dangerous swagger

Some thoughts on Kick-Butts Day from Moe of SHIFT Minnesota

Today is March 16, 2012. This spring, with a Minnesota winter that’s been mild (that’s not how it’s supposed to be!), I’ve been thinking — how did the world get here?

This past week, I’ve been reading up on some history of corporate tobacco in the United States. I have been involved with SHIFT for the past three months and I am trying to do my homework. I know that part of figuring out where to go from here is to hold the histories of how I got here.

I came across this webpage from NPR.

Where did he come from? This white man with saunter, swagger, and a cigarette propped up at his lips.

Yes, there is the sex appeal. Yes, he represents white masculinity and messages about hard work and class. All these ideas are being sold.
What did the Marlboro man make hopeful for his audience?

There’s a game to play with capitalism. You have to sell an idea with your products. For sure, the Marlboro man sells something toxic — whether it be carcinogens or a prizing of white masculinity.

There’s another layer. Yes, there is the idea of being alone, but not lonely.

How desperately do youth today need to believe there is something beyond loneliness?


Today is Kick-Butts Day!

Hay Network Community,

Today is Kick-Butts Day!! SHIFT Minnesota is excited to share some thoughts on this day with you about our work in LGBTQ communities around tobacco control and why this is important to us.

But first, check out the Kick-Butts Day website for more info on this awesome day. The gist of the days is this…“Kick Butts Day is a national day of activism that empowers youth to speak up and take action against Big Tobacco at hundreds of events from coast to coast.  The 17th annual Kick Butts Day will be held on Wednesday, March 21, 2012.”

In the spirit of Kick-Butts Day, SHIFT Minnesota is blogging as activism because to us sharing words, thoughts, knowledge and experience is radical activism against corporate tobacco in and of itself. Every we week we gather to talk about our strategies and our plans to inform and engage our communities about how to fight back against corporate tobacco, and it’s awesome, but taking the time to write and reflect is also part of our journey as LGBTQ tobacco control advocates.
I’d like to encourage you to do the same…maybe your activism for the day is to write down your thoughts about this day, write a new facebook status about Kick-Butts Day, or just step outside your usual schedule to think about your place in all this business.
Take care,

There is still time to Vote e.shor!!

Hay Network Community Hay,

e.shor here. e.shor queer. Last week Gustavo posted a wonderful entry about voting for me to become a scholarship reciepent for this year’s Netroots Nation conference! What an honor and opportunity…I am so grateful for the nomination and for you support. I currently have 208 wonderful people who have shown support, and I need your help still. Please check out the support page HERE and cast your vote (for me preferably)!

LGBTQ health is my game and I’m in it to win it…for our communities and for our collective future. For me that means being an advocate for LGBTQ health issues in as many ways as I possibly can. One way has been through the awesome work of SHIFT Minnesota, a young adult tobacco-control campaign, that focuses on education, policy development and social media. But really, SHIFT is about changing social norms in our communities about tobacco and that is what public health is about too, which is why I am so excited to be a Hott Panda! Hott Pandas is an informal campaign to get people thinking about being queer and trans in exercise spaces and some of the barriers that people in our communities might face when it comes to working out. Hott Pandas is also about creating community and safe space around exercise…let’s do it together and bring all the glitter we possibly can.

Anyway, thanks for reading and for voting and for doing the work you are doing. I appreciate knowing that we have spaces like these to write and learn from each other…for me that’s what community health is about.

Take care,


Cultural Competency Trainings · Minnesota · Uncategorized

They’re Still Talking Bout YOU

Hay Network Hay,

Last week I went to a training by La Tanisha Wright, former trade marketing manager for Brown and Williamson Co (now a part of RJ Reynolds), currently a fierce anti-tobacco/tobacco control activist. This was some of the most interesting information that I have heard to date about how the tobacco corporations screw over marginalized communities because it was an inside perspective on all of those little things that are put in place to target our communities to become life long addicts. Let me extrapolate…

