LGB RPCV NewsLetter - February 2000 In This Issue

u PC'S Current HIV/AIDS Programs u AIDS Education in Honduras u Bulgarian Closets u HIV/AIDS Fund Update u Financial Report u Membership Dues

February 2000


e begin the new year with an article by Kent Klindera about Peace Corps’ HIV/AIDS related projects. q Jesy Goldhammer describes her times as an AIDS educator in Honduras. q Brian Hartig talks about coming out to his Peace Corps colleagues in Bulgaria. q We have more information about Peace Corps’ HIV/AIDS Fund. q Bill Erdmann reports on the state of our finances.

Shining Stars: Peace Corps' HIV/AIDS Programs
By Kent Klindera, RPCV
I just received a report documenting Peace Corps HIV prevention and care activities from around the world. There are some pretty creative people out there and it gives me hope that maybe we are winning the war against this tiny virus called HIV. In Moldova, PCVs actually have helped create HIV awareness nights at local roller discos. I guess Olivia Newton-John and Xanadu can also help in the fight against AIDS! Back in the early 90s, I was honored to be the first full-fledged HIV prevention volunteer in Thailand. I currently work for an international non-profit in Washington DC, focused on the sexual health of adolescents. Peace Corps has not always been a leader on HIV issues. However, through the perseverance of some amazing volunteers, practically every Peace Corps country today is implementing HIV prevention and/or care programming. Many of us in the LGB RPCV group were early pioneers in the effort to make Peace Corps a leader, and after reviewing current programming, we should celebrate our successes. As the LGB RPCV gang launches an HIV-fund for Peace Corps Partnership programming, the newsletter editor and I thought it might be helpful to review current Peace Corps HIV/AIDS programming. I am grateful to Ruth Mota (PC AIDS Program Coordinator) for supplying me with a recent overview of all HIV programming. Peace Corps manages HIV prevention programs in all three global regions where volunteers serve. Since Africa has been hardest hit by the epidemic, the largest number of HIV/AIDS programs are being implemented in this region. PCVs have assisted teachers in incorporating AIDS learning activities into their lesson plans and reached hundreds of additional students through festivals. Similarly, in Tanzania, volunteers have begun implementing a program in which they serve as biology teachers part time and work in HIV and health related activities part time in their schools and communities. A Kenyan PCV has written an HIV curriculum for deaf students. In Cameroon, in addition to developing women’s empowerment trainings aimed at empowering them to talk to their husbands about HIV infection, they have extensively implemented the Peace Corps developed Teach English/Prevent AIDS curriculum in secondary schools. In Senegal, PCVs have produced an AIDS video in Wolof directed at truck-drivers and chauffeurs. Finally, in Malawi, volunteers have implemented HIV interventions through their Child Survival Project by developing a local AIDS resource library, and PCVs have offered HIV counseling training at testing sites. Through their support and care project, host-country volunteers have been trained in home-based care, maintenance of a revolving drug fund and will-writing. Europe, Mediterranean, and Asian Regions: In Kazakhstan, PCVs have written and received funding for various AIDS prevention projects. One involved sponsoring a three-day teacher training on
Continued on page 6

“...through the perseverance of some amazing volunteers, Peace Corps is implementing HIV prevention and/or care programs everywhere.”
There are basically four ways in which HIV interventions have been implemented in Peace Corps countries. 1) A health program may have a “stand-alone” AIDS project, where HIV prevention and care services are the primary focus of volunteers’ work. 2) An AIDS project may be integrated into an existing health or water/ sanitation program as one of the health topics to be addressed by volunteers. 3) HIV prevention may be included as a major goal in other sectors, such as education or youth. 4) Volunteers from any sector may implement secondary projects in their communities that focus on HIV prevention or support. Some of the highlights of these programs include the following programs: Africa: In South Africa, education 1

