Where do you get the 411?



Where do you get the 411?


In our celebrity-obsessed culture, famous people are in a particularly influential position to weigh-in on socially and politically charged issues.  It seems more and more commonplace for highly visible people like professional athletes, writers, actors, and musicians to serve as spokespeople for certain causes, informing the public about sex, health, drug use and other important topics.  Liz Taylor is synonymous with championing the fight against HIV/AIDS, controversial columnist Dan Savage with launching the ‘It Gets Better’ campaign, Laverne Cox has gained international attention as a spokeswoman for trans- issues, and on his journey as an NFL draft football player Michael Sam assumed a position to advocate for decreasing homophobia in professional sports.  With the ever increasing influence of the internet, a new cast of characters has joined the influential elite; examples could include Youtube personalities like Davey Wavey or Chris Crocker to name a few.


Some celebrities strive to become immersed and knowledgeable about the issue they champion, and couch their discussions in research relevant to that issue.  However, there are also celebrities who speak out on sensitive issues based on their own (sometimes faulty) knowledge, opinions, or even based solely on something they read in a magazine while waiting at the dentist’s office. Many people rebuke the idea of celebrities speaking out on socially charged topics, claiming that they are likely uniformed and could cause harm by spreading misinformation and/or negative sentiments.  For instance, many in the HIV/AIDS community have taken issue with actor Zachary Quinto’s statements on the HIV drug PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis; you can read more about this controversy and Quinto’s response in the two links below).


Do celebrities take responsibility or take advantage of the position they have to influence others?  People may take their advice/information to heart and apply it to their own lives and decisions.  However, how much responsibility should a public figure be required to take for their statements?  How much responsibility do we have as individuals to seek out information from other, perhaps more reliable, sources?


Join this week’s facilitator Taylor Monson and guest facilitator Robert Soriano for what promises to be a great discussion!

Gay District meets at The DC Center, located inside the Reeves DC government building. Attendees will need to enter the Reeves building via the “Exit” doors on 14th Street, facing McDonald’s. We encourage attendees to bring their photo ID to gain access inside the building. If you do not have or are unable to present a photo ID, please contact me ahead of time by email or The DC Center’s Executive Director David Mariner. Afterwards, we’ll head out to one of the fine establishments on the U Street Corridor to eat.

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