things that matter

Queer Latinas: California Is Considering Funding for Lesbian, Bisexual, And Queer Health

@pride / Instagram

If you’re a Lesbian, Bisexual or Queer (LBQ) Latina woman, you might not have given our invisibility in health equity much thought. As in every civil rights movement, women always come second to men, and people of color take the tail end of achieving meaningful justice. The facts are that LBQ women are facing challenges in getting healthcare, receiving nondiscriminatory healthcare and adequate mental health services that straight women do not face.

California is set to become the very first state in the nation to balance the scales as it consider the Lesbian, Bisexual & Queer Women’s Health Equity Fund in a budget proposal to be decided on by June 1.

If this makes you angry, it’s time to speak out.

@lgbtpr / Instagram

We only have a couple weeks until Governor Newsom signs off on California’s budgetary proposal for the next year. He, and other deciding members of California Congress need to know that Californians care about LBQ women.

An estimated 2 million of Californians identify as LBQ women.

@vanessadearest / Instagram

And our population is suffering. How many of your queer Latina friends can you think of that aren’t abusing drugs or alcohol, haven’t faced discrimination by a healthcare provider, or can actually afford health insurance? How many of us are suffering from untreated depression or anxiety as a result of a lifetime of discrimination?

Full disclosure: I’m the one holding the husky plushy.

LA LGBT Center

I started volunteering with “The Resistance Squad” at the Los Angeles LGBT Center while I was still closeted, on an obvious search for self discovery. Today, mi gente are still teaching me about myself.

When the Center first started lobbying for this project, I couldn’t believe the statistics I was reading. I could put a face to every single statistic. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Compared to straight women, LBQ women are half as likely to get pap smears and mammograms.

@pride / Instagram

At the Center, we delved deep into our own stories and shared. I heard Latina women sharing horror stories. After one woman disclosed her orientation to their OB/GYN, the doctor became immediately uncomfortable and refused to give her a breast exam.

That means that when breast and ovarian cancers are caught, they’re much more likely to be more advanced than straight women.

@lgbtpr / Instagram

This one story and others like it, compounded, have led to higher predicted rates of breast and ovarian cancer for LBQ women compared to straight women. People are dying.

Latina LBQ women are at even higher risk.

@outmagazine / Instagram

According to the National Institutes of Health, Latina LBQ women have higher rates of smoking, acute drinking, disability and poorer general health than straight Latina women. On top of that, we’re more likely to report frequent mental distress, which the researchers concluded were a result from “the cumulative risk of doubly disadvantaged statuses.”

There are 135% higher rates of psychological distress in older LBQ women than older straight women.

@68BEARS / Twitter

Every gay Latina I know, including myself, is screaming this at their Catholic parents on the regular. The NIH study also reports that Latina women who “violate conventional feminine norms” in our culture experience additional stressors. Preach.

LBQ women are also 150 percent more likely to binge drink than straight women.

@thewifeyadventures / Instagram

While that is certainly dangerous for our physical health, it also reflects on the mental health of our community. I think of the vast majority of people I love who are in recovery or still suffering from addiction, and can’t understand why nobody is paying attention.

Oh, and why can’t any doctor tell the lesbians, bisexuals and queeros how to practice safe sex?

@crazyexgalpal / Instagram

It’s infuriating to go to an OB/GYN and ask questions like: Can I spread this yeast infection to my partner? Can she spread it to me? How do I protect myself? The doctor almost always is thinking on the spot the answer to these questions for the first time, with no real answer.

The LBQ Health Equity Fund would provide training to healthcare providers to provide culturally appropriate healthcare for millions of marginalized Californians.

@outmagazine / Instagram

It’s partially not their fault. There is little to no research on LBQ sexual health. A percentage of the LBQ Health Equity Fund would address the gaps in research targeting LBQ women’s health needs and to inventory existing programs.

1 in 2 LBQ women have experienced discrimination in a healthcare setting, myself included.

Danielli Marzouca

A few years back, I took off work and hauled my nalga over to an expensive specialist to get to the bottom of my illness. Today, I know I have an immune deficiency disorder. Back then, when the doctor was reading her questionnaire and I outed myself, all diagnostics stopped. She assumed I was HIV positive and spent 45 minutes educating me on what my life would be like, what medications I would take, and that she didn’t really know how I would practice safe sex.

