• Sexual Wellness Services

Call: (760) 323-2118
8am to 5pm Mon - Fri

A New Outlook

Will Dean

A New Outlook

For Desert Healthcare District and Foundation Director of Communications and Marketing Will Dean, it’s all about showing up.

Words by Daniel Hirsch • Photos by Lani Garfield 

As seen in Issue 4 of DAP Health Magazine

Will Dean knows how to deliver a message to people. “It’s about meeting people where they are, whether that’s in their actual workplace, like the farm fields, or in their churches,” he says. 

Meeting People Where They Are

As director of communications and marketing for the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation, Dean’s job is to raise awareness about the efforts of the District’s partners to equitably advance health and wellness throughout the Coachella Valley.

For him, meeting people where they are takes many forms. It’s in standard communications work: relaunching a website, drafting press releases, updating social media. Or it could mean promoting farmside mobile clinics to ensure agricultural workers have access to vaccines, as Dean did for the District throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Communication as Key to Healthcare Access

As Dean explains, health care access relies on communication — about what people needing care understand about their resources, and about what providers are able to hear from prospective patients. “Not everyone has the same opportunity to access care. There are barriers that people face, such as language barriers or lack of transportation,” he says. “Listening to people and their stories is so important to understanding why they may not seek care.”

Advocating for Equal Access

Dean’s ability to communicate on behalf of health care campaigns has benefited DAP Health. Since 1999, the nonprofit has received $3.5 million from the District’s grant program. This funding has supported everything from efforts to computerize patient records to running an HIV-testing van parked outside of gay bars.

According to former District CEO Dr. Conrado Bárzaga, Dean effectively advocates for equal access to health care because he’s committed to hearing directly from the people that benefit from it.

“He goes to the homeless encampment where we’re serving those community members… It really enhances the work, to tell the stories from a very truthful perspective,” says Bárzaga. “He’s someone who is always looking to do what’s right, to communicate in a very sensitive manner the importance of bringing equity to the distribution of health care.”

From Journalism to Healthcare Advocacy

Dean’s sensitivity for reaching people comes from a decades-long career as a journalist. It may also come from the acute understanding of the experience of not always being the recipient of the stories and media that one might want or need.

Growing up in the 1970s in Hardinsburg, Kentucky — a rural county seat with a population of roughly 2,000 people — Dean was a voracious magazine reader. He’d read anything he could grab, from Reader’s Digest to TV Guide. But as a young Black person who knew he was gay from an early age, Dean would rarely see himself reflected in the media he consumed. Copies of Jet and Ebony provided what Dean describes as “a variety of examples of Black excellence and possibility,” but finding Black LGBTQ+ stories proved harder.

The eye for good writing and deep appreciation for meaningful representation stayed with Dean throughout his journalism career, starting in his 20s at the Park City Daily News in Bowling Green, Kentucky and working for papers like the Savannah Morning News. 

After a mid-career Knight Fellowship at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Dean landed in Palm Springs for a community editor role at Gannett daily The Desert Sun. There, he fulfilled a dream he’d had ever since he was that magazine-devouring boy: running a magazine all his own. From 2012 to 2018, he edited Desert Outlook, a monthly LGBTQ+ publication published by his employer.

“It came about because our then executive editor, Greg Burton, called all the editors into a meeting and asked us if we thought an LGBTQ+ publication would work here,” says Dean. “And, if I recall correctly, everyone said no — except me.”

Starting in 2012, Dean ran Desert Outlook with a passionate meticulousness, leading a small team of writers and designers. The monthly printed stories on same-sex marriage and the migration of HIV patients to the desert. Dean fondly remembers interviewing actor Cheyenne Jackson, who gave Dean an equally memorable muscle-bound hug. It was a public-facing role that had Dean attending events multiple times a week— restaurant openings, political gatherings, theatre premieres, and more. 

“He had high standards, and he was very conscientious about basically everything he did,” says Michael Jortner, an Outlook contributor and longtime friend of Dean. “He would be on every photo shoot to make sure it was as close to what he was looking for. And it was the same with the writers.” 

Transition to Healthcare Leadership

After Outlook published its last issue in May 2018, Dean didn’t stop to rest. He started work at the District that June. He filled a position that has made great use of his journalism skills and editorial eye, overseeing the publication of the District’s first history book — telling the story of how the foundation formed in 1948 to build Palm Springs’ first hospital, only to grow to grant $80 million to local health care nonprofits. Working with Riverside University Health System, Dean is poised to launch a public health campaign about harm reduction related to fentanyl overdosing.

The demands of Desert Outlook and the District pushed Dean to take a “social hibernation” from the arts, culture, and community events that have so defined his time in Palm Springs. (Dean has also been on the boards of various organizations, such as Dezart Performs and Brothers of the Desert.) It’s a slow-down that Dean says he’s newly emerging from. Recently, he’s worked on his own writing projects, such as contributing a profile of jazz drummer Daniel “Big Black” Ray to Palm Springs Life.

Embracing Diversity and Inclusion

Dean is also launching a new, roving social club called The Mix Palm Springs, which focuses on fostering and celebrating diversity in social spaces. A recent summer camp-themed event at resto bar Reforma featured the lawn game cornhole (AKA bean bag toss) and s’mores. “It’s highly curated at the moment,” says Dean of this new venture, which is currently open by invitation only. “But that’s also part of ensuring that people know it’s a safe, welcoming space.”

Attention to detail. Respecting people’s needs. Showing up. All in a day’s work for Will Dean.

All in the Family

All in the Family

How spouses Andy and Johnny Glorioso found themselves both working in sexual wellness at DAP Health — and loving it.

 

As seen in Issue 4 of DAP Health magazine 

 

Words by Trey Burnette • Photos by David A. Lee

 

Andy Glorioso, who’s been HIV+ since 1986, has worked in HIV/AIDS social services for 23 years. In 2018, he finished his last day of work at San Diego’s largest clinic, jumped in his packed car, and drove out to Palm Springs. The next morning, he was at his new job at DAP Health, where he currently serves as PrEP navigation manager. 

While Andy was settling into Palm Springs, Johnny was relocating from San Francisco — where he’d worked for more than two decades as an E.R./trauma nurse — to similarly create his new desert home. He first discovered the Orange Clinic (as DAP Health’s Palm Springs sexual wellness clinic is known) as a patient. He has been on PrEP for five years, and still uses the clinic for quarterly checkups. From the beginning, he loved the availability of free services and the openness of providers. 

Both men understand stigma and anxiety are intricately linked to sexual behavior and health, and that normalizing frank talk about sex and sexual wellness is the first step in caring for their respective patients. Their mission is to empower through education.

After a patient tests negative for HIV, Andy can get them started on PrEP, the pre-exposure prophylaxis that uses antiviral medications to help prevent the spread of the virus. There are a variety of drugs available — some are daily pills; another is a bimonthly injection. Using a judgment-free attitude, Andy helps patients decide which path is best for theirs needs.

Using the same “come as you are” mindset, Johnny does patients’ PrEP follow-up, testing them for HIV and sexual transmitted infections (STIs). He soothes those who test positive for either, explaining treatment of the former and quick and easy cures for the latter.

“Once they leave the clinic, we don’t know what happens,” says Andy of the patients under the men’s care. “But every once in a while, I get an email that says, ‘Thank you. My experience and the information I received was life-changing.’ Then I know what we did — what we are doing —is working.” 

Though both had a connection to DAP Health, the two first met on a dating app mere weeks after each moved to Palm Springs. Their first chat was a long one. The next night, they saw a movie. Within a few months, they’d moved in together. Marriage happened six months after that, with Andy taking Johnny’s last name.

