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Slap FM article


The following article discussing Slap FM appeared in Midland's Zone magazine in April 1998

How much money do you think you'd need to carry out scene-based AIDS prevention work in Birmingham? Okay, now halve it. quarter it and then divide it by seven. That's about the size of the Slap FM annual budget. Translated roughly, there's just about enough to rent an office, pay someone part-time to deal with
the admin, run a few workshops and dabble with the occasional fun project. The ideas, the effort and the initiative have to come from scene men and women on a voluntary basis.

Scene Led AIDS Prevention for Men () formed in 1996 under the auspices of its funding guardian, Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), offers a different way of promoting AIDS awareness. , of course, was formed during the 1980s, while the government was forcing giant tombstones, scary music and baffling 'don't die of ignorance' slogans down a startled public's throat. Times changed and so did THT. Moving on, they initiated CHAPS (Community & Prevention), aimed at conducting further research and targeted, advertising campaigns. Individually named projects which were already in existence were provided with funding in London, Bristol, Manchester, Leeds and Brighton. Slap FM, although ostensibly part of the CHAPS team, was different; it was new and it was scene-based.

Slap originated when five Birmingham HIV professional gay men applied to the THT for funding. Although three left shortly afterwards to concentrate on work in Coventry and Brighton, the other two set out to recruit non HIV-professionals directly off the scene. It's as a result of this initiative that Slap FM is one of the few projects of its kind which involves lesbian women, which is great for SLAP as it's the girls who seem to have come up with some of the best ideas!

The funding came with certain conditions. One was that SLAP couldn't be attached to any other organisation that received statutory funding; the second was an insistence that it did not duplicate work being done by other organisations in the area. Consequently. SLAP's work is very different from that of other organisations such as BOSS and AIDSLINE.

SLAP started the way it meant to go on. A flurry of activity resulted in the production of the Fuck postcard (pictured), combining the image with the slogan 'making Brum fucking safer'.
The postcards caused controversy at the Department of Health, with enquiries being launched into the funding and legality of the operation. The reaction on the scene was an entirely positive one.
SLAP followed up in '97 by running workshops for gay men. These included sessions on cruising skills and the now very successful SM Sex day workshops. Most recently, Slap has organised workshops for drag queens and strippers, helping them to incorporate safer sex routines into their acts.

So what's next for this highly successful, woefully underfunded Birmingham-based project? SLAP has decided to prioritise research-led initiatives with a proven track record. This decision will inevitably lead to more SM Sex workshops and bondage, strippers and drag queens, as well as more invitations for men to become involved. This initiative will be backed by detailed informaČtion about GU services, HIV and all aspects of Gay Men's Sexual Health.
SLAP also intends to set up a confidential database of men in Birmingham, to ensure that scene-based information has the facility to circulate. Another recent idea was the 'Butch/Bitch' Official Slapper Of Birmingham pillowcases, which came complete with the latest THT Assume Nothing leaflet and a hand-out of safer sex sweeties, condoms and lube. Anyone who came up with a witty, amusing, droll or surreal safe sex slogan was awarded the grand prize of an Official Slapper T-shirt as well.

Coming soon, meanwhile, is the Whole Picture booklet, and handy cards with information about local GUM clinics and Think. Talk. Time To Test? resources. This is in addition to invites to a Bondage for Beginners Course (BBC1) - run over a weekend in mid-April - along with 'I fancy you, but let's have safe sex,' cruise cards and an 'important queer numbers' information card.

Contributed by: Midland Zone, 10

Click here to read the full interview with this contributor