Staying Negative aims to emotionally engage, inspire and facilitate imagination in sexual health practices. The campaign profiles the real life stories of gay, bisexual and trans men who have sex with men (MSM). Men talk about all aspects of their life from coming out, relationships, sexuality and a broad range of other topics. While HIV and safe sex is an important part of all stories, it is not the exclusive focus.
Prior HIV prevention campaigns have traditionally focused on providing gay men with information that will encourage them to adopt safe sex behaviours. In reality, safe sex practices are influenced by a whole range of environmental and cultural factors. The campaign also provides an opportunity for HIV positive men to talk about their lives and discuss how their strategies to staying HIV negative were not successful. We understand that there is more than one way practice safe sex and adopt healthcare seeking behaviours, so let's be creative about it!
There are no real criteria for participants other than that they are MSM and happy to have their stories appear as part of the campaign. In addition to the personal stories, the website provides information on HIV/AIDS, sexual health, relationships and broad of the other relevant topics including domestic violence, drugs and alcohol and depression.
We all encounter challenges in our lives. We often chat with friends, family members and partners about issues in our lives, but sometimes it can be hard to chat to the people we know. They may not understand, they may not have the time to listen, or they may not be able to help out. Through counselling you can talk about your problems with a neutral person who is there to listen, help you navigate your emotions and provide you with some tools and strategies to get you through a rough patch. You don’t have to deal with stuff on your own and counselling doesn’t always have to be long term. You and the counsellor will find out how much time you need to work through your issues. Common things that are talked about during counselling can be coming out, relationships issues, problems at work and anything else that you may just want to talk to someone about. It’s important to remember that it’s OK to seek help!
A number of participants share their reasons for seeking for counselling and what their experiences were like. Shortly after coming out to his parents, Joe sought the help of counsellors who enabled him to speak freely about what was on his mind. Later he participated in group counselling, where he made some good friends and became a group counsellor himself! Michael went for counselling at the Victorian AIDS Council and learned how to communicate about what he did and did not want sexually. Of his experience he says, “That was terrific and the counsellor was brilliant... “
Where can I get help?
The Victorian AIDS Council’s Counselling Services help people deal with a wide range of issues including loneliness and isolation, trust, coming out, relationship problems, drug and alcohol abuse and HIV concerns. The first consultation is free and regular sessions are affordably priced according to your ability to pay.
Another option is the Gay and Lesbian Switchboard (Victoria), which is a volunteer organisation that provides anonymous and confidential telephone counselling services for the Victorian gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities. The trained volunteer counsellors are there to listen and to help you come up with some options that can help you in your situation. The service can also be used to find out information about the services, such as gay friendly doctors and clinics, and gay friendly social groups in your local area They can also be there when you just need to chat with someone.
The lines are manned Mon-Thurs 6-10 pm (Wed 2-10 pm); Fri-Sun and public holidays 6-9 pm