• Sexual Wellness Services

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

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

 

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.

A Community United Against mpox

A Community United Against mpox

Lessons learned from the AIDS epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic fostered a swift, successful end to the local 2022 outbreak

Words by Trey Burnette • Photo by Zach Ivey

 

Larry Kramer said, “You don’t get anything unless you fight for it, united and with visible numbers.” It was the lesson he learned during the AIDS epidemic — one he wanted the LQBTQ+ community to learn. It was a lesson the professionals at DAP Health understood when the mpox outbreak started in May 2022. 

The disease is caused by the mpox virus, similar to the variola virus (smallpox) and related viruses. It often causes a painful rash of blisters on the hands, feet, chest, face, and mouth — as well as near the anus, and penis and testicles, or labia and vagina —before scabbing and healing. It was a rare ailment until 2022, with the CDC reporting only two cases in the United States in 2021. 

Then, on May 7, 2022, the United Kingdom reported its first incidence. On May 17, the first U.S. case was confirmed in Boston by the Massachusetts Department of Health. On May 23, a Sacramento patient was the earliest to be verified in California, and DAP Health saw its first local occurrence on July 8. 

Fortunately, DAP Health was ready. The agency had formalized a task force devoted to mpox by the end of May in view of a potential outbreak hitting the Coachella Valley. 

“We wanted to be proactive on where the clinical services would best be served, knowing we had to maintain operations in all other clinics,” says DAP Health Director of Community Health and Sexual Wellness C.J. Tobe.

The nonprofit already had a waiting list for primary care, and its sexual health clinic was seeing increased numbers of patients. Tobe and his team started by getting emergency authorization from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to use DAP Health’s “library” meeting room at the main campus in Palm Springs as clinic space. Also, taking cues from their recent experience with the COVID-19 pandemic, the powers that be knew they’d overburdened an already stressed staff, so they made arrangements for temporary workers to support the mpox response.

At that point, the vast majority of cases reported were in men who have sex with men. DAP Health needed to alert the community. It partnered with county and state health departments, attending weekly town halls. The agency’s mpox response team had triweekly internal meetings. Printed mpox fact and resource material was distributed to more than 80 businesses across the Coachella Valley, and information was also disseminated via local print, broadcast, and internet media outlets. Educational ads were placed on social apps like Scruff, Grindr, and Rent Men. Micro-messaging was done on Facebook and Instagram Live sessions. DAP Health even created a landing page dedicated to mpox on
its website. 

Furthermore, knowing that health crises historically impact people of color most, DAP Health collaborated with Brothers of the Desert for targeted messaging. 

Because mpox had been almost dormant in this country, vaccines were in short supply. Once JYNNEOS — a two-dose vaccine whose shots are administered 30 days apart — became available, its insufficient supply was quickly gobbled up. Los Angeles and other large cities received it first, directly from the federal government, while other federal allocations went to the states to disperse. The CDPH then distributed inoculations to counties pursuant to total population and actual mpox and syphilis case numbers, not infection rates per capita.

Unfortunately, this formula left Riverside County and DAP Health with just a handful of vaccines. What placed Palm Springs — a popular LGBTQ+ tourist destination where people often partake in sexual activity — at a disadvantage is that it was not where transmission occurred that was considered, but the location where the case was reported.

By July 9, DAP Health had received its first batch of 169 vials of JYNNEOS from Riverside University Health Systems (RUHS) and started vaccinating the most high-risk: people who were symptomatic for mpox and those who’d been exposed to a person who tested positive. Soon, guidelines were expanded to include sex workers, people who participated in group sex, and those who’d recently had an STI. 

DAP Health continued its outreach by using social media influencers popular in the queer community. Well-known adult film performer Trenton Ducati reached out to local sex workers to raise awareness about mpox, encouraging them to receive the shots available to them. He also recorded PSAs that spoke directly to those most at risk. 

The vaccines ultimately became (and still are) available to everyone. In addition to protecting people via its sexual wellness clinics in Palm Springs and Indio, DAP Health, in partnership RUHS, was able to set up more than 10 pop-up clinics, including some at sex-themed businesses such as Palm Springs’ All Worlds Resort and Cathedral City’s CCBC Resort Hotel. To date, DAP Health has vaccinated more than 6,000 people. 

As of January 4, 2023, reported mpox cases in the U.S. were 29,913, and 84,417 globally. This country has had a total of 20 deaths from mpox. DAP Health confirmed 109 positive cases after PCR-testing 245 people, and 16 mpox- positive patients were treated with TPOXX (tecovirimat).

Unfortunately, the ramifications of mpox weren’t limited to physical complications. Many people suffered mental, social, and financial costs from the outbreak. Tobe says he spent countless hours after work speaking with many long-term HIV survivors upset that they were initially ineligible for vaccines. The situation seemed too close to the initial federal and social response to the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s, triggering numerous painful memories. Furthermore, some patients suffered financially or were fired for missing too much work while recovering. Some patients who had informal rental arrangements lost their homes. 

To help remedy these problems, DAP Health utilized its work-reentry program to help patients find new employment. The agency also partnered with the Musicland Hotel to house people until they found permanent residences. Desert Healthcare District funded the hotel cost, along with food delivery and TracFones. Mental health services were available at DAP Health for those in need of counseling. 

Tobe credits the relatively swift, successful end of the local outbreak to DAP Health’s proactive, holistic approach, at the forefront of which was an eagerness to join forces with community, county, state, and federal entities.

DAP Health Continues to Fight for LGBTQ+ …

DAP Health Continues to Fight for LGBTQ+ Health Equity

 At the 2023 Greater Palm Springs Pride Festival, the organization will celebrate its long history of championing health care access for the queer community.

As it has done since the first Greater Palm Springs Pride in 1986, DAP Health will raise its rainbow flags high in the air and proudly participate in the 37th annual iteration of the event, to be held November 2 to 5.

With the recent integration of Borrego Health, DAP Health’s team now consists of 850 dedicated health care professionals serving 100,000 diverse patients in 240 of Southern California’s rural and urban zip codes, from the Salton Sea to San Diego.

In addition to hosting its DAP Health Wellness Pavilion along Palm Canyon Drive (directly across the street from Lulu California Bistro) — from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 4 and from 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 5 — more than a hundred of the organization’s employees, patients, donors, volunteers, board members, and other supporters are expected to march shoulder to shoulder in the Sunday morning Pride Parade.

“Participating in Greater Palm Springs Pride is always a personal highlight of the fall season, not just for me, but for everyone who calls DAP Health home in one fashion or another,” says longtime CEO David Brinkman. “At DAP Health, we have always fought for the LGBTQ+ community, championing health care access for nearly four decades. Our acquisition of Borrego Health hasn’t weakened our commitment; it’s fortified our resolve.

“With our expanded size and reach, we pack a mightier punch in our quest for health care justice. Our unified voice, advocating for our communities alongside elected officials, is now louder than ever, and our team of dedicated care providers has grown threefold. We believe health care should know no boundaries. Our goal is to continue to honor the memory of those lost to HIV/AIDS by removing barriers, and by creating a more just world through equitable access.”

Employees from the nonprofit’s 25 clinics will carry signs emblazoned with the name of their home location. Others will carry placards sporting such slogans as “Mental Health is Health Care,” “LGBTQ+ Care is Health Care,” and “Drag is Love” (the catchphrase printed on DAP Health’s official 2023 Pride Parade T-shirt).

Riding in a vehicle just ahead of the group will be Donald Beck, one of the founders of Desert AIDS Project (as the nonprofit was originally known) who is this year’s recipient of Greater Palm Springs Pride’s Spirit of Stonewall Lifetime Achievement Award.

Loudly announcing DAP Health’s presence will be a large assortment of blue/robin’s egg, purple/lavender, and orange/red balloons respectively spelling out the D-A-P of the organization’s acronym and hoisted high above a banner that will read “Together for Better Health,” a nod to DAP Health recently absorbing the Borrego Health system.

Also part of the DAP Health delegation, riding in a vintage convertible in glorious full drag, will be Les Dames du Soleil Dottie & Maude (AKA Douglas Woodmansee and Marshall Pearcy). The tribute is designed to honor the longtime married couple of entertainers — who were at the forefront of early HIV/AIDS efforts, raising much-needed funds for DAP at the dawn of the epidemic, when other resources and supporters were scarce — for their vital role in DAP Health’s history of LGBTQ+ activism.

“Long before our community had the economic and political strength we now proudly possess, before the emergence of LGBTQ+ advocacy or health care organizations, drag queens were tirelessly raising funds for our cause, one dollar at a time,” says DAP Health Chief of Brand Marketing Steven Henke. “They courageously championed our rights and well-being until we found the strength to fight for ourselves. We should never forget the legacy they forged in high heels.”

As for the Wellness Pavilion, it will be staffed with employees and volunteers from DAP Health’s community health department, who will be providing full, free sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing, harm reduction services, and general outreach. Representatives will also be talking with attendees about the free pregnancy testing and birth control consultations now available at its sexual wellness clinics.

The Pavilion will also be home to a Recovery Oasis, where revelers can pick up information about DAP Health’s host of recovery services, including various meetings and its Outpatient Drug-Free (ODF ) program.

The 2023 DAP Health Equity Walk Funds Ca …

The 2023 DAP Health Equity Walk Funds Care for Those Living with HIV

 

The Desert AIDS Walk may have been renamed the Health Equity Walk this year, but the fight against HIV/AIDS will forever be at the heart of the nonprofit’s work. On National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day, DAP Health reaffirms its commitment to all those living with the virus.

Earlier this year, the internationally renowned humanitarian health care organization and federally qualified health center (FQHC) whose goal it is to protect and expand health care access for all people — especially the marginalized, regardless of who or where they are, their health status, or whether they have health insurance — made a successful bid to acquire the Borrego Health System, enabling it to now serve 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 Salton Sea to San Diego.

To some, this expansion signals that the organization — founded as Desert AIDS Project in 1984 by a group of community volunteers determined to provide support, care, and treatment options to gay men with HIV who had been ostracized by the mainstream and abandoned by their government — is drifting from its initial mission.

In truth, HIV prevention, testing, and treatment remains as central to DAP Health’s work as it ever has been, and will forever remain so.

Indeed, it is precisely thanks to the nonprofit’s nearly 40 years of experience and proven success in the field of HIV/AIDS that it has been able to thrive and grow as it has. The agency’s hard-won expertise in providing health care to one marginalized community has permitted it to transfer its unique, patient-centered model of care to a vast array of other such groups, including women, people of color, the poor, the undocumented, those with substance use disorder, and more.

By standing on the shoulders of all those lost to HIV/AIDS, and all those living and aging well with the virus today, DAP Health’s broadened mission remains perfectly in line with that of its founders, whose singular goal was to provide for those dismissed by the mainstream. Expanding health care access is just one of the ways DAP Health honors the memory of those lost to HIV/AIDS.

“While I may consider myself to be somewhat of an open book, I realize most people don’t know I once experienced the stigma and shame of being gay, that I live today with HIV, that I once was unhoused, and that I long ago faced mental health issues,” says DAP Health Chief of Community Health C.J. Tobe. “I am a survivor who is as thankful as I am excited about the tremendous impending expansion of our community health department. I believe it is my and my team’s duty and privilege to advocate and fight daily on behalf of every member of our diverse communities — but especially for those who are LGBTQ+ and/or living with HIV — so that they may get the second, third, and fourth chances I received, which enabled me to see my bright future and to live my happiest and healthiest life.”

Just some of the ways in which DAP Health daily confirms its commitment to those living with HIV — while honoring the memory of the millions who have succumbed to the disease in the last four decades — include:

  • Providing free HIV testing and treatment (such as Rapid StART antiretroviral therapy) plus free access to preventive measures (such as PrEP and PEP) not only at its sexual wellness clinics in Palm Springs and Indio (and soon at the Stonewall Medical Center in Cathedral City) but via its mobile clinic’s presence throughout the Coachella Valley.
  • Delivering primary, mental health, and HIV care to people living with the virus.
  • Offering a host of client wellness initiatives and other social services — including affordable housing at our 81-unit, on-campus Vista Sunrise complex at DAP Health Sunrise — to clients with HIV/AIDS.
  • Serving as the co-presenting sponsor of the Positively Aging Project, the eighth annual Coachella Valley conference on HIV and aging presented as a hybrid gathering (in person at the Mizell Center and virtually via Zoom) on September 23, 2023.
  • Donating $50,000 to the AIDS Memorial Sculpture created by acclaimed artist Phillip K. Smith III, which will be prominently displayed at Palm Springs’ Downtown Park located at Belardo Road and Museum Way.

At its 2023 Health Equity Walk — which kicks off at 9:00 a.m. at Palm Springs’ Ruth Hardy Park on Saturday, October 28, 2023 — DAP Health will honor long-term HIV survivors and those lost to AIDS via:

  • A special tribute performance by the Palm Springs Gay Men’s Chorus.
  • The observance of a minute of silence.
  • A memorial pavilion where Health Equity Walk participants and supporters can display photos of loved ones living with, or lost to, HIV/AIDS.
  • The display, at the pavilion, of two AIDS quilts, one of which is made of 20 vintage Desert AIDS Walk T-shirts.
  • A keynote address by DAP Health CEO David Brinkman about what loss has taught us. 
  • A ribbon-cutting by DAP Health’s Community Advisory Board, made up of long-term HIV/AIDS survivors.

“The mission, vision, and purpose of DAP Health’s Community Advisory Board (CAB) is to advocate for its clients and patients while considering diversity, equity, and inclusion,” says CAB Co-Chair Michael O’Neill. “We CAB members congratulate the organization’s staff and leadership on its 2023 Health Equity Walk, which continues the commitment to existing and identified needs while expanding the lens throughout Southern California. This act of ‘paying it forward’ includes those often ignored or forgotten, giving everyone a place to be honored and embraced. We stand completely by this greater care and respect for all, marching alongside DAP Health with pride.”

For more information about DAP Health’s efforts on behalf of all those living with or affected by HIV/AIDS, please contact Chief of Brand Marketing Steven Henke at 760.656.8401 or shenke@daphealth.org.

Queerer by the Dozen

Queerer by the Dozen

12 recent LGBTQ+ films to watch during Pride month

Words by Trey Burnette

Last year was record-breaking for queer representation on the big and small screens. Below are 12 movies that were vying for Oscars in 2023, which you can stream and/or rent now.

Aftersun is a quiet and searingly emotional drama from writer/director Charlotte Wells. Through old family vacation videos, adult Sophie revisits her last childhood holiday spent with her father. While she treasures the rare and last time she saw him, she reconciles losing him to his depression and the weight of his world outside their relationship.

Star Attraction: The breathtaking Paul Mescal (the upcoming Gladiator, Stanley Kowalski in London’s recent Streetcar revival) as the young dad.

Bros is a romantic comedy about two gay men with commitment issues. Bobby is a neurotic and caustic podcaster who first spots shirtless Aaron, a well-muscled and emotionally shallow lawyer, on a dance floor. The two seem equally attracted and repulsed by each other, but Bobby stumbles away from his bitterness and into love with a somewhat maturing Aaron.

Star Attraction: Writer-lead Billy Eichner and dreamy holiday movie staple Luke Macfarlane

Everything Everywhere All at Once won the most recent Best Picture Oscar. This surrealist comedy-adventure centers on a Chinese-American immigrant navigating a tax audit for her laundromat. At the same time — in an unraveling multidimensional reality — she rectifies her relationships with her husband, queer daughter, and life choices.

Star Attraction: Six other Oscars, including Best Actress Michelle Yeoh, Best Supporting Actress Jamie Lee Curtis, Best Supporting Actor Ke Huy Quan, and writing-directing duo The Daniels.

Fire Island revolves around a group of gay best friends who gather on Fire Island for their annual week of drinks and twinks. The gaggle gathering turns serious when Noah has a sudden meet-cute. Inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, this romantic comedy humorously explores the boundaries of chosen family when one friend finds love with an outsider.

Star Attraction: Writer Joel Kim Booster and his queer cronies Bowen Yang and Margaret Cho.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is a whodunnit comedy that follows world-famous gay detective Benoit Blanc to a billionaire’s estate on a Greek island. There, he must peel back the layers surrounding the tech billionaire and his eclectic and questionable crew of friends. Everyone is a suspect when more than one dead body surfaces.

Star Attraction: The sparkling cast, led by Bond (Daniel Craig) playing Blanc.

I Wanna Dance With Somebody is a music-heavy bio-drama about Whitney Houston that, refreshingly, doesn’t shy away from her relationship with girlfriend Robyn Crawford. The story tracks her from New Jersey choir girl to international superstar while exploring the complex ramifications of unrequited love, homophobia, racism, and unhealthy relationships.

Star Attraction: Those golden top ten Whitney hits!

My Policeman begins with present-day Tom, Marion, and Patrick still filled with anger and regret about their complicated triangle and the compromises made to survive the dangerous society of their young adulthood. This poignant English drama about forbidden love and betrayal explores not only this trio’s past, but their last chance to free themselves by finding forgiveness for themselves and one another.

Star Attraction: Doubly cast roles, led by undeniably talented pop music god Harry Styles.

Spoiler Alert, based on Michael Ausiello’s memoir “Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies,” is a heartbreaking yet hilarious love story about his and photographer Kit Cowan's 14-year relationship, which ended after Cowan’s battle with cancer. You’ll laugh through your tears.

Star Attraction: Sally Field as Kit’s Mom, Jim Parsons as Ausiello, and hunky Ben Aldridge as Kit.

Tár is a psychological drama about Lydia Tár, widely considered one of the greatest living composer-conductors — the very first female director of a major German orchestra — and accusations of her sexual misconduct. Lesbian Lydia unravels as the film questions if she’s a monster, victim, or both, becoming a surrealist ghost story about power and cancel culture in the process.

Star Attraction: The inimitable double Oscar winner Cate Blanchett.

The Inspection was inspired by writer/director Elegance Bratton’s real life. The coming-of-age drama focuses on a young Black gay man who struggles with the intersectionality of racism, masculinity, and homophobia. By enlisting in the Marine Corps, he hopes to gain the approval of his misguided mom, but instead experiences further abuse via targeted military hazing. In the end, he finds community and belonging that reshape his identity.

Star Attraction: Rising queer actor Jeremy Pope.

The Whale is an affecting drama about a reclusive English teacher battling an eating disorder as he grieves the death of his boyfriend. His physical health quickly deteriorating, he tries to restore his relationship with his teenage daughter while seeking redemption and peace with the past.

Star Attraction: Best Actor Oscar winner Brendan Fraser.

Women Talking is based on Miriam Toews’s novel by the same name. Both are inspired by actual events, in which the women of an isolated religious commune suffer rape and other atrocities by the men in their community. Convening in a barn while their abusers are away, they debate how to move forward together to build a better world for themselves and their children. Shall they do nothing, stay and fight, or leave?

Star Attraction: Oscar-winning writer-director Sarah Polley, alongside her unforgettable cast.

Summertime, and the Protestin’ Is Easy

Summertime, and the Protestin’ Is Easy

Words by Trey Burnette

June is Pride month. Here are 10 fun, effective ways to incorporate activism into your summer activities.

1) Vacation Vacancy

Don’t just cancel your vacation reservations in places (Florida, Texas, Tennessee, etc.) that are passing discriminatory laws. Send the businesses, tourist board, and local city government an email or handwritten letter explaining why you will be unable to visit and spend your money with them this summer.

2) Postcard Picnic

Grab a picnic basket and some postcards with messages for political leaders, and head to the park with some friends. While lunching outdoors, stamp and address the postcards. Use Pride month to remind lawmakers what issues you care about and how legislation affects your life.

3) Banned Beach Reads

Book banning is nothing new in America, but unfortunately, extremists have recently stepped up their efforts. The best way to counter these actions is to head down to your favorite bookseller — like The Best Bookstore in Palm Springs, to support small local business owners — and buy banned books (and/or tomes by marginalized authors) for your summertime reads.

4) Pride Parade Protest

Many in the LQBTQ+ community wonder if we still needed Pride festivals and parades. The last several years have shown us we do. Plan a trip to experience Pride in a new city. Show the world our community is vibrant and proud, while connecting with new people and seeing how different cities celebrate their Pride.

5) Tea-Time Testimonies 

Find your voice with those you love. Invite friends over for some iced tea and share your stories. Let them know what you are going through, how you’re feeling, and give them space to share their own stories. The current social and political climate is overwhelming, and finding friends with whom to weather the storm is healthy for everyone. People need to be reminded they’re not alone and that solutions for a better tomorrow can be realized together.

6) Planned Parenthood Pool Plunge 

Remember, it’s not just LGBTQ+ people under attack in the current political atmosphere. Women and other marginalized people (some of whom are LGBTQ+) are also fighting to keep their civil rights. Find the organizations that support those groups — like Planned Parenthood or the NAACP — and host a pool party fundraiser for them. Show them they’re not alone and the LGBTQ+ community has their backs. No pool? Get out the Slip-N-Slide!

7) Lemonade Letters 

Unfortunately, many people aren’t always aware of what’s happening outside of their daily lives. If you have friends or family who live in a state where extreme and discriminatory laws are being considered — or passed! — take a minute to turn a sour situation into something sweet. Pour yourself a glass of lemonade, and craft a handwritten letter informing loved ones how these laws affect you and your community. A personal story brings advocacy home.

8) Mitzvah Margaritas

Going out for drinks, search for venues that provide stage time for queer and ally performers. The LGBTQ+ community has a long history of political activism throughout the arts. It’s essential to support not only those artists, but the venues that support them.

9) Camp Colorful 

The LGBTQ+ community pitches a big tent, and it’s important to remember the community’s diversity. Summer is a time for many art, music, film, and community festivals, and many of these have political undertones. Find some events off your beaten path. There may be an LGBTQ+ person who has an intersection with another marginalized group, and who can use your support at one of those affairs — or maybe you just have fun while proudly supporting another community.

10) Summertime Self-care

You have to advocate for yourself before you can advocate for anyone else. Start by checking if you are in tip-top shape. Look into DAP Health’s many services, like yearly medical exams, STI screenings, and behavioral health services. Or discover the benefits of their wellness programs and social services.