This piece is a part of an ongoing series on sex and relationships, in accordance with the Valentine’s holiday in February! Some stories will appear in the print edition of the Gateway, while others will enjoy their space online throughout the month.
The first time I heard about Get Checked Omaha, I saw one of my friends post a photo on Instagram when she stopped by the brand’s photo booth at the MAHA music festival a few years ago. Simply, the only reason I knew this project existed was because of an organic social media interaction.
Fast forward a few years, and although not as perfectly organic, and re-introduced by one of my dear friends who worked as an intern with the project, I have spent the last twelve weeks working as a social media influencer for Get Checked Omaha.
It’s fun to tell adults that one of my freelance jobs was to talk about sex a few times a week on the Internet. I didn’t plan to end up there, but I value tackling important issues, and sexual literacy and healthcare is vastly under-discussed.
I tweeted at least three times a week about sexual health and the local resources that exist for young people like me. I had a condom giveaway on my timeline. I talked about my birth control in front of thousands of people.
Not only is this a brilliant key marketing tactic for the brand, but it was an experience full of real and trustworthy conversations about sex for me and my followers. I have never been a quiet person. I talk about my mental health every chance I get, and if something is wrongfully stigmatized (like comprehensive sex education), I will likely jump on that conversation, as well.
In order for me to effectively share the brand, the lovely folks at the Women’s Fund of Omaha (who oversee the adolescent health project) gave me (and my fellow social media influencers) a crash course in comprehensive sex education. It was unlike anything I experienced at Millard Public Schools during my formative years. We talked about sex in a trauma-informed, inclusive way. LGBTQ topics were discussed comfortably, birth control options were presented without judgment or pressure, and resources were brought to my attention. For the first time in my education, abstinence wasn’t the only option.
Then, I shared the wealth. Every week, I brainstormed tweets that would connect to my audience in a fun and informative way. I used screen grabs from shows like “Parks and Recreation” and “Sex Education” to get my point across, and around the holidays, I demonstrated how condoms make wonderful stocking stuffers.
While, yes, I was being paid to represent a brand, the whole point in connecting to Omaha area youth in a funny and relatable way was to lessen the taboo behind talking about sex. Having well-informed conversations about a completely normal human interaction makes it easier for young people to engage in safer sex, leading to less unintended pregnancies, less STDs and STIs, and greater communication about consent among sexual partners.
Get Checked Omaha provides free and confidential STD testing and birth control options around the city and reminds folks that their decisions are their own; not a church’s, school’s—or another person’s.
After working in this position and learning everything I did about sexual and reproductive health, I feel more empowered as a woman. I know where to go if I need help, I know how to prevent crises, I know how to have important—yet unpressured—conversations about my bodily autonomy with anyone from loved ones, to doctors, to my significant other. Even more, I know where to direct others if they are in need of these resources.
To learn more about the resources Get Checked Omaha provides, visit getcheckedomaha.com.