By 2022, Johnny was working as a sexual health nurse at The Dock, as the Orange Clinic was known when it debuted within the Barbara Keller LOVE Building in 2015. The space opened its rebranded doors in the newly renovated, former county structure christened the Annette Bloch CARE Building across the way in January 2023. The sexual wellness clinic in Indio was unveiled in July 2022. The two present clinics currently serve about 1,075 patients per month. In late 2023, a third DAP Health sexual wellness clinic will open at the Stonewall Medical Center in Cathedral City.

It’s not just within the walls of DAP Health that the Gloriosos are making a difference. Part of the sexual wellness outreach team, they both participate at local events such as Pride, Leather Pride, International Bear Convergence, and White Party Palm Springs. The Orange Clinic has also partnered with several live-in rehabs in the valley, offering education and free testing.

And it’s not just at work that Andy and Johnny are peppered with questions about sexual wellness. They’re social, and people know what they do for a living, so friends and acquaintances aren’t shy about seeking professional advice, either face to face or via Facebook Messenger. The men are more than happy to bring interested parties into the DAP Health family. 

The couple loves living in Palm Springs and working at DAP Health. They were drawn to the city and the organization for their respective progressive attitudes and values. DAP Health, like the men, cares about community. They agree the nonprofit is different from any other place they’ve worked — or visited as patients. “We treat and educate people, at no cost to them, all without an ounce of shame,” says Johnny, adding that birth control, pregnancy testing, and other support services are also available. “It’s work that each of us takes to heart.”

Then there’s the fact that they’re always near each other from nine to five. “The real joy for me is seeing my husband throughout the course of the day,” says Andy. “We generally have a good time together, so we also have fun together at work.”

“Except when the natural way we relate to each other in private spills over,” adds Johnny with a wink and a smile. “To give you an example, when I was gone for a few hours recently, Andy apparently decided to clean out all of my work drawers the way he thought they should be. And when I came back, I couldn’t find anything — just like at home!”

The Science of Positivity

The Science of Positivity

“Never say never because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.” — Michael Jordan

Words by Kay Kudukis

 

In the 1990s, a recurring skit on SNL called “Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley” had Al Franken portraying an insecure, support group-addicted, self-help schlub in a cardigan. He was the antithesis of the popular, flashy, mindset gurus like Tony Robbins. Stuart would frequently look at himself in the mirror and say, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and, doggone it, people like me.”

Although Franken was poking fun at the new fad, it wasn’t very new. Over 3,000 years ago, the Greeks were writing meditations and guidelines touting the best ways to live. The idea is actually 5,000 years old, but back then there was no alphabet, which made writing hard.

By the 1800s, poets and renowned authors were onto it, but scientists didn’t take notice until the 1970s, when they asked, “Is there anything to this?” It took a few decades, and a lot of studies, but the answer is — in wildly unscientific terms — it’s definitely a thing. Turns out, there’s true power in the science of positivity!

Yes, science. The University of Chapel Hill conducts a Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory studying “how positive emotions affect people’s thinking patterns, social behavior, health, and physiological reactions.” Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic promote positive thinking to lower blood sugar and high blood pressure, and to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes by lowering cortisol.

The human brain is the most complex thing in the known universe, and yours is fueled by your thoughts. Ever heard that if you repeat a lie long enough it becomes the truth? If your brain is filled with negative self-chatter, it will come to believe it. If your inner monologue is positive, the brain responds, and your stress levels decrease along with your blood pressure.

There is another tool called “reframing” that makes you more productive. It’s where “I hate doing the dishes” becomes “I can’t wait to get these dishes done and have a nice clean sink.” Such positivity releases dopamine and serotonin into your system, and if you add a smile? Well, a study at the University of Kansas concluded that smiling is such a powerful source of endorphins that your stress levels go down even when you fake a smile. So now you’ve got a buzzy cocktail of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins in you, and the dishes are done.

If you need a little extra help, DAP Health is here for you. Its medical professionals won’t do your dishes, but they do have some unique Wellness Services, including a Zoom group based on positivity and related to achieving goals.

Michael Jordan didn’t get to be the GOAT by talent alone. In fact, he attributes his success to positive thinking. He never told himself he couldn’t. “I can accept failure,” he famously said. “Everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”

So be like Michael. Flip that switch. It’s not going to make you a great basketball player, but you’ll absolutely, positively, win at this game we call life.

Can I Tell Them Who I Am?

Jean-Marie Navetta

Can I Tell Them Who I Am?

After 17 years at PFLAG, Palm Springs resident — and Out & Equal’s new vice president of learning — knows all about diversity, equality, and inclusion in the workplace.

As seen in Issue 4 of DAP Health magazine 

Words by Victoria Pelletier • Photos by David A. Lee

Jean-Marie Navetta’s bio at PFLAG ended with the quip, “Jean-Marie is, most importantly, living proof that philosophy majors can get real jobs.”

Of course, Navetta is far more than a “philosophy major.” Educator, advocate, leader, prophet, sage, dreamer, superwoman? Now we’re getting closer. Navetta’s illustrious career in the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) space through LQBTQ+ education and advocacy points to her why in life. She envisions a world wherein no one needs to ask the question she’s often asked herself on the first day of a new job: “Can I tell them who I am?” For those committed to actualized DEI in business and beyond it, the universal answer must become, “Yes, you can!” And one must not lose any sleep over it.

I recently sat down for a Zoom interview with the Palm Springs resident as she prepared to take on a new professional role as vice president of learning at Out & Equal, “the premier organization working exclusively on LGBTQ+ workplace equality,” per the nonprofit’s website. “Through our worldwide programs, Fortune 500 partnerships, and our annual Workplace Summit conference, we help LGBTQ+ people thrive and support organizations creating a culture of belonging for all.”

The biggest takeaways from our conversation? Inclusion begins with education, and full inclusion means changing systems and the culture. Navetta is deeply committed to all of the above. She reminds me — and all of us, for that matter — that changing systems and culture is especially daunting in the current, uber-polarized environment. “DEI work was a given,” Navetta notes as she looks back on her early pro years, adding that “opposition has become far more sophisticated in how they are resisting it; this level of sophistication should cause us to be concerned and be more vigilant and relentless in our work.”

Bottom line? There’s plenty of work to do to overcome the regression that is afoot in government, business, and broader culture. 

Navetta remembers the first time she encountered PFLAG. A teenager at the time, she observed a Pride parade from the sidelines and thought, “Wow…if only.” After earning that golden philosophy degree, Navetta considered law school for a while before settling into communications roles. Heart and mind stirred during those early years in the workplace. She recognized the forward momentum of the inclusion movement and knew she wanted to be a part of an unscripted future in DEI.

A work stint in Washington, D.C. provided the entry point for a career in her education and advocacy work. While working as a press secretary there, Navetta volunteered with a local PFLAG chapter. Impressed by her passion, intellect, and ability, the chapter director submitted her resume to PFLAG HQ, knowing Navetta’s drive and skills were needed at the national level. The pivot from communications to advocacy and education was now underway for Navetta, and would grow for the next 17 years with PFLAG.

“I had to find my space in the movement,” she says while reflecting on her early days in DEI, so she gobbled as much information as possible, taking deep dives into topics like butch/femme identity. Navetta had experienced, personally, that queerness could lead to discrimination and even hostility in the workplace. Like many in the LGBTQ+ community, she has been leery at times about “being out” in the office, and she understands that many workers remain confused by the difference between acceptance and full inclusion and belonging. “Look around,” she declares with a resolute voice. We need workplace advocacy because, “we’re losing ground on the policy and cultural acceptance fronts.” 

