Heroes 4 HIV – Destigmatizing HIV In Our Communities

My name is Spark! I am 25, queer, Black and living in the South… I want to ask you this… How far would you go to keep a secret from the world; a secret that would give the world an excuse to turn its back on you?

On the other hand, how little would you be willing to consciously contribute to improve your community by improving the lives of others?

#Heroes4HIV

#Heroes4HIV

Let those questions linger as I tell you that I am HIV positive – and have been since birth. Not many people know this, except for a few family members. You really wouldn’t know they were my family if you witnessed our interactions – or the lack of them. I am afraid of openly disclosing my HIV status out of  fear that it will influence the rest of my relationships and social encounters in a similar way. I want to share my status, but then I ask myself, what about the shame, unequal treatment, and stigma I might receive? I am afraid of the death of my confidence. Should I share my status?…

I have decided to start a 30-day digital campaign for the month of November. Please help  me by sharing a status, picture, and/or video about how you think HIV stigmatization manifests itself and the effect it has, not only on people living with HIV, but also non-HIV+ individuals in our societies.

This campaign is for and about people living and thriving with HIV! It is about the resources and power we hold, that we sometimes are forced, out of fear, to suppress. It is about US! Together we will fight the battle of de-stigmatization and reclaim our voices, in order to internally and externally shift the way we all think about HIV and people living with it. It’s about US as Heroes4HIV! So, “let’s talk about it!”

Heroes4HIV denotes responsibility unto each and every one of us because we all live in a world that has HIV. Therefore, having been informed by people around us, we can choose to consciously respond to HIV in a manner that brings us together and shifts the way we think.

Kick It with SPARK! – Ice Cream Social Edition!

Ice-Cream-SocialAs the summer heat rises, come cool down with US at Kick It with SPARK! – Ice Cream Social Edition! We’ll provide yummy ice cream treats and board games, but feel free to bring some of your personal favorites.

When & Where
Thursday, July 23, 2015 @ 6PM
250 Georgia Hill Ave, Suite 207C, ATL, GA 30312

Refreshments will be provided!

RSVP on Facebook

This event is a collaboration with Georgia Equality.

Kick It With SPARK! is a monthly program for LGBTQQ youth of color (16 – 25) to have a dedicated space to socialize, build community, and find resources. It will be held every fourth Thursday of each month.

Come Kick It With SPARK!

Kick It FlyerJoin SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW for our first Kick It With SPARK! as we host a screening of Out in the Night. Directed by blair dorosh-walther, this documentary chronicles the lives of a group of Black lesbians, dubbed by the media as a “gang of Killer Lesbians,” following their arrest after a man violently threatened them and they defended themselves. “The award-winning Out in the Night examines the sensational case and the women’s uphill battle, revealing the role that race, gender identity and sexuality play in our criminal justice system.”

When & Where
Thursday, June 25, 2015 @ 6PM
250 Georgia Hill Ave, Suite 316, ATL, GA 30312

Refreshments will be provided!

RSVP on Facebook

This event is a collaboration with Georgia Equality and POV, PBS’ award-winning nonfiction film series. Visit their website at www.pbs.org/pov for more information on this film and more.

Kick It With SPARK! is a monthly program for LGBTQQ youth of color (16 – 25) to have a dedicated space to socialize, build community, and find resources. It will be held every fourth Thursday of each month.

Healthy Sex, Healthy Futures!

HSHF 2015 FlyerJoin Spark Reproductive Justice Now, in partnership with SisterLove, Inc and Georgia Equality as we expand the conversation on HIV prevention into a larger conversation around sexual health and reproductive justice to empower young folks to have honest conversations around their sexual health and wellness and build their AIDS Free Generation! This event is a part of National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day. Free HIV testing will be available.

When: April 8, 2015 – 5:30 to 8:00PM

Where: Phillip Rush Center – Annex, 1530 DeKalb Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307

RSVP: Registration Form & Facebook

This event is open to young folks 16-25 and will center LGBTQQ young folks of color.

