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Gay volunteer community gets gov't support
23 June 2005

The National Ministry of Health was encouraging homosexual volunteers to teach other homosexuals about AIDS, the Guangzhou Daily reported Wednesday.

"The government's support is very important for us," said an unnamed Guangzhou volunteer. The 40-year-old gay man said a lack of a formal organization was the biggest problem for volunteers.

He said they printed the handouts on AIDS prevention at their own expenses. However, whenever they distributed the handouts in the public, they cannot show any official certificate to testify their identities. The homosexuals don't trust them, and they are thought to be sex traders by police when giving out condoms in bars or saunas.

Another obstacle is few volunteers have proper medical knowledge, which makes it difficult for them to educate others.

Most homosexual volunteers concealed their true identities in their underground work for a normal life, the newspaper said.

The provincial disease control center is considering recruiting more volunteers and providing them with official certification. He Qun, vice director with the center's AIDS-prevention department, suggested the gay volunteers register a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO).

There are more than 20 homosexual volunteers from all walks of life in Guangzhou, all of whom are gay men. Most with good education backgrounds and aged 20s to 40s, they are doctors, teachers, entertainers, businessmen, students and government employees.

The community organizes activities such as setting up a free hotline to help other homosexuals 'come out' to their family and friends and distributing AIDS-prevention handouts and condoms in public places.