LGB RPCV NewsLetter - February 2000

Out About AIDS in Honduras
- by Jesy Goldhammer, RPCV
I was with the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers in Honduras in 1995 assigned the task of educating our communities about HIV and AIDS. We began with 22 health volunteers. At the end of our service more than two years later, only 8 of us had completed our tours. Our most common complaint was that there were too many odds working against us and no support or resources to get anything accomplished. During our initial three months of training in the wealthy hills above the Capitol City, Tegucigalpa, we were taught the Spanish words for HIV and AIDS, information about the virus, and how to utilize roleplay in prevention education. What I wanted to know was who was affected by the virus, when and how the virus first infected people in Honduras, and what was being taught to people about HIV and AIDS. I knew this information was necessary in order to implement prevention education on various levels in the communities where we would live. The Honduran media mimicked the mighty voice of much of the US to the north, preaching that AIDS was a gay disease. Their staunch Christian culture went a step further, teaching that AIDS was the punishment for the sin of being gay. I was the first volunteer to serve in Sabana de San Pedro, a rural town of 800 in Departmento de Yoro. Before I arrived two people had recently died of AIDS related illnesses. Most of the people in the town had never seen a North American woman, and I heard that people thought I had been sent by Christ himself to condemn the sinners (gays) and praise the worthy (practicing Christians). I had just barely come out as a lesbian in my own country, and I hadn’t really considered who I could and could not be in Honduras. From the little I knew, I decided to let go of my outer butch image and get in touch with my inner femme or else I might spend my entire time there convincing everyone that I was a woman, which seemed like a huge waste of time. I grew my hair and wore it back in a nonoffensive ponytail. I left my fatigues and combat boots at home and packed closedtoed sandals and large cardboard-like dresses that made me feel so sexless. You couldn’t tell if I was fat, thin, pregnant, curvy, pear-shaped, or large breasted, only that I was a woman and was not easy prey, and this felt safe. I had no idea that I was preparing to temporarily lose my identity as a strong, independent, and educated queer woman with unlimited choices, opportunities, and freedom. I was not going to be the person I was here at home. I gave it all up to develop my relationship with the people of my town. I had to experience life through their eyes, and walking into their culture as an outsider and a foreigner, my life was on their terms. and that I’d better absorb every moment of it, because soon I would be gone and all I’d have would be these memories. I tried letting go of my fears and selfcenteredness, but this didn’t happen overnight. I wasn’t the free, independent, staunch and isolated lesbian that I had come to depend on, or the image my culture taught me to paint on my exterior. As women we shared together the suffering of having fewer rights than dogs, and the joys and rewards of honoring each other because nobody else was going to do it. They taught me about the wealth that burns in their hearts no matter how empty their wallets. They graciously opened themselves to me and showed me the richness of their souls. In return I attempted to educate both women and men about HIV/AIDS, in a way that they could understand. I spent a lot of time in classrooms, churches, health centers, and bars learning how they learn. I encouraged open dialogue in monthly workshops and proved to the people of my town that this virus will change the face of their lives and their community if they didn’t behave consciously. HIV is not a gay disease in Honduras. AIDS was first detected in the 80s after American and Central American soldiers poured into the country to train antiSandinista forces in Nicaragua. Many of these soldiers had relationships with Honduran women. One result was that biracial children were left behind. Another result was that some of these children and their mothers were some of the first Hondurans to be HIV infected. Today HIV spreads mostly because of promiscuous sexual behavior (most men have a wife, girlfriends, and visit prostitutes on occasion). Young people also travel from rural regions to the city to work in sweatshops. They are often free from sexual constraints for the first time, and they return home infected. Condoms are considered only with prostitutes, and prostitutes are the only people the government protects somewhat through easy access to regular testing, education, and with condoms themselves. In my town I taught men to use condoms with their girlfriends to protect their wives. Although the local health center supplied condoms, the men were too embarrassed to get them there. I started Continued on page 6

