1998, New York City, NY
One thing that I realized early on at the sex parties (Brandon's POZ Party - NYC) was that guys were taking breaks between sexual activities and sitting down and just talking, sharing personal health related issues and concerns with total strangers. Meds, treatments, doctor visits, medical costs and other personal information not shared with health care providers.
What is discussed in private with peers is different than with a professional. It's raw, straight forward and sincere, not sugar coated.
It was interesting to listen in and to be a part of their conversations, conversations that we would not normally have if we were in a clinic, an agency, organization, with experts, professionals or with our health care providers. It was clear to me early on that we were talking about important issues that were affecting us on such a personal level; that we could share it with our peers but not with officials. And therefore, because of these supportive discussions at the sex parties, Brandon's POZ Socials was formed.
The socials occurred at the same location (The Stonewall Bar) at the same time on the same date to help people remain anonymous, and to schedule their personal lives and activities around the socials. Therefore, if they just needed to be out at the bar with their peers who are also HIV+, they could. The opportunity to take one night a month and just escape from the harshness of realities that society was stigmatizing us for.
The vital importance that Brandon's POZ Socials offered was because not everyone in the HIV+ community wanted to have sex or felt comfortable having sex. Therefore, the socials were the next logical evolutionary step forward from the sex parties. And because the socials were so successful, they evolved into other social events throughout the country and ultimately worldwide. POZ Camping, POZ Cruises, online POZ Dating, POZ Facebook Groups and the like.