Federal Court Upholds Ca. Ban on Conversion Therapy For Minors

State’s Ban on Conversion Therapy Does Not Violate Free Speech

The 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in San Francisco ruled on August 29 that the state’s ban on conversion or reparative therapy that aims at turning gay minors straight does not violate the free speech rights of licensed counselors and patients seeking treatment. This is a precedent for California and prohibits health practitioners from offering psychotherapy aimed at changing gay youth’s sexual orientation.

Excludes Religious Groups

Unlicensed pastors and lay counselors affiliated with church programs that seek to change gay youth to straight sexual identity are exempt from this law. The therapy’s effect on gay persons has been questioned or rejected by all the mental health professional associations. Reports of suicide, low self-esteem, depression have been experienced by those who have undergone reparative therapy. There are no long-term studies of the efficacy of the therapy.

Alan Chambers, Director of Exodus International, one of the more well-known ex-gay Christian organizations, issued an apology in June as did Robert Spitzer, M.D. of Columbia University who retracted his “Ex-Gay Study of 2001 last April. Spitzer, one of the original psychiatrists who led the movement to have homosexuality as a disorder removed from the Psychiatric Diagnostic Manual in 1973, deemed his study faulty.

Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris stated that the ban was necessary to protect children from a coercive practice that can put them at increased risk of suicide. Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey recently signed into law a similar ban on reparative therapy for minors in his state.

Injunction Against SB1172

The new ban was scheduled to go into effect January 1 but was put on hold by the 9th Circuit. District Court Judge William Shubb blocked the law banning the harmful therapy.
The cases that the appeals court had to decide on were brought by professionals who practice sexual orientation change therapy, two families who said their teenage sons benefitted from the therapy, and a national association of Christian mental health counselors argue that the ban infringes on their free speech, freedom of association and religious rights, and in the case of the counselors, jeopardizes their livelihoods.

However, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, who was appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1985, Judge Susan Graber, a 1998 appointee of Bill Clinton’s, and Judge Morgan Christen, a 2012 appointee of President Barack Obama, heard the case and unanimously held that California has the power to prohibit licensed mental health providers from administering therapies deemed harmful, and the fact that speech may be used to carry out these therapies does not turn such bans into prohibitions of speech.

The law says therapists and counselors who treat minors with methods designed to eliminate or reduce their same-sex attractions would be engaging in unprofessional conduct and subject to discipline by state licensing boards.

WAL-MART Employee’s Domestic Partners To Receive Health Benefits

Full-time Associates in 2014 Can Cover LGBT Spouse or Domestic Partner

The world’s largest retailer and single largest employer outside of the federal government said on August 27 that it will offer health insurance benefits to domestic partners of its U.S. employees in all fifty states next year. Regardless of local laws that vary from state to state on same-sex marriage, Wal-mart spokesman David Tovar said, “since we operate in all fifty states, we thought it was important to develop a single definition for all Wal-Mart associates in the United States.” Another spokesperson Randy Grove, stated that “by adopting a single definition, we’ll offer clarity and consistency for our associates.”

Wal-Mart, that, in the past has had human rights violations, is not only extending the usual health benefits, but is adding a vision plan, critical illness or accident plans, life insurance, and 100% coverage for some surgeries, including hip replacement and programs to quit smoking.

Conditions for Receiving Benefits

In a postcard that was sent to workers, employees were notified that the “full suite” of benefits will be available starting January 1. The sign-up period runs from October 12 to November 1. To qualify, the employees’ domestic partners can be covered if they are legal spouses, not legally separated or a domestic partner defined as “someone living in a relationship similar to marriage for at least twelve month with the intention to continue sharing a household indefinitely.”(Of course, the benefits also apply to heterosexual couples who are domestic partners.)

Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, isn’t looking for proof from employees that they have met the requirements; they are working on an honor system. More than half of its 1.3 million U.S. employees are on its health-care plans. However, the company currently does not know how many employees will use either of the new benefits.

Policy Change

The policy change occurred after discussions within the company, but not the result of any board vote. The inclusion of LGBT domestic partners is regarded as a “business decision,” not a moral claim.

