Sex, Love and Addiction - LGBTQ

Dr. David Fawcett

Sex, Love and Addiction - LGBTQ highlight important concerns, ideas, and solutions for the complex issues facing gay, bisexual and transgender men.

All Episodes

Steven Davidson is a licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Sex Therapist in Fort Lauderdale. He is known as the Sexual Integrity Coach and has over 30 years of experience working with couples. He is also the author of Sexual Integrity. In this week's episode, Steven shares why it's so important to communicate your actual desires instead of keeping them secret from your partner. When Steven coaches men addicted to chemsex, he understands an underlying problem goes beyond the drugs; they're struggling with connection, intimacy, and bonding. Find out more on this week's episode.   TAKEAWAYS: [1:40] How does Steven define sexual integrity?  [3:15] Sexualty  doesn’t just happen at puberty. It develops throughout our early childhood.  [5:30] There was a lot of toxic messaging around same sex attraction and it brings a lot o shame for those who fall under the LGBTQ+ umbrella.  [7:20] Today, things are a little bit more open in how people can express their sexuality, but the work is still not done.  [10:05] Did you know that it wasn't until 1967 that people of different races could marry each other?  [13:20] Chemsex is unfortunately much more prevalent in Florida than in Tennessee.  [16:35] Steven helps men define what their sexual preferences are, and uncover why they feel they need to be 'under the influence' in order to enjoy it.  [20:45] Sex is a big part of how we connect with other people and how we bond with other people. In order for us to really connect, we have to be honest about our own kinks, fetishes, and desires.  [24:20] Couples often keep secrets from each other about the bedroom and what they like. They're afraid of talking about it. Steven helps remove that stigma.  [27:15] We are not good at repressing our sexual drives, and being in denial doesn't stop our desires.   RESOURCES: Steven on LinkedIn   QUOTES:  “For me, integrity is about being authentic, transparent, walking your talk, and being honest. Sexual integrity is about being honest about who you are as a sexual being and being respectful of who other people are.”  “In childhood, we don't really think of children as sexual beings, but our sexuality starts forming in utero. In utero, there are things that are happening that influence our gender and our sexual orientation.”  “Sexuality is innate. It's not something that's avoidable. We're designed to be sexual beings.”

Nov 16

30 min 26 sec

Today we have three guests on the show. Dr. Stefanie Carnes is the President of the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP), Kristina Padilla is the Vice President of Education & Strategic Development as well as the Chief Academic Officer for California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP), and Randall McDaniel works as the Digital Media Coordinator and Community Manager for IITAP’s Rainbow Program.   In this week’s episode, you’ll hear our three guests talk about some of the benefits of IITAP’s new educational rainbow program and why it’s perfect for those who want to understand their clients’ sexuality better, equip themselves to improve their support for the clients they serve, or just to be a better ally to the LGBTQIA2+ community in general. Find out more on this week’s show!   TAKEAWAYS: [0:45] A little bit about today’s three guests! Dr. Stefanie, Kristina, and Randall. [4:00] Dr. Stefanie talks about  IITAPand their new Rainbow Advocate Program. [6:30] Unfortunately, a lot of therapists feel really unprepared to work with the LGBTQIA2++ community. There’s just not enough resources out there for them. [8:10] Who is eligible to attend and be part of the Rainbow Advocate Program? [10:55] Kristina shares why this program is important to the community and additional info on who can benefit from a program like this. [12:30] For a lot of people, the terminology is not intuitive and/or easy to remember. It’s important we educate not only the public, but ourselves, on why these things matter. [15:00] Those who have lived through the AIDS epidemic are becoming retriggered once again with what’s going on with COVID. The thought of dying alone and being in isolation like some of their friends did in the 80s is very traumatic and triggering. [16:20] How does this program address shame and stigma? Dr. Stefanie shares her thoughts. [19:35] It’s important to everybody working on the Rainbow Advocate Program to make it a safe place for students to explore their own sexuality and ask questions. [20:05] Kristina shares what she’s most excited about the program. [20:35] This program addresses cultural issues and the historical trauma Native Americans have and have experienced. [21:40] What does this program mean to Randall? [24:00] How do you take this course? [26:15] Interested in becoming a Certified Rainbow Advocate? Randall offers information on how to apply. [28:10] Our three guests offer some final thoughts and insights on what you need to know about this program and why it’s so useful in today’s world.   RESOURCES: Randall on IITAP Stefanie on IITAP Kristina on LinkedIn   QUOTES:  “Oh my god, this is happening again. Dying alone, dying in isolation, being sick, and not knowing how you got it. It has a huge impact on people.” “Everybody’s so caught up on these body parts when transitioning, but there’s a transition of hair, clothes, everything. We are excited to put out proper terminology.” “This is not just another quick course in terms of how to recognize what these letters mean. It’s so much more than that. This is personal. Whoever takes this course can really benefit from that.”

Aug 30

31 min 5 sec

Jeff Berry and Derrick Mapp are both long-time survivors of HIV. They are advocates in their community and work for HIV organizations to help other persons living with HIV find normalcy in their lives. Their mission is to reduce the stigma of HIV. In this week’s episode, you’ll learn about Shanti Project and The Reunion Project, and how these organizations support and bring people together in the local community for deeper connection and love.    TAKEAWAYS: [1:55] Jeff Berry shares that he has been living with HIV since 1989. He's been working in Chicago for different HIV awareness organizations throughout his career. [2:35] Derrick Map introduces himself as a long-time survivor living with HIV since 1995. He’s currently living in San Francisco and working for Shanti Project, an HIV organization. [3:25] Shanti project is a legacy HIV organization that started during the 70s. [4:35] What is the definition of long-term HIV survivor? [5:35] Just living and surviving is not enough. We must look back, reflect, and address the long-term issues that these marginalized groups are facing.  [7:35]The impact of having to live with HIV and being told you are going to die soon affects anyone’s mental health.  [8:15] Derrick talks about his experience at The Reunion Project. There are gaps within the HIV+ community.  [12:10] The Reunion Project helps people who are still struggling. They created town halls that help community members connect with more people.  [14:25] When people come together and share collective stories, it gives people another perspective of life and hope that they are not alone. [16:55] People are hungry for information, it's like an appetizer. The meal is where people come together to build connections with one another.  [19:05] Being able to receive support as well as give support has been vital. [20:40] Long-time survivors are often silent about their experience and what they are feeling or going through.  [23:35] The trauma of an HIV diagnosis today is likely not at the same level as survivors who have lived with this disease for more than 20 years.  [25:55] How do we expand and keep being responsive to the community that we are committed to? [26:45] In California, the governor is signing the HIV and AGING act. What does this mean for the community?    RESOURCES:  Jeff Berry on Twitter Derrick Mapp on LinkedIn The Reunion Project on Twitter The Reunion Project on Facebook Email    QUOTES:  “Anyone who has self-identified as a longtime survivor is in fact a long-time survivor.” “People are hungry for information, it's almost like an appetizer that opens to the meal. The meal is the connection that people get with one another.“ “The wounded healers are out there doing the work but are also a part of the work.”

Aug 9

31 min 17 sec

Adam Nathan Schultz is a massage therapist, yoga teacher, endurance running, and former chemsex user. Christopher Tearno is a nurse practitioner who has clinical experience with infectious diseases. Today, our two guests talk about the importance of connection to the body and rediscovering what your body -really- feels like after the use of drugs. Many providers focus just on thoughts and feelings but listening to and taking care of our bodies will deepen recovery and reduce risk of relapse.   TAKEAWAYS: [2:35] Christopher shares how he got involved in this field. [6:10] How did Adam get into this field? [8:55] Adam tried everything to find his path to recovery. [12:00] Christopher has seen that the sexual desires often get missed when trying to approach recovery. [13:20] Why do people relapse? Christopher shares his experiences. [16:45] You have to address all areas of someone’s life if you want to see recovery, and that includes their relationship with sex and addiction. [17:10] Adam is a trauma survivor and has struggled with his own trauma for many years. [19:30] How do you have a successful recovery? [22:45] Adam tries to create ‘impatience’ within his classes to help his students practice being present. [27:00] Connecting with your body is a much more sustainable way to recover from chemsex use.   RESOURCES: Breathing space yoga Email Christopher:   QUOTES:  “I remember seeing those really scary ads on the bus stop. The tweaker ads with the crazy photos. It was just a big scare tactic.” “You need to get past seeing someone as a patient, and seeing them as a person.” “You just need to get clean and sober, and then the sex will take care of itself. It didn’t.” “We seek pleasure to mask the pain.”

Apr 9

30 min 15 sec

Todd Love is a therapist and counselor, who was previously a DUI Defense Attorney and in the IT sector. He specializes in ADHD, addiction recovery, and more. As someone who has ADHD himself, Todd understands that it can be a particularly lethal combo to have ADHD and an addiction. Find out more about some of the symptoms of ADHD and how it ties into addiction in this week’s episode.   TAKEAWAYS: [1:35] How did Todd get his start as a counselor? [4:15] A little bit of insight into ADHD and how it’s diagnosed. [7:45] What is the relationship between ADHD and addiction? [10:15] Todd shares some stats about children with ADHD and its connection to addiction later in adult life. [11:35] Cannabis users combined with ADHD struggle with motivation and keeping their life on track. [16:00] Are people self-medicating to try to bring their lives back into focus? [19:40] Is Adderall a good ‘study’ drug? The research says no. [20:35] How can someone determine whether they have ADHD? [22:50] Are there ADHD medications out there that are helpful? [23:20] Enough sleep is key to helping build regularity in your routines, and to your ADHD. [26:30] What are the effects of some of these drugs on children?   RESOURCES:   QUOTES:  “What is addiction? Impulsivity, inability to delay gratification, novelty-seeking, and you can overlay that completely with ADHD.” “The research has shown that 15-25% of adults and 50-60% with substance use disorder have ADHD. I think that’s an outdated statistic. I’m hearing 50% of adults in treatment programs are there with undiagnosed ADHD.” “ADHD stimulant medications are the safest medicine in psychiatry, and in some ways, overall.” “ADHD is particularly responsive to interruptions in sleep.”

