With six locations, the Los Angeles LGBT Center is the largest of its kind throughout the world. The Center provides health, social, and educational services to over 42,000 individuals each month. Say It With A Condom had the opportunity to interview Brett Holland, the head of the West Hollywood gay men’s wellness program. Holland started working for WeHo Life seven years ago, but also has a background in production, which he uses to implement creative strategies on behalf of the LGBT community both locally and internationally.
Below is a lightly edited transcription of an interview we did with Brett:
What exactly is WeHo Life?
WeHo Life is a program that is specifically targeted to gay men’s and transgender women’s health.
The overall organization targets much more than that, but it is divided up into specific branches in order to implement the most effective strategies in advocating for LGBT rights. The entire program is actually funded by the city of West Hollywood, and they are very proactive in making sure that everyone is receiving the proper care they need.
What are some services offered by the center?
The program offers services for testing, PrEP, mental health services, programs targeting homeless youth, transgender services, and more.
This organization really is all encompassing. WeHo life specifically also offer strip surveys, which is a unique and fun way to interact with the program. For every question on the survey someone answers, a porn star takes off one article of clothing. Who wouldn’t want to participate in that?
How has this organization influenced the West Hollywood area?
People have learned to become more accepting to this culture. The gay population in WeHo is a very prominent one, and being able to advocate for them has allowed people to become more open-minded and accepting to this community.
Our online programs have reached people in all fifty states, and even different countries. People in Russia are watching our videos, and it’s incredible because gay men there don’t have a safe haven like this, but we can give them that through our online program. It’s amazing what technology can do nowadays!
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced while working with the Los Angeles LGBT Center?
West Hollywood is not a very diverse area. It consists of mostly caucasian people, and the majority of the gay population here is muscular, white males. However, there is a latino population as well, and they do not receive the proper attention that they need due to their background.
The LGBT Latino population between the ages of 19-25 still has a disproportionately higher rate of HIV, but it is something that the Los Angeles LGBT Center is actively working to change!
How did your partnership with Say It With A Condom help enhance the delivery of your message?
The customized condom foils provided by Say It With A Condom are terrific and actually very popular. People want to take them because of the creative packaging. And that accomplishes our goal of making sure people have access to and are making use of these tools.
Where do you see the program going in the future?
I am focusing on pushing the use of condoms despite the introduction of PrEP. I also want to make sure that there is a continued sense of awareness surrounding the LGBT community and HIV. People need to stay informed so that they don’t feel ashamed. Inclusion is key, especially in West Hollywood considering the discrimination people face due to their body type or ethnicity.