Queer Avatars: Accessorize Your Gay Identity and Raise Awareness About Getting an HIV Test

The SF AIDS Foundation has launched a new viral campaign to get gay men into the habit of getting tested for HIV every six months. Many Shades of Gay is an interactive and educational website aiming to make frequent HIV testing the social norm regardless of color, age or flamboyant accessories.

On Many Shades of Gay, users can create an avatar to best represent their identity. Afterwards users are encouraged to keep their real personas as "healthy and fabulous" as the avatar by getting tested on the regular and offering a list of local resources. By highlighting the wide diversity of characters in the LGBT scene in San Francisco, “the most robust avatar generator ever built” makes our fight against AIDS the bond that ultimately links us all together.

A majority of newly diagnosed HIV cases in San Francisco are gay men under 30 who believed to be in an exclusive, committed, monogamous relationship. These guys were blindsided into contracting HIV from their primary partners, who had secret secondary partners of their own. Trust is a vital part of a relationship, so be proactive in communicating to your partner that, in some cases, we are trusting each other with our lives.

It can be scary sitting in a room waiting for your HIV test results, regardless of how safe we've been, but nothing is more frightening than ignorance -- having to answer the HIV status question with a "not sure." At the end of the day, HIV has become a manageable ailment. I can't tell you how many poz guys I've scoped out that have healthy, bangin' bodies. So find out your status, demand that your primary partner gets tested right away and make yourself into a funky caricature while you're at it.

From L to R: Lower Haight St8 Gay, Noe Valley Ginger DILF Gay, Castro Debutante Gay (that thing near his mouth is supposed to be an iPhone running a rainbow-colored app), SoMa Latex Koala Bear Gay (with an exposed Prince Albert).

BOY TOYS TALK BACK: When was the last time you were tested?