Feb 19

29 min 20 sec

Dean Buckley is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Sex Addiction Therapist Candidate focusing on sex addiction, intimacy disorders, substance abuse, and healthy sex. Dean shares what kind of things he’s been seeing lately when it comes to his clients and navigating the pandemic. A lot of people have relapsed due to Covid and Dean explores better ways to support people in need and their recovery journey in this week’s episode.      TAKEAWAYS: [1:05] We are unfortunately seeing a lot of relapses happening during Covid.  [2:45] What has Dean been seeing currently with people’s mental health and addiction?  [5:00] It’s very hard to separate your addiction from work life.  [6:00] One would expect alcohol rates to be less with the bars closed, but it’s not.  [7:10] What have been the differences in the east coast vs. west coast when it comes to drugs, addiction, and relapse during the pandemic?  [9:00] People are losing the in-person connection and accountability. Online meetings just don’t have the same impact.  [13:15] Dr. David has recognized that his emotional bandwidth is a lot shorter now with everything going on. Dean also agrees.  [18:05] Dean has lost a couple of people this year and there has not been enough opportunity to gather and grieve with your community.  [19:25] Reach out to somebody every day. One call saves two lives. [22:25] Despite how awful the pandemic has been, there have been some blessings. [24:55] What advice does Dean have for the LGBTQ community?  [27:25] Final words of wisdom with Dean on how to survive this marathon of a pandemic.    RESOURCES:   QUOTES:  “It’s so hard to separate your addiction from work life when you’re sitting at home in front of screens, which are hugely triggering for a lot of people.” “There’s a lot of resistance to going online. Zoom meetings just don’t have the same impact for them.” “Addiction is isolation and sobriety is community. We’ve seen that in action with this great social experiment.” “We may not go back to the way we functioned before, so working with a therapist online is not a bad substitute.”

Feb 12

30 min 37 sec

Lulu Cook is a dietitian, counselor, and nutrition therapist. When one of her loved ones identified as transgender and began to transition, she looked high and wide to find food resources to help them through their journey and better fuel their body. She couldn’t find any information! Today, Lulu educates how the LGBTQ community is underserved in this area and some of the food concerns you need to think about if you’re in recovery or transitioning into a new body.    TAKEAWAYS:  [1:45] Are the nutritional/food needs of the LGBTQ community really that much different from the hetero community?  [5:30] Disordered eating and body dissatisfaction are huge in lesbian, gay, and trans populations.  [6:15] Gay men struggle with aging. They often feel invisible as they get older. [8:55] The overall message you get as an LGBTQ member is that you’re not normal, and that’s not okay.  [9:40] When it comes to drug addiction and recovery, Lulu shares some of the challenges people might be facing when it comes to getting the right nutrients.  [14:45] What foods should you be eating when you’re in recovery?  [20:15] How can we speed up the healing of the dopamine receptors?  [23:15] Lulu couldn’t find any information about diet and nutrition for trans people undergoing a transition. However, she sheds some light into what health risks you need to think about when undergoing hormonal therapy.  [26:35] Unfortunately there’s still a lack of research on the health risks of hormonal therapy.  [27:30] What’s Lulu’s latest book about?  [29:45] Interested in queer health? Please consider signing up for a study conducted by the University of California at San Francisco.     RESOURCES:   QUOTES:  “When our dopamine receptors are inpaired due to substances, it impairs our ability to assess hunger and the reward value we get from eating.” “Some of the side effects of hormonal therapy are changes of body composition, weight gain, blood lipid values, bone composition is also likely to change.” “Trans men, F to M, are likely to have increased risks for lipid values/blood fat values, higher risks for cardiovascular disease, hypertension and type 2 diabetes.” “Trans women, M to F, who are on estrogen therapy,  have higher risks of different kinds of embolisms and strokes, as well as high hypertension and type 2 diabetes.”

Jan 29

32 min 59 sec

Jesus Aguais Founded Aid for AIDS International with the idea of collecting unused and unexpired HIV medication and sending it to HIV+ people in low-income countries who do not have access to these medications. Originally from Venezuela, Jesus moved to New York City in 1989 and has been involved in AIDS advocacy groups since then. Today, he shares what his organization is doing to help our brothers and sisters outside of the U.S. who have no voice.   TAKEAWAYS:  [1:45] What is Aid for AIDS about? [6:35] Jesus’s story is a powerful reminder that one person can make a difference. [11:10] Jesus not only is collecting excess HIV medication and sending it abroad to low income countries, but he's now started to do it for cancer medicine as well. [12:45] Yes, we are lucky to live in the United States, but we’re part of a larger community. [18:45] A woman living with HIV in Egypt has no voice. The same is true with a gay man living with HIV in Guatemala. So many countries still have stigma that you have HIV because you’re a sinner. [19:30] It’s just as important to give support to these people so that they can heal from social stigma. They’re not bad people. They’re good people who deserve love. [22:00] Jesus shares how his program has impacted and benefitted highschoolers. It was deployed in 8 Latin American countries and it reached over a million youth. [24:10] Aid for AIDS is the number one provider of HIV medicines to migrants in Colombia. [27:25] How can you help? If you have unused, unexpired medicine, please donate it to Aid for AIDS.   RESOURCES:   QUOTES:  “It goes beyond providing HIV meds, what is important is working on helping that person heal themself, finding tools to know that they’re loving human beings. They’re just a victim of a false belief system.” “There’s almost 5 million Venezuelan refugees in Latin America, so we provide services for them. We are the number one provider of HIV medicine to migrants in Colombia.” “Every bottle of medicine will save somebody’s life in a low-income country around the world.” “We have so many things here in the US that we don’t know that bottle of medicine, someone is dying someplace in the world because they don’t have it. You will save somebody’s life.”

Nov 2020

29 min 48 sec

Eddie Capparucci specializes in treating sexual and pornography addictions and is also the author of the new book, “Going Deeper: How the Inner Child Impacts Your Sexual Addiction.” In this episode, Eddie explains the 9 inner children a lot of men face, some of the common triggers, what to do when your inner child comes up, and how to make changes for the better.   TAKEAWAYS: [0:45] A little bit about Eddie and the work that he does. [2:55] What is the Inner Child Recovery process all about? [5:40] When you understand why sex has a stronghold in your life, you become empowered to make a change. [8:05] Eddie shares an example of how certain events can trigger your inner child. [11:35] There are 9 different types of inner children. [17:15] For a lot of men, understanding their inner child unlocks a lot of understanding that other therapists could not help them with. [19:25] Now that you know what your inner child is, what do you do when it becomes activated? [24:25] The key to all of this insight is mindfulness. What does that look like?   RESOURCES:   QUOTES: “The inner child only wants one thing. Only one thing. Comfort. For the men I work with, that comfort they found in sexual activity.” “The child is stuck in this time warp where he is running just based on emotional thinking.” “When I become mindful and am able to recognize what’s going on around me, how can I help those who I love, then we wind up growing. That’s growth.” “I need my clients to be mindful because I need them to be aware of their triggers that happen, but also be mindful of the fact it’s not all about them.”

Sep 2020

29 min 39 sec

Mark Anthony Lord is a spiritual teacher and helps the LGBTQ community get in touch with their spiritual side. As a gay man, Mark Anthony was told all his life that he was unloveable and that God hated him. However, Mark Anthony decided he wasn’t going to let that narrative control him anymore. He wanted to be connected to a higher power, he wanted to be spiritual, which is why he decided to redefine his relationship with God.   TAKEAWAYS: [2:00] A little bit about Mark Anthony and the work that he does. [3:25] Mark Anthony is a gay man with a spiritual and religious background and understands the struggles the gay community has with God and religion. [5:05] Mark Anthony was 25 when he ended up in a private treatment center in Canada. [6:30] Mark Anthony spent years re-defining his relationship with God. [9:25] If you want a spiritual life, it’s absolutely available to you. It can be very personal to you. [11:40] If you’re not connected with your own spirit or yourself, how can you be connected with others? [13:35] What happens if you believe you’re damaged goods? [17:50] Mark Anthony offers some self-care tips to help you break out of this ‘damaged goods’ thinking. [20:05] Forgiveness is very misunderstood. [23:50] Just like you don’t just go to the gym once and forget about it once, the same applies to forgiveness.   RESOURCES: Mark Anthony on Instagram   QUOTES: “We can’t turn to God for love and support because the one I was told about didn’t want me and didn’t like me.” “My spirituality made me face [my damaged goods narrative] and go, is that true? Hell no!” "There is so much pain around forgiveness and one of the things is we think we’re the ones that do it.” “Your higher power’s job is to make forgiveness happen and your job is to activate it and keep practicing it.”

Aug 2020

28 min 3 sec

Carol Teitelbaum is a Licensed Therapist and has been practicing since 1985. She helps her patients with life issues such as addictions, relationship problems, low self-esteem, self-harm, and men surviving child abuse. She is also the Co-Founder of the Creative Change Conferences, a resource for those experiencing addiction, depression, and who are survivors of child abuse. In this episode, Carol shares her journey and some of the reasons why abuse victims continue the cycle of abuse in their own households.   TAKEAWAYS: [2:00] A little bit about Carol and her background. [3:00] Why do abuse victims continue the cycle of abuse when they themselves have been abused? [6:10] When we look back, we don’t see what the true reality was and how small we were at the age of 4-8 years old. We think we were bigger than we actually were and we always try to protect our parents. [6:25] Why don’t boys tell people about what’s going on? [10:55] Abuse and homosexuality. What’s happening there? [13:40] For a survivor, having someone get to know you is the worst thing in the world. [15:30] If a child has one, just one adult in their life who believes in them, they can make it. [18:00] Women are becoming harsher with their children right now as everybody is housed under one roof. [20:00] What is the ACE study? [21:00] There is hope! Many of these men are healing. [23:45] What kind of triggers do survivors experience in adulthood? [30:15] What is the Creative Change Conference about?   RESOURCES: Email Carol: ACE Study   QUOTES: “It’s not about sex, it’s about power. Where are they going to get the most power? Abusing someone who is powerless.” “It’s a come here, go away effect to their partner. I want you but not too close.” “That’s how a survivor feels, if you really know me, you’re going to run away because why would you want me, I’m so damaged. That hurts relationships so badly.” “It’s the first time ever minors make up half of the visitors to the National Sexual Assault Hotline.”

