What is activism? Sometimes I am under the impression that many positive people think that to be an activist you need to go in the street with placards and banners shouting from the top of your voice. So often when I participate to support groups people tell me:” I am not an activist…”, almost as if the word activist was an insult.
Last week I went to the Annual General Meeting for a support group that is aimed to a mainly heterosexual crowd called ‘Str8 talk’. I was pleasantly surprised when I walked in a crowded room with more then 30 people: men, women, black white… a really nice mix.
During the meeting it was discussed the relationship between Str8 Talk and Terence Higgins Trust (THT) who has been hosting the group and the little funding they get from a contract with the Westminster Primary Care Trust. Many people who go to Str8 talk were there because they were worried about some changes THT wanted the group to make, especially around collection of data for participants. I believe many people were worrying about THT taking too much control of the group. So they came to the meeting, to say what they wanted.
It is funny but also there I heard a few people saying: ‘I am not an activist…’. But isn’t participating in a discussion on how you want the group that gives you support to be run activism?
Activism can be described as involvement in action to bring about change, be it social, political, environmental, or other.
So I will contradict many of you who take part in support groups: you are activists! – And I don’t mean to insult you.
As a result of the discussion it was decided that Str8 Talk will be now hosted by Positively Women as an independent group. PW will not have a say on their policies however it will administrate their money from Westminster and offer some training to facilitators.
I think it is a very exciting turn. I was lamenting in one of my articles of the lack of involvement of straight men in HIV activism. I strongly hope that we are about to see a change and witness the birth of a stronger voice for all positive people in the UK.