The company caused controversy when previously it halted plans to build stores in D.C. after the District passed a law requiring large retailers to pay at least $12 an hour to employees. Executive Director of the LGBT labor group Pride at Work, Darren Phelps, said he wants to see more from the company in terms of wages for employees.

According to Human Rights Campaign’s 2013 Corporate Equality Index, Wal-mart previously offered an LGBT-inclusive policy, but lacked partner benefits and didn’t provide transgender-inclusive health insurance or LGBT competency training or resources. The implementation of domestic partnership benefits will improve the company’s rating on the HRC’s CEI score.

Keep It Together: Resources and Support for LGBTQ Families

It’s All in the Family

“Keep it together in the family

They’re a reminder of your history

Brothers and sisters they hold the key

To your heart and your soul

Don’t forget that your family is gold.”

– Madonna, from “Keep It Together”

For those who may oppose or who may not understand LGBTQIA culture (which often includes ourselves, those in-community), it can be easy to forget we are individuals who come from families. Who make up families. Who make up families of choice.

As we seek out kin, allies, a tribe, BFFs, support, resources and fellowship, because it is so common for LGBTQIA persons to experience marginalization even for supporting queer culture (as well as of course for being in it), we forget about our extended family. We don’t realize the broad spectrum of resources made available to us for finding connections, assistance, and even family-focused entertainment or advantages (such as social, educational financial or medical help).

We may then perhaps lose hope for reconciliation with our birth family, and/or don’t seek alternatives for creating new and more empowering familial networks.

Partying, playing and freedom of sexual expression is all well and good: it’s a blessing to have an opportunity to fully express all sides of ourselves (and fight for our rights in places where this is not yet a reality).

When it’s time to come down, gather together, find home and hearth, your family/family of choice is your go-to place to touch down, reboot, chillax. Find peace of mind.

But what happens if you don’t have a family, your community doesn’t support your family, or you don’t have a stable family?

Here are a few helpful resources, for finding family support and structure, below:


Get Help, Find Fam, Keep It Together

PFLAG / Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – http://www.pflag.org

In addition to education, outreach and public speaking, PFLAG provides regionally-based support groups for queer and questioning persons (including youth), as well as for people who are trying to understand their LGBTQ family members, or people who do not have family support.

Family Equality Council – http://www.familyequality.org/get_involved/programs

Per their website, “The Family Equality Council is a community of parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren who for 30 years have raised our children and raised our voices toward fairness for all families.” While they do quite a bit of advocacy work, they also sponsor Family Equality Pride events and regionally-based family outreach programs (such as support groups and activities for queer parents and the community).

COLAGE – http://www.colage.org

For people with an LGBTQ parent: focused mostly on kids and teenagers, COLAGE unites peer-based networks and helps youth find support. Their specialty, in their own words is to help: “nurture and empower each other to be skilled, self-confident, and just leaders in our collective communities.”

Transforming Family http://transformingfamily.org/about-us

Championed by Chaz Bono. With a trans* focused outreach in its purview, Transforming Family is a Los Angeles based family support group creating a positive environment for children, adolescents and their families to explore issues of gender identity.

Our Family Coalition http://www.ourfamily.org/programs

This is a community of leaders who provide family-based policy and advocacy for change as well as sponsoring various family functions and social events.

Gay Parent Magazine –http://www.gayparentmag.com

A leader in gay parenting resources – founded in 1998.

API Family Pride http://www.apifamilypride.org

The mission of Asian and Pacific Islander Family Pride is to end the isolation of Asian and Pacific Islander families with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members through support, education, and dialogue.

Soffa Support – http://soffasupport.tumblr.com

An online zine that helps to connect people with support and advice for significant others, family, friends, and allies of the trans* community.

National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth http://ncfy.acf.hhs.gov

The National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth is an information resource of the Family and Youth Services Bureau within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They help to provide various resources of support for many, including LGBTQIA-specific assistance, referrals and education.