Jul 2020

33 min 31 sec

Suzie Le Brocq is a Board Certified Sex Therapist and Transgender Care Therapist. Suzie has worked in the addiction treatment field for more than 15 years. Currently, Suzie is working on and studying the psychosexual effects women have when they have an ostomy or another major surgery that can deform/change the body. Suzie shares what women typically go through, their concept of sexual self, and how these concerns apply to men and women.   TAKEAWAYS: [1:00] A little bit about Suzie. [2:40] What are the psychosexual effects on women who have an ostomy? [7:30] Losing the ability to control your bowels can feel very degrading and shameful. [10:25] Suzie dives deeper into the definition of your ‘sexual self’. [12:15] Our sexual self is developed from the sexual stories that we’ve been told while growing up. [13:15] Some of us have an idea that sex should be a certain way, to look a certain way, and sound a certain way, and then suddenly that can be changed in an instant with a diagnosis. [15:00] Do men and women see their sexual selves differently? [20:15] Suzie felt her body let her down and felt very betrayed by her body. [23:15] Partner acceptance is key to healing. [24:30] When you’re sick, your partner can take on the role of a caregiver, but as you start to get better, that caregiving role might not go away.   RESOURCES: Suzie on LinkedIn   QUOTES: “The sexual self-concept, it’s our own personalization of sex, your attitude, and how we feel about sex in general, and how we feel about ourselves as sexual beings.” “Our sexual self-concept is developed, to some degree, from the sexual stories that we’re told growing up. Our weight, our body image, our sexuality.” “So much of the images we see in the media, messages that portray the sexual self, is; to some degree; being something that it isn’t for most of us.” “Our bodies house our sexuality and it’s through our bodies, essentially, that our sexuality finds expression.”

Jul 2020

28 min 32 sec

Enod Gray is a clinical social worker, certified sex addiction therapist, and has been in this work for over 25+ years. Enod specializes in complex PTSD, childhood abuse and neglect, partner trauma, and more. Enod shares her thoughts on how gay men can find themselves and be true to themselves when they’ve grown up in a community that is homophobic or extremely religious. You don’t need to wait until you become an empty nester to live your true, authentic life.   TAKEAWAYS: [1:00] A little bit about Enod and her work. [3:20] There is so much trauma around growing up and not being able to fit in as a gay man. [5:10] How does bullying impact a child? [8:15] Any kind of addiction is an attempt to survive. [9:20] How can people heal themselves if they feel like ‘damaged goods’ due to their HIV diagnosis? [10:35] A lot of trauma resides in the body. [15:45] Enod shares her experience with gay youth and religion. [19:05] So many gay men come out later in life after they’ve had families because they finally felt comfortable in their own skin to be accepted. [21:15] There is great power in finding a healthy community and group. [25:00] You deserve to live out your true life.   RESOURCES: Email Enod: Neglect‑The Silent Abuser: How to Recognize and Heal by Enod Gray   QUOTES: “As children and youth, the tendency is to blame themselves. This thinking that it’s all their fault.”  “Being gay or being trans just puts another layer over it. The basic human need to belong is obliviated by bullying.”  “Addictions are all coping mechanisms to survive.”  “Gay men will often marry, have families, even though they’re not attracted to the opposite sex just to be accepted. That’s sad.”

Jun 2020

26 min 30 sec

Dave Watt is an Outreach Manager at Southwest Center and Founder of Team Friendly, a campaign to help end the stigma of HIV. When he was giving condoms out in bars to strangers, he felt like it was a bit too judgemental. It was hard to create a conversation around HIV and HIV prevention. This is why Team Friendly was born. Dave shares some of the things his campaign has been doing to help people feel more accepted and give them the space they need to talk openly about HIV and stigma on this week's episode!    TAKEAWAYS: [2:45] Dave shares why he is passionate about being an outreach manager and how he got into the field. [4:25] What kind of work does Dave do at the Southwest Center? [8:00] Offering condoms to strangers in bars is not the best way to start an HIV prevention conversation. [14:15] What does the Team Friendly Campaign mean to the members of the community? [16:25] You need to market to everybody, no matter what their status is. [18:45] “No one wants to date a guy who is HIV+”. That’s the stigma Dave is talking about. [22:50] We have made such incredible advances with HIV medications, yet the stigma is still there. [24:00] Despite being in a pandemic, people still need PrEP! [25:15] How is stigma in trans individuals being addressed in Dave’s community? [27:00] Dave offers tips on how to help people with their diagnosis, judgment-free.   RESOURCES: Dave on LinkedIn   QUOTES: “One thing I learned about stigma is that it’s very varied.” “Telling everybody to know their status and to ‘make sure’ they wear a condom tonight is so full of judgment.” “Constantly analyze if your message is putting off anybody. Is my message putting a barrier between me and the people I want to help?” “The last thing someone living with HIV wants to do is pass it on to somebody else.”

May 2020

29 min 19 sec

Bryson Kelpe is a nurse and a mental health counselor. Currently, he is working on creating a stigma recovery program for people living with HIV and struggling with mental health. Bryson is an American living in Germany with his husband and was crowned Germany’s Mr. Bear in 2020. He was also tested positive for the COVID-19 and shares his experience on what that was like and the work that he is currently doing for the LGBTQ community.    TAKEAWAYS:  [1:20] How did Bryson go from the United States to living in Germany?  [3:25] Bryson recently tested positive for Covid-19. [6:50] How did Bryson become Mr. Bear Germany?  [10:15] Cologne, Germany has a very inclusive rugby scene that Bryson likes to take part in. [12:35] Stigma keeps people from being connected. There is so much stigma around the LGBTQ community, mental health, and HIV that it stops people from being open and honest.  [15:20] In aviation, people are working at all hours of the night, which is not something the human body is used to. Lack of sleep means you’re prone to more mental health disorders.  [17:40] Definition of recovery: You could still be having symptoms, but you’re finding hope.  [19:40] Bryson is working towards a stigma reduction program that will include HIV, PrEP, and mental health. It will be in three languages to make it more accessible.  [22:35] What’s next for Bryson?    RESOURCES: Bryson on Instagram Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity by Erving Goffman Div. 44 - APA Divisions   QUOTES:  “There’s a lot of stigma in aviation around mental health and the focus [for me] has been on human factors between the interaction of pilot and machine.”  “The big thing is you recover from the stigma of your diagnosis.”  “Some countries like Austria, a modern country, PrEP is relatively new and unknown even in the provider community.” “Case managers are just worried about your mental health, they don’t care if you went to the dentist or doctor for diabetes.” 

May 2020

26 min 45 sec

Dr. David Malebranche is a Board Certified Internist and HIV specialist who worked in academia as a clinician-investigator with Emory University’s Division of Medicine from 2001 to 2012. Currently, Dr. David serves as an Associate Professor for the Morehouse School of Medicine. Today’s topic covers Dr. David’s relationship with his father, how to be intimate during the COVID-19 Pandemic, as well as HIV & meth use demographics and what we can do about it.   TAKEAWAYS: [4:00] The book that Dr. David wrote, Standing on His Shoulders, is a tribute to his father. [7:50] Dr. David wanted to finish the book before his father passed away. He was in his 80s when Dr. David was writing it and he really wanted to celebrate his father’s life and wisdom while he was still alive. [8:30] The need for intimacy during the COVID-19 pandemic? [11:10] People would rather take the chance to get HIV or an STI than wear a condom so that they can gain closer intimacy with their partner. [13:30] We need intimacy during these times, but find ways to substitute it for now, whether that be through emotional intimacy or porn. [20:20] Within 20 years, meth use has changed and a new generation has become hooked on it. [26:10] Dr. David is concerned about how COVID-19 is going to highlight the health disparities within the black and black gay men communities. [28:45] Since Dr. David has had the privilege to work with so many young people in his community, what’s currently worrying them and keeping them up at night? [31:50] Dr. David is very optimistic about the future of medicine and where our youth will be taking it.   RESOURCES: Dr. David on Wikipedia Dr. David on Twitter Standing on His Shoulders: What I Learned about Race, Life, and High Expectations from My Haitian Superman Father by Dr. David Malebranche   QUOTES: “The journey and how hard my [Haitian immigrant] father had to work to get to where he was and how he passed that on to me, it wasn’t so much of a curse or some kind of trauma, but more so a blessing.” “The best sexual partner is yourself.” “The concern I have about COVID-19 is not just the physical and health disparities that are going to fall on black communities and black gay men, but also the economic and social isolation/long-term mental health complications that we’re going to see.”

Apr 2020

33 min 47 sec

Andrei Dobre has more than 10 years of experience in the non-government sector and is currently working on his PhD in Sociology. He works as a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for the Romanian Angel Appeal Foundation, which was originally founded by Linda McCartney, Yoko Ono, Barbara Bach, and Olivia Harrison. Andrei discusses how there’s been a chemsex explosion in Romania in just a short amount of time (two years) and he has already lost friends to it.   TAKEAWAYS: [2:55] How did Andrei first get into this work? [6:25] What is the current situation in Bucharest, Romania when it comes to chemsex? [7:25] Andrei has personally lost two friends due to chemsex. [8:55] A lot has changed within two years and the chemsex scene has become much more lively. [10:45] The professionals in the region don’t really know how to help or counsel for this and the LGBTQ community is experiencing a lot of stigma. [12:05] Where does the meth come from in Romania? [13:40] Andrei shares a stat about new HIV cases. This is the first time gay men have appeared second on the list for new HIV cases in Romania. Traditionally, it’s been through heterosexual sex and injected drug users. [15:25] What is gay life like over in Romania? [19:10] Change is slow, but it is happening in Romania! [19:55] How are hookup apps affecting the chemsex scene? [21:10] What kind of programs or help can the LGBTQ community seek during this emerging epidemic? [25:30] Andrei sent out a call to various countries to see who would be interested in partnering up with him to improve the situation in Romania. 15 countries answered that call.   RESOURCES:   Romanian Angel Appeal Foundation   QUOTES: “Romania is more like a transit country and not a producer and all the drug substances are in transit on their way to the west.”  “Things are changing in society. Since 2004, only 1,000-2,000 participants have attended the pride parade. Last year, 15,000 attended.”  “At this moment, we have no professionals and no services developed in Bucharest for this specific target group.” “Neighboring countries, Eastern Europe like Bulgaria, Serbia, Albania, Croatia, Ukraine, told me that they have no services, it is happening, they have a problem, but don’t know what to do.”

