Reflecting on a summer of personal activism
I realized towards the end of the spring semester how few male queer, particularly male queer of color, friends I had. I attribute this in part to the few opportunities for positive, non-sexual social interactions that exist for queers in the south. My theory was at least somewhat confirmed through conversation with friends.
This struck me as odd given the history of queer movements. Our community was adept at establishing support networks in the midst of far more overt persecution and discrimination than we face now. I also consider it to be detrimental.
For example, I learned about a medication called PrEP from a friend of mine recently. PrEP is a newish medication that is popular in the queer community because it drastically lowers your chances of contracting HIV or AIDS. Many doctors and public health folks are basically of the opinion that if you are sexually active as a queer man and especially as a queer man of color you should be taking PrEP.
However, I can’t tell you the number of queer men around my age, especially those from the south, who have never heard of PrEP or believe they can’t afford it (there are many ways to get the medication for free).
I can't help but wonder whether if more young queer men were intentional about building community with one another we’d be able to make strides in addressing these types of knowledge gaps which have meaningful public and social health implications.
So in that vain, I started a group in DC this summer called "The Caucus." I have been inviting young queer folk who are either here for the summer or living here and working (mostly in politics or government) to a Facebook group just to be social and enjoy building positive, non-sexual relationships. So many of the participants are from the south and report that the folks they’ve met since being in this group constitute their first or second ever queer friends.
From PrEP to black hair care to regular STI testing, the group has fostered a community of mutual support. We get dinner and brunch regularly and figure out how we can support each other personally and professionally. Anyone can join.
It's not perfect though.
For example, it's currently a male dominated space and even though these men are queer, they are still men. And while there are more queer folk of color than I expected in the group, it is still dominated by white folks.
Despite imperfections though, The Caucus has made my time in D.C. a growth opportunity that I never expected. And for that I'm thankful.
***this is just my personal experience. I'm sure yours is different. Feel free to share how.***