Funding Queer Sexual Health With "F**k Buddies"
Local clinic ASHwell launches new PrEP-funding campaign
By James Scott,
1:50PM, Mon. Jun. 20, 2022
At the start of 2022, the friends-with-benefits relationship between pharmaceutical daddy Gilead Sciences and LGBTQ+ and sex-positive clinic ASHwell Sexual Health + Wellness dissolved when Gilead canceled its significant funding of free PrEP treatment through the federal 340B drug pricing program.
While the loss of funding represents a scary future, ASHwell proves themselves no pillow princess by refusing to lie back while getting, well, f*cked by pharma financial tomfoolery. Instead, the clinic will be launching “F**k Buddies,” a monthly giving campaign that allows the community to contribute to providing free sexual wellness and support services to over 500 uninsured patients. ASHwell’s three-year goal is to reach $1 million in funding, making it all the easier to get needed PrEP and PEP health care, along with the many other gender affirming and sexual health related services the clinic provides, to the folks most impacted by the cuts to the clinic.
“ASHwell centers and primarily serves queer people of color with 80% of our patients identifying as queer and/or trans BIPOC and most presenting without healthcare insurance. Once again, the most marginalized folx are at risk of being left behind by systems who have historically failed them. This is a community health issue that requires a community-based solution,” says ASHwell interim Executive Director Afi Wiggins in a press release about the campaign. “We are committed to equitable health outcomes for Austin's queer community and all underserved communities in Austin.”
The campaign will offer exclusive merchandise for each level of monthly contribution, with the aesthetic being that of “a Care Bears takeover of PornHub,” says ASHwell Deputy Director of Strategic Partnerships Marcus Cruz Sanchez. “This campaign is fun but also gives everyone a chance to get behind a very impactful mission. Free and equitable health care for all, especially for queer and trans people of color.” Levels of giving range from $10 to $250 a month and each tier has a fun, flirty animal mascot, aka the “F**k Buddies,” like Kinky Kitty, Beefy Bear, and Hung-ry Hippo. Rewards for donating include cute lapel pins, sticker books, invites to F**k Buddies events, gym socks, and even a limited-edition plushie.
Receiving is always nice, especially when you’re getting cute kinky creations, but giving means you’ll be helping ASHwell “penetrate hard-to-reach populations,” as their press release notes. Director of Client Services Ben Walker says that when left to navigate the maze of insurance and assistance programs on their own, most patients can become overwhelmed, often resulting in those folks dropping out of care entirely. “Our staff specializes in caring for LGBTQIA2+ queer POC and this fund allows us to focus on their unique needs while wrapping them in services immediately,” says Walker.
ASHwell’s “F**K Buddies” campaign launches today, Monday, June 20. Sign up to contribute and make a direct impact on the health and lives of queer Austinites at givebutter.com/f__kbuddies.