Mar 2020

29 min 55 sec

Philip McCabe is a Speaker, Health Educator, and Addiction Professional to LGBTQ communities. He is currently the President at NALGAP inc, which is the National Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Addiction Professionals and their Allies. Philip often speaks on the topics of sexual health, consent, and what it means to safely explore your kinks as someone in recovery. Philip shares what you need to know about BDSM, kink play, and some of the warning signs to be aware of.    TAKEAWAYS:  [1:35] How did Philip get involved in kink awareness?  [5:25] Philip defines what BDSM is.  [9:40] Is kink or BDSM problematic behavior?  [11:55] Where do you draw the line between kink behavior vs. domestic violence or abuse?  [13:40] How can you practice BDSM safely?  [15:35] What do the phrases, ‘Safe, Sane, and Consensual’ and ‘Risk, Aware, Consensual’ mean?  [17:35] What precautions does someone need to take into account when engaging in these activities?  [21:50] How can a newly sober person regain an interesting and engaging sex life?  [26:40] How can people in this lifestyle talk to their healthcare providers about it?  [31:55] Therapists, addiction counselors, social workers, and more need to have a better understanding of the range of human sexuality.    RESOURCES: Philip on LinkedIn Recovery in the Lifestyle National Coalition for Sexual Freedom Kink Aware Professionals   QUOTES:  “Like any other part of the LGBTQ community, we are still evolving and we still have to learn how to support each other.”  “If the partner is not willing to have a conversation or not willing to have a discussion with you about what your boundaries are or limits are, that’s a red flag to me.”  “It takes time and I think people get impatient. We sometimes ask people to do a 90-day abstinence from masturbation just to reboot and resettle.”  “Just because there is a mark on the body, we don’t want to jump to the conclusion that it was domestic violence.”

Feb 2020

33 min 11 sec

Kekoa Kealoha is the PrEP Navigator at the Hawai’i Island HIV/AIDs Foundation and a recovering meth addict. Although Hawai’i is considered a low HIV incident state, there is still an epidemic going on that is fueled further by the meth problem in Hawai’i. An estimate showed that 6 out of 10 people in the Hawai’ian state hospital have experienced meth. Kekoa shares some of his insights as to what is going on in his community and the work that he is doing to create more awareness and best practices.    TAKEAWAYS:  [1:40] What does Kekoa do as a PrEP navigator?  [4:25] Hawai’i is considered to be a low HIV incident state. However, on Kekoa’s island, there are between 8-12 people that contract HIV every year. The capital, Honolulu, has about 30-60 cases per year.  [5:20] Unfortunately, the meth epidemic fuels the HIV epidemic. It affects the entire community, not just the gay male community.  [7:50] Meth has become a criminal justice problem vs. a public health problem.  [10:05] The native Hawai’ian pacific islander population is the most likely to be diagnosed with late-stage HIV or AIDs. The state is missing their mark on early prevention and education for diseases not just with HIV, but with heart disease, diabetes, and more.  [14:45] Kekoa and his team are working with Hawai’i to Zero (h20), which is an initiative to end the stigma of HIV, to test and diagnose, and have no HIV-related deaths.  [16:35] The meth source is coming from both Mexico, Asia, and homemade on the island.  [21:00] What worries Kekoa the most about his community?  [22:30] What gives Kekoa hope?    RESOURCES: Email Kekoa:   QUOTES:  “6 out of 10 people in the Hawaiian state hospital have experienced meth.”  “The community seems content in keeping the meth epidemic a criminal justice problem and not a public health problem.”  “Hawai’i has the lowest rate of HIV transmission through injection-drug use and we also have the oldest state-wide needle exchange program in the country.”  “What gives me hope is working with younger generations because they don’t have the same stigma attached to HIV. When I give education to young people, it’s a clean slate with them.” 

Feb 2020

27 min 22 sec

Dr. David Fawcett talks to Dr. Rob Weiss about sex addiction and chem sex in men. Dr. Weiss dives into why we shouldn’t separate the relationship with drugs and sex in therapy because they are often combined and need to be addressed together. He also believes there’s a lot of benefit for hosting gay and straight clients together because the commonality of being men can open up a big dialogue and he believes that for most people in therapy, the biggest thing we are seeking is a real and meaningful connection.   TAKEAWAYS: [2:40] Dr. Rob didn’t realize in the very beginning how drug addiction is so closely linked with sex addiction. We have to look at both, not either/or. [3:55] How does Dr. Rob see the effect of trauma play into these addictions later in life? [6:50] Gay and transgender people struggle a lot with their relationship to sex, and culturally we still haven’t gotten to openly talk about these issues. [9:35] Dr. David has seen two worlds collide in a beautiful way. Gay men had their reservations/thoughts about straight men and vice versa. By sharing group therapy sessions together, a real dialogue has begun to open up between them where it’s just men sharing their experiences and trauma. [11:55] Dr. Rob shares a story about a man who hated what turned him on, but when he did drugs, he was able to indulge in these sexual interests. The work Dr. Rob does has a lot to do with helping people come to peace with their sexual desires. [12:40] Seeking Integrity gets a lot of clients that have a misunderstanding that treatment and addiction are about ‘curing’ unwanted attractions, but it’s about self-acceptance. [16:50] Dr. David breaks down why alcohol is a drug. [21:25] So many people that Dr. David and Dr. Rob treat are looking for a connection and use drugs to fill it, but in reality, they create more emptiness. [25:45] There’s so much more to you than your bodies. As you get older, you’re just not going to get noticed that much and it can be very hurtful to the ego or identify about yourself.   RESOURCES: Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men by Dr. Robert Weiss Email Rob:   QUOTES:  “People are what grounds us, not substances or behaviors.” “Which one defines your entire life more? Being male or being gay? Man trumps gay every time.” “To define sessions as ‘gay’ or ‘straight’ is to sort of like saying why don’t we have a program for African American men or Asian men? There’s so much in common being a man struggling with sexual issues.” “Our work is a lot about teaching a person to come to peace or celebrate their sexuality without having to use drugs and alcohol.”

Jan 2020

29 min 5 sec

Scott Brassart is the Director of Content Development at Seeking Integrity and has worked alongside Dr. David for the last two years. As a gay man himself, Scott discusses the prominent drug use in the gay community, the stigma behind sex recovery, the shame, and trauma young LGBTQ members experience, and opens up a conversation on how to develop healthy sexual patterns while in recovery.   TAKEAWAYS: [1:25] Scott shares his story about his struggles with addiction and his journey to sobriety. [3:15] Does the LGBTQ community have a greater tolerance for drug use than the heterosexual community? The answer is yes, and no. [6:55] When beginning a journey into sex recovery, it can be very difficult for gay men to get the right treatment. Gay men tend to be sexually liberal and will rebel against anyone trying to control or put boundaries around their sex lives. [8:50] When Scott got sober, he didn’t know what to do with himself. His addiction was his one and only hobby at that point and he had nothing else in his life. [11:45] Sex addiction is a bit different than a drug addiction. If you do drugs, you’ve relapsed. If you have sex, you have to treat it more like an eating disorder. You have to learn how to have sex in healthy ways so that you don’t spiral out of control. [13:35] People in the LGBTQ community experience a lot of shame and this shame can be used as fuel towards unhealthy and addictive behavior. [16:55] Any child who has been bullied over their sexual orientation holds a lot of shame. This can get compounded and turned into trauma, and that will affect them throughout their adult life. [19:30] Growing up as a young boy in Indiana, Scott always felt out of place. He had no romantic or sexual development while in school because of how conservative his community was. [22:25] What are some of the benefits (and disadvantages) of joining a gay-only or gay-friendly group meetings? [28:15] Like everything else, there are really good therapists and really terrible therapists out there. If you’re curious about seeking help, try a therapist out and see how it feels.     RESOURCES: Scott on LinkedIn   QUOTES: “Gay and lesbian people have higher rates of addiction than heterosexual people. I think that may be shame-related more than anything else.” “If you’ve tried to cut back or quit altogether [with sex] and you failed, and you’ve done that multiple times, you’ve lost control.” “If it’s out of control and it’s ruining your life, maybe you should do something about it.” “Growing up gay in America, even today is traumatic and early life trauma breeds shame.”

Dec 2019

31 min 11 sec

Leon Knoops has been an Outreach Worker, Researcher, and Trainer at the Mainline Foundation since 2006. He has focused his efforts on important research in Amsterdam’s gay and bisexual men and their connection to crystal meth.    Sjef Pelsser is also an Outreach Worker at the Mainline Foundation and uses his own experience within the worldwide chemsex scene to talk openly about this topic and share his account of what’s happening right now in the Netherlands.    TAKEAWAYS:  [2:40] What is Mainline Foundation’s International mission? [3:20] Leon and Sjef share their personal experiences with the chemsex scene and explain why their Chemsex Project is so important to Mainline’s mission.   [7:05] The chemsex scene is relatively new in Amsterdam. Leon spent time interviewing gay men who had experience with crystal meth, which most of them would take in a private setting (not at parties). However, it was in 2014-2015 where Leon really saw a lot of these individuals lose control and become addicted. [11:15] Not too long ago it was really difficult to find crystal meth due to the difficulty of transporting it, but this is now becoming less and less true. They still do not know which European country it originates from.  [12:45] the Netherlands is known to be a more sexually liberal country, but according to Leon and Sjef the dynamic is changing and the Dutch are not as tolerant as they claim to be.  [17:50] Leon and Sjef currently lead an anonymous support group for those seeking more information and are looking to recover. The biggest thing is to just listen to their stories and pass no judgment on what they’ve been through.  [22:40] Why do men experience a relapse in their recovery journey? It’s difficult finding a partner who wants to have sex without the use of drugs or a party lifestyle. They are lonely and isolated because they feel like their social circle will shame them.  [25:00] Where would Leon and Sjef like to be in five years?    RESOURCES: Leon on LinkedIn   QUOTES:  “Research from 2018 shows that 85% of the Dutch population accept gay men, but when you start to talk about two gay men holding hands/kissing, 1 in 3 Dutch find it disgusting.”  “When guys show up to the support group for the first time, we are only listening and asking questions. They become so relieved.”  “In this relapse context, most of the time it’s about loneliness and when you’re lonely, it is very easy to connect with someone via gay apps.”  “If the guys ask for help, we can easily get in touch with a professional and it’s a very important and new way to get people the help.”

