Healthline supports BEAM’s effort to support community initiatives focused on elder Black gay men living with HIV
Over the past several decades, monumental medical advancements surrounding HIV and AIDS have emerged. But not everyone who’s currently living with the virus receives the same amount of support, especially as it relates to resources.
To address this, the Joseph Beam Black Gay Men’s Wellness Grant was created through the partnership formed between Healthline and the nonprofit organization Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective (BEAM).
This grant was intentionally modeled after the ideas of the organization’s namesake Joseph Beam — the late Black, gay activist and poet known for his writing and support for gay and AIDS-related rights in the 1970s and 1980s.
“This grant specifically focuses on the wellness of Black gay men over the age of 50 living with HIV,” says Yolo Akili Robinson, founder and executive director of BEAM. “This is an oft-overlooked population, with the most support being centered on men of other races or young gay men.”
The grant addresses this gap by awarding $10,000 to three different groups engaged in wellness-focused work for older Black, gay men.
After reviewing applications and meeting with several folks doing impactful work across the country, BEAM awarded the Joseph Beam Black Gay Men’s Wellness Grants to:
- The T.R.U.T.H. Project, led by Kevin Anderson
- Brothers of the Desert & Let’s Kick ASS Palm Springs, led by Tim Vincent and Jax Kelly
- Sankofa HIV Initiative, led by Bryan C. Jones
Each of these efforts is unique and located in a different part of the country, but share a focus on empowering, educating, and supporting those living at the intersections of being Black and being a gay man.
To discuss the grant and the importance of Healthline’s partnership with BEAM, we sat down with Robinson and Healthline’s Vice President of Health Equity and Social Impact (HESI), Faye McCray.
Robinson: The Joseph Beam grant represents BEAM’s commitment to uplifting Black and marginalized people and their wellness needs at all levels.
There is a stigma that comes with an HIV diagnosis, which leads to isolation, and we felt it was vital to support organizations that are dedicated to providing care to men aging with HIV.
Through a partnership with Healthline, BEAM can bring increased awareness to this issue and provide resources for folks on a much larger scale.
McCray: It was incredibly important to us that this grant supported the causes that were important to BEAM and the community they seek to serve.
Like the other three grants, the focus of the Joseph Beam grant is an example of a unique and underserved segment of our audience that we would not have identified but for this partnership. We are proud to have played a part in supporting this work.
Robinson: The legacy of Joseph Beam is so important to maintain in the spirit of the way in which he lived. He envisioned a world where his community thrived, and we are committed to honoring this principle by healing through education, training, and advocacy.
The Joseph Beam Black Gay Men’s Wellness grant awardees are well known and trusted in their communities, have a history of advocacy and education, and have partnered with trained practitioners with an eye on developing holistic wellness practices for participants and crafting safe spaces to grow and connect.
Robinson: We believe that centering liberation in all we do will help us continue to evolve and transform dominant mental health systems and allow our community to reimagine care in ways that center the wellness of all people.
McCray: Core to our work with BEAM is exercising humility. As media outlets, our goal is to reach all people, but we must recognize when we may not have the tools in our toolkit to understand how nuanced and complex those needs may be.
Our partnership with BEAM has taught us to listen and learn. It is key to not only building valuable partnerships but also to engendering trust in our communities.
Between BEAM’s focus on healing, revolutionary funding choices, and the support from Healthline’s health-focused platform, the partnership continues to be successful.
Robinson and McCray are aligned on the vitality of uplifting marginalized communities, with both hoping that the grant partnership will act as a catalyst for many more opportunities to support community work already in action.
According to Robinson, even if communities seem out of reach, there are ways to engage with them positively.
The director says this starts with aligning with a partner you trust, leading the way to forming the relationship you’d like to create within those communities.
“It is not easy, and it may not happen quickly, but it can happen if you’re willing to make the commitment to fully trust your community partner to elevate organizations and causes that align with your mission,” Robinson says.
These responses have been edited for brevity. Stay tuned for more info on the grantees!