Let’s talk about language. Corporate tobacco knows we are watching them, so they have crafted a linguistic system to keep litigation and keen tobacco control activists always guessing what their intentions are. For example, corp-tobaco doesn’t want you to think that they target minors (cuz that’s ILLEGAL) so they use the language ASU 30 (adult smoker under 30…insert any age) and ASO 21 (adult smoke over 21). Now, this might not seem that deceptive to you, but there are distinct differences between the demographics of ASU 30 and ASO 30, and corp-tobacco incorporates marketing campaigns that appeal to MSU 18 (minor smoker under 18, an e.shor creation) into these campaigns. Check out this picture of the Kool MIXX campaign if you don’t believe me…


Another language lesson that La Tanisha taught me was about “focus” communities and “non-focus” communities. Instead of saying let’s target African American people or LGBTQ people or Native American and American Indian communities, now corp-tobacco says “focus” and “non-focus.” Focus is the term corp-tobacco literally uses to refer to “low socio-economic status communities with urban characteristics with high economic insecurity and risk of poverty, lower education, and less access to health insurance.” Corp-tobacco, RJ Reynolds and Lorillard (they have the biggest market share in focus communities) put more marketing in focus communities, provide more coupons in focus communities, and give more discounts of tobacco products in focus communities. So who are they targeting?

“We don’t smoke that shit, we just reserve the right to sell it to the young, the poor, the black, and the stupid.”

–as quoted in a New York Times editorial by Bob Hebert, 1993

The inspiring part of La Tanisha’s story is that she identified the ruthless and manipulative marketing ways of corp-tobacco through the branding of the Kool MIXX campaign (see pic above) and is now teaching tobacco control folks about how the company she worked for silenced her, silenced her community, and has sneakily coerced millions of people into becoming slaves to their poisonous products. La Tanisha painted an earnest history of African American people emerging from slavery in the tobacco fields to the slavery of addiction of corp-tobacco due to the intensive marketing in African American communities. This is not an accident. Corp-tobacco knows your history and they will use your pain and weaknesses to make you believe whatever you want…as long as you use their products.

I have so much more to say here, but I understand the attention span of most readers is longer than mine and I am…mmmmm pretty colors.

Whoa…I’m back.

I know this blog is about LGBTQ tobacco control, but unfortunately, one of the things I am learning on my journey in this field is that LGBTQ folks are targeted by corporate tobacco alongside the African American communities, Native communities, Latino communities, Southeast Asian communities, people in poverty, homeless people, and so many others. In my work, I need to constantly acknowledge that we are all working in solidarity with one another.

Hope you have a wonderful holiday time,



Quotes from Big Tobacco

Here is a piece by Zaurean, a Core Leader at SHIFT Minnesota:

“The young, the poor, the black, and the stupid.”

Who could be more foolish?

The big tobacco execs think that its you, yeah you!

The ones who have barely tasted life and yet want to have it blown right out of their bodies along with that second hand smoke they’re blowing out.

Thinking, “I’m young, i’ll live through it. I got another 35 years to go.” Not knowing that cancer can kill you way before, without you knowing you have it.

What’s young isn’t always invincible.

Who could be more foolish?

Its probably you!

Don’t have any money as it is but will buy those cigarettes pack after pack after pack.

Probably making you think that its going to take all your stress away, give you some more money, or take all your poor away.

No your poor is still there after that last drag you take and paying that 6.53 a pack is actually adding to your situation.

Who could be more foolish?

To the tobacco executives its definately you!

The ppl who’s skin is a nice smooth dark chocolate.

Yeah you know who I’m talking about.

I’m talking about my black african american race and all shades of it.

You have been stigmatized with the most problems that need the biggest relief.

The whole world is against you and nobody is there to cope with you but you good ol pal Marlboro.

They will relieve you of that heavy burden and calm you down. Marlboro knows what’s good for you.

Who could be more foolish?

Idk. who else can be tricked?

Wait wait! The stupid! That’s who!

The most clueless people out there that do not even have a clue what’s going on.

The ones that think its so cool to smoke.

Look at that guy puffin. I’m tryna get like him.

The ones that say it’s masculine and looks hella manly so I’m gonna be a “tough” guy and smoke a cigarette and be set a part from the rest.

