By Norman R. Briere
June is Pride Month in Mexico and we in the LGBTQIA+ community and our allies step back and celebrate our history, the advances this country has made, and yes, being our colorful selves. Since the 1971 founding of Frente de Liberación Homosexual we can count many successes. Sexual orientation has been protected by law since 2003. A few years later came federal recognition of same-sex marriage; same sex couple adoptions; and today transgendered persons are now legally able to change their gender and name. These advances have been made state-by-state but the path has been consistently forward. The dignity of being able to exercise our human rights is ever more evident. So yes, we have much to celebrate.
This past fall the young staff at CASA A.C. convinced the administration to create a new program, ColoresSMA, specifically to serve local LGBTQIA+ youth. This program now fills a void in San Miguel de Allende to help meet the challenges particular to this community. Services range from educational programs on sexual health; HIV and STI testing and counseling; coordinated treatment and support; and psychological and legal support. But most importantly ColoresSMA has created a space where young people can come together, create community, and realize they are not alone.
ColoresSMA is vitally important because our work is not finished. Right now many cannot see beyond their hate. We know that the actions of families, schools, and communities can determine whether a teen coming out of the closet will be healthy and well-adjusted or a potential homicide or suicide statistic. Young people are bullied for being gay or different. They live with repression at home or worse are ostracized or thrown on the streets and left to fend for themselves. They are literally fighting for their survival.
Young people who identify as LGBTQIA+ face many other challenges. They are considered the most at risk with the highest rates of suicide, HIV, STI’s, and drug abuse. The daily experience of bullying and discrimination is very real. Acts of violence against them cause their deaths–especially those among us who do not follow the “norms” of sexual identity. For many staying safe, sane, and healthy is a daily battle.
So, you ask, what can I do to help? First, recognize that the dangers our youth face are very real. Second, become an ally and provide your vocal support whenever presented with the opportunity. Standing up to hate is important for all to witness. And finally, your time and financial support can be earmarked to ColoresSMA. We have so much more to do, and your help is desperately needed.
For additional information please contact Norman Briere, member of the Board of San Miguel CASA, Inc., firstname.lastname@example.org or 415 167 1936. To donate to CASA ColoresSMA please go to: casa.org.mx/give-now/ and indicate ColoresSMA in the comment field.