“I missed tough women who wore men’s clothes, walked with heavy feet, taking giant strides. I missed the American lesbians, gays, tranies, drag queens, and artists who had taught me to value open-mindedness, honesty about being a lesbian, and to be grateful for the past struggles that have helped me be free.”
The men of my town had little to do with me, unless they were in large groups yelling out obscenities that really had nothing to do with me, but was a way to get the approval they so desperately needed from each other. It was dreadfully humiliating, however, because I would have clobbered these guys in my own country. But here Peace Corps had taught us to say “gracias,” which you couldn’t have paid me to say. They did bother me less over time. With the women I developed deep loving relationships that for the first time in my life were based on a power greater than sex. I experienced intimacy that was not sexual, which was a foreign concept to me. Eventually the women accepted me without a husband and children and embraced me even though with my white skin and green eyes were almost ridiculous to them. I began to realize how precious this experience was 2

LGB RPCV NewsLetter - February 2000

Cracking the Closet Door in Bulgaria
- by By Brian Hartig, PCV
During training toward the end of the last month of summer I was outed here in Bulgaria by another volunteer to a select few Bulgarian nationals. Don’t get me wrong. It was not really an intentional outing. No one wanted anyone else to get hurt in the deal. In fact, it was done with a sense of obligation, with a certain sense of educational duty felt by the “outer.” She felt she could no longer stand by while her family casually spouted phobic remarks. It was when those remarks turned “homo-” phobic, though, that I eventually became the example, the vehicle by which to show a people unexposed or unused to great differences and variances that stereotypes were not always true, were sometimes fallacious, and were often unrepresentative. As a potential teacher, however, who would go on to teach kindergarten through 11th grade in Central Bulgaria, I knew that this unintentional “incident,” unless countered, could very well spell the demise of my service. Deep down I didn’t want to deny her words. It went against everything that I’d always felt contributed to the lifeeducation of those who didn’t realize they know “us.” But I had to place this outing in perspective and consider the new situation within which I found myself with Peace Corps. So I spoke with the volunteer (and with another volunteer to whose family the news had spread), expressed my views and asked them to do what they thought was best. They did. The final solution hurt. It hurt a lot. It was a denial of my sexuality. The volunteer stated to her host parents that she’d been mistaken about me and that I was straight as the proverbial arrow. I felt I’d just denied—through a pander, no less— within the expanse of a weekend, who I was, and had regressed the movement and had negated any educational value possible, to the point at which it had been before our arrival. Once again, though, “perspective” came floating back. I realized that it had become the main issue in this incident and I knew that in the long run that the wise decision had been made because of it; I simply could not educate in Bulgaria if I’d been sent back to America. And although, Peace Corps, obviously, would never send me back for being gay (it has a nondiscrimination policy regarding sexual orientation), I would very readily be sent back—or to another country—if I had, all of a sudden, become ineffective. And that, gentle reader, was the bottom line. In a nutshell, this story has come to represent the situation to me here in Bulgaria for lesbians and gay men. Some have equated Bulgaria to America in the ‘50s yet at a slightly accelerated pace. Not a whole lot different than what you might experience in other East European countries, though sparks of change, however, are apparent often in my daily life. The personal opportunity to counter phobias and bias exists and allows me the possibilities to make a difference in individual lives. But back to perspective. It being so important, allow me to give you a bit of it maps right there next to the State Bird. I was out to the extent that I believed the closet door could never have been shut again as it had been removed from its hinges. And so it was soon after starting LEGAL that I had vowed never to allow myself to be pushed around through fear of acknowledgment of who I was. That ideal, held so dearly, however, because of “perspective,” was altered here in Bulgaria—and rightly so—in order to further another cause. I realized that my fight was not here in Bulgaria. I could exist closeted again and still be an effective person. It may have been a decision against my principles, but it was one that was based on common sense. Sometimes common sense wins over in such situations when you are so far away from home and have so little recourse against bigotry or ignorance. Actually, my Dallas recruiter had even asked me point blank if, considering my background of six years as a gay rights activist in Louisiana, I would be able to go back into that closet I had known so intimately for so long. That was a tough question that called for a well-thought-out answer. I was ready for it, though, and having been closeted in the military before I knew what I was up against and had decided that I could do it again. I knew the loneliness and, somehow, having already existed through it, knew I could willingly (this time) do it again. My time spent here can not truly be described as totally closeted. As a matter of fact I realized soon after my arrival in Bulgaria that my time here was not meant to be used solely as a vehicle for education for those Bulgarian students I was to teach. Another way to educate regarding sexual orientation soon surfaced which, although not evident coming in, made itself quite evident during training. I think we as Americans coming to other, less economically developed countries, to teach and help bring about positive change, sometimes forget that we ourselves are still learning, growing, finding out who we are and learning how far we can mentally, as well as physically, go. Most volunteers who enter Peace Corps are right out of college, starting their careers and, quite often, looking for direction, either professionally or personally. I’ve met many volunteers here

