As Nashville CARES prepares for "Avantgarde," a special event commemorates its 25th anniversary, the organization also continues to build on its current slate of programs. One program in particular has established itself as a valuable tool for the city's GLBT community.  

nForm, targeted specifically for gay and bisexual men, is a diverse program that offers education and enlightenment for its audience. Staff members perform outreach at various establishments and present important discussions about sexual and emotional health.

The centerpiece of nForm is Confluence, a group that creates a safe space for these important conversations. Their monthly meeting is designed for attendees to "discuss and address the various issues that impact their ability to make and carry out informed decisions about their sexual health."

Confluence gathers on the last Tuesday of each month, and all meetings are free and open to the public.

"We accommodate for any man who has sex with another man regardless of HIV status," says Quoc Lam, education specialist for Nashville CARES. "However, my personal motivation is to tailor this program to support HIV-negative men in thinking about and making decisions that will help their overall mental, emotional and physical health."

Although CARES is primarily viewed as a resource for those who are HIV-positive, the organization in fact takes a broader approach and branches out to all populations.

"I am consistently surprised that so many people view Nashville CARES as a venue for HIV-positive people when the truth is we have the largest education and prevention department in the state of Tennessee," Lam says. "We have programming and services geared towards and targeting HIV-negative people."

Past events have included everything from educational workshops to yoga exercises. All activities are designed to develop a comfortable atmosphere for participants.

"I definitely wear my experiences on my sleeves and share candidly and this in turn makes the space safer for others to share openly," Lam says. "Ground rules are in place to ensure confidentiality and respectful engagement. These gatherings have been beneficial and effective in helping empower men to be aware of their community," Lam says.

 For more information on nForm, visit the program's Facebook page.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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