Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Test Positive Aware Network Re-launches Mr. Sexx HIV/AIDS Awareness Program at Steamworks

Test Positive Aware Network Re-launches Mr. Sexx HIV/AIDS Awareness Program at Steamworks

Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN) and Steamworks have re-launched Mr. Sexx, a holistic and dynamic approach to HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention and education. The program encourages Steamworks’ members to engage in one-on-one dialogue while in the club, with a trained professional provided by TPAN.

Steamworks’ members are free to discuss any number of issues like substance abuse, alcohol abuse or mental wellness; which in turn will help individuals make smarter, healthier choices. It’s a creative and unique approach to HIV/AIDS awareness and education. To compliment Mr. Sexx, TPAN is proud to also offer outreach and anonymous HIV oral, rapid testing. Mr. Sexx is available at Steamworks every Friday night from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m.     “TPAN continues to develop creative HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention programs, like Mr. Sexx, that makes our services more available in the community,” said TPAN Executive Director Rick Bejlovec.  “Steamworks has become a close community partner, and we believe this program will benefit the community in many ways.”

Steamworks Director of Health Information and Education Programs Nirmalpal Sachdev said, “Mr. Sexx will help our members continue to lead healthier and safer lives.  We’re delighted to be working with TPAN on this initiative and hope to develop more programs like these in the future.”

Nick Branock and Michael McFadden have played integral parts in developing and executing this campaign.  Branock, TPAN’s HIV prevention coordinator, received his Masters of Social Work degree from Indiana University—Indianapolis; and McFadden is a licensed Social Worker, who received his Masters in Social Work from Loyola University Chicago.

“Nick and Michael bring a wealth of HIV knowledge and skill to the Mr. Sexx program,” said TPAN Director of Education and Advocacy Matt Sharp.  “This is one of many programs we will continue to develop into the future.”

To find out more information about Mr. Sexx please visit the TPAN Web site, www.tpan.com , or visit Steamworks in Chicago.

About Test Positive Aware Network

Test Positive Aware Network empowers people living with HIV through peer-led programming, support services, information dissemination, and advocacy. TPAN also provide services to the broader community to increase HIV knowledge and sensitivity, and to reduce the risk of infection. TPAN publishes the nationally distributed HIV Treatment publication Positively Aware Magazine.  Visit the TPAN Web site, www.tpan.com , for more information.

About Steamworks

            STEAMWORKS has been providing men 18 years & older with a clean, comfortable and stylish place to meet other men, relax, workout and play 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 30 years.  Located in Berkeley, Calif., Chicago, Ill., and Toronto, Ontario, Steamworks has a strong tradition of community leadership tackling the issues that impact our community such as: health and wellness, drug & alcohol abuse and HIV/STD education.  In 1985, Steamworks launched its health initiative to help educate the community about HIV/AIDS.  Visit the Steamworks’ Web site, www.steamworksonline.com , for more information about Steamworks, its health initiatives and HIV/AIDS awareness programs.


Blogger Fox Magos said...

On two different Fridays at Steamworks I had the occasion to visit with Mr. Sexx (with two different men). Enticed by the posters around the club announcing the relaunch of TPAN's program and the trained counselors' mission of being "here to listen" in a sex-positive environment, I went to have a chat with the man in room #228.

We closed the door and sat in chairs - as the room's sling was tied up to the mirrored ceiling from which it is permanently suspended.

Both chats were fine, interesting, and both men wanted to know if I had a particular question for them. I did not. The counselor seemed a bit disconcerted by this lack, but no big deal. After about 15-20 minutes, I left.

The second time (today) I went, it was made clear to me that Mr. Sexx was not here to chat but was primarily here to answer pertinent questions about sex and substance use and abuse.

I admit this left me with a sour taste that had nothing to do with my activities of that day.

I now feel that the catchy tag of "here to listen" cloaks the strong possibility of a more dubious agenda of "informing" grown gay men of the error of their ways in sexual matters.

I recognize that we gay men must receive the information that pertains to our sexual and emotional health from somewhere since, with only rare exceptions, we do not learn such things from our parents, and I trust TPAN and their team of counselors, mostly men working on their MSW's from what I was told, to provide it.

However, Steamworks is a private - and pricey - sex club...not a state-run clinic. If I have a serious question regarding a medical issue or my evolving sexual identity and my decisions regarding mood-altering substances, I will ask my doctor or therapist or another authority in a professional, clinical, or other therapeutic setting rather than confess my confusion to a MSW-in-training in a closed room beneath a rolled-up sling suspended from a mirrored ceiling, dressed only in a towel.

I support this initiative and hope it continues..yet I've seen this kind of effort fail when it ramrods the "one method fits all" or "our way is the only way" and chooses to ignore the particular venue and clientele it addresses.

I believe an informal, casual, open and honest chat in an informal setting in which more questions than simplistic answers arise is the way to go in this context.

If TPAN and Mr. Sexx wish to prioritize meeting and supporting gay men in some kind of crisis, by all means, provide a sign-up sheet indicating this priority.

Otherwise, I hope when next I find Mr. Sexx alone in room #228, reading his book in dim light and shadowed by the dark kite of the suspended sling, he acts a bit more happy to spend a few minutes with a man in a towel and is willing to let him express whatever he needs or desires at that time....because that's why I go to Steamworks, and if I can't find this in room #228, there are plenty of other rooms to explore...some even with their own permanent, and sometimes occupied, slings.

Pete Glidden, PhD

2:33 AM  

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