Events this week in Bloem for men who have sex with men
Free State Rainbow Seeds, a Bloemfontein-based NGO will be pulling out all the stops on Friday and Saturday this week as the organisation hosts two events for men who have sex with men (MSM) as part of the Me1st campaign, which puts the wellbeing of MSM above everything else and supports MSM to maintain their sexual health. MSM face devastating stigma and discrimination in society but especially when seeking healthcare services. They are also disproportionately affected by HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
The risk of HIV acquisition amongst MSM is 28 times higher than among all adult men.
Friday: Nude Village exhibition and Sex Conversations event
First up this Friday, 6 March at BSI Bloemfontein in Batho Location, is the Nude Village exhibition and Sex Conversations event. The Nude Village is an exhibition of different bodies, encompassing ancient taboos, celebrations, hidden rituals and body practices such as initiations showcasing the diversity of bodies as an art form. The Nude Village experience will be rich in therapy and healing especially for people who have been violated, people who have body issues and those who find it hard to accept their body as it is due to society’s narrow definition of what is attractive. A sex dialogue facilitated by Professor Spirit Canute aimed at MSM will also be held from 12h00 – 17h00.
Canute, a behavioural scientist who practices as a sex therapist, made it his life mission to unpack human and sexual behaviour.
Saturday: Sports day
On Saturday, 7 March from 10am, there is a sports day at Botshabelo L Section at Thari ya Tshepe School for MSM. Rainbow Seeds has partnered with the Free State Sport council which is putting together a sports day mixed with fun games and adventure activities, offering indigenous games such as kho-kho, morabaraba, dibeke, kgathi, netball and soccer.
These initiatives call together the MSM population to share their experiences and to learn more about the most effective offerings in HIV prevention made available by Beyond Zero through the Me1st campaign. Attendees at both events can take advantage of the free HIV testing services, TB and STI screenings. Those that do test will be given an information pack including condoms, lubricant and a cock ring.
Says Zenny Kgolokwane, programme manager at Free State Rainbow Seeds. “The Me1st campaign focuses on reaching as many HIV positive men as possible and then linking them to antiretroviral therapy. All healthcare services are offered totally stigma free. We will also ensure that trained social workers are available for those who might need support. We engage with MSM in a safe, confidential and stigma-free environment to address the fear that many men experience around HIV testing.”
MSM are encouraged to bring along a friend and take a free HIV test which is safe and pain free. It could save their life. Apart from the interesting exhibition, talks and healthcare services offered during these activations, there are many prizes to be won and lots of fun to be had as a community.
There is a Me1st WhatsApp line available any time for 24/7 support on 072 637 6212.
Note to editors:
Men who have sex with men (MSM) are men who just do that regardless of whether or not they also have sex with women, whether they are straight, gay or bisexual or identify in other ways. Therefore, please do not refer to MSM as gay.
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Free State Rainbow Seeds
Founded in 2006 Free State Rainbow Seeds (FSRS) non-profit organisation exists to address the intolerable levels of homophobia, gender-based violence including lack of psychological support networks within the province.
The organisation sets up local, provincial and national support networks to mobilise resources to address the specific need and interest of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. They facilitate the development and sustainability of safe spaces and support networks for LGBTI people to address their psychosocial needs. FSRS also mobilise LGBTI community through social action, to effectively respond to hate crimes based on gender and sexual orientation.
Beyond Zero NPC is a registered section 21 (NPO), delivering public health systems strengthening programmes in South Africa focussing on HIV and AIDS, STI care, TB care, patient support, treatment, and prevention. Striving for a future beyond zero new HIV infections, Beyond Zero leads and provides strategic management, oversight, monitoring and evaluation on the implementation of the Global Fund grant for April 2019 until March 2022.
Focus areas of delivery include:
- Comprehensive prevention programmes for men who have sex with other men and the transgender community.
- Supporting Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) and providing access to information and free healthcare that is discreet, confidential, free of discrimination and administered by qualified professionals.
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