The Network

for LGBT Tobacco Control

Tips for how to get health promotion messages into LGBT blogs

By Scout
Network for LGBT Health Equity
A project of The Fenway Institute, Boston, MA
Reporting from Netroots Nation LGBT Pre-Conference, Minneapolis, MN

It's a packed room of bloggers and LGBT orgs at the Netroots LGBT Pre-Conf

We all have to build new skills

Remember just last year when many state dept of health folk were blocked from Facebook, Twitter and other social media? Well, perhaps because the feds have set a standard of using social media for their routine promotion work, we all now realize that Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter… all these are tools we will need to understand and use in order to ace health promotion work in this new era.

Well, despite the fact that you are reading this on a blog, don’t think we’re not as overwhelmed with all these new media as everyone else. We’re trying our hardest to learn how to use these new tools effectively. But boy it’s a lot.

Many of you know, lots of our LGBT print media has already gone out of business, some have switched to an all online format, some have just folded. This struggle is one of the reasons why the print media is really susceptible when folks like RJR Reynolds start pumping SNUS ads. Like happened in Minnesota, it’s often a real challenge to get the magazine or newspaper to refuse these ads in todays world. Face it, this is one of the main reasons why we have to struggle to raise awareness that we have health disparities like our crazy high smoking rate. It’s long past time for us to take some tips from major corporations and start being more savvy about how to get healthy messages integrated into LGBT media. But how do we do it with a fraction of their funding?

So, you know we’re at this Netroots LGBT Pre-Conf today… I’m listening avidly to all the many LGBT bloggers in the room. Let me share a bit of what I’ve learned about smart strategies for getting those healthy messages into LGBT online media.

First, what are the bigger LGBT blogs?

It’s a little hard to figure out exact readership, and some focus more on social versus serious messaging, but at least each of these LGBT blogs should be on our radar screens.

Tips for getting coverage in LGBT blogs

  1. Buy ads in them! Yes, the blogs are absolutely independent, but this is one way to start building a relationship which helps get your news noticed.
  2. Offer to write for a blog. One of the big ones, is actively seeking new contributors now, go on, sign up, one way to get health covered is to write the posts ourselves.
  3. Repost their stories on Twitter/FB, comment on the stories online, just start engaging with them.
  4. Make a short list of the editors of each of those blogs and send them press releases whenever you think somethink is news. Don’t worry if it’s not national, local is ok too. Pics help too.
  5. Give bloggers scoops or first rights to breaking news, this is one fast way to build a relationship.
  6. Write op-eds about health issues and submit them to blogs (customize them for each submission). See some of the op-eds we put up on the IOM report to see a sample of style.
  7. Did I mention buy ads on them? This seems to be a seriously underutilized strategy. Yet some of the blogs above get 40k views/day… that’s a lot of eyeballs we’d like to have reading our health messages, right?

Many of these strategies will work just as well for your local LGBT media as well. And many of them can be real smart strategies for health departments or hospitals to use as a way to demonstrate that your services are LGBT-friendly.

OK, now off I go to try to put some of these strategies into action!

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Action Alerts, APHA, Blogs en español, Break Free Alliance, CPPW, Creating Change, Creating Change 2010, Creating Change 2011, Minnesota, National Coalition for LGBT Health, NatNet, Presentations, Puerto Rico, Resources, Scholarship Opportunity, social media, Steering Committee, Tobacco Policy, two_spirit_wellness, Uncategorized, USSF, USSF_mlp, webinar | , , , | Leave a comment

wrap up about CC10

My last day at CC10 was wonderful, but sad.  I made some new contacts and was sad to say “good bye” so soon.

The Closing Plenary Session was great, especially with Vogue Evolution.  They tore up the stage with great energy.  I like the Q&A with the group.  I was ready to start making some moves, myself.  The beat of the music had me going.

Once again, give it up for the 1st Nations Collective as they gave the Closing Prayer.  I always like attending an event that acknowledges an Opening and Closing Prayers, at the the beginning and ending of the event.

I attended the Conference Feedback session, to provide my personal feedback on the overall conference.  I addressed several issues such as:  presenters should address ALL populations when they use graphs and charts, there should have been some type of Reception for Native Americans and the presenters for the film “Two Spirits” should have allowed attendees to provide comments and feedback about the film.

I shared with my face book friends to consider attending Creating Change 2011 in Minneapolis.  I am looking forward to attending another Creating Change, in the near future.

