In this issue:
Celebrating Black History Month
Callen-Lorde Hosts 8th Annual Advocacy Day
New York City Declares End to MPOX Outbreak
Board of Directors Launches CEO Search
SMASH Project Launching in March
Rainbow Run Dates Announced
HOTT Winter/Spring Wishlist Drive
Happy Birthday, Audre!
CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH
In honor of Black History Month, we’re shining a light on Black LGTBQ+ advocates, pioneers, and community leaders — past and present — who have been instrumental in the journey toward queer and trans liberation.
During Black History Month and all throughout the year, we are reminded of the words of one of our namesakes, writer and poet Audre Lorde:
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
The LGBTQ+ rights movement would not exist without the commitments and sacrifices of Black activists. Despite systemic barriers to success, Black LGBTQ+ artists, changemakers, and thinkers have consistently led the unrelenting fight to break down barriers in all systems that deliberately deny low-income, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ communities from accessing necessary and affirming services.
Black LGBTQ+ folks have created their own spaces to amplify their communities’ stories and to tell their own. From the ballroom scene to the Harlem Renaissance, Black queer and trans expression have built the foundation for countless artistic and social movements that continue on today.
Join us in celebrating Black History Month!
Callen-Lorde held its 8th annual Advocacy Day on February 7. Our Advocacy Day is a virtual day of action to promote health care access and equity for our LGBTQ+ communities with our state lawmakers. We also created space for staff-led conversations about hot-button and relevant LGBTQ+ health- related topics during an afternoon Community Expo.
This year, our theme was Access and Autonomy: Health Equity in Action, reflecting the unprecedented attacks and restrictions threatening the bodily autonomy of queer, BIPOC, transgender and gender diverse communities across the country. The theme also reflects the threats we face to our New York State healthcare safety net, which is still reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic and Monkeypox outbreak.
Trans Latina activist and The NEW Pride Agenda Executive Director, Elisa Crespo, opened the day with poignant and personal remarks recalling the impact Callen-Lorde has had on her life and charging us to continue the fight for young people and all who need us. The day was packed with meetings with elected officials about priority issues, such as canceling the Medicaid pharmacy carve out, protecting and investing in the health care safety net, and ensuring that we can sustain our virtual care practice with fair reimbursement. For more information on our policy priorities, take a look at our NYS Health Equity and Justice Agenda for FY24.
Thank you to all the staff, providers, Board Members and patients who made our Advocacy Day a great success. Stay tuned for more ongoing advocacy opportunities.
View the Welcome Session with Elisa Crespo here.
NEW YORK CITY DECLARES END TO MPOX OUTBREAK
On February 1, 2023, the NYC Department of Health announced the end of the MPOX outbreak. The decision is owed in large part to New York City’s nation-leading response — a collaborative effort that united community voices, vaccination campaigns, and community health centers to increase our BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities’ access to preventive information and care.
Callen-Lorde Chief Nursing Officer, Anthony Fortenberry, reflects:
“Callen-Lorde celebrates the end of the MPOX outbreak and applauds the city’s innovative collaboration with LGBTQ+ community organizations that helped achieve this success, including all of those LGBTQ+ community members who advocated for themselves and took action on vaccine equity. It’s our hope that the community health infrastructure created to leverage resources targeted toward the LGBTQ+ community is sustained to ensure continued investment in affirming sexual/health care.”
Callen-Lorde’s Board of Directors seeks a visionary, strategic, and inspirational leader to serve as its Chief Executive Officer, providing strong leadership for one of the nation’s first and most esteemed LGBTQ+ health centers. The leader will honor and uphold the organization’s grassroots history, ensuring it continues to meet its important mission. This is an exciting opportunity for a highly motivated and mission-aligned individual to assume a key leadership role for an organization with an incredible track record of achieving positive outcomes for patients, clients, and LGBTQ+ communities. Given Callen-Lorde’s strong reputation and broad reach, along with its robust patient and community advocacy platform, Callen-Lorde’s CEO has a substantial base from which to be a leading voice for change — influencing local, state, and federal policy to advance health equity, racial justice, and LGBTQ+ rights.
Callen-Lorde’s Board of Directors is working with Koya Partners on the search.
Young men who have sex with men (YMSM) are a high-priority population that can benefit from PrEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis), a preventive medication that can significantly reduce the risk of HIV infection. Despite the availability of PrEP, it remains underutilized, particularly among Latinx and Black YMSM, who continue to experience racial/ethnic disparities in HIV diagnoses.
