Distance Yourself from Hate

Photo by Jayme Thornton

In partnership with The Collective Shift, New York City’s GMHC has launched the anti-discrimination anti-hatred organization Distance Yourself from Hate.

Originally conceived in response to discrimination and animus directed at Asians, fueled by certain political leaders’ insistence on calling the COVID-19 virus “the China Virus” and using other inflammatory language, the message of Distance Yourself from Hate has expanded with protests across the country calling for justice in the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and all other Black people who have been killed or brutalized by law enforcement.

“We are living in unprecedented times when some of our political leaders are fanning the flames of hate,” DYH’s website reads. “These same leaders have sought to divide us from one another when we need to be coming together.”

GMHC is partnering with Harlem United, an HIV/AIDS services organization, and Lantern Community Services, an organization that combats homelessness, to distribute masks and provide food assistance to unhoused women and men. These organizations primarily serve people of color who have been and continue to be disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and social injustice.

A&U asked GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie how the community has responded to the project. “The Distance Yourself from Hate message is resonating with people during this time of deep division in our country. So far, we have sold 675 face masks and received an additional $2,000 in donations to support this campaign.”

Photo by Jayme Thornton

Louie continued, “The next phase of this campaign will start in the coming weeks when we will coordinate with our community partners the distribution of masks and provide food assistance to vulnerable communities throughout New York City. Food insecurity, in particular, is one of the biggest challenges right now facing the communities whom we serve. During COVID-19, we have delivered more than 35,000 meals to our clients and we expect the need only to increase as the economic fallout of the pandemic worsens.”

You can help GMHC and the others serve this community and “spread a message of unity, love, and solidarity” by purchasing a specially designed mask, designed in cooperation with Jason Wu, featuring the Distance Yourself from Hate logo created by Fabien Baron. All proceeds benefit GMHC and its life-saving services for the most vulnerable communities in New York City.

Established in 1982 as an emergency response to a then-unknown disease ravaging the gay community, GMMC has been fighting one emerging pandemic for thirty-eight years. And now they bring their expertise to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information and to order your colorful DYFH logo’d face mask, log on to www.distanceyourselffromhate.org/about.

—Reporting by Hank Trout

Hank Trout, Senior Editor, edited Drummer, Malebox, and Folsom magazines in the early 1980s. A long-term survivor of HIV/AIDS (diagnosed in 1989), he is a forty-year resident of San Francisco, where he lives with his husband Rick. Follow him on Twitter @HankTroutWriter.