The NZ AIDS Foundation has announced Bro Online, a new social networking website specifically for gay and bisexual men of Maori descent, will launch on Friday 28 March. Inspired by the popularity of similar websites like Bebo and Facebook, Bro Online will allow users to register, create a profile, and interact with other takataapui tane around the country. The site will also provide access to free condoms, sexual health advice, comic strips, and an online magazine which will publish stories about living with HIV and what it means to be takataapui in 2008. Although it is a Maori-based site, all gay or bisexual men will be welcome to join up if they want to. The website is an initiative of Hau Ora Takataapui, a Maori health promotion team within the New Zealand AIDS Foundation which works to prevent the transmission of HIV among Maori men who have sex with men. One gay or bisexual man is diagnosed with HIV every five days in New Zealand, and Maori make up a proportional share of these worrying diagnoses. "Sites like Bebo and Facebook have created huge online communities where people can meet new friends and hook-ups, but their main audiences are heterosexual and safe sex information is often nowhere to be seen," says Jordon Harris, Kai Mahi for Hau Ora Takatāpui. "We've been working extensively within our communities over the last several months to put together a resource which takatāpui tane can feel they own. We want it to be a hub for meeting new people, sharing news as well as gaining access to safe sex information and condoms where and when it's needed." The site will also build on the success of the popular – and controversial – Hau Ora Takataapui poster released in 2006, Toa Takataapui: Warriors For Safe Sex, which featured gay and bisexual Maori men performing a haka. The stories of these men have been incorporated into Bro Online. "We want to provide an opportunity for other guys to stand up and be warriors for safe sex, to feel pride about being male, being gay and being Maori," Harris says. "Although we may sometimes, as takataapui tane, face prejudice by not having our maleness acknowledged, these guys have shown us that there is a way forward. Working together, we can fight the spread of HIV in our communities." Bro Online will be launched with an event at Family Bar, 270 Karangahape Rd, Auckland at 9pm on Friday 28 March. The website can be found on the link below.
Credit: GayNZ.com News Staff
First published: Wednesday, 19th March 2008 - 10:31am
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