Intersex Society of North America

Support Groups and FAQ (For FAQ, Click FAQ Link on this page) http://www.isna.org/support

The Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) was founded in 1993 in an effort to advocate for patients and families who felt they had been harmed by their experiences with the health care system. From these scrappy, brave, and confrontational beginnings, ISNA evolved into an important resource for clinicians, parents, and affected individuals who require basic information about disorders of sex development (DSDs) and for how to improve the health care and overall well-being of people with DSDs.

R Family Vacations – http://www.rfamilyvacations.com

R Family Vacations is an LGBT vacation entertainment company that provides luxury cruise ship trips with a focus on inclusive activities for children and services including same-sex marriage ceremonies.

National Resource Center on LGBT Aging –http://www.lgbtagingcenter.org

Resources include – Caregiving services, Aging in Place Providers, LGBT Organizations, referrals, help for LGBT older adults or caregivers.

JQY / JQYouth – http://www.jqyouth.org

JQY is a nonprofit organization supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Jews and their families in the Orthodox community.


A Word About Finding Local Resources

If you find these suggestions aren’t close to you, don’t be afraid to shout them out on social media, email or call them, and ask for help finding resources that are local for you. Should they be unable to, they’ll be able to provide other alternatives for you. Never give up.

There are many more resources where these came from. Have you got a good recommendation? Please let us know.

When times get tough or you’re looking for support, who do you call your “family?”


We Are Not Islands That Stand Alone


We are born unto this world as unique individuals. As we grow older we are taught the requisite skills that induce us to leave our families and embark into the world on our own, and to live our lives. During our lifetime we make countless choices; both trivial and life changing. Many people go through life thinking they are in control of their destiny and that they are islands in a sea of people that stand alone and separate from the influence of others, and the forces of nature and the universe.

In reality, however, we are not islands that stand alone. We may be unique but certainly not fully independent. We are not self-sufficient. We do not exist in a vacuum. We must rely on employers to pay us so we can buy food, shelter, and care for our families. We also rely on others to provide services to us and to help with our day-to-day tasks.

When we have problems many people think they can work through them on their own. While many do, it is always easier when you have someone else to bounce ideas off and to get advice on what should or should not be done. A psychiatrist or some other professional many times can help us see things more clearly and understand options that we cannot realize because we are so enmeshed in the mechanics of the issue.

In a more spiritual sense, we sometimes need others to help us facilitate changes within ourselves that we cannot do alone. There are folks out there with special gifts and all we have to do is ask for help and the right facilitator will appear to do that which is required at a particular moment in our lives.

In my 20’s there was a time when I was so depressed over my sexuality and fast coming to the realization that I was gay. I knew deep inside that I was not destined to have the life that fairy tales are made of. There would be no wife, no kids, or any of the things that go along with the traditional concept of marriage and family. This wrought so much havoc on my psyche that I did consider the unthinkable; I would take my own life and end it all.

What made me change my mind? What was it that stirred inside that allowed me to think more clearly and to think about what I was about to do? Yes, one would say that we humans have the innate ability to reason and think but what force allows us to reason and think for ourselves? Evolution of the species is an option but it is much more than that. It is grounded in a concept that many people cannot understand or want to understand. It is the spirit within us and the connection to the powers of the universe that guide us toward the path we are supposed to take but only if we make a cognizant choice to awaken and want to make the right choices necessary to move us forward.

Looking back on this instance and others in my life I have awakened to the influences of others and know the unseen power of the universe has brought me to a safe landing in calmer ports. Evolving to where I am at this point in my life, I now realize that my life was being guided and watched over by benevolent forces that I could not see or understand. For that I am eternally grateful and will not disappoint those that have placed their faith and trust in my ability to make the right decisions necessary to move forward to become the complete person I am supposed to be.

Many people never awaken to the power to change their own lives by tapping into a higher stream of consciousness. It is the power that induced me to not take my own life and eventually come out and not live a lie any longer. It is the power that gave me the courage to dispel most aspects of my fabricated life from spirituality to politics to how I perceived others in the context that was molded by someone else’s interpretation of how I should live my life. I awakened to the possibilities and the many opportunities in life only because I realized that I did not exist independently of the force of the universe that binds us together and creates a cohesion among us to do great things.

