Too often, when it comes to politics, those directly impacted by policies lose out to process and partisanship. Health insurance epitomizes this conflict. As the fight continues over the Affordable Care Act (ACA), millions need access to quality care. And, despite two years of monumental progress for the LGBT movement, history proves that healthcare must remain a critical battle for our community. Our brothers and sisters spent decades fighting for and losing their lives, while politicians laughed at the mention of AIDS. Today, our wellness remains in peril. Studies show that our community is more likely to be uninsured and experiences significant disparities in tobacco use, obesity, abuse and violence and mental health issues, among others.
This issue matters, and it matters now. December 23 is the final day to enroll in the health marketplace for coverage on January 1, 2014. The ACA's impact on LGBT Americans is worth attention. For the first time, we can all access affordable health insurance options without discrimination.
But, let's be honest, enrollment isn't going viral. The process is cumbersome. Qualifying for assistance, comparing plans and completing the application -- it can be more time-consuming than holiday shopping. And, it's a lot less sexy.
Out2Enroll and I took a risk to try and challenge that. We decided to wrap the message of health insurance enrollment in fabulous package with some holiday cheer. The result was the Get Enrolled campaign, which we hope builds visibility for this important issue.
Does it use some self-deprecating stereotypes? Perhaps. Is it unconventional? Certainly. Trivial? Far from it. We believe that our fun and playful video will be an effective tool to raise awareness among the LGBT community, and specifically younger gay men.
Why today's focus on gay men? Gay men are at an increased risk for certain chronic diseases, cancer and mental health problems. Alarmingly, HIV/AIDS is now on the rise among young gay men, the only risk group where new infections are increasing, with a 22 percent increase in recent years. Every LGBT demographic is equally important. But, not all are equally informed. According to forthcoming research from the Center for American Progress, more than one-third of uninsured gay men are unaware of the new coverage options available through the ACA.
I appreciate how diverse our community is. Not every message will resonate with every individual. And, not everyone will find this song as entertaining as I would like. But the goal of Get Enrolled is to get people -- especially these young, healthy uninsured LGBT people -- thinking and talking about health insurance.
Spreading the message starts with the messengers, who volunteered for the cause. Louisiana-born Colby Melvin represents a new generation of activist: part-time model and full-time voice for equality who recently completed his enrollment. He is engaged to Brandon Brown; together they bring a youthful authenticity to LGBT activism. Asia Vitale has been involved in HIV prevention and Transgender health advocacy for over 10 years. She's currently working at AIDS Project Los Angeles and pursuing her Masters Degree in Public Health. Chris Adames is a Marine Corps; throughout his multiple deployments, he sustained combat injuries, which are treated at the VA. And not too long ago, I was a statistic -- a young self-employed and uninsured gay professional, afraid of going to the doctor, despite health crises.
Out2Enroll -- and campaigns like Get Enrolled -- help address this. We look forward to delivering more buzz-worthy messages to every segment of our diverse community through the end of enrollment in March 2014. In the meantime, Get Enrolled hopes to provide fun holiday smile, and to use some sexy and smart activists to reach more young Americans and encourage us all to engage in healthy lives.