Condom usage, safe-sex practices and HIV-prevention methods were the topics of conversation at Galaei’s condom-packing party June 9 — the first event featured in the organization’s month-long Pride celebration.
The Latinx social-justice group invited the public the party to encourage ages 13-24 to talk about sex education and condom usage. Almost two-dozen participants packed more than 400 small bags with informational pamphlets about the organization, along with a variety of condoms and lubricants.
The party partnered with Galaei’s youth group, SOY (Support Our Youth), to discuss sex education and HIV prevention in an approachable way, said Geraldo Oyola, the HIV testing coordinator at Galaei.
Staff members explained appropriate condom usage, shared HIV statistics and explained prevention methods for HIV and STIs. The party also featured movie screenings and snacks while the condoms were being packed, aimed at making participants more comfortable talking about sex, he said.
“When you have something fun, especially about something like condoms and sex education, it opens up conversations to the community about what we do and who we are,” he said. “Some people are hesitant to get tested, but we’ll have these packed condoms on display and people feel more comfortable taking them. That’s the first step to bringing them back to Galaei for more of our services.”
Jimmy Ortiz, a volunteer said the organization has helped him learn about safe sex, something he said he never openly talked about.
“Galaei has taught me and my friends all about safe sex,” he said. “They even encouraged me to tell my family and friends about getting tested. Before volunteering here, safe sex wasn’t something I ever talked about. Coming here makes it easier, especially at condom-packing parties.”
Jorian Rivera, an HIV tester at Galaei, said such events give the community a chance to know one another while introducing the organization to new faces. Galaei moved to its current office in North Philadelphia almost three years ago and is still creating a presence there.
“We haven’t been in this community for very long, so having these events gives the neighborhood an opportunity to see what we’re about. Galaei is very sex-positive and body-positive, so we incorporate that message in everything that we do. While most people will initially come for condoms, they come back because they enjoy what we bring to the community,” Rivera said.