If I were a straight woman, I wouldn’t have spent the next few years avoiding doctors, staying constantly sick and calling out of work.

Danielli Marzouca

I had an incredible opportunity to tell my story to California legislators. I was two weeks into a bad cold, and as I write this, I’m still sick. I had a lapse in health insurance, and as grateful to have insurance now, I still can’t afford the treatment I need to stay reasonably healthy. I am not unique. These statistics are reflected in the entire LBQ women community.

All of these issues are nuanced, and difficult to understand how to treat.

MafeMel / Facebook

The problem is systemic. Our community is invisible to the California Department of Public Health. So what’s the solution? Get visible. Get loud.

The LGBT Center organized our voices and hand delivered hundreds of personal letters to California legislators this month.

LGBT Center / Facebook

It was an empowering day to sit down and truly reflect on all how I had been impacted by the statistics I was reading. It became so clear to all of us that our community is barely scraping by. We need help.

A few of us flew up to Sacramento to share our stories with legislators.

Danielli Marzouca

Meet Joey Hernández (left), the LA LGBT Center’s Policy and Mobilization Manager and the Leslie Knope of all things to do with this issue. Like any good mami, they randomly had Zicam and tissues on hand.

But they need to hear your stories.

Danielli Marzouca

Almost every single legislator I spoke with was shocked to hear that our community’s literal health was struggling. Please, if you have a story you wan’t heard, only you can do that.

Call Senator Holly Mitchell at (916) 651-4030.

@hollyjmitchell / Twitter

She is the chair on the Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review and her vote is crucial in the next few days. You can also email her here.

Most likely, you’ll only need to leave a voicemail or talk to one of her staffers. You can simply state that you want the Senator to vote in favor of the Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer Women’s Health Equity Fund, or also share your story.

Okay, now, call Assembly Member Phil Ting at (916) 319-2019.

@philting / Instagram

He’s on the Assembly Committee on Budget, and we think his vote may sway this thing. Remember, these guys work for us, but they’re so far removed from our community, they need us to tell them why they should care.

Remember, we already have a model for success with both gay men’s health and trans health in California.

@lgbtpr / Instagram

After the government started making systemic changes to address the HIV crisis as an issue of public health, we’ve seen incredible strides in both research and culturally appropriate healthcare for gay men. LBQ women deserve a thoughtful eye into the issues that are truly shortening our lives.

Live in Los Angeles and like this feeling? Join the Resistance Squad!

Los Angeles LGBT Center / Facebook

There’s so much you can do to get involved. Ask your comadre to call Senator Mitchell and Assembly Member Ting, too. Share this page with your crew and get the conversation going. The only way out of these issues is through them. Pa’lante!

READ: Isabella Gomez From ‘One Day At A Time’ Is Humbled To Be An Icon To The Latinx LGBTQ Community

Even In Her 70s, Victoria Cruz Continues To Fight For The LGBTQ Community

Things That Matter

Even In Her 70s, Victoria Cruz Continues To Fight For The LGBTQ Community

iamsamkirk / Instagram

The history of Gay Rights in the country date back to the late ’60s and the epicenter was Manhattan. The core fighters of the LGBTQ community include Marsha P. Johnson, Scott G. Brown, Sylvia Rivera, and a slew of other pioneers. The sad thing is this generation has passed or will very soon, which is why we have to honor their legacy while they’re still alive. One of those people is an inspiring person in our Latinx community.

Victoria Cruz, who is in her 70s, is a survivor of the Stonewall Riots and is still very much a part of the fight for LGBTQ rights.

Instagram/@marinadelbey

Cruz, who was born in Puerto Rico, is one of 11 children that grew up in New York. While Cruz was born a male, she knew since she was in high school that she was a woman. Back in the ’60s, that was no easy thing to admit, yet her Puerto Rican family supported her transition.

While her family and close community were supportive, Cruz faced immense hardships including harassment from the police, and later in the ’90s, she was assaulted.