Free your mind to explore things that you never thought to explore. Delve within yourself with the help of capable facilitators that have gifts to unlock that which you cannot unlock on your own. Decide to travel to other people’s islands and get a feel for what others think and do and align yourselves with like-minded islands to create an unstoppable force of nature that can withstand any calamity or adversity that may arise.

No, we are not islands that stand alone.

Christie Bans Gay Conversion Therapy For Minors

N.J. Governor Bars Licensed Therapists from Using Therapy

Republican Governor Chris Christie on August 19, signed a bill into law that will ban conversion or gay-to-straight therapy for those younger than eighteen.  With this measure, New Jersey becomes the second state (California being the first) to ban therapy that seeks to turn gay teens straight. California, that passed a similar measure in 2012, hasn’t taken effect yet because of a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality.

Signing Note Accompanying the Bill

A potential 2016 Republican contender for presidency of the United States, Christie, a Catholic,  says he believes people are born gay and that homosexuality is not a sin.  He also stated that the health risks of trying to change a child’s sexual orientation outweigh concerns over the government setting limits on parental choice.

Problems with Conversion Therapy

“On the issues of medical treatment for children we must look to experts in the field to determine the relative risks and rewards,” he expounded. Citing a litany of potential ill effects of trying to change sexual orientation, including depression, suicide, substance abuse, social withdrawal, and decreased self-esteem. Christie stated : “ I believe that exposing children to these health risks without clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate.” Christie still has concerns about government limiting parental choice on the care and treatment of their own children.

Last July, the measure was passed by both Democrat-controlled Legislature last June, but it wasn’t definite that Christie would sign the bill into law.  But Christie believed the health concerns trumped issues over the government setting limits on parental choice. This view was  previously expressed by him. With this signing,  Christie, a centrist Republican, is seeking re-election in November and his compromise on this issue is indicative of his efforts to reach a broader base of voters, but not without offending social conservatives, according to political analyists.

Critics of Conversion Therapy

Former New Jersey Democratic Governor Jim McGreevey, who is gay, praised the measure based in “sound psychiatric research.” Openly gay Assembly member Tim Eustace, one of the bill’s sponsors, says conversion therapy amounts to “an insidious form of child abuse.”

The public became more skeptical of the therapy when Exodus International, a Christian group based in California, shuttered its doors last month after being in business for thirty-eight years. Alan Chambers, founder, apologized to gays for the harm he said his group had caused.

Proponents of Reparative Therapy

Chairman and founder of the Liberty Counsel, said the group plans to file suit soon to overturn the New Jersey statute, arguing in part  that “the law is an infringement on parental rights to raise their children the way they see fit or to seek counseling in the wake of traumatic events.  Staver added that the bill provides a “slippery slope of government infringing upon the First Amendment rights of counselors to provide, and patients to receive, counseling consistent with their religious beliefs.” John Tomichi of the League of American Families commented that the laws infringed on a parent’s right to decide the best treatment for his or her child.




So. Ca. Dr. Considers Homosexuality a Disease

Gay Patient Offended At Outdated Diagnosis

A Southern California doctor in Torrance, California last week diagnosed an openly gay new patient after she did routine tests on  Matthew Moore, 46.  The tests revealed nothing out of the ordinary for Moore – high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a deficiency of B-12.

Surprising Diagnosis

Moore was not surprised at these findings – “normal for me.” It was what he saw on his report that flabbergasted him upon returning to the office of the doctor, who goes unnamed, in Manhattan Beach.  The doctor listed “Homosexual Behavior” as a chronic condition on Moore’s patient plan.

Offensive to Moore

According to the medical records obtained by KNBC4 the television station at which Moore was interviewed, the doctor had affixed code 302.0 to his “chronic” condition.  This code refers to homosexuality as a medical condition or illness, a chronic condition that was removed for the Diagnostic Manual for Psychiatrists in 1973.

