Why I Love the South

By Sha’Terra Johnson, HIV Health Planner

Southern HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on August 20 is a chance for the South to join the national movement to raise awareness, address stigma and discrimination, and advocate for the resources needed to end the HIV epidemic.

As much as I love everything about the South, there are challenges that we face when it comes to healthcare as well as HIV. We have to come together as state to find ways to end the HIV epidemic.

So, how do we come together to end the HIV epidemic in Texas?

We have the Achieving Together Plan. The statewide plan has goals and strategies for us as a state. We have the tools and resources to end HIV in Texas. Take the pledge to be a member—to be an action-oriented individual when it comes to ending HIV in the great state of Texas.

Southern HIV/AIDS Awareness is a day set aside for individuals all over the nation to join a movement to raise awareness, erase HIV/AIDS related stigma and discrimination, and to advocate for new and necessary resources and solutions to stem the tide of HIV/AIDS in the South. Centers for Disease Control Prevention states that more than 511,400 people are living with HIV (PLWH) in the South. Roughly one-fifth of PLWH in the South are living in Texas. It also shares that 52% of all new diagnoses are in the South, and there were approximately 2,580 deaths related to AIDS complications in the South in 2017. People living with HIV in the South are faced with stigma and discrimination that often results in lack of access to high-quality health care and essential support services. It is important we join together to develop solutions to reduce disparities and stigma of PLWH and combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic occurring in the South.

Why Kids Need to Learn About Gender and Sexuality

United Nations International Youth Day is August 12, 2019. This year’s theme highlights efforts to make education more inclusive and accessible for all youth, including efforts by youth themselves.

Watch Lindsay Amer, founder and CEO of Queer Kid Studios, a multi-media production company making queer-focused intersectional all-ages media, talk about the importance of creating opportunities for kids to learn about gender and sexuality.

Achieving Together aims to cultivate a stigma-free climate of appreciation and inclusion, much like the one Lindsay talks about. Read more about how Achieving Together partners envision taking action.

What can YOU do now?

As Linsdsay says at the end of their talk, “So, talk to a kid about gender. Talk to a kid about sexuality. Teach them about consent. Tell them it is OK for boys to wear dresses and for girls to speak up. Let’s spread radical queer joy.”

How will you spread radical queer joy today?

Juneteenth

In 1865, enslaved Africans in Galveston Texas did not know about the Emancipation Proclamation or that they had been freed two years earlier. On June 19th, 1865 Union soldiers finally worked their way south to Texas where the last remaining slaves in America were declared free. June 19th, or Juneteenth, has become America’s “other Independence Day,” an official state holiday in Texas, celebrated around the country, and officially observed in 43 additional states.

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Pride Month

June is Pride Month and pride celebrations this year are particularly festive because this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots.  Beginning in the 1950s, with the founding of the Mattachine Society, and into the 1960s, LGBT rights and liberation organizations were working to increase awareness and decriminalize the lives of LGBT people in the United States.  Most people though, trace the critical event that launched the LGBT rights movement in this country, to the riots that began at the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village.  At the time, police raids on bars catering to LGBT patrons were common, but the surprise raid by the police that night pushed patrons and the gathering crowd to fight back.

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