Fresno non-profit runs support group for men in LGBTQ+ community

The goal is to reach an underserved demographic.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Every week, Fresno Barrios Unidos offers a support group for men in the LGBTQ+ community.

The non-profit's 'Brown Boy Love' program focuses on topics such as health education and self empowerment.

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

"As a trans person of color myself, a Hispanic trans man, I feel this is a huge need and myself, I have been able to grow as well in understanding other people's experiences." says Sanchez.

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

The goal is to reach an underserved demographic.

"The program is specifically aimed towards Hispanic and black men within the Fresno County area, especially ages 15-24 years old, because this is the highest impacted demographic in regards to HIV and STIs," Sanchez says.

According to the 2021 Fresno County HIV and AIDS summary report, HIV cases have been on the rise for the last 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 reduced.

"The sexual health education that is offered doesn't cater to people in the LGBT community. So we want to offer a sexual health education that encompasses the entire community," Sanchez says.

After finishing the program, participants receive digital gift cards worth nearly $200, which can be used at a variety of retailers.

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

"Ideally we would love to see mentors to come out of this and mentees to continue to build this program so they can also lead these sessions as well," says Sanchez.

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

Copyright © 2022 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.