Instagram/@hispanic_history_

Four of her coworkers physically assaulted her, which left her in ruins.

“I was very angry. Very angry,” Cruz said in an interview with Vanity Fair in 2017. “The worst part of it is that I couldn’t feel the ground beneath me, and added that she was “was contemplating suicide,” at the time.

But she overcame that tough time and is recognized as a leader in the movement for Gay Rights.

Yet, despite the hate and violence she faced, Cruz pushed on standing up for her LGBTQ+ family.

“I used to go to St. Vincent’s on my lunch hour…and I would see her,” Cruz told The Advocate. “She called to me, ‘Victoria, come here.’ And she always called me Dickie, you know, so when she said, ‘Victoria come here,’ I knew that she meant business. I sat down, and she looked at me. She said, ‘Try to keep the community together because we are our own worst enemy. And there’s power in numbers.’ And then she said, ‘The world will come up to try to divide us, and when you divide a community, you conquer it. So try to keep the community together.’”

As a trans woman and pioneer of the LGBTQ movement, Cruz said positive change is happening right now.

Instagram/@florentinoreyes

“I’m optimistic, and I’m hopeful that it will change for the better,” she told The Advocate. “There’s power in numbers. If we unite and keep united, we can make the future different, and what we want it to be. By galvanizing one another, we galvanize each other. And with the same frame of mind, the same frame of thought, we can change what’s happening.”

Trans rights are the new frontier in the LGBTQ+ movement. Despite the contributions made to the movement by trans women of color, cis members of the LGBTQ+ community ignore their plight or add to the harassment.

“There is so much hatred directed toward queer people, particularly transgender women of color. For what? Why? I think it may be about people’s own insecurities about their own identities and sexualities. And further, people don’t know their history,” Cruz told BC/Stories. “The transgender experience isn’t new. It’s as old as the human experience, and anyone who does their research would know this. I think society needs to be educated, and maybe after being educated, empathy will follow.”

READ: Zuri Moreno Made Sure The Trans Community In Montana Remained Safe

California Man Shoots Baby Of Woman Who Rejected Him In The Head

Things That Matter

California Man Shoots Baby Of Woman Who Rejected Him In The Head

Fresno Police Department

On Saturday, a man allegedly shot a 10-month-old baby in the head after the child’s mom rejected him at a party in Fresno, Calif.

According to the Fresno Police Department, Marcos Antonio Echartea, 23, fanatically followed Deziree Menagh, 18, at a party. 

The two had met a week prior, and when he saw her at the gathering, he hounded her every move. Echartea turned down the man’s advances, resisting him when he tried to force her on his lap and leaving the party early to get away from him.

“It was very apparent that he wanted a relationship with her,” Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said at a news conference Sunday, according to BuzzFeed News.

Menagh left the party with her daughter in the car of a male friend. As the three of them drove off, they stopped while making a U-turn about a block away, when Echartea appeared walking toward them. Near the car, the man reportedly fired three shots into the driver’s side window. The blasts hit Fayth in the side of her head as she sat on her mother’s lap in the passenger seat.

“We have every reason to believe that Marcus knew that baby Fayth was in that vehicle when he fired three rounds into that vehicle,” Dyer said.

The driver rushed to the hospital and called the police. On the phone, a dispatcher informed him there were officers nearby who could care for the baby as they waited for an ambulance.

The baby remains in the hospital, where she is in critical condition after doctors pulled bullet fragments from her head.

“We are hoping and praying that baby Fayth is able to survive this injury, as well as make a full recovery,” Dyer said. “I know the parents are broken. They’re hurting.”

Echartea, who was arrested at his house and charged with three counts of attempted murder, is also a suspect in a similar child shooting “over a female.” On the night of May 27, the man visited the home of his ex-girlfriend’s current boyfriend and fired his gun numerous times inside. During his attack, he almost hit a one-year-old baby. 

“It’s very apparent that Marcos Echartea has no regard for human life, even a baby,” Dyer said.

The man is currently facing additional felony counts, including assault with a deadly weapon, related to the previous shooting as well.

Read: The Leader Of A Mexico-Based Church Has Been Charged With Sex Crimes Against Minors In Los Angeles

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