Brothers Of The Desert – Empowering Black Gay Men and Allies In The Coachella Valley
Posted on June 6, 2022
Brothers of the Desert (BOD) is a non-profit organization that provides a growing network of support for Black gay men and allies in the Coachella Valley. Our mission is to “nurture and support Black gay men and allies through philanthropy, volunteerism, mentorship, education, advocacy, and social networking. Our purpose is to change the dynamics that produce isolation, disconnection, and inequities among Black gay men.
The seeds of our group were planted in 2017 in response to these feelings of isolation and disconnection among a group of Black gay men in the Coachella Valley – both Black gay desert pioneers and Black gay desert newcomers. The founding group hosted a progressive dinner party on New Year’s Eve 2017 and in 2018 began discussing the need to intentionally support the Black gay community in a strategic and meaningful way.
We began by assessing who was in the valley by reaching out to personal contacts; we asked each other about the needs and dreams of the community in facilitated focus groups; and we learned about the experiences of long-standing Black gay residents and prior organizing efforts. In 2019 we partnered with Better Brothers of LA and began raising money for scholarships. Since we organized, we have dedicated more than $5,000 in scholarships to LGBTQ+ students and Black students in the Coachella Valley. Brothers of the Desert was formally incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization in 2020.
BOD now showcases two signature events in the community, an annual Wellness Summit, which emphasizes holistic health and community engagement, and an annual New Year’s Eve dinner-dance-fundraiser. BOD also connects with the community through a quarterly speaker series, a bi-monthly social event called, Brothers Got Talent and Drumbeat, a monthly newsletter. Regular programming is enhanced by special events for important dates such as Martin Luther King Day, Black History Month, and Juneteenth.
BOD believes in collaborations and building bridges with allies. Recent collaborators have included the Coachella Valley Repertory, Stonewall Ministries, Palm Springs Women and Jazz, and the L-fund. We have received support from several businesses and organizations including, the LBGTQ Community Center of the Desert, Bouschet, Blackbook, K-Gay radio, and more.
We hold monthly membership meetings on the second Saturday of every month. Members of our organization are Black/African-American men who identify as gay, queer, bisexual, or same-gender-loving and who are connected to the Coachella Valley. Allies are individuals who are interested in supporting our well-being regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or geographic location.