“In the Marines they used to tell us that the front lines would fall and that infantrymen would die without aid from the support units. It’s never before been more powerfully brought home to me than here in Peace Corps just how true that maxim is.”
regarding my background. Before I entered Peace Corps I was co-founder/ President/ Executive Director of Louisiana’s first non-profit group for lesbians and gay men, Louisiana Electorate of Gays And Lesbians, Inc. (LEGAL, Inc.). We worked to bring about one of the South’s first Hate Crimes laws, which was inclusive of “sexual orientation” wording. We also successfully fought an amendment to Louisiana’s Constitution to outlaw “gay marriages.” No small potatoes according to me and according to those who told us not to even fight that fight in Louisiana. We were also successful, amongst other things, in organizing the various lesbian and gay student groups around the state. I was known by some as Louisiana’s State Faggot, my picture on all of our road 3

LGB RPCV NewsLetter - February 2000

Cracking the Closet...
who, for lack of a better word, were “confused” not only about their career path choices but also about who they are and how they fit into the whole system. As a former Marine Corps officer, and human rights activist I did what I felt I could to blend leadership with a positive forward-thinking sense of self and did my best with the other volunteers to lead by example. What I’d accepted without thinking about it over the past six years, suddenly had become something I would have to consider deeply for the next two years. For starters, I knew I would have to be careful with how I came out to other volunteers. I could tell you straight away (ahem) how I did this and the complications it presented, but instead I’ll relay another little incident, which happened toward the end of training. One-day while sitting in Bulgarian language class with a rather large group of volunteers we were playing a game whereby we were asked personal, yet general, questions. When it came to my turn, the doozy was asked of me: “Tell about your last love interest.” As I had taken the tack of not “coming out” guns a’blazing and no-holds-barred to the other volunteers (rather taking an “as-itcomes” approach), not everyone— including instructors—knew about me. Answering this question in front of the group gave me the wonderful opportunity to educate. Beginning my answer in Bulgarian I started by using the word “He.” I was quickly halted by the instructor who explained that I was using the male pronoun and that what I wanted to use was the Bulgarian word for “She.” So not one to be easily dismayed, I unabashedly came out with the word “He” again, was once again stopped and corrected. Obviously I continued onward using “He.” At long last, after several delayed starts, it was understood, by everyone who hadn’t known already, that I knew what I was talking about. The laughter by those in-the-know was contagious. Soon everyone felt at ease and was joining in. Later on in the day, however, a friend who had obviously not had a clue about me, approached me and asked if he could speak with me about something. He said that as I had revealed my sexual orientation earlier that day he sat next to me stunned, his feelings slowly turning to anger and then to betrayal. He explained that he had felt I had hidden something important from him and he didn’t understand why. I saw how he had taken my coming out personally. As he had thought about the situation further, though, he said, he realized how wrong he was to feel this way. If I had come out to everyone in the beginning, he reasoned, he would have felt that I was flaunting my sexuality when there was no reason to do so. how everyone who had a story to tell me, and felt they could tell it, told it. In the process, they were letting me know that they accepted me and that they understood—as well as a straight person could—the difficulties I faced in my daily life— particularly now in Bulgaria. With this newfound status our Peace Corps Medical Officer eventually asked me if I would feel comfortable giving a short presentation on being gay and living in Bulgaria to the new group of incoming volunteers. This self-outing I instantly recognized was to be a horse of a different color—a different way entirely from how I came out to my group. I pictured myself instantly being labeled by the new group as the “gay volunteer” before even being known as “Brian the volunteer from B-8 group”. I suppose that slightly bothered me. I’d known the feeling before, though. I accepted the proposition, however, and made a presentation to the new group in two time periods. I slowly outed myself, but over a much shorter period of time—half an hour. I learned many things in that half-hour, though. I learned that everyone in the room knew someone who was gay or lesbian, that the majority respected not only my orientation but my speaking to them about such a personal matter, and that, in view of the average age of incoming volunteers, many, as heterosexuals, were very happy to hear what was presented because it allowed them to understand the pitfalls before they were to meet them—thereby their avoiding this year with their group what had happened to me last year with mine. They also knew, as I presented the topic in this way, that the talk was not mainly directed towards those who considered themselves lesbian or gay. It was also, and in a way more so, directed towards those in the group who considered themselves heterosexuals and for a very simple reason—people like myself (and others in the room who chose or chose not to reveal their sexual orientations) needed to know how to deal with the situation of being out or not (if and when it came up) and that their support would be not only appreciated but also very necessary. My biggest lesson from that presentation came to me over the year as I worked as a member of our Volunteer Support Network. I realized just how important it was to have the topic brought up to the

