Project Healthy Living – a group of African-American gay and bisexual men associated with DC CARE and the District's Department of Health HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration (HAHSTA) that focuses on improving sexual health outcomes and encouraging healthier life choices among men who have sex with men (MSM) of color – is hosting a ''ManDate Health and Wellness'' conference during the weekend of Nov. 9 to 11 at the Human Rights Campaign Equality Center.
The conference, co-sponsored by DC CARE, the D.C. Department of Health and Metro TeenAIDS, will address topics such as HIV/AIDS, holistic health, physical fitness, mental health and faith initiatives. It all begins with a Friday reception that includes a screening of a new short film series by filmmaker Maurice Jamal. Jamal's movies, such as Ski Trip and Dirty Laundry, tend to focus on black gay life.
Saturday, participants will attend various workshops and panel discussions, including evening discussions focusing on dating in the social-media age and gay and black political involvement, and some entertainment provided by local comedian Sampson McCormick.
Several prominent speakers and facilitators to be featured at the conference include personal trainers Gerald Davis and Victor Price; Greg Millet, the senior policy adviser in the White House Office of National AIDS Policy; Rashad Burgess of the Division of HIV Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); local physician Theo Hodge; and activist Christopher Barnhill of Metro TeenAIDS.
Brian Watson, one of the conference's organizers and a local health and wellness LGBT activist, says that typically about 20 to 30 people show up for Project Healthy Living's monthly meetings, so he is hoping conference attendance will exceed 100. Watson will also be speaking at the conference, focusing mainly on foster parenting and family issues.
HIV and STD testing will be provided for all participants free of charge throughout the conference. Registration for the conference, including meals, is $25. Scholarships are available for those who need financial assistance. People can register online at themandate-dc.com or on the conference's Facebook page.