To address this issue, the SMASH study proposes to harness the power of social media and engage popular high-profile social media influencers to deliver a sex-positive intervention to promote PrEP awareness and reduce stigma. The study has three specific goals: to develop a social media campaign, to assess the impact of specific implementation strategies on the campaign’s outcomes, and to evaluate the implementation of the campaign and its impact on reducing stigma and increasing knowledge and attitudes about PrEP.
This innovative approach to promoting PrEP is grounded in literature about social media user engagement and normative influence. The study also aims to examine how social and cultural identities affect responses to social media messaging.
The study is a proof-of-concept project that seeks to reach people outside of a healthcare setting and improve the uptake of PrEP in a high-priority population. By using popular social media influencers, the study hopes to provide education about PrEP, increase attitudes towards using it, and reduce stigma in a fun and engaging way.
Check our social media channels in the coming weeks for updates on this exciting new study and its impact on promoting PrEP awareness and reducing stigma. Together, we can End the HIV Epidemic!
This study is being conducted in partnership with The HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, Columbia University, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Callen-Lorde Community Health Center.
Taking place both in person and virtually, Callen-Lorde’s Rainbow Run is a 5K or 10K fun run/leisure walk promoting health and wellness while supporting the lifesaving work of Callen-Lorde Community Health Center. This year, the Rainbow Run will take place in person on Saturday, May 6 in Manhattan’s Hudson River Park or virtually, wherever you are, anytime between May 6 and May 14. Sponsorships, and team and individual registrations are now available.
The holiday season may be over, but LGBTQ+ youth need our support 365 days a year. Click here to show some love for our HOTT patients!
What is HOTT?
Health Outreach To Teens Program (HOTT) is a welcoming, non-judgmental program for young adults ages 13-24 that offers free and confidential primary health care, HIV care, and medical services. These services are offered at a youth-only medical suite at our Chelsea clinic as well as in our mobile medical unit which travels throughout all five boroughs to meet people where they feel comfortable.
What is the HOTT Wishlist?
Many of our HOTT patients don’t have access to the resources they need to survive and thrive. These resources include toiletries, warm layers, and gender-affirming items like binders, tucking underwear, gaffs, packers, and makeup.
In this section, we’ll be shining a light on our staff! From the call center to our front desk, from facilities to IT, providers, nurses, and more, our talented and dedicated staff are the heart of our mission. Meet Addison Laczkowski, COIN Case Manager
Cecilia’s Occupational Inclusion Network (COIN) is a free program at Callen-Lorde that offers affirming health care for sex workers in a supportive, nonjudgmental environment. The COIN program was named in honor of sex worker, community leader, and trans activist Cecilia Gentili. The program emphasizes the holistic well-being and dignity of sex workers, providing a range of services including primary and sexual health care, HIV treatment and prevention, transgender health care, GYN health care, and medications. Learn more about the COIN program on our website or visit our Chelsea clinic on Fridays between 10am and 3pm to become a patient.
What attracted you to this career path?
Put in the simplest terms, I chose to pursue a career serving sex workers and other people involved in sex trade industries because I genuinely love sex workers! My personal life is heavily informed by the love, joy, struggle, and ingenuity of my queer, trans sex-working family and so it only made sense to bring this ethos of care into my professional life as well. I believe that sex work and the folks who do it hold so much intrinsic value and can serve as important models for the liberation of work, sexuality, and health care as we know it. I’m proud to represent these values at the clinic and provide the best support I can to my community!
Why are you passionate about LGBTQ+ health?
LGBTQ+ people have specific needs that I believe have the greatest chances of being met by other LGBTQ+ providers and staff. These needs are historically and currently ignored, contested, or just not considered a priority by the cis-het powers that be. And so, the mutual aid phrase “we take care of us” comes to mind, which is a concept that makes this work feel fulfilling and worthwhile. Affirming health care is unfortunately such a rarity, even in New York, and I’m passionate about being even just one person to chip away at that. I love being in the position to help a patient breathe a little easier in the exam room when they realize they don’t have to justify every life decision or behavior in order to receive quality care.
What is your favorite way to unwind from work?
My favorite place to be in the world is on the dance floor listening to techno and house and all the various genres of electronic music. To me it is freedom and my greatest passion outside of work!
What is a book, TV show, podcast, or movie you would recommend and why?
There’s a sci-fi collective based in Philly called Metropolarity that produces a ton of cool speculative writings, short stories, and podcasts. It’s real sludgy, queer, kinky, cyborg stuff which is what I like to fill my brain with. I highly recommend “Style of Attack Report” and “Transitional Times Transitional Body.”
Interested in a career at Callen-Lorde? Check out our Careers page!
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