According to current research, “gay aging” is not significantly different from aging in general. Furthermore, contrary to some assumptions, “gay aging” begins at 58 and not at 35. Nevertheless, this target group has different life priorities than younger people. For example, the “scene” plays a rather subordinate role. Older gays are – also contrary to the opinion of younger people – generally satisfied with their aging.
So what will manCheck offer for older gays? First of all, existing offers have been recorded and made accessible. At manCheck you can find out where what is going on for whom. Furthermore, manCheck addresses the changing concept of health in old age. Information on preventive medical check-ups is just as much a part of the service as the topic “changing libido”. In the near future we will offer one or more discussion partners in the scene who can provide information about sexually transmitted infections and the above-mentioned topics and thus provide helpful support.
Overall, this is only possible in cooperation with existing institutions working in the field of “old age”, e.g. BALSAM (Berliner Aktionsgemeinschaft lesbischer und schwuler alter Menschen) and, of course, with the support of the target group, older gays.
manCheck is active in the gay alternative scene. With regular activities in the city’s alternative parties, participation in the Transgenial CSD in Kreuzberg and pub crawls through Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, manCheck reaches gays who cannot be met in the commercial shops and events of the gay scene. For this purpose, forms of action are used whose style appeals to the alternative scene and which are suitable as a means of transport for the suggestions and messages of prevention work.
The party section includes events in the gay scene. Here a special form of on-site work is developed and implemented, which takes into account the fact that the guests want fun and relaxation and are not necessarily open to thoughts of sexually transmitted infections (STI)… Through personal communication campaigns and various media, the protection against sexually transmitted infections (STI) is reminded and a certain fun factor is guaranteed, which is a benefit for every party.
From information stands to distribution campaigns, games, media installations and show acts, there is much in the expandable program.
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It is not only at Easter and the Folsom Street Festival that it becomes visible – Berlin has an extremely diverse range of offers that meet the different needs of the leather, fetish and SM community. For example, a large number of clubs and bars regularly offer designated fetish parties on various topics that satisfy the most diverse possibilities of sexual stimulation and lust.
To live out lust and sex, even in an anonymous setting, is an important part of this scene. This is especially important to preserve and strengthen against the background of the risk of infection with HIV and hepatitis as well as the increase in other sexually transmitted infections. In addition to a good basic knowledge of safer sex, individual risk management strategies in the interest of personal pleasure gain are often found in this community.
Much has – fortunately – changed with regard to HIV / AIDS in recent years. This concerns medical aspects as well as the social handling of HIV and sexuality. Today, it is no longer primarily a matter of conveying basic information about safer sex in the leather and fetish scene. Rather, prevention work here means pursuing a holistic approach and, in addition to passing on information, strengthening people in their individual way of life – especially their sexuality. We focus on “target group-specific” memory prevention and a guide to risk management by passing on differentiated information at the relevant events. To this end, we develop target group-appropriate, up-to-date and Berlin-specific information and educational materials that we pass on to this community. All this makes us a competent partner in this area as well.
In nightlife, the use of various substances for different purposes is a matter of course for some men. Some men also use drugs during sex to intensify their subjective experience. Chemsex is the common term for this. manCheck uses the concept of harm reduction to provide information on substance use, as well as consumption utensils designed to minimize the risk of transmission of hepatitis C during drug use. manCheck works in this area with accepting drug help organizations as well as with party organizers and club operators. For the latter, manCheck offers training units in cooperation with Fixpunkt, so that they can turn their events and clubs into safer clubbing operations. If someone has the impression that he or she is consuming too much or is not in control of his or her consumption, manCheck will arrange the appropriate conversation opportunities. Here, too, the lifestyle-accepting approach always applies. Everyone knows best what is good for them. On the subject of intravenous drug use, so-called “slamming”, manCheck works closely with Fixpunkt e.V. and has jointly developed information on safe use, a card with offers for gay drug users and “slampacks” with consumption utensils. These are sold through Fixpunkt vending machines and some advice centres.
On the Internet, the number of gay portals, homepages and chat rooms is increasing. However, not all information on the net is necessarily correct, sometimes it is erroneous and misleading. manCheck presents the best and most correct of the available information, be it in the form of links to other institutions, forums, by email, by newsletter or via completely different communication channels. Our offer for internet portals: We provide texts on various health topics and possibly an online presence for your chat with information on HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI).
The aim of manCheck is to educate younger gays about HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STI), as well as risk factors and behavior. Younger gays should develop a realistic risk awareness to protect themselves from the risk of infection.