I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the National LGBT Tobacco Control Network for allowing me the opportunity to attend the conference.  I had a wonderful experience and will always cherish every moment at Creating Change 2010.  It was a blessing to personally meet Gustavo and Scout.  I had a fun time assisting with manning the table during the conference.

I plan to use the knowledge that I gained to help raise more awareness and advocate for the Native American Transgender communities in the Southwest Region.  #cc10 #qnet

February 11, 2010 Posted by | Creating Change 2010 | Leave a comment

Let’s work to pass ENDA NOW!

An urgent meeting for details on passing the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) was held at Creating Change. I came away with a renewed sense of how anyone can do the work to get ENDA passed and a long list of suggestions to help.

If you’ve been following ENDA news, you may have recently felt discouraged by word that ENDA was not moving. Mara Kiesling of the National Center for Transgender Equality let us know that ENDA is, in fact, still moving and set to be voted out of the committee VERY SOON (think within WEEKS). There is definitely a sense of urgency to be contacting our Representatives and Senators NOW. If you already know your legislator supports ENDA still contact them- they need to feel our support so they know we’ve got their backs if they catch fire for support us.

To quote Jaan Williams from NCLR (who should go down in history as ENDA’s hero when it passes) “Our legislators need to know this is personal this is our lives and we CANNOT wait another year”

Here’s a great list of ways (many I’d never thought of!!) we can accomplish letting them know:

At home? Here’s some simple actions ANYONE can do:

– post to facebook “Did you know it’s completely legal for someone to be FIRED in most states for being LGBT? We must fix this and pass the Employee Non-Discrimination Act. More info at” This simple action lets your actual friends and family know how they can support you. Most of us don’t talk to the people who care the most about us enough about how they can help us.

– Follow @ENDAnow and the #ENDA hashtag on Twitter to help spread the word. Tweet about employment discrimination with the #ENDA hashtag.

– set up an in-district meeting with your Senator NOW. You don’t need to be an expert to be your own lobbyist- you only need to tell your story. Never met with a legislator before? Learn how here:

On campus?

– A fierce group of students at the Indiana University was able to get over 150 letters to Congress in just a week by tabling. Woohoo! If you didn’t know- snail mailing letters to Congress members works. They love to read stories on the House and Senate floor of why their peers should vote with them.

– host an ENDA panel or bring in a brilliant speaker like Mara Kiesling from NCTE (who is also HILARIOUS) to help people learn about ENDA.

Working with a grassroots group?

– Jaan Williams talked about a “Stop and Dial” campaign that Equality California used to great success. The idea is so simple any group of five friends could do it. Essentially you go to an area full of supporters (campus, club, group meeting, etc) and ask people if they’re against workplace discrimination. Then you hand them your phone to call the Capital switchboard at 202-224-3121 and leave a message in support of ENDA. Brilliant! Contact Jaan for training materials at

– friends and family phone banks! Also simple and completely genius. Get a group of folks together from your organization and ask them to call people they actually KNOW to contact their reps in support of ENDA. Again, see Jaan for training materials.

Part of a faith based organization?

– a United Church of Christ leader suggested bringing up the Golden Rule and talking about values, worth and dignity.

– Phonebanks, Stop and Dial, tabling and many other ideas can be used to great effect by faith based orgs as well.

This list is clearly not exhaustive. There are more ideas and resources listed at the United ENDA website and at the ENDA Now! site

Let’s get out there and pass ENDA!

February 11, 2010 Posted by | Creating Change 2010 | 1 Comment

queer bodies, queer spaces, post Creating Change culture shock

Another thing I absolutely LOVE about Creating Change is the way that we take over a hotel and turn it into a very, very queer space for those 5 or 6 days.  I love the way the hotel sports bar/restaurant becomes a queer bar…and yes queer bar, not gay bar, because there’s this beautiful mix of queer folks spanning ages/identities/orientations/gender etc. etc. etc. that are all hanging out in there.

And yes, I must admit, I do love the shocked look that I sometimes see when someone I’m coding as straight walks in to watch the game and sees this massive gathering of a totally diverse group of people that they code as lgbtq.  It’s pretty awesome to take such a gendered, straight space and queer it up.

