Wander into the unassuming door in the alley entrance behind Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountain’s (PPRM) 14th Avenue location, and you will find far more than one would expect. The Drop, PPRM’s HIV resource center for all things PrEP and sexual health, has become more than a spot for queer education. As the space approaches its first trip around the sun since inception, The Drop has seen massive success with its programming and community discussion groups, even surpassing their own hopes and aspirations.
Now, in alignment with their mission of creating a queer space for conversation, education, and recreation, The Drop is going next-level for their first Pride.
“We wanted to have a moment of just being proud of ourselves in our work, not just necessarily drinking, and boozing, and wearing scantily clad outfits, but the real work that has been done over the past hundred years, under the radars of ‘regular’ society,” said Thera Marshall, PPRM’s Colorado HIV program manager.
Marshall, along with the entire staff, have curated a Pre-Pride Jump Off event intended to reflect on progress while offering inspiration and food-for-thought for queer folks.
“For Pride, we wanted to have a moment of pause before the party, where we recognize where we’ve been, where we are, and try to see where we are going in the future,” Marshall said. “To take a moment to recognize the historical aspects of the queer community and what we have given to our nation. To remember those past fallen soldiers in the name of queerness, and recognize those that are in the fight now, coming up with a plan of what we’re going to be doing in the future. Especially since we’re under attack, as a queer community, via the Trump administration.”
From 5p.m. to 7p.m on Friday, June 14, Martin Walker, the director of HIV programs for PPRM, will be joined by special guest sex therapist and PrEP educator Damon L. Jacobs as they speak to the historical aspects of queer life, sex for pleasure, and how to get PrEPped for Pride. In addition to entertainment by some favorite local drag queens, The Drop will be handing out free condoms and lube to encourage all to have a fun and safe Pride weekend.
“Our main goal at The Drop is to get people tested for HIV, give them some information about sexual health and how to navigate through PrEP,” said Marshall. But he wants even more out of this event.
“One thing that I’m always worried about is that, being in the queer community, there are so many different silos,” he went on, “it’s great to have these silos; that’s how you feel like family. But, I was thinking that we have the opportunity to bring those groups together; they can understand that we’re all in this community together.”
Marshall feels lucky to have found individuals who want to uplift the queer community through creating various groups and discussion panels, and The Drop is able to provide a space for them to gather, socialize, and ignite awareness, especially because spaces like this don’t typically exist for people in the age demographic that they are seeking to reach.
“We do have a lot of youth groups and things of that nature, but there’s not very many out there going for the mid 20s, mid 30s groups. It’s been a really, really blessed occasion that people are actually coming in, utilizing the testing services that we have, and we’re providing them a space to build their community in the way they want to see it,” he said.
Friday night’s Pre-Pride Kickoff is free for the community, but ticket reservations are encouraged due to the expected high turn-out.
While The Drop forges into the future and continues to design programming and events that nurture the queer community of Denver in 2019, Marshall can’t help but challenge this generation of LGBTQ folks to continue looking at the work that’s still ahead.
“I think it’s something that could be said for when you can get 100, 200 people in a room and feed off that energy or that commonality, that common fear, that common want, that common riotous mentality,” he said. “That’s the whole point, for us to get together and say, ‘Hey, what are we going to do next year to kick people’s asses?'”