Help Clear the Air for Rainbow Health Initiative: Asking LGBT media to refuse tobacco $ is not censorship!

Reported by Emilia Dunham

You may remember our calls and resources on responding to Camel Snus targeting the LGBT community in LGBT media.  Some of you have responded to your local papers or ran counter-marketing ads with some success of your own.

One organization that we work very closely with, Rainbow Health Initiative in Minnesota, has faced challenges, and as a Network we’re calling on you all to help out. A few weeks ago Rainbow Health Initiative (RHI) sent a letter to the editor of Lavender (the MN LGBT magazine) in response to their recent acceptance of tobacco money in the form of large full color Snus ads. Lavender waited 2 issues then printed a revised form of the letter right next to a full page SNUS ad.  In response, Lavender printed that RHI is advocating censorship AND indicated that RHI advocates claimed that tobacco use is homophobic. Read the edited letter, response and see the tobacco ad RIGHT next to the letters, here.

To help RHI, and to educate Lavender and the LGBT community, please write letters to Lavender in response to the editorial and in response to the issue of Lavender taking tobacco money. Please be civil and fair in these letters, because Lavender is still an LGBT community paper and we don’t want to escalate matters. Click for: Sample Text for Letters to Lavender, and/or consider these talking points:

  • Lavender magazine is taking tobacco money
  • RHI has asked them to stop taking tobacco money via a letter to the editor
  • Lavender edited the letter and then placed in the magazine under the heading “ADVOCATES CENSORSHIP”
  • Lavender included an “Editor’s note” and continued to slam RHI for this request indicating that RHI thought tobacco users were homophopic
  • Lavender placed RHI’s editorial right next to a full page tobacco ad

Again here is the editorial and the ad next to it that ran in a recent edition of Lavender as well as Sample Text for Letters to Lavender

Most importantly!

Please tell us if you sent letters and email copies of the letters to Loretta Worthington, Executive Director of Rainbow Health Initiative at and

As an aside, you may find a new Network video useful. It’s a video, with stats of how the tobacco industry has targetted the LGBT community over the years. This may be something tangible to share with your LGBT colleagues and media groups.

Published by Emilia Dunham, MPP, MBA

Emilia Dunham is currently a Project Manager at MassHealth/Department of Public Health, and formerly the Project Manager of the Life Skills project at The Fenway Institute, an HIV intervention study for young transgender women. Emilia worked at Fenway for 7 years, first as a Quality Control and Regulatory Assistant mainly involved with biomedical HIV prevention trials, before serving as the Program Associate for The Network for LGBT Health Equity, a network instrumental in many national LGBT health policy improvements. She is also involved with the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, serving as a Steering Committee member and the Policy Committee Co-Chair, an organization largely responsible for the recent passage of the Trans Rights Bill. Additionally she serves as a member of the Massachusetts Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, Co-Chair of the Recommendations Committee. Emilia received a Bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University. There she served as President of the LGBTQ student group where she planned programs such as Pride Week, Transgender Day of Remembrance, and AIDS Week. In addition, she advocated for LGBTQ inclusive policies and programming on campus such as a Gender Neutral Housing program, an LGBTQ Center and the expansion of Women’s Studies to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Emilia recently earned a Master of Public Policy and Master of Business Administration in health policy and management from the Brandeis Heller School School for Social Policy and Management.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: