responses that were expected--particularly since few had to do with sexual behavior per se. Similarly, reviewing educational assessment forms that were completed by GMHC's trainers in advance of each training for mental health providers gave us valuable program planning information about how the needs of that target audience had changed over time.
The purpose of this chapter has been to outline a process for developing new HIV education programs that has evolved from the successes, failures, frustrations, and educated guesses of a corps of dedicated staff and volunteers in the education department of Gay Men's Health Crisis. When any of us talk about this program model, we are usually asked whether so much process is necessary and whether there are shortcuts that can conserve time and money. We usually tell them there are shortcuts and we use them. But we also try to say that the investment in time and money in the process of planning usually saves time and money in the long run because it saves us from many--albeit not all--mistakes. Those mistakes usually happen because we make an assumption where we should have asked a question. Often those assumptions grow out of the belief that a gay male HIV educator is representative of the entire gay male population or that a Latino educator holds the same beliefs as the Latino population in a particular neighborhood. At this point in the epidemic, that is not always the case.
All of us function in a variety of cultural groups. Some play a major key in our lives, and others are minor harmonies. Every person in need of education is entitled to find that part of the broader melody where he or she feels most comfortable and to encounter there the information that makes sense for the moment and the opportunity to address a broader agenda when the time is right. It must be for us as educators a matter of trust in the communities we serve that, over time, most people will care enough about their own health and well-being to seek out the information they need to stay healthy and to seek for that information in places that are hospitable to them. The experience of Gay Men's Health Crisis demonstrates that when community based organizations understand themselves to be accountable to the communities they serve and commit themselves to be a part of those communities, our trust is well placed.