By Lourdes Zavaleta
Deondre Moore will never forget April 21, 2014, the day he tested positive for HIV at Sam Houston State University’s student clinic.
“I was terrified and thought that I was going to die,” Moore recalls. “I knew nothing about HIV. After I tested positive, I decided that there was something more that I could and should do to raise awareness about it.”
Shortly after receiving his diagnosis, Moore began sharing his experience living with HIV as part of educational campaigns across the U.S. Most recently, his advocacy includes being appointed the founding president of Impulse Group Houston, the newest chapter of Impulse United, an international organization dedicated to promoting healthier sexual lifestyles among LGBTQ men.
On August 4, Impulse Group Houston will make its formal debut with Hou-Chella. The Coachella-themed pool party, which begins at 2 p.m. at Clé Houston, will feature live stage performances by celebrity and local entertainers.
“Impulse Group Houston will offer our local LGBTQ community something different and exclusive,” says Moore, a 23-year-old Beaumont native. “We don’t plan on reinventing the wheel about what is already going on in the city, but everything that we do will be bigger and better than it already is.”
After Jose Ramos’ best friend was diagnosed with AIDS in 2009, he sought to create social spaces where gay men could talk openly about their experiences. That year, Ramos founded Impulse Group’s first chapter in Los Angeles. The organization has since grown to 21 chapters around the world, and allows cities from Beijing to Guadalajara to Dallas to host fully funded events for LGBTQ people.
A need for a group like Impulse in Houston was noticed by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), Impulse United’s funding source, when it sponsored A Seat at the Table, an event that Moore hosted in 2017. After seeing the potential for raising awareness about HIV/AIDS in Houston, AHF reached out to Impulse United and began putting together a team to lead a chapter in the city.
Moore, a senior at Sam Houston State University who works as an HIV counselor at AHF Houston and is an ambassador for Greater than AIDS and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, was selected to be Impulse Group Houston’s president. Moore’s team includes vice president Ian Haddock, director of operations Justyn Smith, director of events Joshua Johnson, director of marketing Neisha Jackson, and director of advocacy Rhys Carraway.
Impulse Group Houston’s leadership meets bi-weekly to discuss event planning, new-member recruitment, and sponsorships. As of mid-July, the group’s main focus has been planning its launch weekend, Moore says.
A red carpet premiere of Barbershop Conversations will kick off Impulse Group Houston’s launch on August 3 at the University of Houston. The film features a barbershop conversation between black LGBTQ and straight men about topics that typically are not discussed in public due to hypermasculinity.
Hou-Chella will also kick off Impulse United’s first homeless initiative, called Pass the Bag. Guests at the event will receive brown paper bags to fill with non-perishable items that can be donated to homeless people.
In the spirit of Coachella, RuPaul’s Drag Race star Trinity K Bonet will perform a reenactment of Beyoncé’s performance at the 2018 music festival. Chad Black, a recently out, local LGBTQ singer/songwriter, will film a music video at Hou-Chella.
Those who undergo STD tests at Hou-Chella will receive free admission. Entry tickets, drink tickets, and ticket upgrades will also be available for purchase.
After the launch, Impulse Group Houston will begin planning its next major event in October for Halloween. Moore says the group is currently looking for volunteers, with a strong emphasis on Latinx people and transgender folks.
“We’re looking for every type of volunteer,” Moore says. “Impulse Group Houston wants to ensure that we reach people of every race, ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual orientation, because awareness about sexual health should include everyone.”
What: Hou-Chella, Impulse Group Houston’s Launch
When: Saturday, August 4
Where: Clé Houston, 2301 South Main St.
This article appears in the August 2018 issue of OutSmart magazine.