Latino LGBT group formed

Health care, immigration to be ad­dressed

GA Voice - - Front Page - By PA­TRICK SAUN­DERS Latino LinQ has also started a peer sup­port group on the sec­ond and fourth Thurs­day of each month at the Latin Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion. Any­one seek­ing more in­for­ma­tion about Latino LinQ and its ser­vices is en­cour­aged to visit their websi

A new or­ga­ni­za­tion has formed to meet the spe­cific needs of Ge­or­gia’s Latino LGBT pop­u­la­tion.

Con­ver­sa­tions about form­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion be­gan at the 2013 Cre­at­ing Change con­fer­ence, hosted by At­lanta that year and put on an­nu­ally by the Na­tional LGBTQ Task Force. Latino LGBT ac­tivists, in­clud­ing Leo Martinez, Ale­jan­dro Lopez and Greg Bautista, started dis­cussing what the com­mu­nity’s needs were and whether there was a gap to fill.

Martinez, com­mu­nity ed­u­ca­tion co­or­di­na­tor for anti-do­mes­tic vi­o­lence or­ga­ni­za­tion Cam­i­nar Latino, says that in­for­mal dis­cus­sions fol­lowed, but that ac­tion wasn’t truly taken un­til this year.

“We started meet­ing again in March of this year and that’s when we re­ally de­cided yes, let’s move for­ward, let’s do some­thing. Let’s talk about what the com­mu­nity needs and put some­thing to­gether,” says Martinez, who is now chair­man of the board of di­rec­tors of Latino LinQ.

While he’s hes­i­tant to nar­rowly de­fine ex­actly what the Latino LGBT com­mu­nity’s needs are, Martinez does men­tion some ar­eas.

“Some of the main things we rec­og­nized that are maybe higher up on that list are ac­cess to health care and men­tal health, HIV/ AIDS ed­u­ca­tion, and immigration, es­pe­cially with the trans­gen­der com­mu­nity who are at the fore­front of in­jus­tices be­cause that’s what we see the most,” he says.

How­ever, the needs as­sess­ment is an on­go­ing process and the group’s board of di­rec­tors con­tin­ues to col­lect feed­back from the com­mu­nity.

The ser­vices Latino LinQ cur­rently of­fer in­clude dis­cus­sion groups, health ed­u­ca­tion work­shops and HIV preven­tion ser­vices, and re­fer­rals to other agen­cies based on need. The group does not have its own phys­i­cal meet­ing space yet, so they rely on other or­ga­ni­za­tions like the Phillip Rush Cen­ter, Cam­i­nar Latino, the Latin Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion and oth­ers to lend out space for its pro­grams and events.

“The idea is to hope­fully raise funds and be self-sus­tain­able,” says Martinez, not­ing that they are still work­ing on set­ting a bud­get and are in the process of ap­ply­ing for their 501(c)3 non­profit sta­tus.

Latino LinQ board mem­bers and ad­vi­sory board mem­bers (from left) Ale­jan­dro Garay, Leo Martinez, Estrella Sanz, Moises Prado, Greg Bautista and Ken­neth DeLeón (Photo by Thomas Kerns/www.thomaskern­sphoto.com)

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