Of course, the current political climate does not help advance DEI efforts in education or in business. In the most sobering moments of our conversation, Navetta laments the insidious ways elected representatives stoke regressive legislative action. “Legislation is designed to shut discussions down, and it makes you realize we have to do more.” Pondering the impacts of her work as a DEI champion and guide for businesses, Navetta adds, “Restrictions on how we talk about things in education, government, in documents, etc. means that one of the last places we can have this conversation is in the workplace.”

Effective DEI work in the workplace can move the broader cultural conversation forward, though. “Look at marriage equality — there was phenomenal grassroots activism, yet the influence of private sector employers was incredibly powerful in driving change and judicial decisions forward.” Navetta sees business shaping many more DEI advancements. “Let’s use the time and place where people spend more time than anywhere else [work] to educate and advance LGBTQIA+ rights, inclusion.”

Citing court challenges to DEI based on religious freedom arguments, I ask Navetta if she thinks companies might reverse course on DEI progress because of recent legislation and court rulings. Despite the legislative and judicial headwinds, she feels positive about the prospects of businesses staying the course. “Most of the companies that we see committed will continue on their path forward; most companies understand that [DEI] helps with business performance.”

Indeed, Navetta’s new role at Out & Equal gives her the leverage to scale up her DEI educational work in a way that could have broad, global impact. Immediately, her leadership at the organization’s workplace summit — the world’s largest of the kind — will provide opportunities to present a diverse portfolio of LGBTQIA+ programs to a significant, cosmopolitan audience. 

Our superwoman with the golden philosophy degree remains a global force in the DEI space. She feels supported by her wife of 23 years, Jude Medeiros, plus a cohort of generous colleagues. Then there’s the considerable quality of life she has found by moving from grey and chilly San Francisco to warm and sunny Palm Springs in 2018. The local international airport certainly makes her frequent travel less of a burden, and the community of friends the couple has cultivated recharges Navetta’s oft-depleted batteries come evening or the weekend. She’s even found time to volunteer to teach queer youth about their history at the LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert’s satellite space in Coachella. 

Basically, Navetta believes she was born at the perfect time into a difficult world, buoyed by infinite possibilities. “I am excited to be educating LGBTQIA+ leaders and the next generation,” she offers with a look of satisfaction.

I, like many of you, look forward to the day Navetta’s question — Can I tell them who I am? — is always answered in the affirmative.

DAP Health Unveils Details of Its 2024 S …

DAP HEALTH UNVEILS DETAILS OF ITS 2024 STEVE CHASE HUMANITARIAN AWARDS

Legendary entertainer Barry Manilow donates his performance. Nine local honorees jointly receive the Community Legacy Award. Desert Care Network is presenting sponsor.

 

Humanitarians of all stripes are in for an electrifying evening indoors at the Palm Springs Convention Center on Saturday, March 30 as DAP Health celebrates its 40th anniversary at its biggest fundraiser of the year, the 30th Annual Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards (AKA The Chase), presented by Desert Care Network.

Internationally heralded solid gold hitmaker Barry Manilow — the Grammy-, Emmy-, and Tony-winning longtime Palm Springs resident who celebrates his seventh decade in show business in 2024 — will donate his performance to the internationally heralded DAP Health in honor of the organization’s four decades of lifesaving work.

This year’s Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards not only pay tribute to DAP Health’s long legacy of protecting and expanding health care access for the most vulnerable among us but recognize nine honorees who represent every community member who has helped fulfill DAP Health’s mission since it was founded as Desert AIDS Project by Palm Springs volunteers in 1984.

The joint recipients of the 2024 Community Legacy Award are:

  • Mark Adams
  • Frank Figueroa
  • Keisha Halverson (AKA Keisha D.)
  • Patrick Jordan
  • Terri Ketover
  • Michael Kiner
  • Andy Linsky
  • Tori St. Johns
  • Susan Unger

Gala Chair Kevin Bass promises that this year’s Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards will be bigger and better than ever — a memorable, inspiring evening that will boldly underline DAP Health’s remarkable past, present, and future as it takes its unique place on the Southern California health care landscape.

Also of note will be the live auction, with longtime DAP Health supporters El Paseo Jewelers and Hot Purple Energy both donating packages worth $40,000 in honor of DAP Health’s 40 years of service.

Tickets can be purchased at daphealth.org/thechase

ABOUT

DAP Health’s goal is to protect and expand health care access for all people regardless of who or where they are, their health status, or whether they have health insurance. In 2023, the nonprofit (founded by community volunteers in 1984 as Desert AIDS Project) made a successful bid to absorb the Borrego Health system, enabling 1,000 health care professionals to serve a total of more than 100,000 patients of all populations, genders, and ages — from newborns to seniors — at a total of 25 Southern California clinics located within 240 rural and urban zip codes from the Coachella Valley to the San Diego coast.

Barry Manilow is a world-renowned, award-winning singer-songwriter who has captivated audiences with his timeless music for the last seven decades. Beyond his considerable show business achievements, the Grammy-, Emmy-, and Tony-winning Manilow is actively involved in philanthropy, having supported various charitable causes throughout his career. Time and time again, he has stepped up as a major benefactor on behalf of DAP Health. His charitable endeavors are proof positive of a commitment to making a profound impact beyond the stage, further solidifying his legacy as both a musical icon and a compassionate humanitarian.

Mark Adams has been a central figure at The Chase, having chaired the event in 2001 and 2002. His commitment to DAP Health extends beyond the gala, as evidenced by his generous donation toward the acquisition of the Barbara Keller LOVE Building on the organization’s Sunrise campus in Palm Springs. Adams is deeply involved in cultural boards, including that of the Palm Springs Art Museum and the Palm Springs International Film Society. His involvement with DAP Health dates to the mid-1990s, showcasing a longstanding commitment to community well-being.

Dr. Frank Figueroa, the first openly gay elected official in the city of Coachella, has emerged as a trailblazer and advocate for inclusivity, making a profound impact in the eastern Coachella Valley. Previously having served on the Borrego Health board of trustees, Dr. Figueroa is a current DAP Health board member with a decade of experience in higher education administration. His history of prioritizing equal access to educational opportunities embodies values of integrity and compassion as he strives for positive change and serves as a beacon of hope in building an inclusive community.

Keisha Halverson (AKA Keisha D.) — a multifaceted figure in the Coachella Valley — has not only captivated audiences with her soulful voice but has also become an example of strength and resilience. In the face of personal challenges, including a health journey with lupus, she has continued her philanthropic efforts, creating the Keisha D. Music Scholarship to support high school seniors pursuing their passion. Her unwavering commitment to education and community well-being reflects her enduring impact as a singer, philanthropist, and beacon of strength.

Patrick Jordan is a dedicated AIDS activist, having contributed significantly to organizations such as the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, AIDS Project Los Angeles, Treatment Action Group, and notably, Desert AIDS Project/DAP Health. With a decade-long service on the DAP Health board of directors, including four years as chair, Jordan is a tireless advocate for health causes.

Terri Ketover, the founder of the “Do the Right Thing” program, which spans 65 cities globally, has been recognized by the White House. Her philanthropic journey includes nine years on the DAP Health board of directors, chairing the organization’s 100 Women major donor program, receiving the 2014 Steve Chase Humanitarian Award, and earning the 2023 JFK "Person of Valor" Award. Her unwavering commitment to giving back extends to roles with Palm Springs Art Museum, the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center, Boys & Girls Club, and more.

