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My muscles, my disease: Portrait of a gay drug addict

There is a folder, tucked within a folder, buried deep in my computer files. I shouldn’t be looking at its contents, yet I can’t bring myself to delete it altogether. It is labeled MARCUS, and inside the folder is my disease.

Pool ColoredDuring my years of crystal meth addiction I went by the name of Marcus, at least to dealers and tricks and fellow addicts. It helped me determine who was calling my cell phone – those calling for Mark or Marcus usually had very different agendas – and Marcus even became an alternate persona as my drug addiction progressed.

When partying as Marcus, I felt confident and aloof. I took awful chances. I never met a strobe light I didn’t like or a box on a dance floor I wouldn’t jump on. A steroid-crazed gym regimen and the dehydration of drug abuse transformed my body into the low fat, pumped up gay ideal.

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AID Atlanta hosts first OUT2Eat of 2011

Looking for conversation and education over some tasty chicken wings? Steven Igarashi, AID Atlanta’s gay outreach coordinator, hosts the first OUT 2 EAT dinner meeting of 2011 Tuesday night at the Lindburgh Taco Mac from 7-9 p.m.

OUT 2 EAT, a monthly dinner gathering, invites allies and supporters to learn about the HIV / AIDS organization and how they can become involved in local outreach.

The social gathering is geared toward gay and bisexual Caucasian men but is open to everyone. All attendees will be responsible for their own bills.

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Gay Georgia organizations

Use the links below to find information on many of Georgia's LGBT organizations. To add your listing, please e-mail editor@thegavoice.com with your organization's details (including name, website, phone number,...
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Health & Fitness: Reader success stories

New Year’s resolutions often focus on health, especially weight loss, but keeping them beyond the beginning of the year can be hard. In our Health & Fitness section, you’ll find stories from real people who are working to maintain a fit weight, plus learn about ways to improve your health — both physical and mental — that go far beyond a number on a scale.

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Health & Fitness: Health Initiative focuses on women’s needs

Founded in 1996, the Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative is the only non-profit organization in the Southeast that is exclusively committed to lesbians, their partners and families. Originally called the Atlanta Lesbian Cancer Initiative, the agency has expanded its focus. It now features support groups for issues like cancer, domestic violence and acting as a caregiver for a sick or elderly loved one; Weight Watchers; an online health assessment; a directory of LGBT supportive physicians; the Lesbian Health Fund; and more.

“The Health Initiative has broadened our focus through the years in response to our community’s shifting needs,” says ALHI Executive Director Linda Ellis. “One important addition has been our Health Fund, through which we can now help cover basic screenings and healthcare for uninsured members of Atlanta’s LGBT community.”

The Weight Watchers support group meets every Saturday.

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Health & Fitness: A former jockette tries yoga

Dyana Bagby tries her hand at Studio One's yoga class

I woke up before noon on a Saturday, rolled off my couch and changed into a sweatshirt and some old, baggy workout pants I found from years ago buried deep in my closet.

And then I drove through a few icy streets to Urban Body Studios on Ponce de Leon Place for a beginners’ yoga class. Urban Body, owned by Rad Slough, who is gay, is one of the top studios in the city. This was my first ever yoga class and the first time I’ve done anything physical like this in perhaps five years.

I’ve wanted to try yoga for several years now, especially after noting the dynamic work it seems to have done for Madonna’s body. And everyone who takes yoga says it has changed their life.

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Health & Fitness: Homophobia hurts your health

Homophobic attitudes don’t just hurt feelings. They also have a direct impact on LGBT health.

“The stigma and discrimination that the LGBT community faces is a primary factor in the health disparities that affect our community,” says Hector Vargas, executive director of the national Gay & Lesbian Medical Association.”

Access to quality healthcare is a key issue.

“One of our surveys shows that LGB people delay seeking medical care at almost twice the rate of the heterosexual population,” Vargas says.

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Health & Fitness: Advice for fitness newbies

Donald Creagh, general manager at LA Fitness in Ansley Mall, says making sure a person follows through with a fitness plan starts in the head.

• Make a decision that this is going to be a lifestyle change, not a temporary diet. “Don’t put a deadline on yourself. That takes pressure off,” Creagh says.

• Think about what you are going to eat tomorrow today, he says. That way you can purchase the proper food to prepare instead of rushing to a fast food joint.

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Health & Fitness: Mental health matters, too

New Year’s resolutions typically focus on physical health. But paying attention to mental health is also important, experts say.

Luckily, some of the same steps you can take to improve your physical health also have mental health benefits.

“Air is good for the brain like the rest of the body and regular exercise is the best support for good mental health,” says Franklin Abbott, an Atlanta psychotherapist in private practice.

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Health & Fitness: Top 10 health concerns you should discuss with your doctor

GAY MEN

HIV/AIDS, Safe Sex That men who have sex with men are at an increased risk of HIV infection is well known, but the effectiveness of safe sex in reducing the rate of HIV infection is one of the gay community’s great success stories. However, the last few years have seen the return of many unsafe sex practices. While effective HIV treatments may be on the horizon, there is no substitute for preventing infection. Safe sex is proven to reduce the risk of receiving or transmitting HIV. All health care professionals should be aware of how to counsel and support maintenance of safe sex practices.

Substance Use Gay men use substances at a higher rate than the general population, and not just in larger communities such as New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. These include a number of substances ranging from amyl nitrate (“poppers”), to marijuana, Ecstasy, and amphetamines. The long-term effects of many of these substances are unknown; however current wisdom suggests potentially serious consequences as we age.

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Health & Fitness: Food for body and soul

Spice Market's vegetarian bento box

If you made a resolution to eat healthier food and have a positive outlook on life, then World Peace Café is the perfect place to start your year. Luckily we made it there before the snow-pocalypse. It’s a vegan/vegetarian café built on donations and run by volunteers. The café is owned and operated by Kadampa Buddhist Center, so the restaurant will reward you with peaceful karma and healthy cuisine.

The café has a modern Buddhist temple feel with high ceilings and hanging Asian lanterns. They’re open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday-Thursday from 7 a.m. - 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

I’ve only tried lunch and dinner but their breakfast menu looks unique with “Corned Peace Hash and Eggs” and Vegan Cranberry-Orange Pancakes. For lunch I had a hot and spicy vegan burger made with roasted veggies, topped with a zippy buffalo sauce and melted bleu cheese. The flavor of this healthy burger was explosive.