Stephen Fry has recorded a video calling for new ways for the gay and bisexual population to educate itself about HIV and sexual health.
The openly gay British comic, TV presenter, author and actor is backing a bid by a sexual health clinic in London to find an innovative new style for sexual health awareness campaigns.
And 56 Dean Street, in Soho, the British capital’s most famous gay district, is trying to do that by asking its own patients and the wider gay community to create the adverts.
Anyone can take part in the Community Campaign to create the advertisements and entries will be put on display in selected gay bars across London, be part of a public vote. The winners will appear in online, in print or on radio.
Speaking in the video, Fry points towards the controversy in the British LGBT community about how HIV and sexual health awareness has been tackled with some praising current campaigns and others suggesting they aren’t hard-hitting enough or effective.
He says: ‘There is a big debate about what kind of campaign it should be. Should it be hard hitting? Should it have the word “cock” in it? Should it be apparently young or gentle and clever and witty?
‘If you want you work, your engagement, your creativity and your passion and commitment for the gay community to be spread far and wide in a beneficial way – in just they way we don’t want HIV to be spread – then get going and see what you can come up with.
‘We are after any kind of message that can save lives.’
The competition will be held twice yearly with two categories every six months.
The first is about ‘testing’ with organizers wanting an online and print advert that encourages every sexually active gay man to get tested for HIV at least once a year.
The second should be a video, aimed to go viral online, with the subject ‘What would you tell the 19-year-old you?’ It will be run on online media and be shown in London gay bars and could talk about love, life, work, sex, relationships and more.
Fry added: ‘With one in seven gay men on the London scene now living with HIV, it’s never been more important to develop new ways to reach and engage people with a safe sex message.’
The campaign is open for entries now, see the Facebook page for more details. When entries close on 29 June, a judging panel of industry experts, including Gay Star News director Scott Nunn will draw up a shortlist before the public votes for the final winners in August.
See Fry's video here: