The Core Group is the decision-making body of the GCMC that designs and carries out all activities. It is comprised of 12 young gay/bisexual men. The Core Group’s role is to:
• Analyze the problems and dilemmas that young gay/bisexual men face in Columbus
• Strategize how to address those problems through Project activities,
• Implement solutions to the problems and analyze if the strategies are successful.
The Project attracts young gay/bisexual men to it by sponsoring fun, interesting Social Outreach Events where safer sex and HIV testing is promoted. The events provide participants with opportunities to make friends who can support them in HIV prevention and in becoming further involved with the Project. The outreach events are social in nature, and they range from large dances and parties to smaller activity groups and movie nights. They give young gay/bisexual men a chance to meet and socialize while also being exposed to safer sex messages. In addition, these Social Outreach Events provide opportunities to invite young gay/bisexual men to participate in M-groups and other Project activities.
M-groups are peer-led, one-time meetings of 8 to 10 young gay/bisexual men that give participants an opportunity to talk openly about HIV prevention issues. The meetings, which usually last about two hours, are an extremely important part of Mpowerment. M-groups make it possible for young gay/bisexual men to meet and get to know one another in a relaxed, supportive, and enjoyable setting. The groups help young men to confront issues and feelings that they may not ordinarily face, and relate to other young men in a deep and profound way thereby building bonds throughout the community.
M-Group topics include but are not limited to:
• uncertainty about what is unsafe and safer sex
• beliefs that safer sex is boring and not fun
• poor communication skills for negotiating safer sex
• beliefs that it is difficult to get a partner to have safer sex with you
• interpersonal issues that may interfere with safer sex
• lack of planning ahead to have safer sex
• lack of perceived social norms that support safer sex and knowing your current HIV status
• lack of knowledge of correct use of condoms
• social support to have safer sex and to get tested