Michael Kiner is a prominent figure in the Coachella Valley, showcasing not only his award-winning expertise in commercial and residential architecture but his compassion for giving back by contributing his leadership to organizations such as The Living Desert, Desert Cancer Foundation, and DAP Health, where he served as a board member in the ’80s.  He chaired the inaugural Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards in 1994 and the inaugural Desert AIDS Walk, further solidifying his commitment to community involvement.

Andy Linsky’s commitment to community service in Palm Springs spans over three decades, beginning in 1989 when he volunteered at DAP's front desk before joining its board of directors in 1990. Leading the board for five years, Linsky played a pivotal role in significant achievements, including the purchase of the building at 1695 North Sunrise Way, and the development of affordable housing complex Vista Sunrise I. His visionary leadership also led to the creation of the Partners For Life major donor program.

Tori St. Johns, a licensed therapist with 32 years at the Desert Sands Unified School District, is a dedicated advocate for the community, with a particular focus on LGBTQ+ students. Her service extends beyond education, with longstanding contributions to DAP Health and various boards, emphasizing her commitment to community health and well-being. She volunteered her services to HIV/AIDS patients at the height of the epidemic, demonstrating her history of dedication to providing vital support to those she serves.

Susan Unger, a key figure in DAP Health's success, served on its board of directors from 2003 to 2008, contributing significantly to crucial initiatives. Notably, in 2008, she founded the groundbreaking 100 Women major donor program, engaging women in supporting DAP Health’s work. Susan’s diverse contributions include leading client focus groups, introducing the Building Connections initiative, and directing the successful Get Tested Coachella Valley public health initiative.

SPONSORS

PRESENTING SPONSOR

Desert Care Network

PRODUCING SPONSORS

Amazon

Harold Matzner

MAJOR SPONSORS

Kevin Bass and Brent Bloesser

Jim Burba and Bob Hayes

Patrick Jordan

Scot and Lance Karp

Barry Manilow and Garry Kief

Steve Tobin and the Grace Helen Spearman Charitable Foundation

STAR SPONSORS

The Hammond Family Foundation

Walgreens

SUPPORTING SPONSORS

Carolyn and Daniel Caldwell

Anthony Colantino and Craig Grantham

Bruce W. Finch and Keith Reimann

Eve E. Fromberg-Edelstein, Esq.

Gilead

Living Out

Steven Anders

The Stonewall Group/Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

Trina Turk

David Zippel and Michael Johnston

BENEFACTOR SPONSORS

Coachella Valley Health Personnel

Diageo

Perry S. McKay

PATRON SPONSORS

Inland Empire Health Plan

Low Income Investment Fund

Palm Springs Disposal Services

Personal Stories Project

Henry Schein

UPS Stores

MEDIA SPONSORS  

Alpha Media

CV Independent

Desert Charities News

Gay Desert Guide

GED Magazine

Joey English Radio

Palm Springs Life

The Desert Sun/Local IQ

The Standard Magazine

THE CHASE GALA COMMITTEE

Kevin Bass (Chair)

Michael Brennan

Ron Davis

Grant Elder

Bruce W. Finch

Lynn Hammond

Cary Lowe

Rick Moran

Kasey Scott-Brown

David Sperber

 

DAP Health Opens Third Free Sexual Welln …

DAP Health Opens Third Free

Sexual Wellness Clinic

 

Joining existing clinics in Palm Springs and Indio, the latest facility — headquartered at Stonewall Medical Center in Cathedral City — will emphasize services for women and members of the LGBTQ+ community, including those seeking gender-affirming navigation and care.

 

On Tuesday, December 12, DAP Health will officially open the doors to its third free sexual wellness clinic, this latest outpost to be headquartered at Stonewall Medical Center, located at 68555 Ramon Road in Cathedral City.

Thanks to the nonprofit’s absorption of the Borrego Health system almost six months ago, its capacity to provide sexual health services to women and to LGBTQ+ people (including those seeking gender-affirming navigation and care) has vastly increased.

DAP Health’s first such clinic was originally known as The Dock when it debuted within the Barbara Keller LOVE Building on the organization’s Sunrise campus in Palm Springs in 2015.

The Dock was renamed the Orange Clinic in January 2023, when it relocated to the newly renovated, former county structure now known as the Annette Bloch CARE Building, across the way from the LOVE Building.

A second sexual wellness clinic, in Indio, was unveiled in July 2022. The two present clinics currently serve almost 1,100 patients per month.

Sexual health is of prime import to DAP Health. Just some of the organization’s achievements in this area include:

  • The Dock initially charging a flat fee of $125 for those without insurance, a significant step in increasing access. All sexual wellness clinics now offer most HIV and STI testing, and related services, at no cost.
  • Its June 2020 licensing of a mobile medical unit for STI testing.
  • Its July 2021 establishment of free sexual wellness services.
  • Its 2023 Creativity & Innovation Award, from the Inland Empire Health Plan, for its 2022 mpox response.
  • Its 2023 Center for Quality Improvement & Innovation Quality Award for Leadership in Quality Improvement of its Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program.
  • A partnership with gay dating app Mistr to provide statewide virtual PrEP and virtual HIV care.
  • The reduction in wait times so that anyone with HIV — or anyone wanting to start PrEP — can obtain medication within 72 hours.
  • The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) recent announcement of the recipients of its 2023 Community Health Quality Recognition (CHQR) badges, which recognize outstanding health center performance in a variety of clinical areas, including behavioral health, maternal health, cancer screening, and HIV prevention and care, as well as overall quality performance. DAP Health was one of eight health centers recognized, in the HIV prevention and care category. 

In the nine months since its opening, the Orange Clinic has had:

  • 6,403 patient visits.
  • Almost 500 people started on PrEP for the prevention of HIV.
  • Almost 1,500 people treated for one or more STIs.

“With DAP Health’s free sexual wellness clinics in Palm Springs and Indio at capacity, there clearly was sufficient patient demand to support a third location,” says DAP Health Chief of Community Health C.J. Tobe. “When we factor in the continued rise of sexually transmitted infections, duplicating our Orange Clinic model — where a free sexual health clinic is located at the same site at which DAP Health provides ongoing general clinical services — simply makes sense.”

Formerly part of the Borrego Health system, Stonewall Medical Center has long provided quality and compassionate health care to both the LGBTQ+ community and members of the general population. Its infectious disease specialists focus on patients with HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, and STIs. Stonewall also provides transgender health care, PrEP and PEP HIV prevention, behavioral health, and dental services.

As is the case in Palm Springs and Indio, Cathedral City’s sexual wellness clinic at Stonewall will be open Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., with a one-hour lunch break closure for staff between 11:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.

All services will be free, and will include:

  • HIV / hepatitis C / STI testing.
  • STI treatment.
  • Pregnancy testing.
  • Birth control.
  • PrEP & PEP for HIV prevention.
  • Doxy PrEP and PEP for STI prevention.
  • A patient’s first two RapidStART visits once diagnosed with a new HIV infection.
  • The JYNNEOS vaccine to prevent mpox.

Serving on staff will be:

  • Director of Specialty Programs Dr. Jason Halperin, whose focus will be on gender-affirming care as well as on those living with, or at risk of, contracting HIV.
  • Director of Gender Health and Wellness Jacob Rostovsky.
  • Gender Health and Wellness Manager Mita Beach.
  • Gender Health and Wellness Navigator Mateo Williamson, who will provide linkage to gender-affirming care, and assistance with transportation, insurance, medication coverage, housing/wellness/food referrals, and other support.
  • Family Nurse Practitioner Brandi Teegarden.
  • Sexual Wellness Registered Nurse Jody Cap.
  • Licensed Vocational Nurse/Prescription Coordinator Tiffany Burdett.
  • Early Intervention and PrEP Specialist Alexis Rocha, who will provide linkage to care and support for HIV and hepatitis C patients, and assistance with transportation, insurance, medication coverage, housing/wellness/food referrals, and other support.
  • PrEP navigators who can provide help with transportation, insurance, medication coverage, housing/wellness/food referrals, and other support.
  • Patient Service Representative Jadira Hernandez, who will help with scheduling, take incoming phone calls, and facilitate patient check-in and checkout.

