According to ACON’s director of community health David McGuigan, ACON’s newest campaign isn’t particularly new, because it celebrates a health policy gay men and lesbians have been employing for years.

We do look after ourselves, McGuigan told Sydney Star Observer.

We look after each other when we’re having sex with each other and when we go out and have fun together -“ whether or not that involves drugs. And we look after each other in the street as well as getting to and from different venues.

So what we’ve done this year with the Mates campaign is build on that already existing culture of care within the GLBT community -¦

The ACON Mates campaign was launched at the Mardi Gras Fair Day on Sunday, and provides strategies for community members to help each other in four major areas: HIV and STIs, drugs, violence, and lesbian health.

The campaign promotes HIV testing, condom use, raises awareness of PEP treatments and provides support for sero-discordant relationships.

There is also advice for those experiencing problematic drug usage, and street safety strategies to reduce homophobic violence.

It’s about looking after each other -¦ but it doesn’t take away that individual responsibility stuff that people need to consider in all of these situations, McGuigan said.

When they’re having sex with somebody, when they’re out taking drugs (if that’s what they’re doing) or whether or not they’re out on the streets by themselves, there are certain things you can put into place to take care of yourself.

Meantime, a new booklet on same-sex domestic violence has been launched as part of an ongoing ACON campaign to raise awareness of the gay community’s hidden problem.

There’s a huge myth that’s still out there that because people are of the same sex, that it’s not abuse, or that it’s a fair fight between a couple, ACON vice-president Kate Connors told Sydney Star Observer.

Those sorts of myths are out there. A really important part of this campaign is educating people that same-sex couples experience domestic violence exactly the same as heterosexual couples.

The booklet Another Closet is available from venues, community health centres, domestic violence services and gay, lesbian and women’s community health services. It may also be downloaded free at www.acon.org.au

The resource offers information on identifying domestic violence, as well as what to do if you are experiencing it and strategies for recovering.

The booklet details types of domestic violence unique to gay relationships, such as using outing as a method of control.

Another really important part of this booklet is that it’s got stuff for friends and family of someone who’s experiencing domestic violence, Connors said.

Often people know of people who are experiencing domestic violence and they don’t know how to help someone and they don’t know how to tell them about services.

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