Five Minute Friday: COMPLETE


Five Minute Friday

Today’s Prompt: COMPLETE

“Pick a stick from this bag,” said the facilitator at last night’s “Happy Hour” focused on STD Prevention. (For the record, the bag was filled with popsicle sticks of varying colors and condoms.) I took one, no questions asked.

Once everyone had chosen a stick, the facilitator told me what our sticks represented:

Orange: HIV

Blue: Syphilis

Yellow: Chlamydia

Red: HPV

Purple: Gonorrhea

Green: Negative

As you can see below, I “had” chlamydia.

Five Minute Friday

This is an exercise educators use to help young people (and, apparently 53-year-old people) understand the effects of their actions.

“Did you think to ask me ‘why should I take that stick?’ he asked us.” NO. We just did it, because he offered.

I attended the event because I wanted to reconnect with the world of education/advocacy about Sexually Transmitted Diseases in advance of today’s #ADayWithHIV (here’s a previous year’s post).

In addition to the samples of how the educators connect with young people (like the popsicle stick activity), there were discussions of the basics about STDs and how they are transmitted.

More than the graphic pictures and the clinical discussion, though, I was struck by something the educator said overtly once or twice but implied throughout: people have sex with other people, even in situations that they may *know* are risky, because they lack the self esteem to advocate for themselves.

They see it as something that will make them complete, yet it may lead to illness, pain and an altered life course.

This is why we owe it to our fellow human beings to help do something to build up, not tear down, self esteem when possible.


Five Minute Friday




13 thoughts on “Five Minute Friday: COMPLETE

  1. It’s sad how we all feel a need to be complete in some way. Many need to understand they need to seek God’s smile in what they aim at to complete, making sure that self-esteem doesn’t deny them the fact that God deserves are thanks for what ever we accomplish. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. Paula, I love the courage of this post.

    I grew up in a time when ‘free love’ was being promoted.

    But it wasn’t worth even that bargain price; aside from the STDs, it led to a spiritual emptiness that was horrifying.

    Never partook, myself; I was into staying fit, and being a better shooter than anyone. But I had friends, both male and female, who were devastated because they followed the message.

    Completeness is only found in mission, and that mission has to be God’s.

    • Thank you, Andrew. I, too, had a young adulthood and single life that almost anyone would call pretty conservative and involved sowing very few wild oats. However, many things in my life have conspired to raise my awareness — working as a counselor/supervisor on the Florida AIDS Hotline when AIDS was just making its appearance, loving someone who had not yet come to terms with being gay, many things — that it’s just important to me to help people navigate the intersection of their identities and their behaviors so that they don’t short-circuit the chance to become who they are meant to be. I appreciate your perspective.

  3. Paula, I am always in awe of your knowledge and wisdom about topics that completely allude me. You are so incredibly connected, and you express your thoughts so clearly. I can’t imagine being so involved and skilled at helping others learn to advocate for themselves. You are a treasure.

    • I agree. But I should also say that is my “value interpretation.” I am not sure why people engage in risky behaviors — I am sure there are many reasons. I do think “seeking to fill an emotional void” is frequently the deal. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Pingback: National Gay Men HIV Testing DayBig Green Pen

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