Latino Equality Alliance: LGBTQ Organization Offers Free Programs

In parent workshops, Castillo-Alvarado begs parents not to not throw their gay children out of their house even if they do not understand, dislike, or are confused about what they may have revealed to them.


Versión en español

Juan Castillo-Alvarado identifies himself as a gay individual. He underwent a tough situation with his family because his family was very religious and suffered harassment.

At age 9, Castillo-Alvarado came to the United States with his family. He grew up with his dad because his mom had passed away. He always knew he was different, but never wanted to say. His parents believed it was against the law of God to be gay, so he always hid it.

This caused him to be part of the Latino Alliance for Equality (LEA) and work for them.

“Working in a place where I do not want to hide my identity, sexual orientation, all that helps our self-esteem and more than everything we are doing is for the benefit of the LGBTQ community,” says Castillo-Alvarado.Castillo-Alvarado also has a gay brother.

When they both told their father, he stopped talking to them and became very distant for a long time. This caused a lot of emotional trauma for both Castillo-Alvarado and his brother. Castillo-Alvarado’s father kicked his brother out of his home.

In parent workshops, Castillo-Alvarado begs parents not to not throw their gay children out of their house even if they do not understand, dislike, or are confused about what they may have revealed to them.

“It has to do with honest and open communication, but communication when one is comfortable,” says Castillo-Alvarado.

LEA was established in November of 2008. During that time, representatives of various organizations and an alliance of people worked together on the Proposition 8 campaign in Los Angeles.

The founders of LEA saw the need to increase the support of LGBTQ individuals and issues in the Latino community.In short, it’s an organization created to support one another and also to see what changes could be made in the LGBTQ community.

Through public education, community forums, organized actions, coalition building and leadership development, LEA can get support for LGBTQ rights in the Los Angeles area.

All the help that LEA offers is completely free.Castillo-Alvarado, the director of public education at LEA, has many responsibilities within this organization.

One of his biggest responsibilities for Juan is giving information to the community. Not only give information for young people, but also families, parents, relatives, and school directors.

Family workshops at Mi Centro. Photo courtesy of Latino Equality Alliance (LEA).

This organization has many workshops, some of which are: workshops against harassment, family acceptance, emotional health and advocacy.

“These workshops are for people to know that harassment is not only for the LGTBQ community, it is happening everywhere,” says Castillo-Alvarado, “but it is definitely happening more for the marginalized community that includes the LGTBQ community, particularly the people of color. “

The organization is for the entire LGBTQ community and young people who are allies.

“They treat us with equality and respect as their name says,” says Candelaria Medina, who has been part of this organization for three years.

Medina came to the LEA desperately seeking help to understand her son when he revealed his sexuality to her.

“My experience with LEA was that we got to the right place,” says Medina.

At age 13, her son, Alex Medina, wanted to take his own life because he was being harassed at his school.

In participating in these workshops, her 19-year-old son has learned many things.

“He learned to first accept himself, and then love himself as he was, and then get up and lead the GSA group at his middle school,” says Medina.

LGBTQ Youth Council is a group attended by people between the ages of 14 and 24.

“When they see that there are other people like them, they start to support and create groups of friends,” says Castillo-Alvarado.

The Medinas: Mario, Candelaria, and Álex. Photo by Antonio Mejia-Rentas, Boyle Heights Beat.

An active member of the Youth Council group is Alejandra Meza, 23, who has been involved in it for more than five years. She participates, both in the student programs and in the community activities.

“Having the opportunity to work together with LEA and them working for other members of the community for me that means empowerment and support, because not many organizations give voice to LGBTQ Latinx people,” says Meza.

The unique part of this organization is the fact that there are programs offered in Spanish, compared to other groups who do not offer any.

Medina believes in the importance of educating the LGBTQ community. She says that if you are well educated and have a gay daughter or son you can save their life.

Medina’s son was accepted to universities in California such as UCLA and UC Berkeley. He decided to attend Hamilton University in New York for the support the campus has for students in the LGBTQ community. Right now, he is leading the GSA club at his university.

Castillo-Alvarado’s father has now changed his perspective on the community where two of his sons are a part of. Before Castillo-Alvarado’s father never asked him how his partner was, but now he does seem to care.

LEA is located at Mi LGBTQ Community Center in Boyle Heights.

Mario Luis Medina, Candelaria Medina, y Álex Medina at the Los Ángeles airport. Photo courtesy of the Medina family.

Tags:  Álex Medina Candelaria Medina Elaina Tovar GSA Juan Castillo-Alvarado Latino Equality Alliance LEA parents of LGBTQ youths

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