Team Friendly has a goal – to eliminate the stigma of HIV in the world. Education is the key to making a difference. After the 80’s AIDS pandemic, the 90’s saw a decrease in conversation about HIV, leading to a quiet resurgence with no media coverage. Soon, with new cases soaring in the southern states, critical numbers necessitated talking about it, particularly with younger generations.
Mr. Friendly (now Team Friendly) grew out of a speech given by Dave Watt during his run for Mr. Michigan Leather in 2008. He saw the need to encourage people to treat everyone with respect both online and in person. As a safe sex advocate for many years, he noticed he had the greatest impact sitting and talking to people about HIV. In 2015, a casual meeting in a hotel lobby with Dave Watt, Mr. Friendly Board Member Mark Eddy, and Mr. Friendly Dallas Visionary Gauge Xavier gave birth to a vision that would officially become a Texas Nonprofit Corporation named Team Friendly DFW in October of that year.
The local chapter, itself a 501(c)3, Team Friendly DFW champions the mission of reducing the stigma of HIV in the greater DFW area through one-on-one conversations and interactive activities designed to recalibrate the community on HIV-Friendly conversations. They firmly believe that conversations lead to educational opportunities, which directly result in more HIV testing and increased quality of life for people living with HIV. All of these things collectively reduce stigma and contribute to the decrease of HIV in our community.
Though paused right now due to COVID-19, the group typically hosts several events a year, such as the Team Friendly Winter Dance, Weiner Fest during GPOL Weekend, Pride Dance during Dallas Pride, Friendly Splash in August, and Warm Hearts Warm People during the Winter holidays. In addition, they set up tables at many events where they sell pins and have those conversations.
For now, anyone interested in getting to know Team Friendly and becoming a Team Friendly advocate can enroll in the F.L.O.A.T. (Friendly Learning: Online Advocate Training), an online training program designed to help navigate the sea of stigma filled conversations by teaching the learner simple changes in their conversations to eliminate the perpetuation of new stigma.Mr. Friendly was carefully designed with equal weight for both a positive and a negative symbol. It was important that the symbol is for EVERYone without indicating the person’s status. Poz or neg, we are all in this together! As such, a new redesign is in the works to make him more gender-inclusive, as well. Make sure to check out Team Friendly DFW (http://www.teamfriendlydfw.org/) and https://www.mrfriendly.org/ and look for Team Friendly DFW reps at your next event if you’d like to buy a pin for your vest!