Things That Matter

Laith Ashley De La Cruz Talks About His Journey From Health Care Worker To Health Care Advocate

Laith Ashley De La Cruz worked for an LGBTQ health organization in New York City before becoming a full-time model and social media star. As a child of immigrants living in New York City, De La Cruz saw firsthand the fear and misinformation that runs through many immigrant communities that prevents people from accessing necessary healthcare. De La Cruz recently spoke on mitú‘s panel, “A Conversation With America: Know Your Health Rights,” hosted by actor and advocate Jaime Camil. He sat down with mitú before the panel to talk about the state of health care for immigrants.

Trans model and activist Laith Ashley De La Cruz is personally familiar with the healthcare issues facing immigrants.

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For one, De La Cruz is the child of immigrants and grew up in a predominately immigrant community. That upbringing made him notice one common obstacle preventing immigrants from getting healthcare.

“Immigrants have this fear, especially if they are undocumented, that ‘la migra’ will find them,” De La Cruz says. “I worked at an LGBT health center in New York and one of the biggest issues when trying to get folks to sign up for healthcare was that they were afraid to give their personal information. They thought that if they were undocumented and the government found out that they had healthcare that someone was out to get them.”

As for trans immigrants seeking healthcare, De La Cruz says that respect plays a bigger role.

“For trans people, [healthcare] is even more difficult because you are hoping that this person understands you,” De La Cruz says. “[You hope] they’re not going to judge you for being ‘different’ and that they’re going to be respectful of your pronouns and your journey. A lot of the time, that’s just not the case.”

De La Cruz believes that respect from medical professionals is crucial to further proper healthcare information for trans people who fear being humiliated when seeking medical advice. Without respect for the patient, it is hard to build the trust necessary to ease those fears and encourage trans people to seek healthcare.

The recent statements made by President Donald Trump, banning trans people from serving in the military because of a “financial burden” they create, haven’t helped to better understanding and respect for the trans community.

De La Cruz says Donald Trump has “no idea how the military works,” and is creating a false narrative on why trans people join the military.

“The misconception that trans people are joining the military solely for medical reasons is ridiculous,” says De La Cruz. “They’re risking their lives. They’re fighting on the front lines for our liberty here in the States so for him to have said that is completely ridiculous.”

De La Cruz only needs to look to one of his best friends, military veteran and trans activist Shane Ortega.

“He was one of the folks who was right there in the movement trying to get rights for trans people in the military,” he says. “He told me that it was very difficult for him to navigate the system, but he was able to.”

“You need to get educated,” De La Cruz tells people about healthcare access.

#flashbackfriday with @sutanamrull! #raja #onset #makelovenotwalls #rupaulsdragrace #dragrace #dragqueen #lgbt

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De La Cruz says people need to do more than just understand the basics of the healthcare system in the U.S. People also need to learn which organizations have the best interest of the community in the heart of their mission. For Latinos, that means finding healthcare or social advocacy organizations that can break down information so they can benefit to the fullest.

He admits that he hasn’t spent a lot of time advocating for immigrant healthcare access, but that’s about to change.

Now that he has a decent social media following, De La Cruz plans on using his influence to start spreading the word about the importance of healthcare access for immigrants. He wants immigrants to understand that there is help for them to get the healthcare they deserve.

De La Cruz considers a lack of empathy in society as a major reason immigrants struggle to receive healthcare.

When you smile so hard, your eyes disappear ? Outtake by @_williambaker. #flashback #ftm #lgbT #latino #dominicanrepublic

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“People need to understand that even though they are not personally affected by something that other people face, in the grand scheme of things, it is possible that they can be affected,” De La Cruz says. “You should care for other people, not just yourself. There are other people who are facing all sorts of crises and you should be able to acknowledge that these things are an issue. Just because it doesn’t directly affect you now doesn’t mean that it won’t in the long run.”

Now, De La Cruz plans on showing how intersectionality plays a major role in the healthcare debate.

“Part of my job now is to speak at universities and I’m oftentimes asked to speak on different panels,” De La Cruz explains. “I do talk about healthcare issues with the trans community, but now I am looking to tie it in with the immigrant community as well.”

You can watch De La Cruz talk more about the importance of healthcare access for immigrants below.

A Conversation With America: Know Your Health Rights

Join us for A Conversation With America: Know Your Health Rights, streaming LIVE with host Jaime Camil and special guests Laith Ashley, Joanna Cifredo & more.

Millions of undocumented immigrants make this country great. Their health matters too.

#Health4All #LCHCthrive

Posted by We are mitú on Thursday, August 17, 2017

READ: 9 Latinx LGBTQ People Who Deserve An ‘Out Magazine’ Cover More Than This White Supremacist

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The Cast of ‘Glee’ Along With Demi Lovato Paid Tribute to Naya Rivera At the GLAAD Awards


The Cast of ‘Glee’ Along With Demi Lovato Paid Tribute to Naya Rivera At the GLAAD Awards

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On Thursday, the cast of “Glee” paid tribute to Naya Rivera at the GLAAD Media Awards. Rivera was a once-in-a-lifetime talent the touched so many lives personally and through the screen while she was alive. But perhaps none of Naya’s roles were as impactful as Santana Lopez was.

