Baltimore City Health Department Hosts Storytelling Events to Address Sexual Health Stigma


Media Contacts:

Michelle Mendes: Office: (410) 396-7286, Cell: (443) 862-0891
Mona Rock: Office: (443) 984-2623, Cell: (410) 375-7763

Two-day celebration features bold LGBTQ portraits and stories

BALTIMORE, MD (June 1, 2017) — Today, the Baltimore City Health Department will kick off two days of art, images and storytelling celebrating Baltimore’s LGBTQ communities of color to address social stigma and inspire empathy and action. The semi-annual Project Presence photo exhibit and Baltimore in Conversation storytelling event will take place on back-to-back evenings, with Project Presence taking place on Thursday, June 8, and Baltimore in Conversation taking place on Friday, June 9 at BBOX in the Gateway Building at MICA, located at 1601 West Mt. Royal Avenue. The events are free and open to the public.

Project Presence and Baltimore in Conversation are part of the Baltimore City Health Department’s IMPACT Campaign, funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to deliver enhanced HIV care and prevention to those living with or vulnerable to HIV.

“Public health is a powerful social justice tool that can level the playing field of inequality,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “We know that people of color—especially the LGBTQ community—are disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS. By overcoming the stigma associated with disease and gender identity and sexuality, we can foster trust, eliminate barriers to care, and reduce disparities.”

Project Presence is a bi-annual, community-organized visual storytelling exhibition that showcases the lives and narratives of same gender loving people of color in Baltimore City. By presenting peer role models, Project Presence confronts the social stigmas surrounding sexual identity and sexual health in Baltimore. This is the third edition of Project Presence and features portraits of LGBTQ students and allies from historically black college and universities, captured by Baltimore photographer Brian O’Doherty. 

Baltimore in Conversation is a red carpet event of never-heard-before stories from same gender loving people of color and their allies. The event creates a space where health providers, allies, and LGBTQ community members listen, reflect, and engage in conversation around the daily trials and triumphs of LGBTQ people of color in Baltimore. Together these stories depict confrontations with homophobia and transphobia, health provider perceptions and biases, medical mistrust, and structural oppression.

Partners in the events with the Baltimore City Health Department include the STAR TRACK Adolescent Health Program at the University of Maryland and the Maryland Institute College of Art.

Health care workers are encouraged to attend. CME, CNE, and CEU credits for medicine, nursing, social work and addiction counseling will be available to attendees.

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