By Rickey Miller
Cupcakes and Condoms. No, it’s not an X-rated film — it’s an invitation to discuss and get informed on sexual health.
This past Sunday, non-profit organization Butterfly Kisses gathered locals at the Main Library on Goodwood in an open forum discussion about sex along with some sweet treats.
“Butterfly Kisses mission is to provide knowledge about personal hygiene and products to underprivileged teens,” said Mariah Higginbotham, founder of the organization and host of the event said. Higginbotham explained that the idea of Cupcakes and Condoms originally began as a conversation between her mother and herself.
“We thought it would be important to have an event like this because we have family and people that are close to us, living with HIV,” said Mariah’s mother, Simone Higginbotham.
A resident of Baton Rouge for more than 38 years, Simone believes that events like Cupcake and Condoms are especially important in the Baton Rouge community due to the high number of people affected by HIV. According to reports from the Department of Health and Hospital, Baton Rouge ranks among the top three cities in the United States with the highest rates of HIV. Simone hopes sex discussions like this will end the stigma of HIV and educate people about having safe sex.
“A lot of people don’t think it can happen to them,” Simone said, explaining that many people are afraid to get tested due to the stigma attached to the disease. “One of the biggest myths about HIV is that it only affects the gay community — it’s not just the gay community. Most recent cases of HIV have affected black women ages 15 to 24.”
Among guests that attended, 59-year-old Meta Smith Davis spoke to the crowd about her journey with HIV. On April 15, 2001, Davis learned of her HIV status.
“When the doctor told me that I had HIV, it was like the room started spinning,” Davis said.
Davis explained many people in Baton Rouge are afraid to be associated with the stigma of HIV mostly because of strong religious beliefs. She suggests the best course to breaking the stigma and stopping the disease is to open up conversations about sex.
“Even though we live in the Bible Belt, people still like to have sex,” she said. “We have to talk about sex to young people. We have to educate them if we want them to make the right choices. You don’t have to get HIV!”
Along with the empowering message by Davis, Higginbotham opened up the floor to the crowd for an open forum talk about sex. The crowd was able to address important sex questions with local experts in a non-judgmental atmosphere.
And what’s almost better than sex talk? Cupcakes, of course! After the discussion, a cupcake contest was held in where local professional and non-professional bakers competed for the crown of Cupcake Queen. Mariah came up with the cupcake battle as “fun, less serious” part of the panel discussion.
The Higginbothams said they are planning more events like Cupcakes and Condoms to raise awareness about underprivileged young people and healthy living. Learn more about the Butterfly Kisses Organization and upcoming events on their Facebook page.