A new partnership between two Coachella Valley nonprofits aims to advance the overall health and wellness of local Black men.

In October, Brothers of the Desert and Let’s Kick ASS Palm Springs (LKAPS) will launch a monthly discussion group called Barbershop: A Black Men’s Space for Honest Talk About Sexual Wellness.

Building upon the tradition of barbershops in Black communities, the discussion group is designed to encourage open and honest conversation. The meetings will be inclusive, welcoming the full spectrum of Black men each month: gay, bisexual, transgender, nonbinary, and straight allies. The sexual wellness topics will be equally diverse, ranging from dating and intimacy to aging with HIV.

“It really is meant to build connection and destigmatize some of the ways we feel about HIV in the Black and gay communities,” said Tim Vincent, president of Brothers of the Desert. “It’s nice to have a safe space to be who we are right now.”

The “Barbershop” discussion group provides a welcome and rare opportunity for Black men to share their experiences and thoughts about their health and wellness. “[There’s] no need to hide opinions or gray hairs at this barbershop,” said Jax Kelly, president of Let’s Kick Ass (AIDS Survivors Syndrome) Palm Springs.

A $10,000 grant from the Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective (BEAM) is funding the effort. Kelly said the grant will support the discussion group, its facilitators, and provide food and a safe space.

“When BEAM announced a grant for a discussion group for Black men aging with HIV, I knew LKAPS could do it but we needed to partner with Brothers of the Desert to make the application a slam dunk,” Kelly added.

The first discussion group will take place from 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. Oct. 10 in Palm Springs. Subsequent meetings will occur at the same time on Nov. 14 and December 12.

Admission is free but an RSVP is required to receive the address to the discussion group location. Please email Info_Barbershop.LKAPS.org to attend.

The first “Barbershop” meeting will be facilitated by Stuart Huggins, food bank manager with the LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert, and Will Dean, Desert Healthcare District and Foundation director of communications.