Community Resource Update: Spotlight on POZSeattle and Friends of Britney
October 15, 2002
POZSeattlePOZSeattle is a 501(c)(3) social organization committed to building a strong, cohesive, and healthy community for HIV+ gay men through the planning and promotion of fun, social activities. We welcome gay men without regard to race, color, age, religion, national origin, or disability who are living with HIV/AIDS in Seattle and neighboring communities. There are no membership dues.
Currently, POZSeattle has around 280 members. In 2001, attendance at POZSeattle events was over 2,200. While most of our members are from the Seattle/Puget Sound area, we also have members and visitors from other cities such as Vancouver, BC; Eugene, OR; and San Francisco.
POZSeattle is governed by the Board of Directors. The Event Committee is open to all HIV+ gay men and meets monthly to plan events in order to meet, enjoy and interact with other gay men who share a common bond.
Regularly scheduled activities include:
Some of the other fun events include hiking, biking, potlucks, picnics, bridge, game days, and many more. They're all fun and low stress. Best of all they're attended by really great guys who want to meet you.
Financial support for POZSeattle comes largely from members and friends.
For more information or feedback, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To receive e-mail updates and reminders of our events and activities, subscribe to our mailing list by sending an e-mail to email@example.com with the subject "subscribe."
All e-mails will be sent out as Blind Courtesy Copies (BCC) to protect the identity and confidentiality of the recipient. The POZSeattle e-mail list will not be released to others and will be used for POZ Seattle e-mailing only.
Friends of Britney (FOB)When the idea emerged among the three of us to start a group that Seattle hadn't seen before, it couldn't have been a more perfect time. HIV infection among young gay males was on the rise and there were no organizations to help with the social needs of this population. We put our heads together and came up with Friends of Britney, a purely social organization for young, POZ, gay guys (roughly) between the ages of 18 and 30. The name coming from the time in our history when if you wanted to know if another person was gay, you simply asked, "Are you a friend of Dorothy?" We just updated the phrase with a newer icon and the newest thing stuck in our closet.
We wanted to have a group where disclosure was not an issue and building friendship and community among each other existed in a less formal event or venue. We wanted to be self-supporting so we would never have to answer to anyone or promise to instill messages from a parent community-based organization. So many of the young POZ guys in the community were constantly berated with messages of sexual responsibility and health at every turn. Our goal was not to belittle this message, but provide the opportunity for a lecture free space with no finger pointing. We just wanted to get together and be our beautiful selves. This is the only way we could get the population we wanted to respond, and respond they did. When the group was finally announced, it was an instant success. We wrote about it in one of the founder's local newspaper columns, we chatted it up among friends and the snowball effect took over. Within a couple of months, over 50 emails poured in from guys wanting to be part of our email list. Now we actually have a web site and are getting community involvement and support from local bars and theatres donating space and free tickets for performances.
A bit of controversy exists since starting this group because many see this as another reason for gay POZ men to get together and possibly meet for unsafe sex. They are so wrong! It is that social stigma against HIV positive gay men that makes it so hard for some of us to be comfortable about our status. That controversy will probably never go away but it is minor compared to the amount of support we get. Some members of the group travel all the way from Vancouver to attend the functions (over 300 miles round trip) and we are always getting messages from people in places like Portland wishing there was something for them there.
We operate on a sort of "guerilla" model. We only advertise the date, time, location and type of events over our e-mail list. To become a member you simply send an e-mail to FOBseattle@hotmail.com and express your interest in joining us for events. The next time we have an event, you will receive an email with all the necessary details. Then it's up to you to show up and grace us with your presence. You can also check out our Web site, www.friendsofbritney.org for more info and some examples of past events. We promise complete confidentiality and loads of fun.
This article was provided by Seattle Treatment Education Project. It is a part of the publication STEP Ezine.