Strut, the new center for health and wellness is now open for business, with drop-in sexual health services now available and substance use, mental health and community resources moving to the center this month. Clients, community members and others can now stop in to visit the new space and see for themselves the services that are offered.
Castro resident Matt Emerson went to Strut three times in its opening week. He’s part of the Bridgemen planning committee, and he said it was a great space for the group to meet. “It [Strut] has generated a lot of good buzz in the neighborhood. It will be a go-to center, and that’s a really great thing. The community definitely needs a resource center in the Castro.”
Strut, a project of San Francisco AIDS Foundation, serves gay, bisexual and transgender men in the Castro—a San Francisco neighborhood heavily impacted by HIV. The PrEP, HIV testing and STI testing and treatment services formerly found at Magnet serve as the foundation of the new programs and services found at Strut. Other San Francisco AIDS Foundation programs, including the substance use program The Stonewall Project and community groups Bridgemen, Positive Force and the Elizabeth Taylor 50-Plus Network will also move into the new space. When all services move in later in January, Strut will be able to serve the community with best-in-class services supporting physical, mental and emotional health.
“People have heard about the move, and they’re definitely excited,” said Matt Beard, a long-time employee who now works at the Strut sexual health services desk. “We now have plenty of room and even more space to see people, and I don’t think we’ll have any trouble filling it up.”
“Today is Strut’s second day of seeing walk-in clients,” said Tim Patriarca, Executive Director of Strut, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony held on January 5. “We had a full line yesterday, and I’m sure we’ll have a line this morning. It’s very exciting. People know we’re around the corner and they’re showing up at our door; which is what we counted on.”
Neil Giuliano, former CEO of the foundation, said the idea for Strut was born at a board meeting four years ago in 2012. “We looked at capacity and we realized that as an agency, in partnership with the city and other agencies, a lot was already happening but we needed to do more. We needed to scale, we needed to grow our capacity to be able to see more people, test more people, treat more people, link more people to care—so that we could move forward to that day where a new HIV infection would be rare and the community of HIV-positive people in San Francisco would be better cared for. It has taken a long while, but it was worth the wait.”
Alex Ray, a Bridgemen member and photographer, said that the location of Strut in the Castro is welcome. “Now, we’ll be able to meet in a bold, very visible building in the Castro. It’s a three-story, glass-front building. We’re on the same block as the landmark Castro theatre. It’s just incredible, and it will be a wonderful resource for the community.”
Ray said he is also just beginning to volunteer at Strut as a concierge—helping clients find and navigate the free services that are available to them.
“I think it will be so helpful to have services consolidated in one place. People will be able to stop in and find out what services are available from the foundation. Whether it’s testing to know your status or substance use help or community groups. People won’t have to go out looking for those services, they’ll all be right here,” he said.
“The terraces are so nice,” said DeMarus Allen-Batieste, a Bridgemen member who’s visited Strut a few times. “You’re able to look down on Castro Street which is really nice. And it’s also awesome that everything is in one space.”
Counted among Strut’s clients will be District 8 Supervisor Scott Weiner, who helped champion the development of Strut with city stakeholders.
“I’m not just the guy who represents this area, I’m also a neighbor. I moved to the Castro in 1997 when protease inhibitors were still a brand new thing and we were just barely starting to turn the corner on the epidemic. I am also a client. I have been for many years at Magnet, and I will be at Strut,” he shared at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Strut is located at 470 Castro Street in San Francisco. For hours, contact information, a calendar of events, online resources and appointment information, visit www.strutsf.org.
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