my peers were as lucky. The next generation of kids has a better chance at life thanks to educational outlets, such as Kiss & Tell, that are at their disposal. Increasingly, many of today's young gay men are empowering themselves with knowledge. I applaud them for being proactive and taking action, just as I applaud those who are acting as role models for the youth and the communities they live in.
GMHC is no stranger when it comes to MSM-affirming campaigns. In 2010, it launched the "I Love My Boo" campaign, which included posters depicting young black and Latino couples kissing, hugging and holding hands with the tag line: "We're about trust, respect and commitment. We're proud of who we are and how we love." The posters were visible on 1,000 New York City subways and in 150 subway stations.