“This campaign speaks to us. The imagery is beautiful and it shows black men being loving, caring and compassionate with each other. It reflects the community as it really is.”

GMFA have launched a groundbreaking new campaign aiming to increase HIV testing amongst black gay men.

The campaign – titled Me. Him. Us – was developed by BAME (Black and Minority Ethnics) to increase their representation in public health campaigns.

Ian Howley, Chief Executive of HERO – Health Equality and Rights Organisation, said:  “Over the last few years, HERO has been working close with the BAME LGBT+ community. One of the issues that kept on coming up was the lack of representation, especially in mass media health promotion campaigns.

“At HERO we listened and acted on this feedback. What people see is completely developed by BAME gay and bisexual men for BAME gay and bisexual men. From the concept, to the models, to the design, all parts of this campaign came from a grass roots level.”

Co-editor of BlackoutUK and campaign advisor, Marc Thompson, explained: Most of health professionals don’t like to admit it, but reflecting diverse audiences can be challenging for them. It‘s difficult, especially if you don’t come from those communities or understand how to reach us effectively.

“The lack of visibility of men from black, Asian and other ethnic minority communities in sexual health promotion has been well documented as having an impact on BAME men’s sexual health and risk taking, which ultimately plays a role in the disproportionate rates of HIV infection in this population.

“This is why the Me. Him. Us. campaign is so important. It was created by BAME gay and bisexual men for BAME gay and bisexual menThis campaign speaks to us. The imagery is beautiful and it shows black men being loving, caring and compassionate with each other. It reflects the community as it really is. It’s what we need and it’s the work we deserve in our community. The work should represent us.”

He added: “Although this campaign will increase testing and awareness around testing which is the aim, it will do something much more important. Young men from the diverse range of black, Asian and other minority ethnic communities and young black gay men in particular, will see themselves represented in a mass media sexual health campaign. We hope the campaign will inspire more young black gay men get tested, take care of themselves and their partner and will engage with the work we do in our communities to improve the health of all of us.”

Phil Samba, one of the models in the campaign, explained its importance: “As a black gay man, I personally do not feel accurately represented at all in media or the gay community. There is already a small amount of positive black male role models that steer away from stereotypes and there are even less ones that are gay.

“Black gay men are atrociously misrepresented as either being aggressive and hypersexual. When I was younger I never saw any one who was like me on TV or heard anyone on the radio who was like me either and I think honest visibility and representation is so important for young black boys to feel comfortable in their sexuality however they see fit.”

The campaign will appear in South London areas such as Brixton, Streatham, Kennington and Waterloo. Posters and advertisements will also be seen in LGBTQ venues across the capital, as well as online. 

Visit the Me. Him. Us. website for more information on HIV, testing, and your nearest sexual health clinic.