Conferences

NAMING AND CLAIMING LEGACY: DAY 2 AT THE CONFERENCE ON LGBTI HEALTH RESEARCH

Dr Herukhuti-Lambda 2014

Herukhuti, Ph.D., M.Ed.

Professor, Goddard College

Founder and CEO, Center for Culture, Sexuality and Spirituality

(His)stories like our first lovers can be very seductive when we engage them from the place of nostalgia and memory. What we remember or don’t, the highlights and the gaps in memory tell us so much about the person(s) engaged in the telling of the history/story. The Conference on Current Issues in LGBTI Health Research started today with a keynote address by Dr. Eli Coleman, director of the program in human sexuality in the department of family medicine at the School of Medicine of the University of Minnesota.

He dedicated much of the time of his powerpoint presentation to sharing with us his story of LGBT movement history, health policy, and culture in the United States. The story was, he admitted, primarily Eurocentric and middle class. With a few keystrokes in Google Search, one can engage and consider the stories of the role of African-Americans in the Stonewall Riots and the response to HIV/AIDS. Dr. Anthony Silvestre, professor of infectious diseases and microbiology at the Graduate School of Public Health of University of Pittsburgh, in the afternoon keynote address provided a surprisingly similar understanding of the history of LGBTI health research.

Nestled between these talks was a presentation by Vivek Anand, executive director of Humsafar Trust (Mumbai, India). Based upon his presentation, Humsafar Trust appeared to be a study (as in exemplar) in indigenous mobilization and community-based participatory action-research. Drawing upon ideas from the West but honoring their knowledge of their own local context and retaining their commitment to indigenous control, Humsafar Trust has been working to address the opportunities and challenges they face.

Inspired by the stories of the presenters and having the value of knowing my history, ancestors, and genealogies reaffirmed for me in the absences present in several of the presentations, I want to create space in this article to name those people of African descent who have contributed to my understanding of sexual health and justice:

Who are the ancestors, elders and role models that contribute to your genealogy of understanding sexual health and justice?

Dr. Herukhuti is founder and Chief Erotics Officer (CEO) of the Center for Culture, Sexuality and Spirituality and editor-in-chief of sacredsexualities.org. He is also a member of the faculty at Goddard College. Follow him on Twitter and Tumblr and like his Facebook Fan page.

Conferences

CBPR ?

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.