By Dawn Wolfe
In April, the Midwest AIDS Prevention Project will begin a program designed to help Latino gay, bi, and transgender men create a sense of community, connect with the larger gay community – and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
The program, Hermanos de luna y sol (Brothers of the Moon and Sun) is a series of six workshops based on a program that has been used in San Francisco since 1994.
The new program will supplement the La Communidad program and offer many of the same kinds of services, according to Mike Odom, MAPP’s project and event manager. Both the existing and the new program focus on helping gay, bi and transgender Latinos establish a sense of community, both as members of the Latino culture and as a part of the overall LGBT community.
The program’s proven effectiveness in San Francisco is the reason that the Michigan AIDS fund gave MAPP a $25,000 grant to start the program, said Odom.
“Many of these types of organizations are looking for science-based programs,” Odom said.
Rather than being a largely social organization, however, Hermanos will be a more a focused discussion group centered on the gay and transgender male Latino experience.
Participants will, “Talk about family, sex, health, [and] various different things that are important to the Latino gay community and make an impact on the individuals,” said Odom. Participants who complete the entire series of six workshops will receive approximately $100 in gift certificates and cash.
The program will also help participants address the reasons for risky behaviors that contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS.
The program will “address the barriers to safer sex, and show that we can be part of the community here in metro Detroit,” said Odom. “Being gay and Latino and maybe not speaking English as a first language – do you feel comfortable in this larger community? We know that Latinos face many barriers in our culture.”
By creating “a distinct sense of cohesion and bonding for this community,” said Odom, the Hermanos workshops will help alleviate the feelings of loneliness and separation that can lead to risky sexual behavior.
The first meeting of Hermanos de Luna y Sol will take place on April 7. Six meetings are planned, concluding May 6. For more information, contact MAPP at 248-545-1435.