By Yelin Jung
In light of Pride Month at the University of Maryland, the fourth annual Condom Fashion Show was held in Stamp Student Union Friday evening.
Aside from the refreshments, photo booth, resources and National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day donation raffle, three teams competed to create the best outfit, made entirely of condoms.
“It’s an opportunity for student organizations and departments on campus who are invested in sexual health education and awareness to come together in a really fun way to destigmatize HIV, HIV testing, condoms and sexual health conversations, and provide inclusive space to people to learn and have some fun,” said Jenna Beckwith Messman, the Sexual Health Program Coordinator at the University of Maryland Health Center.
Senior community health major Gerald De Leon, who helped organize the event, said the fashion show’s theme, “Proud and Protected,” celebrated the LGBTQ community on campus, in addition to demonstrating the importance of sexual health awareness. This university has a high rate of contracted chlamydia, and using condoms is one of the most effective ways to prevent STIs, De Leon said.
The event itself initially honored World AIDS Day, but was put on last year promoting National Youth HIV/ AIDS Awareness Day, according to Messman.
“People are touching it, people are feeling it, and people are getting involved with it,” De Leon said.
There are 19 million new infections of STIs every year, said one host at the event, Izzy Bell. 25 percent of these cases are in young adults. According to Bell, it is important to create a place where students can talk about these issues freely.
“We’ve had other things in the community, like colds, or even diabetes, which is also chronic,” Bell said. “But we are not making fun of these individuals, and we are not shunning away from talking about those topics.”
Judges based their chosen winners on three categories: creativity, garment and educational message. Ellicot 3, one of these groups, was elected winner of the event.
Freshman astronomy and physics major Catherine Cassell, who was on the winning team, said that a lot of people do not agree with promoting sex education in an open space, but that she believes raising awareness about these issues are vital when it comes to protecting oneself.
“It was a very creative way to expose the UMD community to sex help, and what’s available here on campus,” senior neurobiology and physiology major Parvathy Retnakumar said.
The event was in partnership with Sex Week at Maryland, Bedsider, MICA and the health center on campus.