On Saturday, January 21, celebrity photographer, Mike Ruiz donated his time to take photos for Gay Men’s Health Crisis's (GMHC) HIV testing and prevention campaign, “Kiss & Tell.” This campaign encourages black and Latino young men who have sex with men (YMSM) to have open and loving discussions with partners (the people that they are kissing) about their sexual history and HIV status.
The campaign was developed in partnership with young men, ages 13 to 19, who participate in GMHC's new youth leadership-development program, CLUB1319. The program provides HIV prevention education, social networking, skills training, and opportunities to participate in developing social marketing campaigns such as "Kiss & Tell."
The concept originated out of the former and homophobic "don't ask, don't tell" policy which prohibited gay or bisexual people from disclosing their sexual orientation or speaking about same-sex relationships, while serving in the U.S. armed forces. The youth wanted a campaign that spoke the opposite of this policy -- while featuring intimacy and what is possible for young gay couples as they express trust, respect and commitment for one another.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's most recent data show that between 2006 and 2009, the number of new infections that occur each year increased among YMSM -- driven by an alarming 48 percent increase among young, black MSM 13 to 29 years old.
Also joining Mike was Memsor Kamarake, fashion director and stylist, and Merrell Hollis, make-up artist and groomer, who donated their time to style the spokesmodels during the film shoot. Artur Meletin, graphic designer, volunteered to design the promotional materials for this campaign which will be launched on February 14 (Valentine’s Day). The film shoot took place at Sandbox Studio.
See photos from the shoot below. For more info on GMHC or to donate your time or resources to the organization, visit their official website.