For Immediate Release
Los Angeles, Calif., March 8, 2011 -- Each week in West Hollywood, a group of gay men living with HIV and AIDS meets to watch a movie. But it’s much more than a casual get-together. Dubbed "Men's Film Night," the drop-in group aims to foster growth and connection among gay men living with HIV/AIDS – who often report social isolation. Its facilitator is an APLA marriage and family therapist (MFT) intern from the agency’s mental health program.
"There was an immediate positive interest. Participants share that the group helps them understand themselves and others more." explains group facilitator Steven Reigns, who launched the group, which meets weekly at Being Alive in West Hollywood. "This is a great group for those who might feel reticent or reluctant to disclose, or who feel pressured by traditional support groups but are still interested in real connection, sharing an interest, and making friends," Reigns adds.
Weekly film selections range from foreign ("Adventures of Felix") to domestic ("Milk") and indie ("But I'm a Cheerleader") to award winning ("Paris is Burning"). Not all of the films have HIV- or AIDS-themed content, but all have had gay characters. Men's Film Night is one of a widening array of APLA offerings in West Hollywood, which includes dental care; one-on-one mental health counseling; public benefits help; and an HIV prevention group for gay men who use crystal methamphetamine. In December, APLA opened its newest site in the city, a 1,000 square-foot permanent space in the Sierra Bonita Apartments.
"Living in Los Angeles, our focus on film is usually related to the craft of filmmaking or the skill of the actors," says Reigns. "Each week at Men’s Film Night, participants are encouraged to look at film differently."
According to Reigns, group participants focus on characters and their emotional motivators, along with the feelings that the films provoke within the group.
"The group discussion of each film illuminates things others might not have noticed," he says. "Films are our modern-day allegories. We can learn from them, and they can help us see creative ways to change our lives."
The weekly event has become increasingly popular – and well attended – as word has spread.
"The group helps foster a deeper connection to others and to one's self," Reigns says. "I think that's why people keep coming back. It's a great way to spend a Monday evening -- with a group of men who are interested in art and self-improvement."
The group meets weekly at 7:00 PM at Being Alive (7531 Santa Monica Boulevard, Suite 100, West Hollywood). Refreshments are provided, and weekly group sponsors have included Tibotec and Beverly Hills Pharmacy. Men's Film Night is a drop-in group; new members are welcome at any time. Interested members with questions are encouraged to call 213.201.1600 ext. 1007.
AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) was founded in 1983 and is one of the largest nonprofit HIV/AIDS service organizations in the United States. APLA provides bilingual support to more than 6,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles County annually and leadership on HIV/AIDS-related policy and legislation. Additionally, APLA conducts behavioral research designed to inform the development of evidence-based interventions and assists health departments in evaluating their HIV/AIDS services to ensure the delivery of effective and quality programs. APLA also provides administrative and fiscal support to the Global Forum on Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSMGF), which promotes and advocates for the health and human rights of MSM internationally. APLA is proud to be a community-based, volunteer-supported organization with local, national, and global reach. For more information, please visit apla.org.
APLA Health & Wellness (APLAHW) provides primary medical and oral health care, behavioral health services, HIV testing, PrEP counseling and management of eligible clients, STD screening/treatment, and health education and HIV-prevention services, with a specific focus on low-income gay and bisexual men of color and transgender individuals living in Los Angeles County. APLAHW is a federally qualified health center that includes: the Gleicher / Chen Health Center in South Los Angeles; the Wilshire Dental Clinic downtown; Behavioral Health Services at the David Geffen Center in Mid-City; as well as a mobile dental facility. The S. Mark Taper Foundation Dental Clinic in South Los Angeles is also part of APLAHW. APLAHW serves more than 8,000 people each year. For more information, please visit aplahw.org.