Over 300 people converged on Boulder, Colorado from July 29-August 1, 1999 for the first Gay Mens Health Summit. Our aim that weekend was to lay the groundwork for an expanded, activist gay mens health movement in the United States. Our experience as participants was exhilirating and inspiring. Not only did we tackle difficult health issues ranging from prostate cancer and chronic depression to HIV and substance abuse, but participants took on a range of organizing projects intended to improve our ability to respond to health challenges facing gay men of all races, classes, and generations.
The weekend was tremendously energizing to all of us as we learned of initial efforts to take the lessons weve learned from two decades of work on HIV/AIDS and apply them to the many health challenges confronting gay men. Since that time, weve been excited to learn about the beginnings of local projects throughout the nation, intended to improve gay mens health and wellness. Weve also been heartened that the spirit of Boulder 1999 has continued to expand and drawn more people concerned about gay mens wellness into our circle.
Plans are underway for Summit 2000 and we urge you to consider participating. While this years summit will continue to include a strong focus on the health challenges facing gay male communitiesincluding, but not limited to, substance abuse, depression and suicide, anti-gay violence, HIV/AIDS, cancer and other chronic diseases, tobacco use, and homophobiatwo additional themes have been added. This years summit will be signed for the hearing impaired.
First, we intend to create a strong track of programming focused on love, celebration, spirituality, wellness, and joy. We do this at the request of last years participants, but also because we believe concentrating on what may be special and valuable about gay male communities is key to combatting the health challenges we face. We aim to expand sessions that involve bodywork, group exercises, movement, dance, and song. We will continue to place an emphasis on improving communication among men of different cultures, generations, races, locations, abilities, and HIV statuses.
Second, we intend to include working sessions in order to move forward a range of projects which fell out of last years summit. Do we want to be part of an effort to reestablish an annual lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender health conference? How can we get federal, state, and local health departments to be more responsive and pro-active with our communities? Can we create a publication focused on gay mens health and wellness? The people who have taken responsibility for various projects will report back at Summit 2000 and we hope to move towards taking action on various critical issues.
There will be no national summit in 2001. Instead, that year will be devoted to local/regional organizing of day-long or weekend-long gay mens health summits. Already two dozen groups are considering hosting summits during 2001; hence special skills-building sessions have been planned for Summit 2000 that will support folks heading up the local/regional summits and share lessons learned from our efforts to organize these national summits.
This year weve added a full day to the summit schedule, in order to counter the jam-packed intensity of last year. While the summit will officially open on Wednesday night, July 19, and end by 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 23rd, we are offering pre-summit institutes which meet during the day on Wednesday. Registration and housing materials are available at www.bcap.org or by calling 303 444 6121 M-F, 9-5 PM.
All are welcome to register for the Gay Mens Health Summit 2000. While the focus is on gay mens health, we encourage the participation of people of all genders and sexual orientations who share a commitment to increasing the wellness of gay men. We have expanded participation levels for the upcoming summit but aim to limit participation to 500 people in order to continue the warm and intimate feeling of last years summit.
You might consider attending the summit if you are:
The program sessions for the summit emerge from our participants. If you are interested in presenting please see the "Program Information" document below. Last year we worked diligently to include a wide range of gay male communities in the summits program. We placed special emphasis on men under 30, men who attend circuit parties, and men of color. We had sessions on the health concerns of the bear community, homeless gay men, and incarcerated men. We encourage people to continue to offer programs focused on these populations, but this year would like to strengthen our emphases on middle-age and old gay men, men with disabilities, and gay youth.
One participant in the 1999 Summit wrote on his evaluation form, "This weekend has rekindled my love for gay men and reignited the original vision of gay liberation I held twenty years ago." If you join us, expect a unique five days of learning, teaching, and growing together.
The Boulder Summit 2000 Collective
David Acosta, Philadelphia, PA; Stephan Oxendine, San Francisco, CA; Mark Beyer, Boulder, CO; Kirk Read, San Francisco, CA; Matt Brown, Boulder, CO; Eric Rofes, Arcata, CA; Wes de Vera Seattle, WA; Carlos Velazquez, Minneapolis, MN