Join the SPARK Organizing Intensive!

The SPARK Organizing Intensive (SOI) will be a fierce group of young folks (18-25) interested in being trained on or deepening their skills and understanding around organizing and movement building in Georgia and the South.

The SOI is geared towards supporting and empowering women of color (while centering the experiences of Black Women), young parents, and LGBTQ youth of color on issues that impact their lives and will provide an opportunity for new and experienced organizers and activists to dig deep on pressing issues that affect our communities across identities, gain concrete organizing skills, and directly organize and support community events and projects throughout 2015.

Time Commitment

The 6-week program will begin in late March 2015. SOI trainings will occur once a week on Saturdays from March 28th to May 2nd from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM and will include political education and skill development.

What’s expected of me as an SOI Participant?

SOI members are expected to:

  • Bring an open, willing spirit and positive attitude that lends to community building and friendship.
  • Be curious, stretch, and have fun!
  • Be willing to fight for the dignity and safety for all families!

You can apply online here. The deadline to apply is Friday, March 13th, 2015. Applicants will be notified of their acceptance no later than March 20, 2015. For more information, please contact Quita Tinsley at quita@sparkrj.org.

Join us in creating a Georgia that respects our bodies and our futures!

Women of color, LGBTQ, trans* and gender non-conforming people color, young parents, low-income people, people with disabilities, people living in the South and in rural communities, and those living outside of the metro Atlanta area are strongly encouraged to apply.

No phone calls, please.

Closing The Gap

On this National Youth Enrollment Day, SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW remains committed to uplifting the voices and experiences of LGBTQ youth of color. During the 2014 FYRE Media Justice Camp, 10 youth of color came together from three Southern states to develop short films and blogs that touched on various issues important to them as Queer and Trans youth of color living in the South. One group chose to use their voices to address the coverage gap.

Georgia has the fifth largest population of uninsured people in this country. And according to Young Invincibles, “up to 44 percent of the approximately 481,000 Georgians who fall in the coverage gap are young adults aged 18 to 34.3 The proportion of young adults in Georgia’s coverage gap is greater than the proportion in other non-expansion states, such as Texas (38 percent), Virginia (38 percent), and Florida (36 percent).”

It is important that the voices of queer and trans youth of color are heard in this fight for healthcare access.  Please listen, share the stories of these amazing young leaders, and join us on February 19th, 2015 for our annual statewide day of action and lobby event, Legislate This! We will hear from key leaders about pertinent public policy and social justice issues, rally with other Georgians, and educate our policymakers at the Capitol about reproductive justice.

We Are Here. We Are Strong. We Matter.

During the 2014 FYRE Media Justice Camp, 10 youth of color came together from three Southern states to develop short films and blogs that touched on various issues important to them as Queer and Trans youth of color living in the South. One group chose to use their stories as Black Queer youth to highlight the disproportionate amount of violence faced by Queer and Trans people of color and women of color.

From the Missouri Grand Jury’s decision to not indict Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown, to Marissa Alexander having to accept a plea deal to avoid a lengthy prison term for daring to defend herself in the face of domestic violence – our media has become inundated with countless examples of violence perpetrated against people of color, particularly Black communities.

During this time, we feel that it is important to amplify and center the voices of queer and trans youth of color in the fight against systemic oppression. Please listen, share the stories of these amazing young leaders, and join us as we continue to fight for justice in the South and a future free of violence.

Remember Trans Power. Fight for Trans Lives!

Today, Thursday, November 20th, marks the National Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) dedicated to honoring and lifting up the names of those members of the trans community whose lives have been taken due to racist, sexist, transphobic, and tramsmisognyst violence.

As a member of Strong Families, SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW is lifting up trans women of color as living and powerful members of our families, communities and movements and reaffirming our commitment to fostering a Southern RJ movement grounded in the beliefs that individuals and communities should have the resources and power to make sustainable and liberatory decisions about their bodies, genders, sexualities, and lives.