But really you are falling right into the rest that are fooled into the big tobacco industry.

“We don’t smoke it. We just sell it. We reserve the right to smoke for the young, the poor, the black, and the stupid.”

Just guess who they’re looking for next? Go ahead take a wild guess.

by Zaurean


“they got lips? we want ’em…”

SHIFT Minnesota has a group of Core Leaders, who are young adults in our community that are passionate about changing community norms and perceptions about corporate tobacco and tobacco use in the LGBTQ communities in Minnesota. Some of them are going to be sharing their thoughts with us. This is from Michelle:

It makes me sick.

It makes me sick to know that tobacco executives have so much control over my community…sitting behind a thick cloud of greed saying, “They’ve got lips? We want ’em.”

Corporate tobacco companies look at our colorful, diverse, beautiful community and see one thing: PROFIT.
Through targeted advertizing and sponsorship of our evens, they have made a place for themselves here. They are deceptive, iniquitous and immoral.

It’s common knowledge that smoking kills, but not many people know about the raging disparity withing the LGBTQ community.

Compared to the 16.1% of overall Minnesotans who smoke, the LGBTQ community has a tobacco use rate of 41%.

They want you…
…but so do we. Visit www.shiftmn.org for more information.

by Michelle

Minnesota · social media · Tobacco Policy · Uncategorized

Great American SmokeOUT with SHIFT Minnesota!

Hay Network Hay,

e.shor here on this day called the Great American SmokeOUT!

In case you are looking for a bit more information on the Great American SmokeOut here is a bitty synopsis: “The Great American Smokeout has helped to spotlight the dangers of tobacco use and the challenges of quitting, but more importantly, it has set the stage for the cultural revolution in tobacco control that has occurred over this period [since 1977] (American Cancer Society).”

To address the Great American SmokeOUT, my colleagues and I from SHIFT Minnesota are going to be sharing some of our thoughts with you throughout the day! SHIFT Minnesota is a brand-new, young-adult-run tobacco control campaign in Minneapolis! We know from the many resources like The Network for LGBT Health Equity and The National LGBT Tobacco Control Network (and many others too!) that there is an increased rate of smoking and tobacco consumption in LGBTQ communities, as well as direct targeting from tobacco corporations to get LGBTQ folks to be life-long addicts. So, SHIFT’s mission is:

SHIFT  charge forth to mold healthier LGBTQ communities by severing ties with corporate tobacco…using education, advocacy, and power-punching policy, we fight against the ruthless, manipulative corporate tobacco agenda. 

Hope ya’ll are having a great day!


APHA · Data · Minnesota

American Public Health Association (APHA) Conference Reflections





Hay Network Hay,

It’s me, e.shor, sitting on a plush leather couch in the lobby of the Washington DC Convention Center at the American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting. This place is a whirlwind for a first timer, filled with fast moving sessions, lots of talk about methods, odds ratios, and limitations of research studies. Public health is growing so fast that this conference is now spread over three buildings in downtown DC with over 13,000 attendees and thousands of sessions and posters on hundreds of public health topics. One of the opening speakers was from the National Parks and talked about the positive health benefits from being active in the natural world…pretty cool huh?

There is so much good work being done by such a diverse group of public health practitioners at this conference. It really is impressive the strides and research people are doing in tobacco control, alcohol, nutrition, physical activity, cardio-vascular disease, diabetes and how different populations experience and face different health disparities. However, it was really tough to walk into the LGBT Caucus meeting to find that there were only 6 session on LGBTQ health, most of which focused on MSM (men who have sex with men) and HIV. Out of the thousands (not an exaggeration) of sessions and posters presented  only SIX sessions and about 12 posters were directly related to LGBTQ health.