“I chose not to hide my sexual orientation to the group, but at the same time not to announce it outright or force it down anyone’s throat.”
He ended up telling me that he now understood how fine a line lesbians and gay men walk when choosing whether or not to be out about their sexual orientations. He had just wanted to tell me this and to thank me to helping him to learn about something he had known little about. I felt personally fulfilled. Though it is a very fine line, indeed, that we are forced to walk regarding how and whether we disclose our sexual identities to those around us. I agree. Too far to one side and you’re labeled an outspoken, in-your-face activist. Too far to the other and your reticence challenges that of St. Augustine’s. I chose not to hide my sexual orientation to the group, but at the same time not to announce it outright or force it down anyone’s throat. In so doing I led by example and taught some people, in a passively progressive way, about who we are, who I am. As the question came up I gave it my honest answer; I didn’t seek them out, but I didn’t run either. I found that when you come out this way, though, that word does get around, but that word gets around selectively and, as I presented in my last incident, it got around quicker to some than to others. That, however, is the nature of the beast. After my gradual self-outing I realized 4

LGB RPCV NewsLetter - February 2000

Sign Up for the Listserv
new group and how much its simply being brought up by a leader from the group before theirs lent it an air not only of Peace Corps—and volunteer-sanctioned authority but one of honesty and a sense—which some volunteers may not have had previously—that “it’s OK to be gay.” I reveled in the applause I received at the end of my speech but not for myself. I smiled inwardly for those others who may not have felt they’d feel comfortable being out, but that they could, at least to any one person in their group shed light on their secret. And in so doing they could receive something that they would do well to have over the two-year period incountry: support. Since my period of instruction, I have had many volunteers approach me to thank me for speaking on the topic. Also since my presentation I have spoken with volunteers who were having difficulty dealing with gay sexuality and felt more comfortable speaking to me personally. So, in a way, these volunteers were already working to provide support to others who needed it. And in the end I suppose, that’s what it’s all about—support. In the Marines they used to tell us that the front lines would fall and that infantrymen would die without aid from the support units (supply, motor transportation, etc.). It’s never before been more powerfully brought home to me than here in Peace Corps just how true that maxim is. “Just showing up,” as Mark Twain once said, is not “90 percent of the job” (at least not for volunteers in a foreign country); support is. Now many others in Peace Corps know exactly how important support—or simply its availability—can be.•

Keep up with the latest LGB Peace Corps Alumni news, information, and informal discussions, as well as the latest from Peace Corps Washington and the National Peace Corps Association by subscribi gt o re m i l s s r .T el s s r i a s ag e tw yt m k n o u -al itev h itev s lo ra a o ae contact with other LGB Peace Corps Alumni in your area and around the world. All you have to do to subscribe is send an empty e m i ( oc n e t t :[l b p v s b c i e o e i t c m . -al n otn) o grc-usrb@nls.o]

