As a drug and alcohol counselor with the Stonewall Project, I provide individual and group therapy to help men struggling with substance use. The job is deeply personal. I became a therapist more than 12 years ago because I wanted to work with people who have HIV. I was diagnosed HIV positive in 1983, when I was 24 years old.
At the Stonewall Project we provide substance use treatment to gay, bisexual, and transgender men who are struggling with a variety of different substances, including alcohol, methamphetamine, and cocaine. In addition to individual and group counseling, we also offer medical case management and psychiatry services.
A lot of the clients that I work with have been using substances for a long time by the time they come to me, and the drugs have really taken a toll on them. Many of these folks have had trauma throughout the course of their lives. A lot of them were bullied when they were younger, or they’ve experienced homophobia throughout the course of their lives. Often they are devastated, and they need help on many levels.
With your generous support, San Francisco AIDS Foundation is able to be there for those men at their time of greatest need.
This work is very rewarding. I’ve seen a lot of guys throughout the years come in to a program like Stonewall and they’re really in need of help. Getting them back on their feet is a process and it doesn’t happen quickly, but a lot of them make it. It’s gratifying when you see someone first come to us and they’re so fragile, and you stay with them, you provide them with the best level of care that you can, and over time they really move forward with their lives. They get off the drugs. They resolve mood problems. They reconnect with their families and go back to work.
To know that we have thousands of supporters who are familiar with the foundation, who know the work we do, and know how important it is—that’s very gratifying. It helps the staff of the foundation and at Stonewall to feel supported, which is important because this is difficult work. It’s important to me to know that there are people in our community that appreciate what we do and are able to provide us with the financial support to help us serve our community.