Dec 2019

29 min 49 sec

Butch McKay, of OASIS and the Positive Living Conference, joins the show today to talk about ways we can reduce stigma and set examples of creating a safe space in the community. Butch is a major force in the work with HIV, has stayed true to a promise he made to a dear friend that he will use every day as a way to help others that suffer. Butch also discusses how the Positive Living Conference started and continues to grow, the groups still most affected by HIV stigma and what we can do about it, and an inside look at how we need support in the legal system more than ever.   TAKEAWAYS: [2:26] Butch got involved in HIV work 32 about years ago, as a result of a promise he made to his best friend who was the first person he lost to the complications of AIDS. He became a clinic host, and with Dr. Michael Saag as his mentor, realized this was an area he wanted to spend his energy to help people. [7:30] Butch saw a need for education and services in the North Florida area, and decided to start the Positive Living Conference in 1997. He sought dynamic speakers to speak the science in layman's terms, and advocate Martin Delaney came (for way less money than his usual fee) to educate the audience so hungry for his knowledge. [11:16] This year was the largest attendance, with 457 people registered to attend. They have also had as high as 27 states represented in the past, with countries such as Canada and Mexico in the mix. 97% of the attendees are living with HIV and AIDS, and the others are experts or partners. They have also been known as a training ground for speakers, and are proud to be a safe space for people to speak their voice. [18:34] It is quite miraculous in the past decades of where we have come medically, but stigma is still a major problem. [19:16] One of the hardest groups still affected by stigma is heterosexual women. [22:30] Those affected with HIV unfortunately still experience unfair sentences in legal matters, along with bails too high for themselves or their families to afford. [25:54] The largest population of African Americans live in the south, and that is an area where stigma and religion play a role that leads to a large number of people being impacted with a lack of resources. [27:17] Butch would like to see more education and sensitivity in the community towards those with HIV, along with proper training for public defenders so they can better represent their clients.   RESOURCES: Dr. Michael Saag Positive Living Conference OASIS Project Inform The AIDS Memorial U=U   QUOTES: ● “We did a lot of things in those days, it was called survival.” ● “It’s so good to know that we have come so far and we have to think of the sacrifices of the people that gave everything, including their lives.” ● “Stigma is very real, but I do think a lot of it is internalized now.” ● “We can all play a part in educating those around us, and ourselves as well.”

Nov 2019

30 min 14 sec

Psychologist and Author Walt Odets, Ph.D., joins the show this week to share some insight from over 30 years of writing extensively about the psychological and social issues of gay men, immersing himself in the gay community, and practicing with his own clients. Walt has authored two books, Out of the Shadows in 2019, and In the Shadow of the Epidemic in 1995.   TAKEAWAYS: [1:31] Walt has had over 24,000 hours sitting with men affected by HIV, letting them actually be and express themselves. From the notes he took in his practice and what has emerged from his 1995 book, In the Shadow of the Epidemic, comes his new book, Out of the Shadows. He realized the shame and isolation felt by these men had to be talked about, and people really needed to know what it means to survive for a gay man. [8:20] Walt sees a common belief of “I’m not the kind of person to get HIV”, from the younger generation. Denying the possibility of HIV is a way of also denying the consequences, and just how important it is that we still focus on this epidemic. [10:13] The tremendous amount of stigmatization and intra community hostility is not helpful for anyone. [15:09] Three key tenants for a gay man healing from the shame and stigma of HIV are: developing self-acceptance, building confidence, and realizing who they really are in the world and what they have to offer from living authentically. [19:38] When professionals work on helping someone with their addiction, they know that there needs to be a new tool to have in place, otherwise a relapse may occur. [25:20] Walt names a few things that will increase the level and quality of connection in the community: real relationships not just based on sex, using apps correctly, and older men mentoring younger men.   RESOURCES: Walt Odets Grindr SCRUFF In the Shadow of the Epidemic Out of the Shadows   QUOTES: ● “I sit with a lot of pain.” ● “There is still a well of grief that is not expressed.” ● “It’s self-acceptance that allows confidence, which then allows us to be ourselves.” ● “Shame is about not wanting to be seen by others.”

Oct 2019

31 min 23 sec

David Pantalone is the Director of the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program and Professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. His areas of expertise include Clinical health psychology; HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment; substance abuse; LGBT health and mental health. David joins the show today to talk about the statistics between men who are HIV positive, and men that use meth. He discusses why meth is back and easier to get, the correspondence that adverse childhood experiences have in health risks, and what is behind the program called Project Impact.   TAKEAWAYS: [2:07] David had a winding path into Psychology from the Public Health arena. He combines his passion for education and advocacy by teaching Human Sexuality to undergraduates and working with doctoral students on how to be therapists. David is also very involved in professional organizations such as Division 44, and ABCT. [4:40] Meth use is more common among MSM, and men who are HIV positive and use meth are more likely to miss their dosage to keep them safe and undetectable. David also shares a statistic that men who reported having used meth were 18x more likely to contract HIV than men who had not. [5:56] The supply and demand issue made meth go away, but now it is back and easier to get. However, the forms people are getting are tainted worse than ever, and no one can be too sure about the exact substances they are taking. [7:20] Working with men on healing from their adverse childhood experiences has a strong impact both on the ground and in practice. The more traumatic childhood, the more it may correspond with health risks, mental health, abuse, and healthcare engagement. [11:23] Project Impact was born from treating both depression and working to reduce substance abuse. They use effective and proven strategies including behavioral activation, and the participant has coached along in a 10-Week program. [16:01] In behavioral activation, the client gains success by getting their own behavior under control, and not having their actions be dependent upon their moods. [19:25] There has been some improvement in awareness regarding the meth epidemic, but communities can still do more. We must realize that the version of the drug out there today is worse than ever, we must focus on harm reduction, and also help young men develop better skills on how to cope with painful emotions and situations. [21:37] A large part of treatment in the digital age is helping the individual use apps appropriately, or to help them not use them at all if that is what’s best. [28:50] David has many new projects coming down the pipeline including ones for opioid use, children on the autism spectrum, and men of color. These are all fascinating and important studies that help intersectional stigmas and provide resources that are presently hard to come by.   RESOURCES: UMB HIV Explore Study Project Impact Division 44 ABCT University of Washington   QUOTES: ● “Some of the younger guys didn’t see the devastation meth caused in gay male communities.” ● “I want to develop interventions that get rolled out that are as easy as possible for community-based providers to use.” ● “We need lots of different options. It’s clear at this moment there is no end in sight in this wave in the meth epidemic.”  

Oct 2019

30 min 18 sec

Nelson Vergel is an author, speaker, men’s health coach, and former chemical engineer. He also has done and continues to do amazing work in the field of HIV and advocacy. As a Long-Term Survivor, Nelson stepped up out of the dark and shared his findings on how testosterone treatment helped prevent Wasting Syndrome, reversed fragility and got the body healthier overall. Nelson discusses how he got into advocacy work, the stigma around body image and confidence that he has shifted to be a source of motivation, and resources where people can go to learn everything from affordable labs to a guide for proper testosterone treatment.   TAKEAWAYS: [1:30] Nelson is a Long-Term HIV Survivor, and found in 1985 that he had the virus. He became very focused on how to not die from Wasting Syndrome, a leading cause of HIV related death that he saw many of his friends and loved ones pass away from. He left his career as an engineer to devote himself to the cause. [3:33] Nelson’s techniques helped him gain 35 lbs of muscle, which changed his outlook and gave him hope for both himself and others. This bought him time and prevented Wasting until they came out with drugs in 1996. [5:22] Those with HIV typically have low testosterone, and Nelson noticed that treatment with testosterone helped prevent and reverse fragility when combined with exercise and proper nutrition. It also helped support lean body mass, which is a key to survival and overall health and energy. Since women also have testosterone, it is a treatment that can help all genders, even those that identify as trans or another identity. [7:57] Wasting is defined as 10% more weight loss from your base weight. [9:39] Once treatment for HIV was more underway, Nelson then saw a need to cross over and help people all around the world who had low testosterone, but not HIV. He continues to work with men and women to teach them how to understand symptoms of low testosterone, possible treatments, how to talk to their doctor, and some of the benefits they can expect once they are more in hormonal balance. [24:11] Body image and confidence is already a complicated issue, and there is more pressure than ever before to look great and fit into our cultural definition of strong and sexy. Nelson was able to turn his body image issues into fuel that made him healthy, but often is the cause of much anxiety and stress to look a certain way. People must remember there is no quick fix, but instead health and wellness is a lifetime commitment.   RESOURCES: Built to Survive Testosterone: A Man’s Guide Program for Wellness Restoration Nelson Vergel Testosterone Replacement POZHealth Excel Male Discounted Labs U=U   QUOTES: ● “I think I survived because of all the knowledge I was able to gather.” ● “I got this message out at the right time. Doctors were desperate.” ● “It is time for some of us to cross over and help the entire population.” ● “I have been able to shift my body image anxiety into something that makes me healthier and hopefully live a little longer.” ● “I’m a product of my own advocacy.”

