Friday, February 20, 2004

PrideAlive Announces On-Line Newsletter

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #228, February 20, 2004)

PrideAlive, an outreach program of the Minnesota AIDS Project targeted at bisexual and gay men, recently began publishing a new bimonthly newsletter in an on-line, web-based format. Since the first (Jan.-Feb. 2004) issue is billed as “The Fetish Issue,” it may be of special interest to readers of this column.

PrideAlive’s aim (quoted from the program’s mission statement) is “to promote, create, and sustain a healthy community.” To this end PrideAlive works to involve gay and bisexual men in health education (both as learners and as volunteer group facilitators) as well as political action and civic participation. Representatives of PrideAlive can be found providing safer-sex information and supplies—and even HIV testing—at bars, parties and cruising grounds.

The program also provides many forms of social opportunities: Gay/Bi Movie Nights, discussion forums called “chats,” and special events such as their annual “Hand Hold-In” at the Mall of America, skating parties and softball. (Last year PrideAlive won Lavender’s award for “Outstanding Social Group/Organization.”)

The new on-line newsletter <> replaces Pride Alive’s former ink-and-paper newsletter. PrideAlive is holding a “Name That Rag” contest—submit a name for the still-nameless newsletter and you might win a fabulous prize.

The “cover” of the Jan.-Feb. newsletter features a large photo of a hand dipping into a can of Crisco. Clicking on the photo takes the reader to the contents of the newsletter itself, where the lead article is a “Hands-On Guide” to fisting. Two side-by-side columns of type offer information and guidance for both bottoms and tops. An article of this nature and length hardly exhausts the topic, so I thought it was good to see that the article ends with an invitation to contact PrideAlive for more information.

In the next article, “How To Be A Good Sex Party Host,” PrideAlive announces that their Ultimate Sex Party Hosting Kits (assortments of condoms and lube “in a fabulous box”) will soon be available for order through the PrideAlive website.

“What Kind of Pig Are You?” presents everything you ever wanted to know—and possibly more—about the risk levels of various body fluids. It’s good information, although definitely not for the squeamish. When peoples’ health is on the line, though, perhaps blunt is better than polite and evasive.

After a promotional blurb for PrideAlive’s chats, the next article is “Ready to be Bound, BOY?” Subtitled “A slutty bottom bitch’s guide to being a good sub,” it’s a look at boundaries, negotiation, honesty and safewords. There’s even sample scene dialogue illustrating how a safeword works.

“What’s the Sound of One Hand Typing? The Ins and Outs of Cyber-Slutting” deals with safety and practicality issues concerning cyber-sex, webcams, and hooking up over the internet.

There’s even an advice column by Snookie, a funny-looking but very smart dog. In this issue the pooch answers a question about using Crisco as a lube (it’s not a good idea to share your can of Crisco with others; at parties, try passing out Crisco sticks instead, so everyone can have their own). Snookie also shares information on the proper cleaning of sex toys.

The primary focus of the new on-line newsletter is health education, but PrideAlive will also be producing a ’zine that is issues-driven and participant-led. An article called “Get into the ‘zine’ scene!” discusses how the ’zine project is structured and how people can participate in the project. (Three ’zine meetings have already been held, but there are two more scheduled for the evenings of March 3 and 24.)

“The Fetish Issue” serves as a good introduction to fetish-related topics for folks who are “just curious” or who are newly into the scene, and it can also serve as a refresher/reminder for more experienced players. It will be interesting to see what future issues of the newsletter bring.

After you’re read the newsletter, check out the rest of the PrideAlive website. You’ll find a calendar of monthly events put on by PrideAlive and others, and lots of links to other community resources.

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