Of course, lets not leave behind the space at the forefront of so many battles…the bathrooms.  I love, love, love having gender neutral/gender blind bathrooms.  I love the way the bathrooms that have anything to do with the conference are all gender neutral/gender blind.  I get spoiled by it.  The one time that I did venture out beyond the hotel I was in a gay bar and often those spaces become gender neutral because we just decide we’re going to use what we’ve got.  Especially when folks gather at a bar that only has  designated “Men’s” rooms.

I love that folks are friendly and say hi to each other walking in and out of the bathrooms.  I love  that instead of staring at the floor and bee-lining for a stall hoping I don’t accidentally look the wrong way at someone and get beat-up I can walk in at a regular pace and feel safe heading into that space.

By the fourth day of the conference I usually begin to take it for granted, because, really, shouldn’t I feel safe going to the bathroom whenever and wherever? I know some folks disagree with gender neutral restrooms and I don’t want to negate that.  I’m just speaking from my own experience here.

That said, on Sunday at the airport I had an interesting experience.  Airport bathrooms are sort of their whole own other issue, especially post Larry Craig.  I’m about ten thousand times more anxious when I go into an airport bathroom than any other bathroom.  I find the performance of masculinity and heterosexuality in airport bathrooms staggering and terrifying.  You better believe I am staring so hard at the floor that I sometimes injure myself walking into a door.

It was early (for me), and I was kind of stressed out due to travel issues and all kinds of other things.  When I finally got through security and found a bathroom, I walked in and happened to be amongst a couple of military officers, some businessmen in their late 50s and some other men I coded as straight.  I didn’t realize until I was washing my hands that I felt REALLY WEIRD AND UNCOMFORTABLE.  It was an extra level or two above normal bathroom anxiety for me.  Whats that about? I thought.  A minute or two later I realized that I was in TOTAL culture shock after Creating Change.

This always happens, re-entry into mainstream every day society is always a shock after CC or any other lgbtq conference. But wow, it was intense.  I ran into my friend Vince who was flying back on the same flight as me to Colorado and I asked him “Hey, did you feel really really weird when you went to the airport bathroom?”  He said no and asked me what I was talking about and then he said you know, you’re right actually, I did feel really weird but I didn’t have words for what was going on, it is pretty intense now that I think about it.

Anyone else? What other spaces are you finding culture shock in?  I have been finding it at the grocery store, school, the school bathrooms , target and really everywhere I’ve been.  I’ve even felt weird at the gender neutral bathrooms by the GLBT resource center on campus, I think because I know that not all the folks using those are queer.  I’ve gotta do some personal exploration on that.

It keeps making me think back to the war on drugs panel I went to and Gabriel saying “queer bodies are battle grounds for cultural wars.”

And please, what’s up with the signs?? can we PLEASE get rid of the triangle dress? This pic is from a queer group and I still don’t like it.

i got it from googling gender neutral bathrooms, it was labeled gendernar

LOSE the triangle dresses already

February 9, 2010 Posted by | Creating Change 2010 | Leave a comment

Amazing Mas-queer-ade ball

Campus Progress, Youth First Texas, OUTmedia, Campus Pride, the National Youth Advocacy Coalition, and the National LGBT Tobacco Control Network sponsored an amazing event last night at Creating Change.  Kit Yan and Vidur Kapur were the big celebrity draws, but the queer youth at the conference stole the show.

Youth First Texas folks put on a fabulous drag show and dance performance and I swear Lady Gaga and Beyonce were in the house.  In fact, Lady Gaga might want to watch her back.  Tons of youth packed the house, as well as conference attendees of all ages and local folks from the dallas community.  We packed the house and rocked it.

The Network’s fabulous scholarship recipient Julian did an *amazing* spoken word piece that blew my mind.  I hear that there’s a video of it out there but I can’t find it.  When I do, I’m posting it and you gotta watch it because it was powerful…in fact, Kit Yan said that Julian spits fire with his words and it’s true.   Wow!.

February 7, 2010 Posted by | Creating Change 2010 | 1 Comment

HIV infection rates in people over 50 are huge and rapidly growing

On Friday I went to a workshop entitled “HIV/AIDs as we grow older” put on by SAGE, ACRIA and GMHC.

Sage- Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders
ACRIA- AIDS Community Research Initiative of America
GMHC- Gay Men’s Health Crisis

All of these are amazing orgs, you should check them out.