Said Moore, “Here’s another way that gay people are lessened and made to feel less-than, and then as I thought about it and as I dealt with it, it angered me.”

Repeat Visit

Moore states that he does not plan on filing a lawsuit against the doctor, but decided to speak up for himself and other gay persons.  The doctor defended her position and said that homosexuality should be treated as a chronic illness and “it’s still up for debate on how to treat homosexuality “which she thought of as a disease.

Moore, disagreeing with the doctor, filed a complaint with the doctor’s office.  He demanded a return of his $30 co-pay, and received a letter apologizing: “ We would like to unequivocally state that the Torrance Memorial Physician Network (which runs the doctor’s office) does not view homosexuality as a disease or a chronic condition and we do not endorse or approve of the use of Code 302.0 as a diagnosis for homosexuality.”

“You Have to Speak Up”

Moore shared his story so others will learn from his experience. “Government tells us, often times, that we’re not equal. Many churches tell us that we are sinners. Doctors tell us we are sick.  And it’s gotta’ stop. If I was a fourteen year-old in a small town in Indiana, where I’m from, and I had a doctor tell me or my parents that I was sick because they thought I was gay, it would’ve been very damaging.”

Opposition to Conversion Therapy Bill-Waiting for Governor Christie

Bill A3371, the bill prohibiting licensed psychotherapists in New Jersey from providing “conversion therapy” to minors passed in the New Jersey Senate on June 27, 2013. The bill does not affect religious organizations that may still provide “conversion therapy” to minors. While Governor Christie has publicly stated that he does not support “conversion therapy,” the bill is still awaiting his signature.

The Garden State Equality gay rights organization lobbied for the passage of the bill making New Jersey the second state in the country to pass such a law. The executive director of this organization voiced his opinion that the new bill “will save lives and protect our youth.” One of the sponsors of the bill called “conversion therapy” a form on child abuse.

The American Psychological Association (APA) as well as most other national mental health organizations has denounced “conversion” or “reparative” therapy. The APA in 1997 was one of the first mental health organizations to declare that homosexuality and heterosexuality were normal human expressions of sexuality and speak of the lack of scientific evidence to support any assumption that sexual orientation could be changed.

California the only other state in the United States that has passed a ban on “conversion therapy” for minors but is also waiting for a ruling to determine if the hold on the ban will be lifted. The bill was passed on October 2012 and was to be effective as of January 1, 2013. However, the law has yet to be enacted. The Liberty Counsel filed an emergency appeal in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; on behave of the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuals (NARTH) and other proponents of “conversion” therapy to block the law from going into effect. The Federal Appeals Court heard the appeal argues in April 2013 and have yet to issue a final ruling.

In February 2013, State Representative Marko Liias of the state of Washington proposed a new House bill to investigate the effects of “conversion” therapy rather than ban it in the state. One of the stumbling blocks to the California “conversion” therapy ban is that some lawmakers are not convinced of the harmful effects of the therapy. State Representative Marko Liias has recommended having a work group of up to 15 people to evaluate the research that exists regarding the potentially harmful effects of “conversion” therapy.

Senators Deborah Glick and Michael Gianaris of New York state introduced legislation to ban “conversion” therapy in April 2013.

Gay Teen Suicide Sounds Too Familiar

Even with the gains in lgbt rights and recognized freedoms this year, there are still moments when we realize that there is still more work that needs to be done, for everyone within the community and without.

In an era with such publicized facts about and initiatives against bullying, it claims a lot of lives. Two weeks ago, a New Mexico teenager posted a final letter to his Twitter account before committing suicide after enduring a lifetime of bullying.

Carlos Vigil, 17, was actively involved in anti-bullying measures. Just before his death he was in North Carolina lobbying for an anti-bullying bill in the legislature. He regularly counseled other teens who felt bullied, and was thought of by many of his peers and adults to be quite confident. Overcoming bullying was an important subject to Carlos, who had just recently changed schools to escape harassment from classmates.