Peace Corps' HIV Project Fund Off and Running
In our last issue we described the establishment of the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Education Fund to be administered by the Peace Corps Partnership Program. LGB RPCV’s initial contribution of $1000 and a $1000 match from a couple of our members has since been increased by a dozen or more contributions made by our members as a result of our solicitation in the November 1999 newsletter. On January 30, the Bay Area LBG RPCV group voted to contribute an additional $300. In the meantime, Vic Basile, the Peace Corps manager who oversees the Partnership Program, has announced the availability of funds for HIV/AIDS related projects to Country Directors, other onsite staff, and the Peace Corps world in general. Our organization is given credit for initiating the fund. He wrote, “this funding is available immediately to any Partnership Project with a focus on HIV/ AIDS prevention and education.” As an example of such a project, Basile describes a recent successful “Partnership Program” project in Malawi where a Peace Corps Volunteer helped the local community build an HIV/AIDS Information, Prevention and Care Center. This center provides information and services, such as patient counseling and transmission prevention, as well as outreach programs for five neighboring villages. We have also learned that the Partnership Program has begun soliciting foundation and corporate contributions for the fund. LGB RPCV’s contributions are, of course, part of the membership dues, we solicit each year, either as an affiliate member of the NPCA, or as members of LGB RPCVs alone. Please consider this now with our MEMBERSHIP SOLICITATION that you’ll receive with this issue or with your NPCA membership renewal when it is due. A special thanks to all of those members who made additional individual contributions to the fund. If you’d like an email copy of the Partnership Program announcement, contact Mike Learned with that request on [103571.2317@compuserve.com].•

Brian Hartig can be reached at [brianhartig@yahoo.com].

Contributions to the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Education Fund should be made out to the Peace Corps Partnership Program. On the check memo line write “HIV Fund.” Contributions can be deducted as charitable contributions. Mail your check to: Eric Zander, Program Manager Peace Corps Partnership Program 1111 20th Street NW, Room 8301E Washington, D.C., 20526

LGB RPCV NewsLetter - February 2000

Continued from page 2

HIV/AIDS Programs...
Continued from page 1

secretly dispensing them out of my home and was regularly visited by both men and women. It was through these visits that my relationships with the local men slowly developed enough that I was able to run a few workshops for them. This would have been an impossible undertaking my first year. Initially my work was seen by most as intriguing and curious. There were those who were deeply offended that I would be inviting discussions and formal education about topics that were so un-Christian. In addition to HIV/AIDS, I also lead workshops on empowering youth and women, and trained community health workers and midwives. I also taught family planning, basic math, literacy, and about using traditional healing and medicine. Yet there were many who supported me completely. The funny thing was that my supporters came from every aspect of the community: church, school, health center, and bars. This was to my advantage because all these institutions were essential to get my work accomplished. When I left La Sabana in April 1997, I was totally exhausted and hungered for familiarity. I missed tough women who wore men’s clothes, walked with heavy feet, taking giant strides. I missed the American lesbians, gays, tranies, drag queens, and artists who had taught me to value open-mindedness, honesty about being a lesbian, and to be grateful for the past struggles that have helped me be free. I was so tired of being “la gringa.” I had never come out as a lesbian in Honduras because I thought it would be unsafe to do so. At first I thought that I had lacked the courage to do this, but I have begun to think that being gay in Central America is really so much more complicated than I ever wanted to admit. Maybe it was a courageous thing not to come out there. What I am sure of is that my experiences in Honduras were rich. They have changed my life, and I am a smarter and more patient lesbian because of them.• Jesy Goldhammer left the world of HIV/ AIDS counseling in 1998 to be a landscape gardener in Oakland, CA. This month she celebrates one year clean and sober. You can contact her at [gjesica@slip.net].