The purpose of this workshop was to discuss the findings of ROAH- Research on Older Adults with HIV.  The number of adults age 50 and older with HIV/AIDS rose from 65,655 cases in 2001 to 104,206 cases in 2004.  That’s an increase in 59% over three years.  Between 10% and 19% of newly diagnosed HIV positive people  are 50 years or older.  Does that sound surprising to you?  It surprised me.  One of the big parts of the conversation was about the fact that we don’t really think about people over 50 having unsafe sex and needing to be reminded to use clean needles and condoms.  Something I found really interesting was that I was the only person in the workshop in my 20’s and that the majority of attendees were between 40 and 60 years old.  It was a visual and literal example of the generational disconnect when it comes to talking about HIV/AIDS prevention.

I’m gonna throw a couple more mind-boggling statistics at you.  These can be found by accessing and finding the “White Paper on HIV & LGBT Aging, January 2010”

*Currently, 29% of all people with AIDS in the US are 50 or older.

*By 2015, *HALF* of persons living with HIV in New York City will be age 50 and older.

*The percent of people with AIDS over the age of 50 is now more than twice that of people under age 24.

Some of the reasons why…Doctors don’t necessarily think that older people are at risk of contracting HIV– physicians that were interviewed “did not give any type of prevention advice to older adults.”  HIV testing isn’t offered at senior centers or assisted living facilities, public access information doesn’t address older adults, criminalization laws may discourage folks from getting tested, older men may not feel comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation or behaviors and aren’t told to get tested etc. etc. etc.  This is definitely an issue we need to be looking at, and I need to make sure that I’m not the only person in my 20s who shows up for this stuff.  But I didn’t know…did you?

February 7, 2010 Posted by | Creating Change 2010 | 2 Comments

impromptu collaborating on bi & trans issues in the hotel sports bar

There are so many beautiful things that happen at Creating Change.  One of them is what I like to call the impromptu mini-sessions.  You know, those ones that take place during the wait in line for an elevator or downstairs in the hotel lobby in between sessions that can turn into some of the most amazing networking and collaborating done at the entire conference…

Here’s a great example… It’s been hard to find food easily during the conference and I finally had a break between sessions and staffing the booth so I went to the hotel sports bar for a burger in the mid-afternoon.  My plans were to eat quickly and try to take a power nap.  Be sure and see my previous post on self-care (or lack thereof) at conferences.

I hopped in and order a burger.  I was eating at the bar when Josephine Tittsworth came in for a drink and decided to stay and have a snack so we could talk.  Josephine and I connected the day before while I was staffing the lgbt tobacco control network booth.  One of our many common interests is transgender advocacy.  Josephine does tons of incredible trans organizing down here in Texas, and is currently trying to get her college to incorporate “gender identity and expression” in the campus non-discrimination policy.

Getting gender identity and expression into a college campus non-discrimination policy is hugely important.  CU-Boulder has sexual orientation in our policy but we are currently working to try and get gender identity and expression added as well.  College campuses all across the country are working on this, and some are having a harder time getting it done than others.  One of the best ways to work on something like this is to talk to other schools in different stages of trying to do the same thing- folks who have gotten it added, folks who are also working on it at their schools etc… find out what’s worked and what hasn’t worked, share ideas/resources/experiences/knowledge and collaborate.

So Josephine and I started chatting more about campus inclusivity and some of our other common interests like social work.  Then Matt from Bi-Net DFW showed up and joined in the conversation as I was doing my now repetitive shpiel about needing creating change nap time and activist burnout.  It caught his attention and then when I turned to face him we recognized each other from a lot of the bi networking that has been going on here.

The three of us spent the next hour and a half talking more about the many intersections that the three of us have identified between with Transgender and the Bisexual communities, and brainstormed some more possibilities, hopes and dreams for networking and collaborating together in the future.

I’ll leave you with saying that we’re really hoping to do some serious work over the next year and from here on out, because, the 3 of us at least believe that the Bi and Trans communities have some definite areas of commonality to build coalitions around.  Matt also has a great way of saying something that I feel, which is that we’re all working towards equality…and true equality would have us working together on things and collaborating, because being bi and being trans aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive or inclusive- and that shouldn’t matter, because we’re supposed to be making this world a better place for ALL people regardless of race, socio-economic status, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, ability, religion, age, nationality, level of education etc. etc. etc.

That is just one example of many of the great impromptu things that go on here at Creating Change.  I never did get that nap in, and Matt got inspired to change the topic for his caucus that was coming up in an hour…but hey, that’s how creating change works sometimes isn’t it?

