Not since the early days of HIV has the gay community faced the kind of threat that crystal meth has become. Even though meth has been around for a long time, in recent years use of the drug has reached epidemic proportions. Most of us have stories about the harm that meth has caused. Men becoming infected with HIV after sex binges that last days or weeks. Other STDs like syphilis and gonorrhea rising sharply.
Guys losing everything and ending up on the streets. Relationships with partners, friends and family falling apart. Meth has caused some of us to turn violent and abusive. It’s landed some in jail for dealing or stealing or committing other crimes.
In April, agency Better World Advertising posted a billboard in the Castro (gay neighborhood) in San Francisco inviting community ideas about how to deal with the crystal meth problem in San Francisco. Ads soliciting input were also placed in local newspapers. Many people took time to submit their ideas and thoughts through the website and via mail. People sent stories, artwork and songs with a wide variety of viewpoints. Some people advocated harsher punishment for dealers, while others just wanted to be left alone. Many felt meth was an issue in the gay community needed to face up and take responsibility for. Most enforced compassion, harm reduction and empowering messages. Thus, the campaign was formulated with this public input in mind, as well as additional feedback from focus groups and an advisory group representing community members and service agencies.
The goal is to reduce the spread of HIV among men who have sex with men in San Francisco and Boston, to reduce meth use among gay/bi men and to decrease the harm caused by crystal to those who use it. It is funded by the San Francisco Department of Public Health in cooperation with the The Mayor’s Task Force on Methamphetamine. Additional funding is from The New Champions Project, a collaboration between Boston’s Fenway Institute at Fenway Community Health, The Latin American Health Institute and The Male Center at AIDS Action Committee.
The campaign was art directed by Irvin Lin and components include Wild Postings, Billboards, Bus Shelters, Subway Posters, Transit Interiors, Print Ads, Stickers, Posters, Chalk Dust Sidewalk Stencils, Postcards, Buttons, T-Shirts, Magnets, a presence in the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade, a Website, (designed by Yan Wu) Web Banner Ads, and perhaps most importantly, a “Methifesto” which is downloadable at the Resist Meth website.
More pictures at Flickr.
Banners downloadable at the Resist Meth website:
Below: The team at Better World was honored to participate in the 37th annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Parade in San Francisco. The parade consisted of a march down Market Street to City Hall and featured over 200 contingents, including those representing the newly launched Adoption SF and Resist Meth campaigns.