Sep 2019

32 min

Tez Anderson is an HIV Long-Term Survivor, Writer, Speaker, HIV Activist and Founder of the Let’s Kick ASS (Aids Survivor Syndrome) grassroots movement empowering HIV survivors. Tez joins the show today to discuss how he went from coming to terms with his own diagnosis and standing as a long-term survivor, to becoming an advocate and running groups to help connect and empower others. Tez talks about how Let’s Kick ASS came to be, where we have made strides in helping long-term survivors, and the issues we still face today. He shares the symptoms that long term survivors often face, and how he and his team help others cope with grief, anger, fear, and planning for the often unexpected future.   TAKEAWAYS: [2:28] Tez was diagnosed in 1986 with HIV, and lived through a several year period here he thought HIV had gotten into his brain. He felt angry, confused and was severely depressed, without feeling as though there was much reason to live. He thought he had 18 - 24 months to live, and prepared for death. [4:23] Tez was not prepared to live past his own expected 5 years either financially or emotionally and looked hard to find support and resources that would help him in the years to come. This experience served as a foundation for him to help others because he knows the isolation and doubt that comes with being a long-term survivor. [7:43]  Tez found that it was trauma causing his symptoms, not the actual disease. He began to meet with other long-term survivors and found they had similar experiences. They put on a town hall and the attendance was more than double what he expected. [9:10] Once HIV became a chronic manageable illness rather than a death sentence, the urgency dropped down and advocates had to make sure people knew it was still an extremely important issue to focus on. [11:46] The first town hall became a cultural touchpoint in San Francisco, and other organizations that dealt with HIV started to pay attention to long-time survivors. [12:30] The combination of side effects from early medications, along with the actual virus, makes the comments of “It’s just one pill a day” feel hurtful and dismissive. [15:54] There are still many people who don’t have access to support easily. They feel alone and through Let’s Kick ASS, Tez provides a way for people to chat about their experience without having to explain it or expose information they don’t feel comfortable sharing yet. [19:19] Lack of future orientation can be one of the biggest symptoms of long-time survivors. [21:53] Besides the in-person testimonials and people sharing their personal experiences, The Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study showed real scientific evidence of long-term survivor syndrome. [24:27] Tez works with other long-term survivors on their guilt about surviving when their loved ones or close friends may not have. Survivor guilt is valid, but much like shame, is useless for how it helps or benefits us now. [27:01] There is still a generation in need of attention, care, and support.   RESOURCES: Let’s Kick ASS Aids Survivor Syndrome @letskickass_hiv And the Band Played On Spencer Cox Bay Area Reporter HIV Long-Time Survivor League Act Up USCA Dr. Ron Stall Dr. Michael Gottlieb Multicenter Aids Cohort Study   QUOTES: ● “I aged into my job.” ● “Death is death. It’s messy and complicated, and it can be beautiful and awful at the same time.” ● “I had prepared to die. I had not prepared to live.” ● “Once it became chronic and manageable and no big deal, the urgency ran out.” ● “It’s about empathy. It’s about generating and cultivating empathy.” ● “It’s not about surviving the virus, it’s about surviving the epidemic.”

Sep 2019

29 min 6 sec

Bruce Richman is the founding Executive Director of the Prevention Access Campaign and tireless advocate of the Undetectable Equals Untransmittable (U=U) campaign. He joins the show to talk about what exactly the U=U campaign does, and how it pairs with activists and researchers to make sure the correct science reaches the people that would benefit from it the most. He also talks about what breakthroughs took place in the movement, why the United States is one of the most challenging countries so far, and how changing the stigma surrounding HIV and transmission is changing many lives for the better.   TAKEAWAYS: [2:28] A person living with HIV who is on treatment and has undectable viral load can’t transmit HIV through sex partners. An undetectable viral load means less than 200 copies/ml. [3:35] In the late 1990’s, any findings on HIV transmission were widely criticized, with many skeptics finding not enough evidence to trust the research. After 2010, new studies provided breakthrough results: these studies featured 150,000 couples who had sex without condoms, providing a solid evidence base and a staggering amount of scientific evidence. [6:16] Bruce’s background in philanthropy and social justice gave him a foundation on how to use his platform to help inform and educate those who needed it. He was depressed and felt isolated about his own HIV diagnosis, and knew the feeling of hopelessness and not knowing where to turn. When Bruce learned the information from the study, he started taking medication and knew he needed to share the information and focused his energy on putting the groundbreaking science to light to create community awareness and a coalition for others to feel a sense of belonging. [11:12] Many advocates paved the way for others, using their own courage and bravery, and took the risk to go public with their diagnosis. [12:57] There have been 98 countries and 1000 partners that have signed on from different organizations. England and France are leading the pack with their creative and innovative campaigns. Hopefully the US will pick up more and find a way beyond the scarcity of resources and inner policy blockages. [19:16] When advocates get together with policy makers and move things forward, it can help thousands of people overcome the stigma that leads to shame, violence, isolation and possibly even suicide and murder. [29:31] The U=U campaign serves as a hub for resources, research and solidarity with the vast partners that are pioneering.   RESOURCES: Prevention Access Campaign @UequalsU Bruce Richman @preventionac CDC U.S. Health Department @DrDemetre   QUOTES: ● “We really did it together.” ● “It is surreal how fast this has expanded in such a short period of time.” ● “We are seeing a lot of really brilliant national efforts.” ● “This gives people one less thing to worry about. This gives them hope.” ● “The impact on stigma can’t be underscored enough.”

Sep 2019

32 min 20 sec

Regina McCarthy, LCSW, is a clinical social worker, Holistic Psychotherapist, and author of Courageous Gilbert the Groundhog. Everyone, but especially gay, bisexual and transgender men, will find that both Gilbert's experiences and the solutions he discovers are directly applicable to their lives. Regina joins the show to discuss why she decided to write Courageous Gilbert, and the impact it has been having on both her own life and the lives of children and adults that read it and put the practical tips into use. Regina discusses why the book features a groundhog star, and how it serves to help people of all ages identify, observe, and process their emotions in a healthy and positive way.   TAKEAWAYS: [2:28] Regina works with her clients from a holistic perspective, which means she works in the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual all in one. [4:41] Regina never thought of herself as an author, but the idea came to her in a dream and she knew she needed to put it out there. She saw a groundhog in her yard and found it to be a symbol of digging up her truth so others can do the same. Courageous Gilbert may have won 14 awards, but the biggest thrill for Regina is the way it has resonated and helped others. [5:51] Gilbert is a shy groundhog who gets bullied and is afraid of public speaking. He finds an oak tree mentor who teaches about emotions, and that it’s okay to feel and express them. [8:00] Activity that releases stuck energy helps us get out of our head and into our body, and in turn will let us respond calmly and thoughtfully instead of reacting. [9:42] Many of us walk around with a shame that we aren’t enough, or that there is something wrong with us. As a result we play small and don’t ask others for help. [11:28] Building self confidence and self worth takes time, and it’s not a perfect path at every moment. It’s important to realize that there is no rush, and even small wins are worth celebrating. [13:09] Breathing for relaxation is free, available to us at any time, and has profound effects. Regina walks us through a 4:7:8 breath pattern. [15:39] In the book, Gilbert learns to deep breathe, and locate where emotions are stuck in the body such as fear, sadness and anger. [19:29] In times of great stress and trauma, our brain will send us into fight, flight, or freeze. When we freeze it is common to go into shock, and on a small scale dissociate using numbing or negative habits. [27:02] Regina’s next book will be focused on how the character Peter Possum got to be a bully, and will feature some grounding techniques to feel calmer and more in control.   RESOURCES: National Association of Social Workers Conference 8 Weeks to Optimum Health Courageous Gilbert the Groundhog Bluestone Healing Center   QUOTES: ● “I only have control over me, and I’m the only person I can change.” ● “We have to practice expressing our feelings.” ● “Practice makes permanent, not perfect.” ● “We are incredible human beings, just the way we are.”  

Sep 2019

29 min 17 sec

Andrew Susskind is a Licensed Clinical Social Work, Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, and Certified Group Psychotherapist based out of Los Angeles. Andrew specializes in relationships, mid-life transitions, sexual recovery, trauma, and addictions. He is the author of the new book, It’s Not About The Sex, where he takes a deeper look at compulsive sexual behaviors, brokenheartedness, and a sustainable way to become emotionally sober. In today’s discussion, Andrew shares why he shies away from the term ‘sex addict’, the connection between childhood trauma and addiction, and some of the benefits of positive psychology.   TAKEAWAYS: [1:35] Andrew shares a little bit about his background and why his focus has been on trauma and addiction. [2:30] In his book, It’s Not About The Sex, Andrew states that sexual compulsivity is not about the sex, it’s about broken-heartedness. What does he mean by this? [6:45] Andrew doesn’t personally see sexual compulsivity as a disease. The reason why someone becomes addicted is a lot deeper than you might think. It begins from birth and when there are no role models for intimacy in this young child’s life, they’re left to figure things out on their own. [11:35] Andrew doesn’t agree with the term ‘sex addict’ as a way to address or define someone. The word in itself can produce shame or make someone feel like there’s something inherently wrong with this behavior. At the end of the day, it is how the person perceives these behaviors to be. If the person is being affected negatively by them, then it should be addressed. [12:35] When someone stops these negative behaviors, that’s unfortunately just the beginning. The long term solution is to look deeper into childhood trauma and brokenheartedness that lead to these behaviours, and the end-goal would be to strive for emotional sobriety. [18:30] During the therapy process, one of the things Andrew looks for is when the client has an ‘okay day’. It might just be okay, but Andrew wants to hone in on those feelings, those emotions, and harness them so that their brain can develop new pathways for enjoyment and love. [24:00] From what Andrew has seen, early childhood trauma in general makes it much more likely that someone is going to develop compulsive sexual behaviors. The good news is that there’s a lot of effective treatments out there that can help an individual toward recovery. [27:15] Andrew is excited about the new possibilities that have opened up for his clients when it comes to using positive psychology methods. By expressing gratitude, having forgiveness, recognition of personal strengths, and taking a look at purpose and core values, an individual can be transformed with a completely better outlook on life.    RESOURCES: West Side Therapist   QUOTES: ● “I really see the two as inseparable. Trauma and addiction really go hand-in-hand.” ● “I don’t use the term sex addict as often. There’s an implication that there’s an apology or it falls under the disease model somehow, or there’s something inherently wrong.” ● “A lot of folks think if you cut off the behaviors, you’re all better. And, actually, I tell my clients you are at the starting gate once you stop the behaviors.” ● “The simple way of thinking about emotional sobriety is when somebody’s more comfortable in their skin, when they really feel like they are not anxious all the time.”  