HIV instruction for 20 teachers, and the other an anti-AIDS poster competition that attracted 300 applicants and lots of media attention. Many materials like pamphlets, pocket calendars and bookmarkers with HIV prevention messages were also printed in Russian and Kazakh. Other programs include developing harm reduction/peer education strategies for young injecting drug users, and the program hopes to be working directly with people living with HIV soon. In Moldova PCVs developed a 30-minute radio program (“Side by Side”) that reaches 95% of the territory in Moldova. It has been developed and presented by teenagers. On the air the youth are able to correct misinformation about HIV and other health topics of interest to adolescents, while they talk about the consequences of unhealthy behaviors. In addition, volunteers with youth peer educators conduct week-long camp training on reproductive health and HIV issues. Finally, PCVs have assisted in sponsoring weekly “Anti-AIDS Discos” in various clubs and roller-rinks. Inter-America and Pacific Region: In the Dominican Republic, most PCVs have focused HIV prevention work on youth, working through elementary school presentations, youth symposia, parentchild communication classes, and an AIDS Day Rallies. In Jamaica, HIV issues are taught in life-skill courses in communication and goal-setting, and other lifeplanning abilities, which protect them from health risks including exposure to HIV/AIDS. Using a peer education model, Jamaican PCVs are working to reach marginalized young men. In Ecuador, in addition to teacher training, volunteers work with commercial sex workers regarding condom promotion, and some volunteers are involved in a prevention program for immigrant populations. One PCV works specifically with the issue of domestic violence and HIV. As you can see, there is some pretty creative thinking going on in the minds of PCVs and host country nationals. These programs are pretty remarkable, and have begun to be a “shining star” in terms of Peace Corps programming in general. There is an amazing amount of effort out there by some amazing folks. It is 6

interesting to me, however, that none of the activities cited in this recent Peace Corps report on HIV programs mentions programming targeted specifically at LGBT people. There are some Peace Corps countries where openly LGBT folks live, and in other places, as we all know, there is definitely same-sex behavior. It seems to me it may be an issue that we might want to bring up with those at Peace Corps headquarters. Are the needs of LGBT people being met throughout the world? I bet not! As we begin this new venture of funding HIV-related projects through Peace Corps Partnership programs, it seems our money will be well spent. As an RPCV group, however, we must assist Peace Corps in recognizing the needs of our LGBT sisters and brothers worldwide. Reading the recent report, I am encouraged to see that the creative spirit of Peace Corps Volunteers and their host country colleagues lives into this new millennium.• Kent Klindera, volunteered in Thailand from 1988-92. He currently lives in Our Nations Capitol and is Acting Director of International Programs at Advocates for Youth [kent@advocatesforyouth.org].

PO Box 14332 San Francisco CA 94114-4332 lgbrpcv@yahoo.com http://www.geocities.com/lgbrpcv

Editor Layout

Mike Learned Kevin H. Souza

The LGB RPCV Newsletter is published quarterly by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual RPCV Organization, an affiliate of the National Peace Corps Association. We exist to promote Peace Corps ideals and acceptance of gays and lesbians throughout the world. Submission of articles or graphics to be published in the newsletter is encouraged. The right to use or edit materials remains with the editor. Copyright remains with the author. Send submissions or inquires to the above postal or e-mail address.

LGB RPCV NewsLetter - February 2000

1999 Annual Financial Report
It’s that time of year again when we let you know where we get the money to keep this group going and how your money is spent to support our activities. We are almost totally dependent on you for our funds. Almost all of our income last year came from membership dues, either when you joined the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) and designated us as your affiliate group, or when you sent us membership dues directly. If you’re a member of the NPCA, please remember to designate LGB RPCVs as your affiliate RPCV group when you renew your membership. If you aren’t a member of the NPCA, please respond now to our enclosed request for dues. Our biggest expense supports the printing and mailing of our quarterly, “award-winning” newsletter. The publication goes not only to our RPCV members, but also to volunteers in the field who request it, Peace Corps staff in every country where Peace Corps has a presence, Peace Corps Recruiting Offices, and to Washington Peace Corps staff. Thanks to the continued efforts and long hours spent by Kevin Souza, our Web site and e-mail address don’t cost much money, although they remain among our most important communication tools. Supporting regional affiliate groups is our next most significant expense. If you live in an area with a local LGB RPCV chapter, half of your dues automatically go that chapter. Local chapters are currently active in San Francisco, Seattle, Southern California, and Washington D.C. Expenses exceeded income this year, because of a significant drop in membership income and our $1000 contribution that initiated the Peace Corps Partnership Program’s HIV/AIDS Prevention and Education Fund. As always, we welcome any ideas you have about how your membership dues should be spent.•

