Pictured above from L-R: Tonio Ottenwälder and Brett Wargo
Planned Parenthood of Nassau County (PPNC) specializes in offering sexual and reproductive health services, and it’s that “reproductive” part that may give some the mistaken impression that they are only there for people looking to reproduce, or not, as the case may be. It’s this impression that hinders many LGBT peoples’ sense that Planned Parenthood is a place they can depend on for the specialized help they need. Many might understandably prefer to access services at places with the name “gay” right in the title to ensure it’s not just a safe space, but also one that understands LGBT sexuality. PPNC wants us to know that they are there for sexual minorities just as much as anyone else who needs help navigating their sexuality.
In an effort to make this clear, especially among 19 – 29 year olds in Long Island, PPNC has produced a video series that spoofs TLC’s The Long Island Medium. These campaigns are aimed at several different target populations in Long Island, including young gay men. PPNC’s version features Utheresa Caputo (an amalgam of Theresa and Uterus), a “Long Island Reproductive Medium” who runs around Long Island giving people readings about their sexual health. “Ya genitals – they’re speakin’ to me!” Utheresa shouts to a friend of her kids’ as she searches the ether for more information.
Not unlike Planned Parenthood, the uterus isn’t the Reproductive Medium’s sole focus. In their newly released third episode PPNC’s Utheresa gives a reading to a young gay man who’s just entered into a new relationship and is ready to “take it to the next level.”
"Amidst the many misconceptions about Planned Parenthood is that we are a health care provider only to women, when in-fact, they provide high quality, nonjudgmental care to all," says Julianna Classe, PPNC’s Marketing and Communications Coordinator. This, she says, "includes LGBT folks, men, teens, and more. Since December, our health centers provide PrEP (a preventative HIV medication), HIV testing, as well as counseling to all patients." PPNC also has a program called WOMEN: Women’s Outreach Motivation Education Network. WOMEN is comprised of local HIV-positive Adult Peer Educators who facilitate outreach to encourage women in the community to get tested, know their status, and understand transmission. As trans activists Luke Hudson says, "I am a huge fan of Planned Parenthood," which he calls the de facto place for LGBT folks to get tested and other health services, especially if you’re trans and from a small town. “They are super judgment-free about sex, and even more so about trans guys," he explains. "It’s actually a little funny walking into a Planned Parenthood for the first time because the doctors will eventually look for a body part I don’t have.”
PPNC worked with the MyMediaLife program to produce the video series, which collaborates directly with and agency’s target audience to inform digital messaging aimed at their peers.