Nonprofit Fresno runs a support group for men in the LGBTQ+ community

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Each week, Fresno Barrios Unidos offers a support group for men in the LGBTQ+ community.

The nonprofit’s “Brown Boy Love” program focuses on topics including health education and empowerment.

Alex Sanchez is the program coordinator. It helps connect participants to local resources.

“As a trans person of color myself, a Hispanic trans man, I think that’s a huge need and I myself have been able to grow in understanding other people’s experiences as well.” Sanchez said.

The program started last month and has already helped about half a dozen men.

The goal is to reach an underserved population.

“The program is specifically for Hispanic and Black men in the Fresno County area, particularly between the ages of 15 and 24, as this is the most affected demographic group when it comes to HIV and STIs” , said Sanchez.

According to the 2021 Fresno County HIV and AIDS Summary Report, HIV cases have been on the rise for three years.

The number of positive cases in boys and men is four times higher than in girls and women.
Through education and services like “Brown Boy Love,” Sanchez hopes the numbers can be brought down.

“The sexual health education that’s being offered is not for people in the LGBT community, so we want to provide sexual health education that’s inclusive of the whole community,” Sanchez said.

After completing the program, participants receive digital gift cards worth nearly $200, which can be used at various retailers.

They can also apply for paid mentorship opportunities in advocacy and health education at Barrios Unidos.

“Ideally, we’d like to see mentors come out of this and mentees continue to build this program so they can also lead these sessions,” Sanchez says.

Their next support group session begins the first week of July. Details can be found here.

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Virginia S. Braud