|by Sal Seeley
A huge part of what I do is Outreach. It is kind of like "reach out and touch someone" but I don't get to touch. I do hope I touch people's consciousness and get them to make safer sex a huge reality in their life. I meet lots of handsome and exciting men who make my evenings interesting.
I am always so pleased to see guys seeking me out for my supplies and for those who are willing to listen when I approach them with my little sales pitch. I am still, however, amazed at the people who are hostile to me when I try to offer things to make their lives safer, healthier, and more fun!
Since I enjoy the scenery, beach outreach is one of my favorite things to do. Seriously, where else can you work hard, get a tan, talk to lots of interesting men, talk about sex, blow bubbles, and get paid?
I was recently doing the beach outreach on my favorite beach when this gentleman came up to me and said that I embarrassed the community! I was flabbergasted! I mean I thought my mother was the only person I embarrassed. I didn't understand! I really didn't! So I asked him to clarify. Was it my shorts?
He explained to me that people don't hand out condoms in straight bars and he thinks that by my handing them out in gay bars and on beaches, I say to other people that gay people cannot take care of themselves and are promiscuous! I attempted to explain my views that gay people do take very good care of themselves! I explained that since HIV infection is more prevalent in our community that we must do more to keep it from spreading. Seriously, those who know me and read this column know where I stand on all of this.
Let's face it, the gay community is amazing. We are creative, artistic, caring, resourceful and very loving. We care about our community. I would like to believe that the work I do helps to make sure that there isn't a single sero conversion in Rehoboth. HIV is real and it is hereas are other sexually transmitted diseases. I fear that if we don't remind each other of the dangers, we might have a lapse in judgment that could lead to regrets. I have lost too many friends. I don't want to lose another!
So, this being said, you will still see me pushing my wares. You will be able to find me in the CAMP Rehoboth office. You will see me on the beaches and find me on the internet. Come see me. I am happy to answer your questions. I will even be happy to talk to you if you disagree with me. I want you to have all the information and supplies you need to stay negative if you are negative and not infect someone else if you are positive. My goal of zero sero conversions this summer is a realistic goal. Lets work together to make this community shine it's brightest!
Sal Seeley is Program Director of CAMPsafe, an HIV/AIDS program funded through a contract with the Delaware Division of Public Health.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 10 July 29, 2005