Need a condom? There’s an app for that

In perhaps one of the most innovative efforts to spread the idea of safe-sex and HIV prevention, MTV and iCondom have teamed up to create a worldwide map for condom distribution. The channel’s global youth HIV awareness and prevention campaign and charity Staying Alive has teamed with iCondom to “join them in their fight to help prevent the transmission of HIV by downloading the free iCondom app and providing details of their local condom dispenser / retailer.”

Georgia Arnold of MTV said, “An estimated 5 million 15-to-24-year olds are living with HIV and 2,500 young people are infected with HIV each day. We have partnered with iCondom with the ambition to make it easier for more people around the world to source condoms and reduce the transmission of HIV and STIs. A percentage of money made from the app will go towards Staying Alive Foundation grants which are awarded to young people working to prevent HIV in their local communities.”

Basically, you download the app for free and check to see where the closest condom dispenser location is. I have a guess ours is the 7-11 across the street, but I’m waiting for the app to download to see. It’s sort of like Grindr for rubbers and how many feet away they are. But then you can add to the map by entering in locations that might not already be on there. Simple, huh?

Although don’t be a d-bag about it. After loading the app, I see someone entered in the “location” title “Homeless Guy His Name is…” on Greenville Ave. I rated it one star for fail and responsibly entered the 7-11 store on Travis St.

Hey, I’m that kinda guy.

iCondom from mtv staying alive on Vimeo.

—  Rich Lopez

Spring break with a purpose

DIGGING IN | Alternative spring break trip leader Nate Bozarth and Emilie Patterson, one of seven other students who made the trip to Dallas with Bozarth, put their shovels to work doing landscaping work at AIDS Services of Dallas’ Hillcrest House. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

KSU students spend a week at AIDS Services Dallas as part of alternative spring break program

TAMMYE NASH | Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

When Nate Bozarth signed up to participate as a trip leader in the alternative spring break program at Kansas State University, his first choice was to go to Louisiana to help with ongoing efforts to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina six years ago.

Then he realized that the Louisiana trip had two leaders assigned to it, while there was no leader assigned for the group coming to Dallas to volunteer at AIDS Services of Dallas.

“I saw that, and I said, ‘Why do you have two assigned to Louisiana when there’s no one for Dallas?’ I told them to switch me to Dallas,” Bozarth said. “Now, I am really glad it happened that way. I am glad I came to Dallas.”

Volunteering is not a new experience for Bozarth, a sophomore majoring in cultural anthropology and minoring in leadership studies. He said he works to help raise funds for an organization that builds schools in Pakistan. And last year, he spent his spring break building trails — yes, literally building trails — in the Appalachian Mountains in Tennessee.

But this is his first real experience involving HIV/AIDS and people living with the virus.

“In health class in school, we talked some about safe sex and we talked about the medications people who have AIDS have to take, but not much else. That’s the most I really knew about it,” he said. “So I am really looking forward to learning more about AIDS, to seeing how it really affects people on a daily basis and to gaining a new perspective.”

Bozarth is the student leader for a group of eight (including him) KSU students who are spending the week here volunteering at AIDS Services of Dallas. He explained that the group was originally scheduled to arrive in Dallas on Sunday, March 20, and go back to school on Friday, March 25.

But when Bozarth talked to Mary Beth O’Connor, ASD’s volunteer services manager, those plans changed.

GIVING BACK | Anna Rogers, foreground, Alex Noblett and Meghan Kelly plant gladiola bulbs in a flower bed outside AIDS Services of Dallas’s Hillcrest House. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

“She asked me what days we would be here, and when I told her we were leaving Friday, she said, ‘Oh, that’s too bad! I wish you could be here Saturday to participate in the No Tie Dinner.’ And I said, then we will be there Saturday,” Bozarth said.

So the students made the nine-hour drive from KSU to Dallas on Tuesday and will leave on Sunday morning, giving them the chance to work on Friday helping set up for the No Tie Dinner and Dessert party, and then volunteering at the party itself on Saturday.

Bozarth was, he added, especially excited to get the chance to participate in ASD’s annual fundraising gala, because he has participated in other fundraising events and is glad to have the chance to “get another perspective” on the experience.

Bozarth said that the cost to participate in the alternative spring break program at KSU is $250 a student, although the college does have some scholarship funds to help students who want to participate but can’t afford it. Usually most of that money is spent on housing and feeding the students during their week of volunteer work.

On this trip, though, the students are being housed for free at Spencer Gardens, one of ASD’s several housing projects, and ASD is providing meals for them, too. As a result, the money that would normally have covered the cost of housing and food is not being spent.