February 7, 2010 Posted by | Creating Change 2010 | 1 Comment

Some Thoughts on Self-Care at CC

We activists talk a good talk about self-care, but we often forget to walk the walk.  Which really means, we forget to take a chance to slow down and rejuvenate/debrief/*eat*/*sleep*/do something fun if it’s been a hard day etc.  I keep saying that we should include “nap time” or “break time” during Creating Change.  The Lunch on your-own time is great, but it’s not enough time to eat and take a nap in a lot of cases.  Why am I writing about this? Well, I’m interested in lgbtq health- physical, spiritual, mental, and in keeping this active, passionate community going!!

Activists suffer from burn-out a lot.  In a way, Creating Change is a micro-example of that.  Step back for a minute and think about how early you’ve been getting up, how many workshops and meetings and networking events (all of which are awesome, don’t get me wrong,) that you went to each and every day before finally hitting the bed to catch some shut eye and waking up what feels like a second after you got in bed?

How many times did you meet people in the hallway/elevator/lobby/wherever and say “how’s your conference going?” and hear “it’s great but I gotta say I’m really, really tired.”  We are so excited about being here and connecting with all of our awesome fellow social justice activists that we do the same thing we do in our every day lives, we go go go and then a lot of us burn out from sheer exhaustion or catch colds from each other, etc.  A wise community leader just told me “a dead activist isn’t a good activist.”   It sounds kind of harsh, but he’s exactly right.

Does it mean the conference would have to extend a day longer maybe? maybe… but, if each day there was a larger chunk of time for self-care, where you were encouraged to go take a nap in your room or rehydrate and eat or take a chance to step outside the hotel and explore the city you’re visiting and that in turn kept you healthy and rested, don’t you think it’d be worth it?

I do, and I definitely think it’s worth having a dialogue about considering for future CC conferences.  We gotta keep each other healthy and strong ’cause we’ve still got a lot of work to do.

That said,  as exhausted as I am, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Many thanks again to the LGBT Tobacco Control Network whose generous scholarship allowed me to attend my second Creating Change.  I look forward to the year ahead and hope to be seeing many of you next year at Creating Change.

Take good care of yourselves & your fellow activists!

February 7, 2010 Posted by | Creating Change 2010 | 1 Comment

Be on the lookout for…

1)a post about the AMAZING mas-queer-ade youth event tonight, with a special shoutout to fellow scholarship recipient Julian’s AMAZING spoken word piece that blew my mind and resonated deep inside

2) a post about the fascinating data that just came out about HIV rates growing in the lgbtq populations of people over age 50

3)more bi and trans networking with Robyn Ochs and members of BiNet DFW and BiNet LA

4) impromptu activist discussions in hotel sports bar during a lunch break about campus inclusion practices

and  maybe more…

these blogs will be posted over the next 24 hours as internet access is available.

woot cc2010. AMAZING!  so thankful to the network for sponsoring me. met so many amazing people and love the powerful recharging activist energy high!!

February 7, 2010 Posted by | Creating Change 2010 | Leave a comment

House/ Ballroom Scene 101

OMG! the best workshop!total plug in from the attendees.
Interactive doesn’t begin to describe the scene in that space. It was overfilled with attendees, and it was good that the session next door got cancelled because this workshop took over the empty space filling it too!   Vogue Evolution. THANK YOU. I love that you remind folks where Voguing and “glammor” come from.  The Black,Asian and Latino; marginalized,excommunicated,displaced,kicked out homeless, MORE than Queens created it! Straight(not) out of urban areas dating back to the roaring 20’s and the historical era we now refer to as the Harlem Renaissance came a movement forged from displacement and marginalization. From homophobia and love turned conditional came fierceness. HONEY. “Snap snap”– Vogue Evolution provided a facinating historical perspective, and a view of current trends into this world that replaces or stands in for biological family.  A given family that the displaced are welcomed, fed, housed and the conditioning love is about how fabulous you are and not who you do it with.
The next time you see a runway model work it, see the coolest fashion piece, hear the def-ist music, learn the latest dance ask yourself what House that came from.
Remember that it was probably a fierce, fierce queen of color. Remember, remind and CLAIM IT…if you don’t someone else will and we don’t want that do we?
Vogue brought it for sure and they better be a CC next year!

February 6, 2010 Posted by | Creating Change 2010 | | 1 Comment

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