“It’s always all about access,” continues Tobe. “Having a new free sexual wellness clinic provides folks in and around the Cathedral City area a place closer to home where they can access no-barrier, no-red-tape, no-shame, and no-stigma sexual wellness care.”

He adds: “While the sheer existence of this new sexual wellness clinic makes me very happy, I think I’m most excited to be able to offer a gender health and wellness team at Stonewall, whose lifesaving gender-affirming care navigation services will be entirely free and accessed through the new sexual wellness clinic as well.”

“Trans health care isn’t typical health care,” says Gender Health and Wellness Manager Mita Beach, who identifies as nonbinary and queer, in the just-released fall issue of DAP Health magazine. “Typically, when people go to the clinic, it’s because they’re sick or because they have to go once a year for a check-up.” But trans people often need to see a provider more frequently, especially if they are receiving gender-affirming hormone therapy, which needs to be monitored.

“People of trans experience and nonbinary communities have increased rates of HIV acquisition, especially those of color,” says Director of Specialty Programs Dr. Jason Halperin, in the same article. “We know that racism and stigma play the greatest role in driving these increased rates. Furthermore, when structures of power such as the police — or increasingly, legislatures — target and stigmatize communities, we will inevitably see worsening health outcomes due to exclusion.”

Halperin goes on to stress that DAP Health “must commit even more to this work. We must shine our light bright and far. Our clinics need to ensure easy and supportive accessibility to gender-affirming care. We must also continue to work in solidarity with those across our country.”

Those interested in making an appointment at Cathedral City’s new Stonewall sexual wellness clinic may call 760.969.5740.

Patrick Pierre

Patrick Pierre

His Alter Ego Patty Cakes Connects People Through Love, Honesty, And A Touch Of Sass 

Words by Staci Backauskas • Photos by Zach Ivey

 

Known to many as Patty Cakes, the gregarious drag queen who creates safe spaces for people to connect with themselves and one another, Patrick Pierre moves through the world with kindness and an aversion to facade. “You’ve got to sit in the truth, right?” he asks rhetorically. “You can’t project something onto someone just so your fake idea can be your fake truth.”

Pierre’s commitment to that path stems from a childhood where he learned how to navigate between joy and trauma at an early age. At 3, his mother left him and his younger brother in Haiti to follow his father to the U.S. For two years, they lived with his grandmother in a house overflowing with young cousins whose parents had made the same choice.

It was in that organized chaos that Patty Cakes first appeared. “She was this energy with a larger-than-life personality that had the power and inner strength, the confidence to look after my younger brother,” he says. 

When they boarded a plane for New York two years later, the excitement of seeing the city lights from the air was tempered with the stress of the reunion. “When we arrived, my brother didn’t recognize my mother,” he shares. “And I was only a year-and-a-half when my father left. It felt like abandonment.”

Both his neighborhood and the Catholic school he attended were fully integrated, which showed Pierre how acceptance benefits everyone. “We had the Irish across the street, the Filipinos next door, the Jamaicans on the corner. When I look back, growing up in that community is one of the treasures of my childhood.”

Those formative years provided insights into the similarities shared by humans and the superficiality of most differences. “That’s the American fabric,” he says. “It’s not this whitewashed ‘Let’s make America great again.’ We’re the country of promises. People are at the border because they want to be a part of this American experiment. But we keep them at bay coming from a place of lack. But that was never America’s story.”

Pierre feels a responsibility to share that story with the world, and Patty Cakes is his public way of doing that. “I don’t have a guard up,” he says. “I’m here meeting you with my arms open.”

Patty Cakes first performed at the Boatslip Resort & Beach Club in Provincetown in 1994. “It was the crown jewel of bars in P’town,” Pierre says. While working as a cocktail waiter, he noticed the bar was empty after Tea Dance, so he approached the owner with the idea of doing live “Dating Game” and “Newlywed Game” shows. 

Those were successful, which buoyed his confidence and unknowingly laid the foundation for the type of drag queen Patty Cakes is — a host, emcee, and storyteller. “I cannot lip sync!” Pierre laughs. “What I do is take Patrick’s personality and identity and put them through this prism to shine them into the world.”

This is the energy he brought to DAP Health’s Pride Pavilion in November 2022, when he hosted the Speed Friending event. “It was the first time we had tried this idea of breaking isolation by introducing LGBTQ+ folks to each other in a way that was accessible to everyone,” says DAP Health Director of Brand Marketing Steven Henke. “Patty Cakes made everyone feel they were part of Palm Springs Pride.

Pierre began volunteering with DAP Health in 2013, a year after he relocated to Palm Springs from Atlanta. “I lost three houses in the crash, was thousands of dollars in debt, and had a crappy credit score,” he laughs. “So, I came West.” 

Another organization he donates his time to is Brothers of the Desert, a nonprofit that provides a network of support for Black gay men in the area. “There is the compounded stigma of being Black and gay,” he says. “Here there’s an instant connection. A lot of things don’t need to be said because they’re understood. We want to take the love and support we have within us and bring it into Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley.”

Pierre appreciates the relationship the Brothers have with DAP Health, and highlights the importance of reaching more of the Black community with resources, education, and opportunities for camaraderie. “It’s been a wonderful symbiotic relationship,” he says. “DAP Health has helped us get the word out on who the Brothers are, and really supports us.”

For the foreseeable future, Pierre is focused on building a bigger platform for Patty Cakes. “For the past 10 years, I’ve been rebuilding and licking my wounds so I’m looking forward to really stepping into who I know myself to be and letting the world know Patrick and Patty Cakes,” he says. “I’ve had a lot of bumps and scrapes, and now I’m ready to, you know, conquer the world.”

Play Like A Porn Star

Play like a porn star

 

Here’s everything you need to know to keep yourself — and your play partner(s) — safe and healthy

 

Words by Daniel Vaillancourt

 

“We believe that living your best life includes living your best sex life,” says DAP Health Director of Community Health and Sexual Wellness C.J. Tobe. “The medical professionals and support staff at our clinics in Palm Springs and Indio have therefore been specifically trained to fulfill all of your health care needs. 

“If you have any questions after reading the following articles, please know we’re here to answer them honestly — without judgment, stigma, or shame ever entering the equation. Because, if there’s one place you can talk openly about your most intimate concerns, it’s with us at
DAP Health.”

Dr. Carlton’s Tips for Tops and Bottoms

Named one of the Out 100 in 2022 for his cheekily frank sex-ed posts and vids that have been viewed millions of times, Dr. Carlton Thomas, 51, is a South Carolina-born, Mayo Clinic-educated gastroenterologist who today practices in San Diego, where he lives with his husband, Alex, and their twins, who are soon to be high school graduates. 

But the good doc — who’s been a bona fide Instagram influencer and TikTok star since 2020 — has a soft spot for the desert, having worked his first job out of med school here from 2004 to 2009. 

When Dr. Carlton participated in a vivid public forum about sexual wellness at DAP Health’s Pride Pavilion last November, attendees were as charmed as they were informed by his deep knowledge of all things related to butt (and overall) health. 

