THE BLOG
12/18/2014 12:21 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Can Safer Sex Be Sexy? (VIDEO)

In September I was approached to join Impulse Group NYC as Director of Community Outreach. As Community Education and Recruitment Manager at the New York Blood Center's Project ACHIEVE, I oversee all the strategic efforts to educate and recruit HIV-related biomedical research (on vaccines, PrEP, PEP, microbicides, etc.) and behavioral research studies. Having worked in the field of HIV prevention for the past eight years, I've learned to align myself with groups and organizations that I believe have the promise to have the highest impact to curb the HIV epidemic. Through my work with organizations like AVAC, the Young Black Gay Men's Leadership Initiative (YBGLI), NAESM, and the New York City HIV Prevention Planning Group (NYC HPG) I am able to contribute to the field locally and nationally.

What interested me in this new start-up group was the mission to make safer sex and HIV prevention for gay men in New York City fun and normal in creative ways. In addition to raising awareness, the opportunity to rebuild a gay community in New York City was the most convincing for me to accept the volunteer position. Working with other passionate gay men who are volunteering their time to have an innovative reach to our community has been the most rewarding. Impulse Group NYC is part of the larger, international Impulse Group network, with chapters in Los Angeles, Mexico City, New Delhi, South Florida, Atlanta, and, more recently, San Diego, Orlando, Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta. As Director of Community Outreach, I am in charge of providing health information and updates of community issues to the group. From the information and community issues, we plan events to highlight the most pressing issues in our community.

Last Thursday the New York City chapter of Impulse Group launched its first-ever video campaign, Ask & Tell, with the release of "SEX," the first video in the series.

Exemplifying our mission to spark a dialogue and spread awareness around safer sex, the five-part series features insightful, funny and honest interviews with five New York City gay men. Each video in the series showcases their candid responses to often-thought-about but rarely-voiced questions on topics ranging from sex and protection to health, stigma, HIV status and more. Since its release, "SEX" has received over 40,000 views on Impulse Group NYC's YouTube channel, far exceeding our expectations but confirming what we suspected: that the gay community in New York City is ready and willing to talk about safer sex. It was an achievement to see the video featured on gay blogs like Towerload, Queerty, NewNowNext, and several more. Each week throughout the month of December, a new video in the series will be released.

This week we premiered "PROTECTION" and "HEALTH," the second and third videos in the series, which you can watch below:

When we first set out to create this campaign months ago, our main goal was to create something that New York City gay men could relate to. As the development of the series went on, we realized that Ask & Tell was going to be different from what we've seen in the past. This video series was created, directed, and produced by a diverse group of young gay men who make up Impulse Group NYC. Our ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds all vary, yet we each share a passion for showing New York City's gay community that they can be informed about safer-sex practices and it can be enjoyable. As advocates and community members, we thought it important that we speak bluntly about the issue but also make it relatable and get people talking.

The goal of our Ask & Tell video series is to provoke conversation among New York City's gay community. We want sexually active men to watch the videos, connect with the content and hopefully think differently about safer sex. This video series continues to support Impulse Group NYC's goal to provide our community with all the tools they need to live a sexually informed lifestyle, making safer sex sexy.

According to the recently released New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's "HIV Surveillance Annual Report," last year 2,832 people living in New York City became infected with HIV, and an additional 1,784 people were diagnosed with AIDS. While this may be the first time that the city has seen fewer new HIV diagnoses, the majority of new infections still occur in gay men. This is not just unique to New York City; across the country rates of HIV/AIDS impacts gay men significantly.

These videos are just the beginning of what every gay man should be talking about. We want guys to know it's sexy to communicate openly about their health and desires. This is why we decided on the following five topics to discuss in the video series:

Sex: We celebrate sexual diversity through differing desires, relationships structures, and individual choices. It is everyone's responsibility to make it enjoyable and keep it safe.

Protection: We know that our lives matter, which is why we want gay men to take control of their lives and protect themselves -- and not just sexually. Protect yourself and protect him too.

Health: There is nothing wrong with living a healthy lifestyle and loving your health. We should all strive for physical, mental, and emotional health.

Stigma: We all are one community and should not cast each other out based of differences. Challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone and try to be proactive in unpacking biases and prejudices you're familiar with.

Status: HIV-neutral. We all have an HIV status. Stay protected and stay in care.

Subscribe to Impulse Group NYC's YouTube channel to keep up with the series. As the other videos premiere, feel free to join in the conversation. You can use the hashtag #AskAndTell to spark conversations with your friends across your social media platforms and provide comments on some of the questions asked.

To learn more about Impulse Group NYC, follow us on Facebook, Instagram , Twitter, and YouTube, or visit the Impulse Group NYC website.