This shows me exactly our place in this whole thing…

I went to a session about “Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Health” where we covered studies dealing with mental health, substance abuse, sexual health and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Most of the data that the researchers presented was fascinating and illuminated risk factors that are tied to sexual minority status (now that is the jargon) and that health disparities really do exist for LBQ women! At the end of this session a person asked whether data in these studies account for transgender people and transwomen in collection and analysis…most of the presenters apologized and said that they used data from large data sets like NHANES where LGB people are sparsly represented because most large, national data sets to not over-collect in LGB communities, and trans folks are virtually invisible. I call this disparities in data collection…

Good news in: Healthy People 2020 has a new initiative to address LGBTQ health disparities! One of the issues that was identified is the complete lack of data on transgender and gender non-conforming people in our communities. Thank goodness! There were a number of states that have been awarded funding from Healthy People 2020 to start working on many different projects, including LGBTQ health initiatives…to find out more about your state click here! This is an amazing opportunity to Mobilize, Asses, Plan, Implement, and Track in local communities, with local health organizations, and to collect data and find out more about the health needs of our communities. I am from Minnesota, and there is quite a bit of scandal around the use (or lack there) of our HP2020 funding and the fact that we yet to reach out to local agencies working on health disparities. When I get home I will definitely be looking into this and holding the Minnesota Department of Health accountable to me and to my communities.

I know statistics are boring sometimes, and a lot of the stuff they say at conferences like this don’t make sense to a lot of people because they are all “log odds ratios” and “95% confidence intervals,” but having the data and knowing about LGBTQ health needs and trends is so important to figuring out how to grow healthier communities. Keeping asking for it…keeping fighting for it.

Let’s talk soon,




I ended this conference on a great note. A powerful note. I listened to some stories from queer people about their experiences accessing health care. It was a panel of local folks from Bloomington, a variety of ages and experiences. I was not necessarily blown away by any of their personal tales, but it reminded me of the importance of story telling in our community. Sharing our experiences with health care, whether good or bad, is vital to reshaping our access and vital to our community health.

As a public health person I am constantly being barraged with epidemiology, and i love a good frequency like the next queer, but the stories are so important to finding the heart of the matter. The stories help researchers understand why people feel uncomfortable in the waiting room and then how to train clinic staff on understanding gender identity. The stories inform us about what is behind the statistics…after all statistics represent trends, but stories represent the people.

jeez, i am such a bleeding heart queer.

hearts to you,




thoughts of e.shor

CBPR stands for community based participatory research. CBPR is my personal heaven because it means that I get to sit around a table in community and have good, hard discussion that drive research about public health in community.

Today, from keynote speaker Dr. Joshua Rosenberger, i learned to reconceptualize CBPR in a couple of different ways. I was excited to stretch my brain this way. Dr. R consults and does public health research with a series of companies in the online dating-sex-seeking world for men who have sex with men (MSM). I’m sure you have heard of Manhunt, Grindr, Adam 4 Adam…etc. The “C” in CBPR in his research applies to both community (online community) and corporation, which puts a whole new set of expectations on the development these relationships. I was impressed with the research teams ability to utilize the CBPR model to engage this important trend in MSM sexual health. Getting in touch with the people who are using the internet for sex and dating is super hard, because the internet allows for quick interactions and a lot of anonymity.

Since my arrival at this conference I had been a bit wary of the fact that Grindr and Manhunt were listed in the program as sponsors of the LGBTI Health Summit. It just did not sit right with me. I realize that finding sex online is a reality, and I have no issue with casual consensual sexual activity. However, I do think that apps like Grindr and Manhunt create a culture of miscommunication or no-communication about sexual health between partners, because you literally do not have to talk to make the hook up happen. This is visible in the rise of HIV and STIs (sexually transmitted infections) among MSM…in Minnesota we have seen a rise in HIV, syphilis, and chlamydia (MN Dept of Health 2010 Report). Now, I have not done any studies or statistical analysis myself to prove that there is a correlation between easier access to sex through apps and rising HIV/STI rates, but I feel like it is a pretty intuitive connection.

Again, I do not at all think getting it on is bad, and I am so happy that so many queerz are finding each other to copulate, but I am also super glad that people like Dr. R are conducting public health research on the implications of sites like Manhunt and Grindr so that public health professionals, direct services providers and communities can get their acts in order to provide culturally competent sexual health interventions.