“But instead of it just automatically coming back to us, the students, it’s all going to be donated to AIDS Services,” Bozarth said with a proud smile.

Bozarth — who said when he finishes school he wants to “work with poor people; I want to help people and I want to love people”— at first sounds too good to be true. But spend just a few minutes chatting with the other seven students — who spent the first part of their week in Dallas landscaping around ASD’s Hillcrest House — and it quickly becomes obvious Bozarth’s altruism is real, and it is shared.

Alex Noblett is a sophomore majoring in chemistry who is also “sort of pre-med.” He spent the week volunteering at ASD because “my spring break was open, and it just seemed like this would be a pretty good thing to do.”

Noblett said he wasn’t familiar with ASD, so when he started trying to decide which trip to register for, “I looked online to see what this place is about, and I really liked what I saw. So I chose this trip.”

Freshman Macy Warburton, studying political science and leadership studies, said she wanted to participate in alternative spring break because “service is very important to me, and I like being able to give back.” But like Bozarth, the ASD trip was not her first choice for alternative spring break.

“But now that I am here, I am really glad this is the trip I got. This is really opening my eyes to what it’s like to live with AIDS on a daily basis,” she said.

Stephanie Wilson, another freshman, is a health major who also is a student ambassador for the leadership studies program at KSU. For her this alternative spring back trip is “the perfect opportunity to give back to the community.”

Grant Langhofer, a sophomore kinesiology student at KSU, explained that he grew up in the relatively insulated environment of Wichita, Kansas, and he wanted to volunteer this week at ASD “because I thought I could get the most out of this trip. I talked to my advisor, and this was my only choice for alternative spring break. For me, it was come here [and volunteer at ASD] or nothing.”

Sophomore biology major Emilie Patterson chose to participate in alternative spring break because she wanted to have more opportunities to volunteer, and she chose to come to Dallas “because I have been to Texas before, and I like it here.”

Meghan Kelly, a sophomore pre-med student majoring in microbiology, had a friend in high school whose father had AIDS. So while she had an idea of how the virus affects a person, she said, she never talked much about it with her friend or the friend’s father.

“I chose to come on this trip because, first of all, I love volunteering. And I had researched AIDS Services and it just seemed like the most interesting of all the trips,” Kelly said.

“First of all, it gives me a chance to see how people in an urban environment like this live with AIDS, to see how it is different for people in the city than for people who live in the country,” she continued. “Plus, I had never had any experience working with a nonprofit agency [like ASD]. It’s really amazing to me see everything they have to offer.”

Microbiology student Anna Rogers is a junior, and she is the most experienced alternative spring break volunteer, since she has participated in the program all three of her college years so far.

She is also the most experienced when it comes to AIDS Services.

“I was here [at ASD] two years ago, during my first alternative spring break when I was a freshman, and I am really happy to have the chance to come back,” Rogers said. “When I came [to ASD] two years ago, I knew the science of AIDS. I knew how you got it. But that was the first time I saw how people actually live with AIDS. I could see for myself that they are people just like anyone else who just happen to have this disease, but they can still live and enjoy themselves in a positive environment.”

Bozarth explained that the alternative spring break trips are administered at KSU through the school’s leadership studies program, and that the leadership studies program is designed to help create “knowledgeble, ethical, caring, inclusive leaders for a diverse and changing world.

“Some people think leadership is something you are either born with or you aren’t; you have it or you don’t. In this program, we believe leadership can be taught, that everyone has the capacity, everyone is a leader in some capacity or another,” Bozarth said. “that’s why we are here this week, to learn more about how to be leaders and to try to give back to other people.

“But the truth is, we are the ones gaining,” he said. “I bet we are probably gaining more ourselves on this trip than we could ever possibly give.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 25, 2011.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Hot and hilarious segment promoting safe sex produced by Gay Spot Hong Kong

—  John Wright

SF encourages gay men to use female condoms

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco health officials are stepping up the fight against spread of sexually transmitted diseases by urging the use of a more comfortable, redesigned female condom.

The city is the nation’s first to encourage use of the new FC2 condom by women and gay men.

The San Francisco Chronicle says health officials began pushing use of female condoms in the mid-1990s, but they were criticized as awkward, uncomfortable and expensive.

Last year, the manufacturer redesigned the safe-sex female condom using a thinner material. The two rings securing the condom are also made of a softer material.

The condoms will be available at city clinics without charge. Free condoms were distributed Monday at San Francisco’s Civic Center, San Francisco State University, Dolores Park, the Bayview and the Castro.

—  John Wright

Girls talk: Laurinda D. Brown opens eyes to black lesbian relationships in her play ‘Walk Like a Man’

PASSION PLAY | Tensions rise in ‘Walk Like a Man’ as the play takes on hot topic issues like domestic violence, religion and even DADT but from an African-American lesbian perspective.

