“Living LGBT and Tobacco-free: A Picture of Health”: Minnesota Tobacco-free Lavender Communities Statewide Photo Contest

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Rainbow Health Initiative (RHI) has been dedicated to the health of LGBTQ Minnesotans for almost a decade, recognizing that the social norms around certain behaviors related to health can have an impact on the many unique health disparities affecting our community. One of the behaviors with long-standing negative effects is tobacco use.

In a recent study conducted by RHI in 2008, 834 LGBT Minnesotans were surveyed around health behaviors including tobacco. In this survey, more than half of respondents identified as someone with a history of smoking. This is significantly higher than the general population in Minnesota.

Another issue is the lack of positive and healthy images of LGBT people portrayed in the media. LGBT images are often of individuals who smoke and drink, and engage in other risky behaviors.

In order to combat the lack of positive images, and the high prevalence of tobacco use in our communities, RHI and Minnesota Tobacco-free Lavender Communities (MTLC) partnered with Prepone Consulting, a communications and marketing firm, to develop “Living LGBT and Tobacco-free: A Picture of Health.” This photo contest was a way to showcase LGBT healthy lifestyles, and begin to change the often-negative imagery of our community.

Between January 1 and March 30, more than 75 images were submitted for the contest, with a wide variety depicting how LGBTQ individuals view their own health and wellness. An expert panel of judges selected the top 12 winners based on photo quality, composition, creativity, the artist’s statement about the image, and the artist’s skill in capturing a moment.

Three Community Picks also were selected by community members, who rated the photos on the www.MNTLC.org Web site. Also, one RHI Ad Favorite was chosen, which will be utilized for all RHI and MTLC ads throughout Minnesota Pride season.

All winners will be shown in the gallery at Wilde Roast Café, 518 East Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, for the entire months of June and July.

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