Hermanos (Brothers) is an HIV-prevention program for Spanish-speaking gay and bisexual men. The group has been around for more than 20 years in different cities throughout the United States. However, in Salt Lake City, the group was started in 2005 and it is not very well known, even among Hispanic men.
Alex Moya, the coordinator of the program, said even though the main purpose of the program is to help gay and bisexual Hispanic men deal with HIV and how to prevent it, there are other important issues that Hermanos approaches. The group tackles issues such as immigration, family rejection, living alone in a different country where a different language is spoken and – the most important aspect – to help encourage healthy attitudes and habits in the Hispanic community.
Every time the group gathers, there are about 20 or more people, but it has not always been that way. Alex recalls that when he started to work with Hermanos, he was the only member. He had a community to reach out to, but it was difficult to know how best to reach out to such a diverse community.
“The first thing I did was to go to the clubs and talk to guys about Hermanos … it was kind of awkward,” Moya said.
Besides giggles, and sometimes little flirts, Alex got what he wanted – members of the Latino community coming to Hermanos.
The first meeting started with two guys, so it had to be canceled. This didn’t stop Alex. The next meeting was a huge success. Ten people attended the meeting and Hermanos was ready to help out the Hispanic community in Salt Lake City, which he said had been forgotten for many years.
Since it was started in 2005, Hermanos meets twice a month on Thursdays at the Utah AIDS Foundation for a little chat, coffee, movies or whatever they have planned. There are also other events, such as inviting a moderator to come to the meetings and talk about a variety of topics such as health, relationships and what seems to capture the attention of the Hispanic community: love.
Reaching out to a community is not an easy task, Alex said. Hermanos has developed a magazine for the Spanish-speaking people in Utah called 360. The monthly magazine has been printed since 2009. It helps to highlight important issues that concern the Hispanic community.
Hermanos is not just a social group – it also volunteers in the community. Moya said the members feel like they are an integral part of the Salt Lake community, and to show this they help children in need, visit senior centers and perform other service-related activities.
Despite all these efforts, Alex feels that something else needs to be done.
“I think that we are not reaching everyone who speaks Spanish,” he said. “My goal is not only to let everyone know that Hermanos is here but also to let everyone know they are welcome to join our activities.”
For more information or to get involved, contact Alex Moya at 801-487-2323 or [email protected]