Latinos and homophobia: Time to tell the truth
Latinos are homophobic. A Latino child who comes out as gay is going to be kicked out of their home. Latinos don’t like people who are living with HIV.
What do these statements have in common? They are all false. Maybe not entirely. Yet this is the story that people share about our community. That we, as Latinos, are somehow more homophobic or have more HIV related stigma than other communities.
Well, I am here to tell you that this is simply not true. In fact, such a claim is actually racist and we must do everything in our power as a community to get rid of this non-truth.
In 2013, GALAEI created a campaign called POSITIVO. We surveyed our community and, guess what? We learned that we support our family members who are gay or living with HIV. We might not always understand or wish our family member was or could be straight. We do not want them to be unhappy or lonely, and we certainly do not want anyone to be at risk of getting HIV.
But we love our families no matter what. We are Latinos and family comes first. This is the message GALAEI wants to get out.
Since 1989, GALAEI has provided HIV-related services to Philadelphia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community. We provide confidential, bilingual HIV testing; youth leadership counseling; sexual health workshops; LGBT sensitivity trainings; and services for transgender individuals. We are proud of the work we do. Some highlights include sending one of our youth to lead a presentation at the nation’s largest LGBT conference; linking people living with HIV to same day medical care, and working with transgender inmates in the Philadelphia Prison System. In April 2015, GALAEI took a big step that was years in the making by relocating to North Philly, 149 W. Susquehanna Avenue in Norris Square to be exact. Since then, we have increased our partnerships with Latino organizations like Taller Puertorriqueno and A Seed on Diamond Gallery; and started hosting a gathering for gay Latino men, and one for families of people living with HIV.
In the next few months, around our neighborhood, you will see new POSITIVO posters — the story of Jorian, a young, gay Latino who was recently diagnosed with HIV. He does not want to keep his status a secret. He wants to share his story so that others who are living with HIV do not feel alone or ashamed. He cannot do this work alone.
We need our community. We invite you to our home so we can hear from you.
What does our community need? Do you have a LGBT family member who needs support with housing, employment, or living with HIV?
Come to our meet-and-greet on Feb. 12, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. to share your ideas, let us know what we should be doing more of, or sign up to help our communities. We want to work with our community to support LGBT Latinos. We are family, after all.
Since 2009, Elicia Gonzales has enthusiastically served as Executive Director for GALAEI: A queer [email protected] Social Justice Organization where she leads a team of dedicated, hard-working, and passionate individuals. Gonzales serves on the Board of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern PA; on the Jonathan Lax Scholarship Committee for Bread & Roses Community Fund; and on the Leadership Council for the National Latino AIDS Action Network. She is a Rockwood Fellow for Racial and Gender Justice in HIV/AIDS Movement.