“We found out three years ago that he was going through this stuff and we’ve been trying to help him every day since,” his father, Ray Vigil told NBC affiliate KOB-TV. “We realize he’s been going through it every day since he was in third grade—that’s a long time for a child to hold that within himself.”

After finding out about Carlos’ note online, Ray rushed home to try to save his son. Carlos was rushed to the hospital on Saturday, July 13, and was taken off of life support that Tuesday. Dozens of classmates showed up to show support that Monday, and after he had passed Carlos’ family used his Twitter account to show their feelings: “Carlos is finally at peace! Thank you everyone for your support and prayers. Please don’t forget what he wanted STOP THE BULLYING.”

Chez Pazienza wrote a blog post on Huffington Post talking about the tragedy of Carlos and why it is important to remember him. Among many painful things, Pazienza wrote that,

“Carlos was a little boy with a smiley face lunchbox—and that’s why he deserved to be made fun of and abused. Carlos was a chubby, awkward kid with glasses—and that’s why he deserved to be made fun of and abused. Carlos was a teenager with acne—and that’s why he deserved to be made fun of and abused. Carlos was gay—and that’s why he deserved to be made fun of and abused. He wasn’t like everybody else—but in reality he was exactly like everybody else. He had a mother and a father, and friends, and a future, and dreams that could have come true.”

Sadly, Carlos saw himself to blame for his bullying. His heartbreaking note begins with “I’m sorry to those who I offended over the years. I’m blind to see that I, as a human being, suck. I’m an individual who is doing an injustice to the world and it’s time for me to leave.” It’s a terribly sad way for anyone to feel, to have internalized so much of the hate put on them cruelly by others.

An organization he helped found, Warehouse 508, plans to honor Carlos and the positive impact he had in his community while he was alive. Hopefully children and teenagers will get the assistance they need to overcome bullying in this country, because there seem to be far too many suicides, especially within the lgbt community, with ties to severe bullying.


Gay Mountaineer Raises Money For Trevor Project

Climbs “Seven Summits”

Impetus to Change GLBT Suicide Rate

Cason Crane is an incoming Princeton University freshman.  Devastated by the suicide of a friend as well as the tragic death of Tyler Clementi in his home state.prompted Carson to help more LGBTQ youth to get the help they need and to call attention to youth suicide, the third leading cause of death for 15-to-24 year-olds.

Gay himself, Cason remembers times when he was bullied, teased in the locker room, and called names. Luckily, he had the support of family and friends unlike many GLBT kids who consider suicide. In fact, GLBTQ kids have four times the suicide rate of their peers.

The Rainbow Summits Project

A cum laude graduate of a competitive preparatory school, Choate Rosemary Hall, Cason  wanted to bring awareness and funds  The Trevor Project, the leading GLBTQ suicide and crisis prevention service. His work is called The Rainbow Summits Project.

While most organizations raise money through telethons, direct mail, SuperPacs, Cason has a unique approach: he climbs mountains.  Although he says he is afraid of heights, he has been climbing since he was fifteen years old when he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa.  He has worked and partaked of volunteer missions in Africa, Asia, and North America and has travelled to more than sixty-five countries.

A good athlete, he is an avid runner, swimmer, and triathlete.  He completed his first Ironman in New Zealand in January 2012.

Why Climb?

Although physically fit, Crane speaks about the challenges inherent in climbing the tallest mountains in the seven continents.  He likens climbing to the challenges of being GLBTQ: the obstacles, the need for external support, but ultimately, the pay-off – the high of being true to themselves and to those who care about them.

Crane has climbed mountains in the United States, New Zealand, Russia, Switzerland, France, and Argentina.  His ascent of Mt. Everest, the tallest in the world, was on May 21.  His final climb, a second try, was Mt. McKinley in Alaska on July 11, 2013. He carried Tibetan prayer flags to the summit.  Pictures are on his website: http://www. casoncrane.com, On the flags are dedications to people who have committed suicide or been the victims of harassment.

No Small Feat

With his seven climbs, Crane becomes the first openly LGBT person to attain the distinction of successfully climbing to the tops of the highest mountains on each continent.  He is also the fifth youngest person to achieve that record.

