Community-Based Research and Younger, Scene-Attached Gay Men

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An overvew of findings of a research project by the Fun & Esteem youth project at the AIDS Council of NSW (ACON). This presentation was given at the AFAO HIV Educators Conference in May 2008.

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Community-Based Research and Younger, Scene-Attached Gay Men

  1. 1. Community-Based Research and Younger, Scene-Attached Gay Men Ben Bavinton Christopher Brew
  2. 2. The Fun & Esteem Project <ul><li>HIV prevention with young gay men </li></ul><ul><li>Peer education and community development approach </li></ul><ul><li>Workshops, training, resource development, events, advocacy </li></ul><ul><li>Pilot community research project in 2008 </li></ul>
  3. 3. Project Motivations <ul><li>Engagement issues </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Specific sub-groups of men (e.g. young scene-attached men) participate in Fun & Esteem programs less than others </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Research issues </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Little research on specific sub-groups of men </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Research can be overly academic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Research projects are expensive </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Project Objectives <ul><li>Research Objective </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To collect background data to inform the development of new program responses for young men who are active on the scene and who have no interest in attending our current programs. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Capacity Development Objective </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To increase the skills of a young gay male volunteer by providing opportunities to meaningfully contribute to the Project. </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Methods - Selection Criteria <ul><li>Group Interviews: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>- No previous participation in Fun & Esteem or ACON workshops </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Goes out to gay venues at least two (or more) times a week (on average)‏ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- 29 years or under </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Same-sex attracted (i.e. gay, bisexual, homosexual, queer)‏ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Identifies as male </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Online Survey: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>- 29 years or under </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Same-sex attracted (i.e. gay, bisexual, homosexual, queer)‏ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Identifies as male </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Methods Problems Encountered <ul><li>Low survey and group interview turnout due to: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Work commitments </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Social nature of research group </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Focus groups held at a busy time of year for both recruits and recruiters </li></ul></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Findings - Overview <ul><li>1. Understanding Community </li></ul><ul><li>2. Engagement </li></ul><ul><li>3. Alcohol and Drugs </li></ul>
  8. 8. Findings - Community <ul><li>‘ Community’ as an overarching of which the ‘scene’ is one part. </li></ul><ul><li>The ‘scene’ was understood as a community </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Community Organisation’ was understood as inclusive of commercial venues and parties </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Volunteering’ was understood as including attendance of commercial venues and events. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Community and Age <ul><li>Interviewees drew distinctions between older gay men and themselves: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Older gay men were seen as ‘caretakers’ of the community </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Younger gay men were seen as ‘not really gay’ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>“ They’re [older gay men] involved in the arts and the productions and are supporting and standing up for our rights and us younger guys are too busy doing other things like getting laid. [laughs]” (Kieran)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>“ How many times do we go: oh my god look at him [older gay man], what is he doing here, I just do it every week, I’m like ‘ew’.” </li></ul>
  10. 10. Community and Age <ul><li>Interviewees drew distinctions between older gay men and themselves: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Older gay men were seen as ‘caretakers’ of the community </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Younger gay men were seen as ‘not really gay’ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>“ Yeah, and I wonder whether they [younger gay men] are actually physically having sexual contact. I think if they’re just jumped on the bandwagon as in “yeah I’m gay” and it’s all about being seen they’re in the trend and its all about image, and … I don’t believe that they’re having sex.” (Kieran)‏ </li></ul>
  11. 11. Engagement <ul><li>“ I live in a bubble. I work two jobs, I go out and party, I’m very social, but I don’t talk about the news, cause I don’t know about it anyway, I couldn’t care less about politics, or religion, I, if I ever go on the internet, I go on, I check net banking, I might check Facebook, Hotmail, whatever, but I don’t sit around and go ‘what’s happening’ – if I listen to the radio I listen to the song, the ad comes on it’s turned off or I completely zone out, I couldn’t even tell you what five seconds ago the ad was.” (Kieran)‏ </li></ul>
  12. 12. Reasons for Engagement <ul><li>Altruism </li></ul><ul><li>Volunteering needs to be more fun </li></ul><ul><li>Volunteering is more likely when there is a financial incentive. </li></ul><ul><li>“ I actually feel like I'm a better person when I do it, but I don’t know what on earth is going to make other people do it, I don’t get it. I wish I could tell you.” (Adrian)‏ </li></ul>
  13. 13. Alcohol and Drugs <ul><ul><ul><li>Interviewer: So what do you think the defining features of the gay community are? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Kieran: Vibrant. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Malcolm: Sex. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Kieran: Drugs. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Dominic: Definitely drugs. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Malcolm: Sex, drugs, clothes. Short shorts. And hair. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Kieran: Major drugs. Colour, colourful.” </li></ul></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Alcohol and Drugs <ul><li>Drugs taken regularly: </li></ul><ul><li>Ecstasy (E)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Crystal Methamphetamine </li></ul><ul><li>Marijuana </li></ul><ul><li>GHB </li></ul><ul><li>Ketamine (K)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>“ I’ve taken K, … it’s strange to think about it, like why would you want to zone out in a club with the thumping music, but sometimes you do, and it’s only for 20 minutes anyway, and its just this nice little feeling…it’s actually just a case of fun and zoning out.” (Adrian)‏ </li></ul>
  15. 15. Drug Information <ul><li>Trusted sources: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Friends </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Own experience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Harm minimisation material </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Internet </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Drug campaigns distrusted </li></ul><ul><li>“ I deliberately don’t get affected by the drug campaigns only because of how outrageously inaccurate they are. And how exaggerated they are. ” (Dominic)‏ </li></ul>
  16. 16. Drugs and Sex <ul><li>“ I would never have unprotected sex because like that’s just it because… it’s like if you don’t have unprotected sex then your risk of getting HIV is really low.” (Malcolm)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Drugs reported as having an association with unsafe sex. </li></ul><ul><li>Large amounts of GHB and Crystal were believed by participants to have the largest effect on their ability to use condoms. </li></ul><ul><li>Drugs reported to increase the likelihood of sex: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Always, yes, pretty much. Always would be the rule. Whenever I’d go out and have drugs I’d have sex.” (Malcolm)‏ </li></ul>
  17. 17. Implications <ul><li>A rethinking of community vs. scene. </li></ul><ul><li>New models for engaging these men are needed </li></ul><ul><li>Programs need to acknowledge their experience of drug use. </li></ul><ul><li>More research </li></ul>
  18. 18. Project Evaluation <ul><li>Research Objective </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Difficulty engaging the target group leading to very small sample size </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Useful insights gained, particularly from the qualitative data </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Capacity Development Objective </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Timing of project did not go according to plan </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Skills of the Fun & Esteem volunteer developed </li></ul></ul>

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