This goal is achieved through actions and events in the gay scene, in places where younger gays are increasingly staying and entertaining. The approach to the target group corresponds to their special interests, i.e. information materials and campaigns are designed to reach the young people successfully and to be perceived by them with interest.
To this end, manCheck also does multiplier work in the youth sector and offers workshops on safer sex in youth projects and groups. Younger gay men volunteer their time in the context of local work and are thus trained in the theory and practice of prevention with the aim of passing on this knowledge to their peers. To better achieve these goals, manCheck is networked with many cooperation partners who work with young people.
Berlin is a cosmopolitan, tolerant metropolis, home to almost half a million foreigners from many different countries and cultures from all over the world. For many gay migrants Berlin is an attractive city, e.g. for those who have been discriminated against and persecuted in their home countries, but also for those men who want to experience and enjoy the large and diverse range of Berlin’s gay scene.
manCheck’s task is to reach MSM on site and to inform them according to their needs and lifestyles. For MSM with a migration background, several factors often have to be taken into account; the cultural context, the language, the culturally shaped handling of one’s own sexuality or homosexuality and, last but not least, structural and socio-economic factors caused by the migration status, which for some men from this target group can be vulnerability factors for their sexual health.
In order to reach MSM with a migration background, manCheck regularly does on-site work at party events, which have gay migrants as their target group, and at places that are increasingly visited by migrants. The on-site activities are designed and implemented to suit the target group, e.g. by using multilingual information material. An important part of the work in this area is networking and cooperation with other organisations and projects, such as the committee “HIV/AIDS Prevention with Migrants” to improve prevention services for migrants in Berlin.
manCheck is also actively involved in the PaKoMi project (Participation and Cooperation in HIV Prevention with Migrants), a joint project of the DAH (German Aids Association) and the WZB (Social Science Research Center Berlin). Together with other prevention projects in Berlin and through the active cooperation of migrants, we are trying to determine the need for prevention of MSM with a migration background in the context of a study, in order to develop and implement suitable concepts based on this.
Fugitives come to us from many different countries with different cultural backgrounds. They have very different possibilities to talk about sex more or less openly. However, safe sex and safe use are often the least of the many problems they face after fleeing or being expelled in Germany. Nevertheless, information about infection risks and protection is just as important for them as information about the use of drugs. They are confronted with both in Berlin or are already living it. Here, manCheck tries to convey the important information as effectively and culturally sensitively as possible with adequate materials, prevention consultations and appropriate on-site work.
By MSM – men who have sex with men, we mean men who often define themselves as heterosexual (sometimes bisexual) rather than gay, but still have occasional or regular sex with men.
MSM is the most difficult group to reach. From a project like manCheck they are not directly accessible at first, because they don’t want to have anything to do with the “scene”.
Concrete places like some parks, lakes, sex cinemas, sex shops, motorway parking lots as well as bars are anonymous meeting places. As a rule, the target group does not want to be torn out of this anonymity. If you get too close to them, they withdraw and look for new places. So a cautious, patient approach is necessary.
The offers or actions are a balancing act between, on the one hand, being noticed – wanting to be noticed – and, on the other hand, not scaring or overtaxing the men. Forms to reach them nevertheless are among others:
In the corresponding contact portals the above mentioned men are more open for our offer. We act strictly reactively, but answer questions asked to us promptly. In addition, we are noticed (click on our profiles), get feedback on guestbook entries, smileys and massages without actively going to these men.
By publishing our dates on site in the form of advertisements in these contact portals, we offer users the opportunity to contact us on site. Often the users, who dare to dive into the “REALLIFE”, experience the “scene” then “new” for themselves. Prejudices that have been nurtured and cultivated for years can thus often be refuted or at least relativised.
“Bisexual”, sexually indifferent men or older men sometimes find their place in the community again.
“Disabled are… have all…”
This would be a nice way of participating in all kinds of impossible prejudices. Disabilities are manifold. The disability can be physical, social, mental, visible or not, many different kinds of people need help, always, sometimes, in certain situations. It is always also the environment that hinders a person with other abilities.
Statements of some disabled people in the scene (taken from the DAH brochure HEIMAT SZENE?) :
People with disabilities, no matter what kind of disability, are in any case given little consideration in their respective situations. And where they receive attention, it usually ends above the belt.
In order to be able to make offers in this area, we work together with groups, associations etc. Information, tips, contacts and everything helpful are always welcome.