Coming out as LGBT is not easy and the desire for family acceptance does not change, no matter what culture you grow up in. Still, for Latino LGBT youth, cultural beliefs such as religion, values, and tradition are deeply rooted in families, adding a strenuous layer to the pressure of coming out.
Existimos: Jóvenes, Latinos & LGBTQ/We Exist: Young, Latino & LGBTQ sheds light on the struggles LGBTQ Latino youth face and opens up the dialogue between Latino LGBTQ youth and their families. The short video was created as part of a youth workshop series offered by Promesa, a program of Insitituto Familiar de la Raza, a San Francisco based Latino Wellness Center.
Four queer Latino youth truthfully discuss in the video how they are conflicted by their cultural beliefs, a longing to belong, and the lack of acceptance of their sexuality by their families. Despite their turmoil, the youth offer suggestions for ways Latino families and people living within their communities can be more accepting of LGBT youth. Words of encouragement give a positive spin on the subject by telling youth they are not alone, and to seek help from youth organizations like the Latino Wellness Center, if they do not know where to turn.
Promesa is the wellness center’s weekly LGBTQ youth support group. Participants in the program share the challenges, resiliency and hope associated with their unique experiences as Latino LGBTQ youth. The goal of Promesa is to provide a safer space for Latino LGBTQ young people to come together and create community, as well as hold discussions about the different issues they are facing. Promesa’s workshops include topics such as safe sex, portrayals of Latino LGBT people in media, creative writing, family and culture, gender and sexuality, and healthy relationships.
“What you see in the video reflects the conversations that had been developing throughout our workshops,” said Alex Marin, Prevention and Wellness Coordinator at Instituto Familiar de la Raza.
“The voices of the youth are so authentic because these are issues that our youth are currently dealing with and feel very passionately about,” explained Marin.
Promesa supported youth involved with the video by giving them the necessary tools to critically analyze and make verbal their thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
The video premiered at Miss & Mr. Safe Latino, San Francisco’s longest standing bilingual community awareness event for LGBTQ Chicanos/Latinos serving to highlight important issues currently impacting the Latino community.
“The reaction to the video has been very positive,” said Marin adding, “The stories received a lot of praise from community members who were excited to see a younger generation have a support system in place and witness conversations still not widely acceptable within the Latino community.”