Positively Sexy: Volttage Provides an Online Space for Dating and Expression
May 28, 2013
Mathew Rodriguez: Has anyone ever accused Volttage of promoting a certain stigma itself, or promoting serosorting?
-- Jack Mackenroth
Jack Mackenroth: Not to my knowledge. I think Volttage can be an amazing tool for combating stigma and changing the way people perceive what living with HIV means. Visibility is one of the most powerful tools for changing public opinion. As the Volttage community grows, I hope its influence grows within the gay community and we can influence the stigma.
I think serosorting, or only dating guys with the same HIV status, is more a practice of HIV-negative guys. I guess I would prefer to date a poz guy, because it's slightly easier, but I don't discriminate. Rarely do you ever see "poz only" in online dating profiles. And Volttage welcomes HIV-negative guys.
David Duran: No, it hasn't come up yet. Those are things that, once the site gets bigger and bigger, I'm sure it's going to be something that's going to come up. And we can discuss it in the blog, and write about it. We welcome different opinions. It's just another resource. We're not saying it's the only resource. For people who might want to talk to or date or hook up with other HIV-positive men, that's what Volttage is for.
Mathew Rodriguez: Being at the helm of Volttage Buzz, what do you envision for the blog down the road in a year or two years? Jack, what do you envision for Volttage overall?
Jack Mackenroth: Once we perfect the mobile app and the blog is amazing, I just want the influence of Volttage to continue to grow. With thousands and eventually hundreds of thousands of members worldwide, we can change the cultural thinking about HIV. We can change the image of HIV. And as an online community, we can also weigh in on medical advancements and government policies. The possibilities are really endless. Once we generate revenue, I also want to give back to the community and the charities that need it most.
David Duran: I just want it to be another good resource for HIV-positive men to be able to go to. There are awesome places already; there are lots of good health websites. Ours is going to be a mix of everything. It's going to have health; it's going to have advocacy; it's going to have personal stories; it's going to have featured members, and have hot guys, as well. It's going to be a combination of everything, so it's not just, "Here are the drugs that are out." We want it to be fun, as well, for the members.
It's going to be a place where, whoever wants to contribute, can. We've put some buzz out there about contributors and we have so many already that are dying to contribute: prominent people, doctors, activists from all over the world, and even members. It's kind of cool that there's this space where people can go and read other people's stories. I'm more excited about the personal stories from the members, because those are the inspiring ones, those are the ones that can touch other people's hearts. They can read it and say, "Hey, this is how I feel. That's what happened to me. I'm not the only one who's feeling that way." It's an outlet for expression.
Mathew Rodriguez: Is Volttage working on any partnerships with organizations?
Jack Mackenroth: We are currently working with The Stigma Project on a new joint photo campaign. And as you know, we are talking to TheBody.com about some cross-pollination. Eventually, we hope to support multiple projects and organizations through the Volttage Buzz blog.
We are always looking for ways to empower the HIV community, draw attention to the issue and fight the stigma.
This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
Mathew Rodriguez is the editorial project manager for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
Follow Mathew on Twitter: @mathewrodriguez.
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