Raised Awareness and Money

Cason Crane has raised over $135,000 for The Trevor Project and awareness for GLBTQ suicide. This year, he received an award from GLAAD, a principal organization for LGBT equality that works directly with the news media.  You can also follow Cason on Twitter mailto:@casoncrane.




Gay Men In Recovery From Meth: 5 Tweaker Transition Tips

“In 2006, 43% of all new HIV infections reported at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center were individuals who had used meth. That’s almost half!” – LA Gay & Lesbian Center

Fancy yourself to be a social media addict? You’re getting off lucky, Baby: you’re just the victim of another First World Problem.

Sadly, another much less fabulous First World Problem affecting the gay community is crystal meth addiction and recovery. Meth user statistics are chilling, and gay and lesbian centers across the United States continue to report similarly devastating findings.

You’ve probably already seen the stirring, troubling and impactful Faces of Meth public service ads around (if you haven’t yet, prepare for a mind-blowing wake up call).

Here’s the deal: Before and After ad campaigns are effective, but not effective enough.

Crystal meth’s cheap, and the high is hypnotic. “I’m in control; I just like a little Tina….” Sound familiar? Meth’s still in high demand, still an essential weekend party favor, still the unofficial aphrodisiac with diminishing returns.

Let’s review: when actively taking meth, gay men are at the highest risk for contracting HIV. This fact can’t be emphasized or repeated enough.

tina(a.k.a. Bristol, a.k.a. crystal methamphetamine) hits hard and fast, like a hurricane. In the wake of the damage, it’s hard to find recovery resources when you don’t know where to look.

If you or someone you know is using (read: abusing), times have changed: they don’t have to sit through dull, monotone, droning lectures in order to get treatment. Thanks to pioneers like the Red Hot organization and Tweaker.org, LGBT health activists continue to meet people where they are, while making sobriety downright delicious. That’s right: recovery is hot!

Here Are 5 Helpful Tips for Losing the Tweaker Lifestyle And Loving Life:

1) Get Curious.

When you’re abusing drugs or helping someone get clean, cleaning up the denial is your first job.

Meth users are convinced they’re hotter than Iron Man and stronger than Superman. That’s when condoms and getting sober become like Kryptonite. They might not even think they need help.

Just start asking questions: it sets reasoning and healing in motion. Examples: “Where are your party friends when the party’s over and you feel like sh*t?” Or, “O.D.’ing on meth can happen over time…did you know that? You might be overdosing right now.” Another prompt: “Think about how you really feel after taking meth instead of how you think it’s going to feel.” Try not to make them feel guilty. Just ask earnest questions.

2) Get Online.

Research helps. There are many meetups, videos, celebrations and organizations that can make sobriety fun: Here are just a few: clean and crazy meetups, queer and sober celebrations, and the Tweaker.org blog. LGBT centers (whether or not you live in the area) are always extremely helpful for folks seeking recovery help (Lgbtcenters.org).

3) Get on The Phone.

Health and healing isn’t just an Interwebs thing. Call a friend or ally you know you can trust. Call an LGBT Center (it doesn’t have to be local to you). You can even call the GLBT National Help Center National Helpline at 888-THE-GLNH (888-843-4564).

4) Get Offline!

Stay busy. Do other stuff (note: you don’t have to ìbe in recovery 24/7, literally). Anything that’s not abusing drugs counts. Exercise in community (http://www.frontrunners.org), or just be out and aboutófind sober organizations and friends who will still love you when you’re clean and crazy, or queer and sober. Circulate!

5) Get Real.

Most important of all, be kind with yourself and give yourself a break. Whether you’re helping someone get clean or in recovery yourself, the journey takes courage. Relapses can happen. Now more than ever, gay-friendly support is available. That’s something we should really take advantage of if we can. When you’re healing, embrace all help available, because you don’t have to heal alone. Show yourself a little extra love for taking the best care of yourself that you can.

You’re family. We need you. Stay healthy.