This year, GLAAD decided to take time to honor the impact Naya Rivera had on LGBTQ representation onscreen.

During a time when LGBTQ represenation onscreen was rare, Santana Lopez was groundbreaking for being both queer and Latina. Santana went from a shut-off closeted cheerleader to an out-and-proud lesbian woman. This was a story arc many queer kids had never seen before.

Demi Lovato introduced the cast of “Glee” with a touching speech. She described how honored she was (and still is) to have played Santana’s girlfriend, Dani, on the show.

“I don’t have to tell you that this year was a tough, tough year,” Lovato said. “A particular moment of heartbreak stands out for me: losing my friend Naya Rivera. I will always cherish the chance I got to play Naya’s girlfriend, Dani, on ‘Glee.’”

“The character Naya played, Santana Lopez, was groundbreaking for closeted queer girls — like I was at the time,” she went on. “And her ambition and accomplishments inspired Latina women all over the world.”

Then, dozens of former “Glee” cast members gathered via Zoom to pay tribute to Naya Rivera.

The tribute featured former “Glee” actors like Darren Criss, Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison, Amber Riley, Heather Morris, Harry Shum Jr., Jenna Ushkowitz, Chris Colfer, and Kevin McHale. There were also many others.

“Naya would be honored to receive this recognition,” read the statement. “When Naya was told that Santana would be a lesbian she called me to let me know and I asked her how did she feel about that and she said ‘I feel great about it!'”

“This year marks the tenth anniversary that Naya’s character, Santana Lopez, came out on ‘Glee’,” said Dot-Marie Jones, who played Coach Beast on the Fox series.

“Santana basically got disowned by her family. And as alot of us know, that’s a feeling too many LGBTQ kids know too well,” continued Chris Colfer, who played Kurt Hummel.

The loving tribute then ended with a written statement from Naya Rivera’s mother Yolanda Previtire, who couldn’t make it to the call.

“Little did we know that she would impact so many people in the LGBTQ community. Her desire was to always be an advocate to those who did not have a voice.

“She continued: “I don’t believe that she realized how important she was to this world. I am grateful that my eldest daughter helped to change the landscape of how we view and see each other.”

“Her desire was to always be an advocate to those who did not have a voice,” the message read, in part. “I don’t believe that she realized how important she was to this world. I am grateful that my eldest daughter helped to change the landscape of how we view and see each other.”

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Selena Gomez Tells Senate to Pass Equality Act, Credits Gay Community with Launching Her Music Career


Selena Gomez Tells Senate to Pass Equality Act, Credits Gay Community with Launching Her Music Career

After the Equality Act was recently passed in the House, Selena Gomez is now telling the Senate to pass the bill that would give added federal protections to the LGBTQ+ community. The Mexican-American pop star also talked about her history with the gay community and how they helped support her music career.

The Equality Act would extend protections from the Civil Rights Act to the LGBTQ+ community.

The Equality Act was first introduced in 2015. The bill would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to extend protections against discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity when it came to employment, housing, education, and other public and federal accommodations. In 2019, the Senate under President Donald Trump refused to vote on the bill.

The Equality Act recently passed through the House and now Gomez wants the Senate to pass it as well.

In February, the Equality Act was reintroduced to the House of Representatives. The bill passed through the House for a second time on Feb. 25. In a recent interview with the Recording Academy, the institution that hosts the Grammy Awards, Gomez is telling the Senate to vote on the bill this time and pass it through.

“We’ve come a long way in the last 10 years, but we have so much further to go,” Gomez said about the progress of LGBTQ+ rights in the country. “The Senate must pass the Equality Act. It’s absurd that this is even being debated in 2021.”

Gomez says the gay community helped support her 2009 breakthrough hit “Naturally.”

While Gomez was promoting her Latin music EP Revelación, she also revisited a few of her past hits. In 2009, she launched her music career with her band The Scene. Later that year, Gomez got her first top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with her breakthrough smash “Naturally.” While talking about her relationship with the gay community, she says they were the first ones to show that song love.

“Earlier you mentioned my song ‘Naturally’ and I remember when it was released, it truly started getting played in the gay bars before anywhere else,” she said. “I would hear from older friends that they heard when they went out. I was so jealous that I was too young to be out and dancing to it with everyone. The LGBTQ+ community has been there for me and I don’t take them for granted.”

The Equality Act is waiting to be debated by the Senate. This is Gomez’s first time speaking in support of the bill. Last year, she launched the Black Equality Fund to support groups like the Movement for Black Lives.  In March, she also asked for the Senate to pass the People Act.

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Read: Selena Gomez and Myke Towers’ “Dámelo To’” is Everything: Listen to the ‘Revelación’ Standout

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