Below, please find pro advice from the man fast becoming the gay Dr. Ruth.

Tops

  • Tease your bottom prior to entering him. There are millions of nerve endings down there. Your fingers, tongue, and tip work well.
  • Let — and help — your bottom open up. Use the Butt Clock technique (learn it on Insta @doctorcarlton), and take it slowly at first, to avoid injury. No ramming. Ever.
  • Make sure your bottom finishes. And don’t pull out too fast. That could hurt him.
  • To avoid a urinary tract infection, pee when you’re done.

Bottoms

  • To control your top’s initial speed and depth of entry, start on top.
  • Don’t forget to breathe.
  • Push out a little as your top slides in.
  • Take your time, so you don’t tear.

For Both of You

  • Use lots of good lube (silicone is best), applying and reapplying generously.
  • Communicate by using eye contact for visual cues, and by talking and listening for verbal cues.
  • Change positions frequently to keep things exciting. Find the best option for both of you. 

If you’re new to bottoming, Dr. Carlton suggests using toys to learn how to open up and take it. “I recommend one that has a small tip and gets progressively wider, so you can go at your own pace,” he says. “There’s so much work — and an insane amount of pressure — that goes into preparing to bottom. A lot of guys are terrified they aren’t clean enough. But if you’re on a good, high-fiber diet, you should be able to flush out completely in about 15 to 20 minutes. Some guys tell me they’re in there for four or five hours. That’s overdoing it.”

Not that tops are completely stress-free. “There’s a lot of performance anxiety about getting and maintaining a strong erection,” says Dr. Carlton, adding that, thankfully, good meds are available for those challenged in that respect. “A lot of tops worry their penis isn’t big or thick enough. But a bottom’s G-spot is only a couple of inches in. You don’t have to be huge to hit it right.”

One last bit of wisdom: Inspect the goods before you play. “If something doesn’t look or smell right,” says Dr. Carlton, “just politely step away with, ‘I don’t think this is gonna work out today. Let’s try another time.’”

For more expert counsel on countless topics, follow Dr. Carlton on Instagram and TikTok  @doctorcarlton.

Daddy Knows Best

ANDY CLEMENTS (AKA ADULT FILM PERFORMER DREW SEBASTIAN) WANTS YOU TO DO AS HE DOES AND MAINTAIN YOUR — AND YOUR PARTNERS’ — SEXUAL HEALTH

In 1990, when 15-year-old Andy Clements saw his first nudes in a gay male magazine — was it Honcho, Inches, Mandate? — he not only knew he liked what he saw, he realized he wanted to be in those pages, too. It would, however, take 20 years for this handsome and charming Knoxville, Tennessee native to turn his dream into reality thanks to his alter ego, who performs under the nom de porn Drew Sebastian. But more on that in a bit.

Clements, who’d figured out his queerness as a young boy, showed an early penchant for musical theatre. He therefore took private singing lessons as a teen before going on to study classical voice in college. Performing in Vegas and at theme parks post-graduation led him to Houston, where — bored with survival office jobs — he began escorting and go-go dancing. When he first visited San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair, at age 35 in 2010, Clements contacted a few studios to explore having sex on camera.

By then, he was enrolled in the prestigious culinary and hospitality school Le Cordon Bleu. After that graduation, he reinvented himself as a celebrity chef, creating healthy cuisine for the likes of Adam Levine, Jordana Brewster, and Charlie Puth, among many others who must remain nameless due to non-disclosure agreements. 

All the while, Clements continued to dabble in sex work off and on until his adult film career inexplicably exploded in 2015, when he was 40. The late bloomer has since made up for lost time, winning twin 2022 Grabby Awards as both Performer of the Year and Hottest Daddy, and also co-starring in the winner of the Best Feature category at the 2023 Gay Video Network Awards (GayVNs).

If there’s a theme to the life led today by Clements — who moved to Palm Springs from Los Angeles at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, finding sobriety in the desert in the process — it’s health. He now not only works as a personal fitness trainer at local gym Training & Discipline on East Tahquitz Canyon Way, but is authoring a cookbook for those who wish to eat well, and is even writing a cabaret act he’ll perform some time in the near future.

This commitment to wellness extends to keeping his co-stars, as well as his boyfriend in Italy, safe from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) by testing fully and often. “Because I’m so sexually active, I like to test every three months,” he says. “But there are times I feel I need to test more often, so I do.”

Regardless of the frequency, Clements always undergoes what’s known as three-site testing, which involves bloodwork for HIV and syphilis as well as a urine samples, plus throat and rectal swabs, to detect the presence of gonorrhea and chlamydia.

“Three-site testing is important because different bacteria can be in different locations and a single test does not diagnose all areas,” says DAP Health Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Supervisor of Sexual Wellness Trent Broadus. “For example, a urine specimen doesn’t let us know about infection in the throat or rectum, and one could potentially have chlamydia in the former and gonorrhea in the latter. Many people are asymptomatic, so we highly encourage testing all three sites at each visit.”

Broadus further explains that gonorrhea and chlamydia have an incubation period of approximately three days, while syphilis can take longer — 10 to 21 days — to show up on a test. “That’s why getting a syphilis test as a baseline is so important,” he says. 

Clements, who visits various testing facilities depending on where he is around the country or throughout the world, does use DAP Health’s Orange Clinic (where all HIV and STI testing is always free for everyone) when he’s in town. “The whole point is to try to stay on top of it as best you can,” he says, “so you can protect not only yourself, but your partners.” 

Follow Clements at his pro Twitter and Instagram handles, @DrewSebastianX.

PrEP and PEP 101: Because Prevention Is Priceless

A LOT HAS HAPPENED SINCE THE ADVENT OF PREP FOR HIV MORE THAN 10 YEARS AGO

What is PrEP?

PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is different medications that can lower your chances of getting HIV and certain other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

PrEP for HIV Prevention

Administered orally via one pill daily — or by a single injection every two months — PrEP can reduce your risk of contracting HIV. Before starting PrEP, you’ll need to get tested for HIV, STIs, kidney function, and Hepatitis B and C. Please note it takes at least one week on PrEP before you are protected for anal sex, and three weeks for vaginal sex. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), when taken as prescribed, PrEP reduces the risk of HIV infection from sexual activity by
more than 99%, and by at least 74% for those who use
intravenous drugs.

PrEP for STI Prevention

Most commonly referred to as Doxy PrEP, doxycycline can be used to lower your chances of becoming infected with chlamydia or syphilis. Some studies also show effectiveness in preventing gonorrhea. Dosage is one 100mg tablet taken
once daily. 

Your PrEP Navigator at DAP Health

If you’re interested in PrEP, contact PrEP Navigators at DAP Health. You can also talk to any nurse or nurse practitioner during your visit if you want to discuss which PrEP may be right for you. If you don’t have health care insurance, or if you need financial assistance, a PrEP navigator can also explain your options, help you get access, and answer questions about finding a doctor or working with your pharmacy.

Follow-up Visits

All PrEP options require follow-up appointments with clinical staff for STI testing and medication refills every two (injectable PrEP) or three (oral PrEP) months.

What is PEP?

PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is different medications — taken ideally within 24 hours (but no later than 72 hours) after condomless sex where bodily fluid may have been exchanged — that can help prevent infection from HIV and certain other STIs in someone who is not on PrEP or Doxy PrEP.

PEP for HIV Prevention

This form of PEP is a combination of three drugs taken once or twice a day for 30 days: tenofovir and emtricitabine (two meds in one tablet) and either raltegravir or dolutegravir. 

