Keeping our promise/Manteniendo nuestra PROMESA
Filed Under: Uncategorized
After recent successes in the LGBTQQ community, social and political LGBTQQ equality seems more feasible. After decades of struggle, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality; the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed; and Ricky Martin is happily living “La Vida Loca” as an openly gay father and husband. Yet, Latinx* LGBTQQ individuals, and youth in particular, continue to face many challenges in their everyday lives. Discrimination, bullying, homelessness, and high suicide rates remain a painful reality. A 2013 report by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation found that LGBTQQ Latinx youth are more likely to face harassment and violence in their communities than their non-queer Latino peers. They are also are much less likely to participate in a variety of community activities, leaving them feeling isolated and at increased risk.
Fortunately, Si a La Vida, IFR’s program targeting the health and wellness needs of the LGBTQQ community, is tackling the issues facing Latinx LGBTQQ youth in San Francisco with PROMESA. PROMESA provides a safe and culturally welcoming space for Latinx queer youth, ages 14 to 19, to share their experiences across the complex web of race, gender, and sexual orientation issues they face. The program includes weekly support/discussion groups, curricula related to social issues ranging from racism and homophobia in society to depression and family rejection, and art projects which are used to encourage healthy and creative outlets for self-expression among LatinX LGBTQQ youth.
In addition, PROMESA includes case management, tutoring, individual counseling, community resources referrals, college application assistance, and more. Tony Ramos and Geovani Espinoza, PROMESA’s youth advocates, provide critical staffing for the program. Having experienced many of the challenges LGBTQQ youth face, Tony and Geovani are fully committed to reaching as many LGBTQQ youth as possible. “PROMESA gives us the chance to make it just a little easier for our younger LGBTQQ Latinx youth. It’s work that is central to who we are as individuals and as a community,” notes Tony.
PROMESA is one of the first SF groups for Latinx queer youth. Geovani believes the program nurtures and empowers youth to be fearless and comfortable with themselves. “When they feel comfortable with themselves, they begin envisioning a different future for themselves. They begin recognizing their true power and leadership abilities.”
PROMESA just completed its first full year. IFR is currently seeking funds to keep the program going. We invite all who recognize the importance of keeping our PROMESA for LGBTQQ youth alive to make a contribution on IFR’s website at www.ifrsf.org. Just click on the Contribute button at the bottom of the page, then click the Donate Now button. After selecting the amount you’d like to contribute, use the “Select A Designation” drop down list and select PROMESA. This ensures your contribution will keep PROMESA going! You can also make your contribution by regular mail. Send checks to: IFR, 2919 Mission Street, SF, CA 94110. Be sure to write PROMESA on the note line.
*Latinx is a term that describes Latino/a individuals without reinforcing gender binaries.