The Stonewall Project: A Milestone Year
What do gay, bi, and trans men find at the Stonewall Project? A safe and welcoming place to address their substance use and set their own goals for their health and well-being. Offering client-centered, harm reduction–based treatment, counseling, and support services to some of San Francisco’s most marginalized men, Stonewall creates opportunities for guys to change their own lives.
Given the overwhelming stigma and shame surrounding substance use and addiction, treating people who use drugs as people is a part of what makes Stonewall unique and helps clients work toward their goals. “That is the start of an intervention—just treating them like human beings,” explains Stonewall counselor Kevin Mosley in an article from San Francisco AIDS Foundation. “A lot of our folks don’t always get treated like that. Some of our folks have told me, ‘This is different. You treat me like a regular dude.’ When that comes up, it’s great to hear.”
As Stonewall marks its 15th year, see how the program makes a difference, how it began, and where it’s headed. Excerpted below, the full article is available at sfaf.org.
“My belief is that people who use drugs should be treated decently, like anyone else,” says Michael Siever, PhD, director of behavioral health services at San Francisco AIDS Foundation. It’s a belief he put into practice when he founded the Stonewall Project, a family of counseling, treatment, and support services for men who have sex with men and who want to address their alcohol and other drug use. Now in its 15th year, the Stonewall Project has grown exponentially—and is on the cusp of expanding its services once again.
Siever started the program in response to an unmet need he saw in his community: services for gay men who were using crystal meth, a drug that boosts sex drive and lowers social and sexual inhibitions. “We’re talking about before the widespread use of protease inhibitors, so HIV was pretty much a death sentence, and gay men doing crystal meth were contracting HIV at an alarming rate,” Siever recalls. “It was definitely a public health emergency.”
The Stonewall Project tackled this crisis with a bold approach known as harm reduction. Unlike most models of substance use treatment, harm reduction programs “meet people where they’re at” without judgment and do not demand abstinence from alcohol and other drugs. “‘Harm reduction’ is basically any positive step in a direction for improved health and wellness,” explains Mike Discepola, director of the Stonewall Project. “Drug and alcohol use is one of the primary drivers of HIV infection and transmission, so starting there makes perfect sense.…”
Thinking about making changes to how you manage alcohol and/or drug use in your life? Visit the Stonewall Project online or call 415-487-3100 to learn how you can connect with services.