An all-female cast going on about romance, life’s dramas and sex isn’t something new — and definitely not new to LGBT audiences. Hello? Sex and the City, thank you very much.

But while SATC is famously about four straight white women who behave like gay men, Laurinda D. Brown saw life a whole lot differently.

With Walk Like a Man, Brown has adapted her 2006 Lambda Literary Award-winning book of short stories for the stage, describing the gamut of lesbian relationships, all from a black female perspective. The production gets a one-day, two-performance run this weekend in Garland.

Touted as steamy and lustful, the book version of Walk Like a Man was both erotic and enlightening. Brown brings the sexy stuff to the stage version as well, but she brings the heavy stuff, too. The play’s slogan — “It’s about life … not lifestyles” — touches on the comedy and tragedy of everyday lesbian life that includes topics such as “runaway youth, love and religious controversies, domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, safe sex and affairs in the workplace,” according to the Positive Scribe Productions’ website. The site also mentions that Man is the first off-Broadway play written by a black lesbian. The cast is a variety of women of all ages and sizes, and it addresses bigger picture issues like labels and stereotypes.

The play, along with Brown’s other work, Bois Don’t Cry, was recently selected as part of the D.C. Black Theatre Festival held in June.

Brown may not be Langston Hughes or Tony Kushner — yet — but she’s definitely making her mark in the LGBT universe of playwrights and authors. And she’s capturing the attention of all the right people: Famed African-American author Zane is a fan and the Human Rights Campaign called the show a “must-see.”

Just know that Walk Like A Man is heavy in displaying adult situations, thus the play isn’t open to those underage. Makes sense.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 21, 2011.

—  John Wright

Christmas, hot guys and a safe sex message

It’s not often you can combine high-quality production values with a PSA about safe sex. Even rarer that the song that goes along with it has seasonal significance. Unheard of that the lyrics are laugh-out-loud hysterical. And a cherry-on-top delight that the boys are smokin’! Here, then, a Japanese video. Listen carefully. And enjoy over and over.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Need a condom? There’s an app for that

Just in time for World AIDS Day, iCondom has been released in two U.S. cities, with more slated to come on line soon. The app will be available free for 48 hours from the iTunes Store.

First launched in France — in Paris and Marseilles — on Oct. 18, the iCondom app lets users find condom dispensers and free condom sources closest to their location, 24/7. The U.S. launch takes place jointly with the release of an improved version 1.1,  with better mapping functionalities, the app’s creators say. The U.S. version now available only covers New York City and Washington, D.C., “but should grow rapidly based on the users’ contributions,” according to a press release.

iCondom geolocates 200-plus locations in New York City where free condoms, lubricants and female condoms can be found, including bars, restaurants, barber shops, hospitals, clubs, medical centers, associations and beauty salons. In D.C., the app geolocates 140-plus places to get covered. iCondom users can add locations, rate the locations and comment on dispensers or places so other users have up-to-date information.

Creators called the app “an innovative tool to reinforce safe-sex messages and speak more directly to the youth by using their favorite communications tool: smart phones.”

—  admin

WATCH: Gov. Perry makes a complete fool of himself trying to defend abstinence education

This is embarrassing to watch, but it’s no wonder Gov. Rick Perry refuses to debate Democrat Bill White and declined to interview with newspaper editorial boards this year.

Asked by The Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith on Friday to defend the state’s abstinence-only education policy, given that we have the third-highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, Perry was at a total loss.

“Abstinence works,” Perry responds, to laughter from the audience. “Abstinence works. Maybe it’s the way it’s being taught or the way it’s being applied out there, but the fact of the matter is it is the best form to teach our children.”

Smith then asks whether Perry can give a statistic suggesting that abstinence-only education works.

“I’m just going to tell you, I’m going to tell you from my own personal life, abstinence works,” Perry says, to another round of laughter. “And the point is, if we’re not teaching it and if we’re not impressing it upon them, then no. But if the point is we’re going to go stand up here and say, ‘Listen, y’all go have sex and go have whatever is going on, and we’ll worry with that, and here’s the ways to have safe sex,’ I’m sorry, call me old fashioned if you want, but that is not what I”m going to stand up in front of the people of Texas and say …”

We’re not calling you old fashioned, governor, we’re calling you a freakin’ moron. And we can’t wait to see the rest of the Tribune’s interview on Monday.

—  John Wright

French safe sex ad

Please do not watch this if you are easily offended. Oh, wait, if you are, then maybe you need this ad more the rest of us.

—  David Taffet