PEP for STI Prevention

For prevention of chlamydia, syphilis, and possibly gonorrhea, this form of PEP (also known as Doxy PEP or dPEP) is a one-time dose of two 100mg tablets of doxycycline taken within 72 hours of an exposure.

What Should You Do if Possibly Exposed?

When condomless sex has occurred, and there has been possible exposure to HIV and/or to an STI, do one of these three things ASAP:

  • Contact your health care provider.
  • Go to the emergency room or urgent care.
  • Contact a DAP Health PrEP navigator at 760.656.8400.

What You Should Expect at Your Initial PEP Visit at DAP Health

A complete STI screening — including bloodwork, plus throat and rectal swabs — will be completed by a nurse. A clinician will then assess you, and if appropriate, prescribe PEP medication(s). A follow-up visit (for another complete STI screening 30 days after your initial visit, to confirm the absence of HIV and/or STIs) will be scheduled. 

Free Follow-up Visits and Testing

All PrEP and PEP visits and lab work done at DAP Health’s sexual wellness clinics in Palm Springs and Indio are always free of charge for all patients.

So, You Want to Open Your Relationship…

NAVIGATING NON-MONOGAMY TAKES LOVE, PATIENCE, TRUST, RESPECT, HONESTY, AND — MOST IMPORTANTLY —A SET OF MUTUALLY AGREED UPON RULES

One thing fans love most about Dr. Carlton Thomas is his willingness to answer anonymous questions and give advice through social media. “One of the most frequent ones I get is, ‘My husband is really vanilla and plain and doesn’t have a very big sex drive. I’m a big pig who wants this and that, and I don’t know how to tell him,’” Carlton confides. “It’s important to remember that, when it comes to our relationships in the gay world, we don’t have to follow heteronormative rules of how things go. There doesn’t have to be pure monogamy. You can work that out between the two parties. I think being open-minded — and separating sex and love — is important. Also, being willing to compromise. Some people who are tentative about non-monogamy can ease into it by only playing with others together, at least at first. Frequent reassurance and communication are key.”

Certainly, an open relationship isn’t for every couple, but if two committed people want to explore non-monogamy, mutually agreed upon rules that will govern the arrangement are the best place to start.

Because being open requires a strong degree of love, honest communication, trust, and respect, it’s advisable that two people form a strong, monogamous bond before venturing out. And it must be said: Early in a romantic relationship, non-monogamy usually isn’t an issue. Most people have no desire to have sex with someone other than their primary partner.

But if you’re both ready to test the waters of nonexclusivity in the bedroom, some of the questions you may want to consider when setting the boundaries for sexual activity outside your primary relationship include:

Who?

  • Anyone
  • Anonymous only
  • Only us and a third
  • No friends
  • No mutual friends
  • No repeats
  • Regular play buddies OK
  • Coupled guys only (no singles)

Are we HIV-friendly?

What?

  • Watching/showing off only
  • Mutual JO only
  • Oral OK
  • Anal OK (Top? Bottom? Either?)
  • Kissing OK
  • Threesomes
  • Condoms only
  • Just sex — no dates
  • What about overnights?

When?

  • Any time
  • Only when one of us is out of town
  • Only when one of us is at work/not at home
  • Only when it doesn’t conflict with together time
  • Only when we both agree it’s allowed
  • Only when we’re together (in a bathhouse or sex club, in a threesome)

Where?

  • Anywhere
  • Only in public (rest room, bathhouse, gym steam room, park)
  • Only at their place
  • Never at their place
  • Only at home
  • Never at home
  • Never in our bed
  • Only in our bed

In conclusion, perhaps the important rule is this: If one of you breaks a rule, that person must reveal it. From there, both partners agree to discuss the matter — with neither blame nor anger — so that a deeper understanding of the situation can be reached. If you both feel you need couples counseling, go for it. The bottom line (no pun intended) is this: Your primary relationship (and the love, honest communication, trust, and respect inherent in it) matters most. Don’t lie. Don’t hide. That’s cheating — and cheating is the last thing an open relationship is all about. 

Don’t Be Lax on Your Vax

INOCULATION ISN’T JUST ALL ABOUT COVID-19 BOOSTERS AND MPOX JABS. HERE’S A LIST OF MUST-HAVE VACCINATIONS FOR THE SEXUALLY ACTIVE

More than three years into the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — and as the world celebrates the victory over the mpox resurgence — all of us surely know there exist vaccinations and boosters for those two maladies, both of which are especially contagious when humans find themselves in close quarters. But here’s a reminder that there are a few more inoculations appropriate for anyone with a dating pool bigger than a
shot glass.

Influenza

No matter the stated effectiveness of the annual fall flu shot — or whether you believe in its ability to thwart off disease at all — while you’re at it, why not give it a shot (pun entirely intended).

Hepatitis A and B

Hep A is commonly contracted via anal/oral contact, or by ingesting contaminated food or water. Hep B, like HIV, is passed on through blood. Both cause liver disease that can quickly become complicated, leading to liver failure and/or cancer. 

Human Papillomavirus

HPV is actually the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI), and can not only cause genital warts, but rectal and cervical cancer, and possibly even cancer of the throat and pharynx. Best administered before one is ever sexually active, its vaccine nonetheless does offer protection even following exposure to the virus.

Meningitis

Meningitis can be a life-threatening viral, bacterial, or fungal infection of the brain, spinal cord, and cerebrospinal fluid. But thankfully, there’s a vax for that!

Shingles

The CDC recommends adults 50 years and older get the shingles vaccine to prevent the illness and its complications, which include a seriously painful rash.

“I hope that, having recently been poked in the arm on more occasions than they ever have in their entire life, people have truly come to understand and appreciate the value of vaccines,” says DAP Health Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Supervisor of Sexual Wellness Trent Broadus. “Get them. They work!”

Please note that, while DAP Health does not offer vaccinations in either of its sexual wellness clinics in Palm Springs or Indio, those who receive primary care here may be able to access inoculations through their provider. If you’re not yet a patient of DAP Health, talk to your doctor about how to schedule, and stay up on, these important vaccines.

On the Rack

On the Rack

 

Revivals shows its cheekier side

 

Words by Daniel Hirsch • Photo by Aaron Jay Young

 

Voted Best of the Desert thrift store and furniture store, DAP Health's Revivals Thrift Store brand offers visitors many unique treasures. Beautiful midcentury modern furniture and eclectic fashion finds, of course, but also — if you come by the back alley after closing on just the right night — leather harnesses, chaps, cat o’ nine tails, rare erotic artwork, and a plethora of other adult-centric goodies.

“Just the right night” is whenever Revivals After Dark, the store’s 18-and-over evening event, occurs. Revivals first hosted this pop-up sale four years ago to sell items inappropriate for the family-friendly retail space’s regular hours and racks. It’s since become a semi-annual, highly anticipated, and buzzy community event. Like general sales from Revivals, all Revivals After Dark proceeds go to support DAP Health patient and client services, and more than $70,000 has been raised since its first outing. 

“This is a win-win-win,” says Revivals volunteer Mark Musin, who has spearheaded Revivals After Dark since 2020. “You get to get rid of some stuff that you loved, that you had great memories with, and pass that along to someone else.” Musin adds those beloved items have included vintage leather chaps, adult movies, vintage photographs, and even a sex sling or two. “You should see the people who buy these things! They are so thrilled.”

More than just a clothing sale, Revivals After Dark, which takes place outside, behind the four-store chain’s Palm Springs location, has a party-like atmosphere. It’s a place not to just get a great deal — with a leather harness going for as little as $25 — but to see and be seen. Past events have featured DJs and Mr. Palm Springs Leather contestants modeling looks. It’s not uncommon to see strapping fellows stripping off clothing to try on a leather vest. It’s fun that also makes an impact.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to get together, which is really important for the leather community,” says Palm Springs Leather Order of the Desert (PSLOD) President David Dunn. “And Revivals provides a fun, and somewhat different, environment in which others can be introduced to us. It’s awesome!”

