UBE not the only program in Dallas

I would like to provide response to article entitled, "A new way of delivering an old message" (Dallas Voice, June 12).

Before I respond, I would like to preface this message by saying these are my personal opinions and have no affiliation with the campaign which I lead (D/FW Stomp Out Syphilis Campaign), the organization by which I am employed (Resource Center Dallas) or any other organization with which I am affiliated (Legacy of Success Foundation, Stonewall Democrats, GlamSQUAD, etc.).

As a young African-American man who has sex with men (MSM), I applaud the efforts of UC-San Francisco and the United Black Ellument; however, some of the points raised by Venton Jones, project team leader, and Professor Susan Kegeles may have overlooked some of the already existing programming in the community with the same or similar intent as the United Black Ellument.

For instance, the GlamSQUAD which was reported in the Dallas Voice on June 14, 2007, was created with the goal of providing an affirming atmosphere outside of bars and nightclubs that facilitates self-love and artistic/cultural expression among young African-American LGBT and affirming people. The GlamSQUAD strives to "sprinkle in" messages of safe sex and healthy behaviors, just as Professor Kegeles remarked of UBE.

Along with the GlamSQUAD, there are other existing organizations that provide similar programming, such as the FUSE program provided by Resource Center Dallas. While the intent of FUSE is to empower young MSM of all races to action regarding their personal sexual health, UBE seemingly duplicates the same intent while, with good reason,focusing on a sub-sect of the overall LGBT community, which statistically shows to be of higher risk for contraction of STDs and HIV.

All this is to say that I feel Professor Kegeles was misguided in her notions that "[Dallas] lacks any similar [programming]."

I feel that UBE has such a positive impact in the sexual health of African-American MSM around my age; however, I would hope Dallas Voice would not negate already standing programming in the community by highlighting one individual’s oversight.

The work of this community, for this community is very important to me, just as it is and has been to the Dallas Voice.

As a community partner of many of the organizations with which I affiliate, I simply wanted to voice my concerns for the article reported in the June 12 issue.

M. Jai Makokha

We welcome letters from readers. Shorter letters and those addressing a single issue are more likely to be printed. Letters are subject to editing for length and clarity, but we attempt to maintain the writer’s substance and tone. Include your home address and a daytime telephone number for verification. Send letters to the senior editor, preferably by e-mail (nash@dallasvoice.com). Letters also may be faxed (214-969-7271) or sent via the U.S. Postal Service (Dallas Voice, 4145 Travis St., Third Floor, Dallas TX 75204). All letters become the property of Dallas Voice.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 26, 2009.
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