The duty of a newspaper is to print not only the wins and victories of its community, but the warts and the wounds. SFGN has kept true to that promise, and whether you are an activist or advertiser, we stand by our commitment to printing newsworthy stories.
In the past few weeks, the Impulse Group of South Florida captured the attention of SFGN. By holding a pool party and charging a fee for those only over 40, they stirred a hornet’s nest of controversy.
SFGN covered the story in detail the last two weeks, and each of the stories was picked up by national LGBT daily websites, including Queerty.com, Advocate.com, and Instinct.com. Unfortunately, our stories, duty-bound though we were to publish them, brought attention not to Impulse’s emerging successes, but rather the acrimony generated by the ‘ageism’ controversy.
Prior to these stories, Impulse pretty much went under the radar. Even in SFGN, we had only done a few stories about some of their event-specific functions. We had not done a feature on their origin and growth, their methods and their mission. That’s too bad, because their innovation deserved acknowledgement and acclaim.
Last week, I expressed my view on the Impulse parties and price structure. I support them, but I understand how that has antagonized so many good people who have fought for so long to end all discrimination even within the LGBT community.
I unapologetically stand by my opinion. The motivation and purposes of Impulse are noble, worthy of celebration, not censure.
This week, therefore, I want to share with you more about the group and its aspirations. In my mind, they are one of the most progressive and ingenious outreach groups ever developed to bring young people within the paradigm of HIV care. With infections rising amongst young people, boy, do we ever need to do that.
First of all, Impulse is a grassroots movement that started in Los Angeles. A group of friends saw a need in the community for more awareness and education around safer-sex and staying healthy. With the support of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Impulse was given an unprecedented platform to accomplish their goals.
Less than two years later, quietly, without enormous publicity, just dedication, sweat and perseverance, the all-volunteer group is emerging with branches around the world, making a huge impact with youthful populations typically not receptive to HIV driven awareness programs.
A tour of their website at impulsegrp.org will reveal not only their innovative tact, but their global reach, with chapters in New Delhi and Mexico City, along with Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas, Orlando, New York, Atlanta and South Florida.
This week, buoyed by the help of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Jose Ramos, the group’s founder, and local president A.J. Alegria, the group is attempting to start a chapter in Beijing. How can you not appreciate the energy and effort, the outreach and the commitment?
The Impulse website is aesthetic and modern, featuring compelling HIV awareness videos, personal interviews, riveting graphics, and exciting designs. My favorite one is ‘#hateishate/Expose the Truth’.
Another poignant poster was “Assume and risk, ask the hard questions.”
I asked myself one. Where the hell was SFGN on this story? Why haven’t we covered this more in depth earlier? If we tried, it wasn’t hard enough.
Each Impulse chapter hosts its own events, with activities designed to promote a healthier sexual lifestyle as part of a more sexy, informed community. Years ago, there were activist PWA coalitions marching in streets to draw attention to the need for our government to fund research for HIV treatment. Today, we need to encourage prevention and caution, as much as care and treatment.
In Dallas, a February Impulse event was tied into National Condom Awareness Day, and just before Valentine’s Day. The idea is that you can make love without necessary giving your partner a killer disease.
On March 26, the Impulse South Florida group hosted a photographic exhibition in the heart of the Wynwood Art District, showcasing the work of Adrian Vargas. The auction raised $1,500 to help promote their 2015 marketing mission.
In New York City, HEALTH, their Impulse group, launched an ‘Ask & Tell’ video, with gay men sharing honest and insightful truths about their sex lives and practices. It is based on an end to stigmatizing, along with promoting safer sex. You can watch some of the videos online at the Impulse site.
Each event fulfills the Impulse Group mission- to promote healthier sexual lifestyles overall. To reach their target population- young people whose numbers are still escalating- these volunteers have come up with creative campaigns and unique events, along with online content seeking to reach a new generation of gay men growing up in our modern and digital world.
The Impulse website and their Facebook pages outline the educational component they are trying to drive. Effective prevention means open discussions about genital herpes, chlamydia and HPV. You can find reality and revelation on these pages. It is not about ageism, bar crawls, or pool parties. It is about common sense and education.
A new CDC study on gay men living with HIV in the U.S. found that half of those infected are not getting the treatment they need. We already know that young people are still contracting HIV at alarming rates. These facts are accessible on the Impulse website.
There is nothing evil or wrong about having sex. Young or old, it’s going to happen, whether you meet a partner at a pool party with a drink in your hand, or at an insurance convention at some out of town hotel.
We just have to engage each other responsibly, so we can preserve our tomorrows without spreading HIV.
Reaching out to young people, the Impulse website says it best: “How do you create a campaign that gets people interested in a message they’ve been hearing for years? Safe sex is no less important now than it has ever been, but the message about condoms and HIV is so familiar that it can become dangerously easy to tune it out.”
Impulse Group is dedicated to spreading awareness. A newspaper’s obligation is to illuminate the good people do, not just cry about the bad. I am glad I finally got to catch up with Impulse this week; grateful I am now able to write about their message, their motivation, and their mission, without controversy.
Please do not lose sight that the goal of Impulse was never to start a debate about ageism or discrimination between generations of gay men. Their mission and purpose was to educate young people about the importance of HIV. They are achieving that effectively. It is worthy of commendation, not criticism.
Me? I am just an analog man in a digital world. I am glad people are not dying of HIV the way they once were. I would like to think we don’t have to have car washes and bed races any more to fight AIDS. But the fight is there still.
Impulse represents a new voice of volunteers trying to reach out. Instead of slapping them down, let’s give them a hand. Allow them to find themselves and each other.
Find more stories about Impulse at SFGN.com/Impulse