Aug 2019

32 min 13 sec

Damon Jacobs, New York-based MFT, advocate and HIV prevention educator, author, and expert in the field of PrEP joins the show today. He and David discuss what PrEP is, where people can get it, and the major changes it is making in the field of HIV and harm reduction. Damon discusses the changes PrEP has made since it’s come out, who could benefit from using it, and the amazing avenues he and his team are providing for intelligent and meaningful conversations on the subject.   TAKEAWAYS: [1:43] PrEP is the use of the antiretroviral drug Truvada, to prevent zero conversion of HIV, should someone be exposed. [2:05] Damon has been an HIV Prevention Educator since 1991, a time when communities were being decimated by the AIDS epidemic. Damon saw that to have integrity in the role, it meant he needed to get out and help communities learn about safe sex to the best of his own ability. He personally started using PrEP in 2011, and the FDA approved it in 2012. [5:53] PrEP is a daily pill that blocks the T cells of someone with HIV duplicating and replicating in the individual taking the pill Truvada, which is a combination of two drugs, tenofovir and emtricitabine. [9:30] Damon sees some of the positive “side effects” of PrEP being that people are getting more physicals, and getting regular STI checks. [12:07] The Magnet Clinic in San Francisco reported that 91% of people they start on PrEP come to their clinic because they already gave up using condoms, or they are inconsistent in their use. [14:53] Studies have shown that you may not need to take PrEP daily if you are able to predict and organize when you do have sex. You can double up on use, but it is something that should be discussed with an expert. [19:14] Damon’s Facebook group, PrEP Facts Rethinking HIV Prevention and Sex, has 21,200 international members and is a safe place for people to come and have intelligent and meaningful conversations about the subject. [22:17] The U.S. has seen a historical drop from 50,000 new cases a year to 38,000 new cases, and PrEP was partially attributed to that. There are also drops in new HIV diagnosis in cities where it is widely implemented and normalized like San Francisco and New York. [24:31] There are many avenues for people in the United States to get PrEP for a low cost or free because of existing financial support systems. [27:28] There are three documented cases where an individual was adhering to PrEP and they did acquire HIV. However, there is very little risk involved and the benefits are huge.   RESOURCES: Magnet Clinic Dr. Dave Glidden PrEP Facts CDC Patient Advocate Foundation U=U Rational Relating Absolutely Should-Less   QUOTES: ● “We can recall that knowing people with AIDS meant losing people to AIDS.” ● “PrEP will soon be an umbrella term, like the way we use birth control today, to describe different interventions.” ● “You don’t need an agency anymore, a WiFi connection will get the word out about PrEP.” ● “There is no more exciting time than now to be doing this work.”  

Aug 2019

34 min 16 sec

John-Manuel Andriote is an award-winning author, journalist, speaker, and communication consultant. Since 1983 he has written about health and medicine, LGBT issues and popular culture. He has reported on HIV-AIDS for more than 30 years. He joins the show to talk about reframing and rewriting the story of gay men, how we can improve our ability to be resilient, and his newest book Stonewall Strong: Gay Men's Heroic Fight for Resilience, Good Health, and a Strong Community.   TAKEAWAYS: [1:38] John identifies a hero and role model as someone that lives out their values to be the best they can be, and helps raise others up in the process. Through his own work he loves shining a spotlight on those in the LGBTQ movement that display these qualities of compassion, courage and awareness of belonging to a bigger community, such as Reverend Bean and Ginny Apuzzo. [5:29] John came to terms with his own HIV diagnosis in 2005 while he was living in Washington D.C. as a journalist. The experience became the catalyst for thinking about resilience. [9:02] While apps and online sites provide an opportunity to meet others, they have downsides like isolation and loneliness when we are reduced to superficial and shallow interactions. Part of a healthy life is having real connection with others. [13:18] in the mid 1990’s, John saw the crystal meth epidemic move eastward from the west coast. [16:18] People look to numb themselves and dissociate from uncomfortable feelings like trauma and shame. Often times the addictive behavior is driven from loneliness and a desire for true connection. [19:03] Cases of abuse are consistent in men that continue to engage in high risk sexual activities. When we focus on addressing people’s trauma rather than getting caught up in judging them, we can speak about things that matter and keep them safe. [23:36] Resilience is a skill, and we can learn to be more resilient. It’s how we frame our story, and how we tell ourselves what our traumatic experience means. [27:21] We can improve the experience of getting older as gay men by embracing resiliency.   RESOURCES: The Plague Victory Deferred Stonewall Strong Golden Men Out In Time National LGBTQ Task Force Meth Comes Out of the Closet   QUOTES: ● “We didn’t know we were a part of a movement, we were just living our lives.” — Ginny Apuzzo ● “Heroism is a matter of common decency.” — Albert Camus ● “If they learn to value themselves for who they really are, miracles occur.” ● “The way we learn to be resilient is by learning how to frame the story.” ● “Aging is a ripening.”

Jul 2019

34 min 4 sec

Dr. Oni Blackstock joins the show to talk about her work as the Assistant Commissioner for the Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control for the NYC Health Department. Dr. Blackstock oversees and supervises all programmatic and administrative activities for the Bureau of HIV/AIDS. She is also a primary care physician, HIV specialist and research. She and David discuss the programs she is involved in regarding treatment and prevention services, community engagement and advocacy. They also discuss the state of HIV in New York currently, and both her concerns and successes within the recent years. Finally, they talk about how drug use intersects with HIV, and what upcoming programs we can expect in the future.   TAKEAWAYS: [1:41] Dr. Blackstock oversees the Bureau of HIV and it’s 8 programs. She also helps immensely in strategies that reduce the number of new HIV infections, and also to improve the overall health and well being of those living with HIV. [2:40] They are also seeing 85% of people living with HIV medical care reported as virally suppressed compared to the 79% we saw in 2013. In New York there are 100,000 people living with HIV. Dr. Blackstock and her team take into account all the data reported and do their best to develop programs according to social determinants of health as well. [5:21] One of the goals is to help dismantle racism and stigma in the black and Latin communities, those that rank the highest of being disproportionately impacted. [7:52] The Bureau has also been working with agencies they contract with to gather data and drill down on more information on both HIV numbers and drug use. Here they can get a better idea about crystal meth use as it relates to HIV, and create campaigns and forums to help even more. [11:12] Dr. Blackstock discusses data captured from a CDC funded project, the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance Study. This showed them that crystal meth use seemed to be on a decline amongst white MSM, yet increasing in the black and latino community. [14L02] The Long Time Survivor Coalition in New York celebrates the lives of people living with HIV. It helps them be part of a community to engage in self care, and gives them a resource to help guide them into resources that provide social and health services. [15:08] Often times those affected with HIV are not able to come to meet in person, for many reasons. This is why there are programs that focus on telephone outreach so there is still care and social connection given. [20:41] There is also work to be done to make providers more comfortable discussing sexual history and PrEp with their patients. [26:02] There is more optimism and hope than ever, and people are now seeing HIV as a chronic manageable disease rather than a death sentence. Hopefully in 2020 and beyond there will be more tools and prevention accessible to all who need it.   RESOURCES: ParTy Boi HIV Health and Human Services LGBT New York HIV Surveillance Report   QUOTES: ● “We have a significant commitment to reducing the HIV related disparities and health inequalities we see as we work to end the epidemic.” ● “Person to person was so valuable, and it still is.” ● “Social support is so important.” ● “Social connection is really a healing force.”

Jul 2019

27 min 41 sec

Graham Harriman is a long term HIV survivor and Director of the Care and Treatment Program in the Bureau of HIV Prevention and Control at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Graham serves as the NY EMA Program Director, the largest EMA in the nation. Graham’s work in the field of HIV began over 29 years ago as a mental health therapist in an integrated medical clinic serving low-income people living with HIV and AIDS and has worked in public health for over 15 years. Graham describes his duties as a Director in the Bureau of HIV in NY, speaks about the efforts available in the Care and Treatment Program, and what he sees in the intersection of HIV and drug use in New York.   TAKEAWAYS: [2:12] Graham oversees the Ryan White Program, a status neutral program for those that want to access PrEP, or the Undetectables Program and programs for MSM or transgender individualswho use methamphetamines. [4:30] We have seen an increase of meth use in men of color and Latino men since 2014. [5:26] The program addresses the needs of MSM of color and transgender individuals through a combination of different services. These include health education, medical services including vaccinations and screenings, and social benefits and entitlements such as housing, food and health insurance. [8:31] The model is a status neutral harm reduction program that leverages the Ryan White funding to address the needs of people who are HIV positive and meth users. The goals of the program include promoting and providing easily accessible harm reduction based substance use treatment, medical care, and reducing negative health impacts through services. [10:02] They use a harm reduction approach to maximize engagement with persons who are using meth because they know only a portion of the users are ready or interested in engaging in substance use treatment. The harm reduction model helps us have a population based approach to prevent new infections and focuses on reducing negative harms associated with meth use. [12:53] They are a one-stop shop and judgement free zone for mental health, sexual health and substance abuse information. [13:42] It seems like they are reaching the right folks. Out of the 271 clients that are fully enrolled, 97% are male and 66% are under the age of 40. More than half the clients are MSM of color, and the majority are smoking meth and half of them are injecting meth. 40% of the people in the program are HIV negative and 60% are HIV negative. [15:13] Peer engagement makes all the difference in the world, and many people have stayed with the program to offer support and help others through education and outreach. [17:08] Over 25% of persons that have come into the program are on PrEP. [19:13] They expect to have a forum in the fall to address issues of chemsex and how they can help people understand the fusing and risks of sex and drug use.     RESOURCES: ParTy Boi Act Up HIV Health and Human Services Recharge LGBT New York   QUOTES: ● “There’s a number of issues going on here, power and control.” ● “We’ve created a program that embraces a model of care.” ● “When you get peer engagement, it makes all the difference in the world.”

Jul 2019

26 min 44 sec

Mark S. King is an award-winning blogger, author, and HIV/AIDS advocate. He is also very open about testing positive himself, and his blog, My Fabulous Disease, has been nominated for four consecutive GLAAD Media Awards, he was also awarded the National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association’s “Excellence in Blogging” honor. He joins the show to talk about his perspective as a long-time survivor, and how he overcame his own addiction to meth. He tells his own story in a humorous and accessible manner and encourages others to do the same without shame or judgment.   TAKEAWAYS: [4:56] Mark discusses the first time he tried crystal meth in the 2000’s, and what that experience felt like. Much like other recreational drug use he thought it would be an escape valve, but it led to personality changes and destructive behavior. [11:27] After continued use, the circle of people Mark could be around got smaller and smaller, and he was in a cycle of either pursuing drugs, using them or recovering from them. [13:44] Addicts engage in behavior that can be very secretive, transactional, and manipulative. [15:12] Mark made the connection that his meth use affected every facet of his life, both physical and emotional. [16:12] People often say they wish someone a “slow recovery” because they know it takes time to recover and it may help to take some time just to understand what an impact the drug use had upon their life. [18:33] Relapse is often a normal part of recovery, and Mark notes how important it is not to treat it with shame and judgement. [22:04] Meth affects dopamine, which resets the desire state. People continue to chase the first great experiences and never quite recapture it. [26:12] Mark’s blog My Fabulous Disease provides a home base for others to share ideas about addiction, and shines a spotlight on others in recovery.   RESOURCES: My Fab Disease My Fabulous Disease   QUOTES: ● “I didn’t survive this long not to have a sense of humor about things.” ● “My mission statement is joy.” ● “My friends were transactional friends.” ● “I had to relapse for every classic reason someone relapses until I realized Oh, this affects everything.” ● “Addiction is trying to get back to that hot spot, if it ever existed.”

