Students studying the history of LGBT communities were able to see the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement during De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)’s ground-breaking visit to New York.Visiting the LGBT Community Centre
The LGBT trip was put together by Professor of Psychology and Sexual Health Rusi Jaspal, with PhD student Christos Daramilas
Prof Jaspal said: “At DMU, we consider ourselves citizens of the world. Our trip aimed to celebrate diversity – specifically LGBT diversity – but also to showcase some of the ups and downs in the struggle for equality, rights and healthcare."
The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village was just one stop on an academic itinerary which examined three key themes: LGBT rights; LGBT communities and HIV/Sexual Health awareness.
The students, who came from Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work, Education Studies, Youth Work and Community Development and Psychology courses, are exploring different aspects of health and social care in LGBT communities.
More than 100,000 New Yorkers are living with HIV but it is estimated one in four do not know they have the infection. This presents a major public health challenge as they may become seriously ill without treatment and pass the virus onto others.
The group visited the LGBT Community Centre, which provides programmes for health, wellness and events. The group also learned about LGBT culture in the 1970s at the Museum of Sex and learned about the city’s mobile HIV testing vans which offer free no-jab testing to people.
Nurses Laurel Beavon and Natalie Barnaby also got to volunteer at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis centre, the first helpline to be opened in New York when the AIDS crisis began. It runs pioneering healthcare programmes including the mobile testing vans and is supported by regular fund-raising events.
Laurel said: “We visited and asked if we could help. We put together some of their packs and had time to talk to staff there and learn about the work they do. It felt a meaningful thing to do, a way to help.”
“The centre is a safe place for people to go,” said Natalie, who is due to graduate on January 27 and starts her first job in February 6. She said: “We learned about their healthcare programmes and their fundraising. It was probably my favourite part of the visit because it was linked to our course.” The group in the snow, when they visited the New York AIDS Memorial
Lisa Healey-Lyman is hoping to work with people with learning disabilities who are LGBT. She said: “It’s a hidden area. No-one talks about it, and I want to educate staff and health professionals about how we can help them have relationships they want.”
Prof Jaspal said: “It was a privilege to lead such a diverse, intelligent and interested group of students on the #DMUglobal LGBT History trip to New York. The trip was both academically and socially enriching for us all. Our visits to the LGBT Community Centre, the GMHC and National AIDS Monument spurred conversations about sensitive but extremely important issues, such as LGBT rights, sexual health, sexual risk and HIV/AIDS. I’m committed to raising awareness of these issues and I believe that the trip genuinely enhanced students’ knowledge."
Mr Daramilas said: “The trip also got students interested in our research on HIV prevention. Rusi Jaspal and I recently wrote a paper about PrEP.
Students tweeted photographs publicising PrEP in New York where it’s more widespread than the UK. This got us thinking and talking about health communication and effective HIV prevention."
Posted on Thursday 12th January 2017