Income Membership dues from NPCA Individual dues T-shirts Total Income Expenses Newsletters HIV Fund Contribution NPCA dues, fees NPCA conference Group chapters Other Total Expenses Year End Balance

1,725 1,730 70 $3,525

2,207 1,000 565 125 323 181 $4,401 $3,942

Membership Dues Needed for 2000
Each February we enclose our annual dues solicitation with our newsletter for those members of LGB RPCV who are not also members of the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA). We have two categories of membership in our organization. Those who have joined the NPCA have the opportunity to join one of its affiliate organizations (like LGB RPCVs). Half of our members reach us through this route. If you’re a member of the NPCA pay your membership dues when they notify you (this can be any month of the year), and please remember to indicate LGB RPCVs as your affiliate group. If you’re a member of LGB RPCVs alone, we ask for your membership dues each February, and you have received a membership coupon with this issue of the newsletter. The other half of our members fall into this category. We also have a number of people on our mailing list who are a year or more behind in dues, either as members of the NPCA or LGB RPCVs alone. These people are also receiving a membership dues coupon with this issue. Our membership numbers have slipped in the past year. We have lost about 100 dues paying members. About two thirds of these were NPCA members, one third LGB RPCV members alone. We plan a 7 major membership renewal drive later this spring to boost our membership numbers. We have existed as an organization for nine years, and have had many accomplishments over that time. We were instrumental in getting Peace Corps to add “sexual orientation” to its equal employment opportunity policy. We have been active participators in five NPCA conferences. We produce an award winning quarterly newsletter and host a superb web site. We have an active mentor program, where we connect lesbian and gay Peace Corps applicants with our members. We provide materials for and participate in Peace Corps recruiting efforts at Pride Events around the country each summer. We initiated the Peace Corps Partnership Program’s HIV Prevention and Education Fund late last year. We are entirely dependent on our your dues and contributions to be able to accomplish our goals and fund our activities. If you have received a membership solicitation with this newsletter, please take the time now to fill out the dues coupon, write us a check for $15, and mail them to us. If you’re a member of the NPCA, please rejoin when your membership is due, and identify LGB RPCVs as your affiliate group.•

LGB RPCV NewsLetter - February 2000

Lesbian, Gay & Bisexual Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
Who are we?
We’re an organization of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and others who are former Peace Corps volunteers, current volunteers, former and current staff members, and friends. Founded in Washington D.C. in 1991, we have several hundred members throughout the country and around the world who have served in the Peace Corps since its beginning in 1961. We are composed of a national steering committee, together with regional chapters. We currently have local chapters in San Francisco, Southern California, Seattle and Washington D.C. We are an affiliate member of the National Peace Corps Association.

What’s our purpose?
We promote Peace Corps ideals and acceptance of lesbians, gays and bisexuals throughout the world.

What do we do?
u u u u u u u u Provide support to our national members and current volunteers. Facilitate the creation of regional chapters. Actively involve ourselves as an affiliate of the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA). Promote policies and projects that support Peace Corps ideals and the acceptance and active involvement of lesbians, gays and bisexuals within the Peace Corps. Take an active part in Gay Pride events around the country encouraging gays, lesbians and bisexuals to consider the Peace Corps experience. Offer our members as informational resources and mentors for lesbians, gays and bisexuals who have been offered a Peace Corps assignment. Host social events for our members. Communicate regularly with our members and others through a quarterly newsletter and our web site.
New Membership * Address Change Form
Name: Street: City: Phone/Fax/E-mail: Country of Service: PC Project: Current Work: Membership: $15 for LGB RPCV Affiliate Only or FREE to Current Volunteers $40 for LGB RPCV Plus the National Peace Corps Association Years: State: New Member Change of Address/Renewal I would talk with applicants about my experience. Zip:

LGB RPCVs; PO Box 14332; San Francisco, CA 94114-4332 E-mail: lgbrpcv@yahoo.com * http://www.geocities.com/lgbrpcv