It may seem a bit unlikely that an ex-pastor of 25 years would be the one to tap the nerve of a community that many believe are soul-less.  Alvero Jones is the founder of a group entitled Relationship Quest – now just under two years young.  Using the strengths of social marketing through Facebook and the power of word of mouth advertising he has taken a simple idea to great heights. 

Alvero went to North Central University back in the days when it was called North Central Bible College.  He studied to become a pastor and engaged in that work for 25 years before moving on to complete another decade in mental health services.  He is passionate about the idea that men who have sex with men also have the same fundamental desire for closeness and intimacy.  Further, he believes that many of the health disparities considered to be common to the LGBTQ community are diminished when individuals are coupled. 

This belief is was what empowered him to take all of his experience and skill and apply it in a different capacity.  Just a couple short years ago he began the group entitled Relationship Quest (RQ).  RQ is part support group and part social club with regular weekly activities.  The group meets on Thursday evenings weekly at the Twin Cities Men’s Center from 7 – 9pm. 

Using limited financial resources and running currently as a labor of love, Jones is hopeful that in the coming months he will be able to file for 501 C (3) status.  He is able to garner the support of the growing fans by training many to be leaders in the effort.  This in turn is freeing him up to roll the effort into a newly developing non-profit organization.  RQ currently has over 800 followers on Facebook and a large number of regular attendees at the groups.  Jones has personally trained many of the group’s regulars as additional leaders allowing him to now focus on the further development of the organization’s structure.  The group does not charge a fee but donations are welcomed to help offset costs of operations.  RQ serves many gay, bisexual and questioning men ages 18 and up.  What is it that brings people together for RQ?   Perhaps it is the simple desire to engage in dialog about healthy relationships. 

Groups often have guest speakers who have been in successful male-male relationships themselves.  By bringing these role models to the front RQ is accomplishing something that falls outside of the box for many local HIV prevention programs.  Jones states that the desire for companionship is strong for most humans regardless of whether they are heterosexual or not.  Marriage equality or not – RQ is filling a niche market of men who want to have more than just sex with other men.  Learn more about Relationship Quest on Facebook or at their website: http://www.relationshipquest.org/

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