PSLOD, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the leather, kink, and fetish community of the Coachella Valley, has been a partner with Revivals at all the After Dark events, promoting it widely to its membership and being on hand to answer any leather- and kink-related questions curious shoppers may have. PSLOD also receives $1,000 in donations from each event. 

“The leather community has a lot of purposes and a lot of goals, but one of them is philanthropy. Another is supporting the community,” says DAP Health Director of Brand Marketing Steven Henke. “PSLOD’s mission is to build a stronger, healthier community — and that’s DAP Health’s mission as well.”

The initial idea for Revivals After Dark — as well as the partnership it would solidify between DAP Health and PSLOD — emerged from pure happenstance. Henke recalls walking through the Revivals warehouse one day and noticing a large pile of books and magazines of a “more adult nature.” When a volunteer explained they were too graphic to put out in the store and that there were many more items like that in the Revivals trove of donations, Henke realized there was an opportunity to do a uniquely private event that connects with members of the leather and fetish community while raising funds for DAP Health.

The first Revivals After Dark occurred inside the Revivals Palm Springs store in 2019, featuring merchandise laid out in the aisles. To everyone’s delight — but not necessarily to anyone’s surprise — it was a hit, raising nearly $6,000 in 90 minutes. A second event seemed like a no-brainer, but 2020, with its ensuing global pandemic, required getting creative. So, Revivals After Dark moved from inside the store to the alley outside — with clothing racks and tables of merchandise set up al fresco. In doing so, it fully crystallized into the form it was perhaps always meant to have. “It has a vibe that fits the merchandise really, really well,” says Henke of the backlot setting. 

In November 2020, the second back-alley Revivals After Dark proved to be even more successful, with more than 200 people lined up, masked and socially distant, hours before the event’s start time. Since then, there’s been two sales a year and the curation of items available, led by Mark Musin and a squad of Revivals volunteers, has grown more expansive.

Musin emphasizes that it’s not just leather gear or material of interest to the leather community that’s on sale. The product mix his team puts together boasts a wide array of fashion, erotica, and kink objects favored by the general LGBTQ+ community. According to Musin, shoppers have included young people and older alike, an expansive gender spectrum, as well as residents from every corner of the Coachella Valley.

For many, the history of some objects also adds to their allure. At the Revivals After Dark in June, Bob Miller, a Desert Hot Springs resident who has long been involved in the leather community and describes himself as “a boot guy,” was surprised to meet another boot collector who had donated about 50 pairs to Revivals. The man had lived abroad in Europe, where he collected various rare and heritage boot brands, maintaining them in immaculate shape. Miller snapped up about seven pairs at a great price, each with an intriguing backstory, um, to boot!

“I get most excited about the vintage photography and oil paintings,” says Henke, noting that these objects are often created by, or feature, gay men that may no longer be with us. “This is our history… They beg to be remembered.”

With history in mind, Musin and his team often consult with historians and organizations like the Tom of Finland Foundation to make sure they’re appropriately handling any rare or historically significant donations. 

For Dunn, speaking on behalf of PSLOD, Revivals After Dark also represents his community’s future. It’s an event that can demystify leather, kink, or fetish communities to those who may be curious. Given the affordable price tags, it’s a more accessible place to start a leather collection, spring for a set of quality restraints, or acquire whatever article expresses a part of one’s identity yet to be explored. “It’s a very sex-positive event where there’s no shaming of anyone,” says Musin. “There’s a place for everyone.”

Given the lines at the door and the fact that the harnesses sell out in mere minutes, everyone indeed seems to have gotten the memo about Revivals After Dark.

He Ain't Heavy

He Ain’t Heavy

Brothers of the Desert President Tim Vincent says the organization’s wellness summit allows gay Black men to connect to community and health

Words by Trey Burnette • Photo by Aaron Jay Young

The Coachella Valley likes to pride itself on diversity. However, attending community functions, programs, or gatherings could lead one to believe the desert community is less diverse than it considers itself to be.

At a 2017 New Year’s Eve gathering, a group of friends — all of whom were gay Black men — realized they all shared similar feelings of isolation and disconnection from much of the greater Palm Springs community. They knew men like them were out there, living productive lives, but they didn’t always see one another partaking in the many activities the valley had to offer. They felt isolated not only as individuals but also as a smaller community within the larger desert family.

Tim Vincent was one of those men at the party. To meet him, it’s hard to imagine he would feel isolated and disconnected from any community, but he says after moving to Palm Springs with his partner about six years ago, they had “the only people in the room” moments. At first, he didn’t notice it; he was used to being different. “But it can be hard being the only Black person in the room,” he says. Then he discovered others were experiencing the same feeling he and his partner were, and suspected there had to be more men he didn’t know out there facing the same feelings. 

The men were having a James Baldwin flash — the challenge was in the moment and the time was right. So, they acted by reaching out to the other gay African American men who felt isolated and disconnected, and formed Brothers of the Desert (BOD). Their mission was “to nurture and support gay Black men and allies through education, advocacy, social networking, volunteerism, and mentorship.” 

Today, Vincent serves as the president of the nonprofit, which was formalized as such in 2020. He has more than 30 years of experience working in the HIV and health care fields, including work with the CDC and the University of California San Francisco. His understanding of health care and patient engagement was beneficial as BOD grew and formed partnerships with DAP Health. 

Vincent explains that BOD started with monthly meetings where members could discuss concerns affecting them and the community. The leading members realized the community needed more than meetings, so they formed their first outfacing event, their Wellness Summit, in November of 2019, originally held at the LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert. DAP Health became a sponsor in their third year.

“We were building and investing in the health and wellness of our community,” Vincent says. “We wanted to take a holistic and comprehensive approach, addressing community members’ physical, mental, spiritual, financial, and social health.” And they did. What the Wellness Summit offered was tailored to the needs of the Black community. They incorporated the intersection of being Black and gay and how the stressful effects of racism and homophobia affect the individual’s and community’s health. 

Four years later, the annual Wellness Summit has grown and is now held at Margaritaville Resort Palm Springs. DAP Health is still a sponsor, and the November 2022 summit had about 200 guests — twice the size of the first event. The Wellness Summit hosts speakers who are medical doctors, spiritual practitioners, business leaders, yoga instructors, and other experts offering education in their specialized fields. It creates a space where people feel comfortable asking wellness questions. Workshops are also available for guests to get hands-on experiences with wellness practices. Vincent has received positive feedback from attendees, and hopes the event will grow into a multi-day affair. 

BOD also provides a quarterly speaker series throughout the year. Guest lecturers are thought leaders and experts who give educational talks that support and maintain what is learned at the Wellness Summit. Participants can engage and discuss topics like mindfulness, systemic racism, microaggressions, and mental health for Black queer people. Furthermore, those chats also act as a gateway for BOD to steer members to DAP Health, where they can find similar wellness opportunities to the ones they learned about at the Wellness Summit. Acupuncture, yoga, massage, sex and intimacy groups, stress-management groups, and building-positive-life groups are just some of the opportunities attendees can take advantage of to maintain a holistic approach to wellness.

As the partnerships between BOD and DAP Health grow, Vincent hopes Black community members will deepen their knowledge that both organizations can help them find health resources and solutions.

For more information, please visit brothersofthedesert.org and follow the group on Insta @brothersofthedesert.