Jul 2019

30 min 3 sec

Matt Sharp has been a long term advocate in the field of HIV over the years and has become a nationally prominent voice speaking up for the issues that face people with HIV. Matt joins the show to discuss what has changed since the early days of the HIV epidemic, including both the positive changes and the challenges we still face. He also discusses his work with The Reunion Project, and how a town hall type meeting now is branching out to other affected areas in the nation serving the community as a method of support and education.   TAKEAWAYS: [1:19] Matt himself is a long-term HIV survivor and an independent HIV educator, advocate, and advocacy consultant. As a community activist, it is his job to involve himself not only with issues that directly affect him, but within his community at large. What began as work in treatment activism turned into discussing the science and research of treating HIV, along with the mental health components of those affected. [5:00] Dealing with HIV and educating those in the community is a 24/7 job and one where we must step in, mobilize and act. Much like a battle, it is impossible to fight alone. [8:22] Technology can be a strength and a barrier. We can use it to understand more data and research than ever before, along with connecting us with more support. However, it cannot take the place of actual deep human connection. [9:41] When we bridge our divides we become stronger. [14:15] Matt discusses the trauma and isolation that long time survivors face. Many of these survivors are now dealing with aging issues that can make them depressed, or even suicidal. [15:04] Matt talks about the movement they started in San Francisco, where they called a Town Hall meeting to really listen to people from all backgrounds and walks of life. They saw this as a gift to the community, and wanted to mobilize and grow into the awareness project it is today. [16:57] The Reunion Project identifies cities that may need help around projects on HIV and aging, and help the designated committee put together the town hall. This event boosts social interaction, community awareness and serves as an educational workshop. [23:34] When there are multiple generations involved, a meeting of the minds often ends up in arguments and pointing fingers. Matt and David remind us that when we strive to be positive and go towards the love, we can move in the direction of the future, and healing.   RESOURCES: NIH The Unintended Consequences of Aids Survival Test Positive Aware Network The Reunion Project Bristol-Myers Honoring Our Experience The Shanti Project   QUOTES: ● “I don’t relate to issues of youth, but I have to be aware of them.” ● “Clients often feel invisible and forgotten. To have someone acknowledge their experience is really huge.” ● “We still have people dying, and people that are very sick. I don’t think there is a realization that this is really happening.” ● “We have to learn how to shift our focus on positive rather than negative.” ● “When we focus on love, we move towards the future.”

Jun 2019

28 min 52 sec

Dr. Marilyn Volker, Sexologist for the past thirty-two years, Diplomat of the American Board of Sexology and Associate Fellow of The American Academy of Clinical Sexologists, joins the show today. Dr. Volker helped to establish the Health Crisis Network, Florida’s first community-based AIDS project and has educated thousands over the past 20 years about HIV/AIDS nationwide. Dr. Volker also helped to establish the first gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender youth group in Miami-Dade County in 1975. In this week’s episode, she talks about what it was like to be active in the frontlines of not only the HIV epidemic but dealing with sexual minorities. She addresses areas where we have made progress, and where we still have a lot of work to go. Dr. Volker shares humbling stories that are close to her heart of people turning struggle and fear into bravery, connection, and community.   TAKEAWAYS: [2:05] Dr. Volker began her career teaching deaf children and continues to work with special education programs and communities. [3:12] Dr. Volker’s family were way ahead of their time in the way they encouraged her and her siblings to value all people, and be proud of their own bodies. [4:02] In the 1970’s, four young gay teenage men showed Dr. Volker that they needed her assistance and support. They only met in what she refers to as the 5 B’s: bars, beaches, bathhouses in bookstores and bushes. They felt marginalized and scared, and they needed a group for their safety and self esteem. [8:51] Dr. Volker made it her life’s work to provide a safe place for LGBT people to go to discuss their fears and concerns. At first HIV was referred to as GRID, or gay-related immune deficiency. It was also thought to only affect people in the Four H categories: homosexual, Haitian, hemophiliac or heroin user. [12:22] In the early days of an HIV support call center there were two lines that came in, and the second line went either to the Gay Men’s Health Crisis Centers in New York or Los Angeles. There was very little training, and everyone was learning as they went. [15:55] Many of the sufferers felt alone, ashamed and unable to talk about what they were experiencing because of the stigma that surrounded being in both the LGBT community and being infected with HIV. [17:14] Despite the very little structure and education available at the time, Dr. Volker and her “dream team” stepped up and created a cultural shift in discussing and accepting human sexuality. [21:44] It was one of Dr. Volker’s greatest honors to help people express how they wanted to be remembered through the Quilt Project. In very painful circumstances these heroes showed tenderness and humor to still celebrate their life. [28:07] Dr. Volker is known as the “Condom Queen” or “Condom Lady” because she was always seen handing them out, or had them ready for anyone that may be interested. [29:17] What really helps people when they are scared and feeling lonely: faith, family, love, compassion and a sense of humor.   RESOURCES: International Institute of Clinical Sexology International Transgender Certification Therapist Certification Association   QUOTES: “Everyone is part of the dream team.” “It’s the shoulders we stand on.” “I can’t tell you how many people were willing to be visible so we can make these moves.” “Behind anger is so much fear.”  

Jun 2019

34 min 30 sec

Dr. David Fawcett welcomes Atticus Ranck, Health Programs and Supportive Services Manager for Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center and columnist for the South Florida Gay News. Atticus talks about his experiences with transitioning, gender dysphoria and euphoria, and what challenges he sees living as a trans man. Atticus also shares the privilege he experienced becoming a white man, and discusses the difference between gender identity and orientation.   TAKEAWAYS: [1:49] Atticus is the Health Programs and Supportive Services Manager for Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown, PA. He does a lot of work with health disparities around LGBT people, including grants for tobacco, diabetes, and HPV related cancers. They also have a number of support groups and services, all of which are free and open to the community. [2:54] The trans narrative we so often hear in the media is that trans people have known since they were age 4, but the truth is that for many the story isn’t so clear cut. For Atticus, he was a tomboy growing up and discovered he was attracted to women at the age of 17, but didn’t start to transition until after college. [6:10] It was a few months after Atticus bought a STP, or Stand to Pee, that he started going by male pronouns and started hormone replacement therapy.  [7:09] In order to medically transition, you need a letter from a therapist that diagnoses you with gender dysphoria. Atticus started seeing a therapist at SunServe and needed to first address his alcohol addiction before getting the letter. [9:48] The hardest part of gender dysphoria for Atticus was waiting for the time to pass after he started the hormones but before he was recognized out in society as a male. [11:01] Gender euphoria means that it’s not always hating the body you were born in, it’s that you feel so much better in the other body that you identify with. [11:50] Atticus is as far as he would like to go in his transition, and found that running helped him process the emotions coming up during his difficult time. [15:37] Health care providers need better training on dealing with trans people, and there is a lot of red tape and bureaucracy trans people need to go through that others may not have to. [18:31] Gender identity and orientation are completely different, and Atticus describes why he identifies as Queer. [20:49] You don’t have to medically transition to identify as male or female, or trans. [23:53] Atticus has experienced the consciousness of both genders, and finds that there is a learning curve to getting acclimated to the white male privilege and the subtle differences happening both physically and mentally. [26:12] Trans people fare much worse on almost every statistic from suicide to poverty. Atticus reminds us that just because something may not directly affect us, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stand up for the rights of others. [28:05] 57% of transgender youth attempt suicide. With family support that number can go down to 4%.   RESOURCES: South Florida Gay News World Professional Association for Transgender Health  SunServe Bradbury-Sullivan   QUOTES: ● “For some of us, our story isn’t so clear cut.” ● “I have to be seen for the guy that I am.”  ● “I don’t think I could have gotten sober if I wasn’t seen as a man.” ● “It’s not so much that I hated being female, it’s that I love being male.” ● “I’m still learning that I can be assertive and people will listen. That is something that men sort of get.” ● “There’s good news when you just treat people how they ask to be treated.”

Jun 2019

30 min 53 sec

In the first episode of Sex, Love, and Addiction LGBTQ, Licensed Therapist and Sex Therapist Dr. David Fawcett welcomes special guest Terrence Crawford. Terrence directed the documentary Crystal City, an amazing piece that portrays a gripping yet hopeful look at the gay community and crystal meth use. Terrence discusses the statistics of crystal meth use in the gay community, explains the resurgence in use and the challenges he had in producing the documentary. Terrence also shares his intention in making the film, and resources where we can watch it and learn more.   TAKEAWAYS: [1:25] In the Crystal City documentary, we follow the lives of several gay men in New York City as they struggle with crystal meth and recovery. It is a powerful and hopeful story that Terrence can relate to as a recovering crystal meth addict himself. [3:12] Negative messaging is well intended, but typically serves to shame and stigmatize rather than really help the issue of meth addiction. [3:58] The number of gay men using crystal meth has tripled since 2010, and use brings risks such as stroke, heart attack, hypertension, overdose and increase of HIV as well as Hepatitis C and other STI’s. [5:52] When the Mexican cartels figured out how to make cheaper and more potent meth, it hit the streets worse than ever before. [6:58] Terrence would classify meth users into two categories: the meth user that can afford to purchase the drug, and the user that uses their sex appeal to sleep with the person that can afford the drug in order to continue their own use. [8:49] Crystal meth users can be high functioning and successful members of society, and Crystal City humanizes the users to show it can happen to anyone. [12:33] There is often shame associated with relapse in the 12 Step Programs, and the community is one of the most potent resources of support and connection. [14:30] Terrence felt it was an asset for him to have prior experience with crystal meth to understand the subject matter, and to be there for others without judgement while they invited him into their lives. [24:02] The film shows the history of just how long crystal meth has been around, how powerful it is, and that anyone can fall prey to addiction.   RESOURCES: Crystal City Seeking Integrity Sex and Relationship Healing National HIV Behavioral Surveillance Group Fail State Inside the FBI Brick City TV Cleveland International Film Festival   QUOTES: ● “I felt as a filmmaker that it was my responsibility to catalog my own experience and show people that there is an alternative to negative representations to addiction and recovery.” ● “It’s a community that deserves support and not condemnation.” ● “The way to healing is a bond and connection with other people.”  

May 2019

29 min 34 sec