SF Remember Trans Power BazantWe share this original art by Micah Bazant with you as one way to lift up the power and resiliency of trans women of color. Micah says about the piece:

“I created this piece with input from the TransJustice group at Audre Lorde Project. We wanted an image that continues to reframe TDOR as a time to honor the living as well as the dead, keeps pushing LGBTQ communities to center trans women of color, and draws attention to the criminalization of trans women of color by the police. We also wanted to celebrate love and support between trans feminine people of color of different generations and gender expressions.”

Please continue to share this image with your families, friends, and colleagues using the hashtag #fightfortranslives and let us all continue to honor the fallen and fight like hell for the living.

Yours in community struggle,

SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW

Atlanta TDOR Events

Transgender Day of Remembrance Vigil “It’s Time…”
Event Link

Thursday, November 20
6:30pm – 10:00pm
Phillip Rush Center Annex Bldg.
1530 Dekalb Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA 30307

According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), people who identify as transgender were 28% more likely to experience physical violence than those whom are not Trans identified.

Keynote Speaker: Reverend Maressa Pendermon
Unity Fellowship Church Movement (Atlanta)
Event Sponsors: Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal
Media Sponsor: Alternative Perspectives Radio Host Betty Couvertier

Trans* Day of Resilience
Event Link

Black Is Blue FilmFriday, November 21
6:00pm – 10:00pm
Phillip Rush Center Annex Bldg.
1530 Dekalb Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA 30307

It is so important that we honor our trancestors, and especially those whose lives were taken in violence. It is also ever important that we remember how resilient we are and take a moment to reflect and celebrate. Please join Lambda Legal the day after Atlanta’s Transgender Day of Remembrance, for a Trans* Day of Resilience!

  • Happy/healthy hour – (drinks and hors d’ouevres)
  • Art exhibit
  • Film screening
  • Panel Discussion
  • Performances

First ATL screening of “Black is Blue” with lead actor, Kingston Faraday there for a question/answer following the film. Check out the trailer: http://vimeo.com/105449883

Georgia Gives Day: Support Southern Queer & Trans Youth!

Dear SPARK Family, Friends, Allies & Supporters:

GA Gives DayOn Thursday, November 13th, SPARK will participate in Georgia Gives Day and join hundreds of organizations from across the State of Georgia in mobilizing for the fiscal sustainability of our work for social change in the South.

According to Out In The South – Part Two, a survey assessing the LGBTQ community resources in 14 Southern States (2014), only 3% of LGBTQ funding is distributed to LGBTQ organizations in the South. Of the 76 LGBTQ organizations in the South, about 50% have only one or no full time staff and 55% have budgets of less than $250,000. Strong work is being done in the South with minimal resources by SPARK and others. In order to thrive, we need your help!

FMJC '14 CampersBased in Georgia, SPARK recognizes how essential it is to invest in the leadership and voices of women of color, young parents, and LGBTQQ youth of color in the fight for reproductive justice. Your financial support allows us to ensure that these voices – the ones most impacted by reproductive injustices – can bring their deep understanding of the political conditions of the South to our movements and work. Georgia Gives Day is your opportunity to demonstrate the power of prioritizing Southern leadership in Southern movements!

SPARK seeks to raise funds in our first Georgia Gives Day campaign to offset the expense of our 2nd IGNITE Queer and Trans Youth of Color Convening (IGNITE). This gathering is fully funded by SPARK for queer and trans youth of color ages 18 – 25 who live in the Southern region. IGNITE will provide an opportunity for LGBTQ youth of color from across the region to engage in dialogue, political education, skill shares, networking, and to begin to organize state level action plans on the issues that most impact their lives. Leaders attending this convening will be able to build unity with other queer and trans youth of color throughout the South while deepening their leadership skills and further preparing them to take action in their local communities!

How Can You Help?

Stand with us on Thursday, November 13th, 2014 and let’s demonstrate the power of Southern giving!