Things That Matter

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

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

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Study Says 95% Of Women Don’t Regret Having Abortions

Fierce

Study Says 95% Of Women Don’t Regret Having Abortions

Mario Tama / Getty Images

Across the country, many states require a woman seeking an abortion to undergo waiting periods and counseling. The assumption behind the regulation is that ultimately women looking to have an abortion will regret their decision in the long term. A study published this past January in Social Science & Medicine, however, found that over 95 percent of the women who took place in a UC San Francisco study revealed that they had no regrets about their decision five years later.

The finding not only completely debunks the notion that most women who have abortions suffer from regret and guilt over their decision even if the decision was a hard one to make.

Out of interest, we researched online forums like Reddit to see what women had to say about their decision to terminate their pregnancies.

“I’ve had… more than one abortion. It was never a thought. Immediately after finding out I was pregnant, I bee-lined to the clinic. BEST decision I have ever made. No regrets at ALL! I’ve been called names, “baby killer”, etc. but I laugh at these people. I’m open about it, not that I had the choice because my ex SIL went around town telling everyone (thanks, stupid fuckhead ex-husband). The people that give me a hard time about it are parents themselves and are probably just bitter and jealous, anyways.” – Reddit user

“I had one when I was 21 (almost 39 now). Not once, for a single second, have I ever regretted that decision. I was dating a complete shitshow of an excuse for a human being (a heroin dealer, which I didn’t find out until later) who was abusive and promiscuous, and I knew the second I found out I was pregnant that I wasn’t keeping it. In addition to already knowing I was childfree for life, there was no way would I have brought an unwanted child into that kind of situation. So my very supportive mom took me to the PP appointment, where the staff was wonderful and only gave me a brief counseling session in which they made sure I was making the right decision for myself. The rest was pretty cloudy for me, because they gave me a Valium beforehand, but I do remember that when they did the ultrasound, they couldn’t find a heartbeat but still wanted to do the procedure because the pregnancy test was positive. After that, mom drove me back home, and the guy I was dating didn’t even seem to care about much of anything. We broke up just over a year later, and I heard through the grapevine that he was in jail for grand theft auto a few months after that. Today, I’m super well-adjusted and in a happy relationship with a really awesome guy who is as childfree as I am!” –Shanashy

“I’ve told people when it has come up in conversation.”

“I had an abortion recently. Mid-20s, stable relationship and good income. IUD failure. I’ve told people when it has come up in conversation. We don’t want children so we won’t have one. No regrets here.” –meinkampfyjumper

“When I was 17, I had an abortion. I’m 30, and have never once regretted it, nor ever felt guilty either. I knew, even after telling my parents and grandma about it I was certain. The guy was a nice guy, we talked about keeping it (because he was almost aborted himself when his mom got pregnant with him), but in the end he was already in the process of joining the Army. I would have been alone, a senior in high school, with my family’s help. That was not how i wanted it to happen, if at all, amd neither did he. He helped pay for half the procedure and when he took me home, my mom was supportive. I was scared yes, but relieved. She was amazing (still is). My grandma called me cold hearted for not thinking of the baby, when in my head(and heart), thats all I was doing. I learned later that my mom, grandma and great grandma had all had an abortion, but still had kids later. And its been great for them. Im on my second IUD now and have no plans for kids. Every so often I would get back in contact with the guy, and every time he brings up the kid we could have had (I was the one that got away). I would have had a 12 year old by now. And I breath a sigh of releif every time that I dont. I can barely take care of myself, hanging on by a thread and know I’m happier and better off. To some it may be cold, but I did the best thing for me, and made sure it never happened again, but also know i have the option and support in whatever i decide. And when i go for a check up or any Drs visit and its asked, i have no shame, no guilt, no regret in my decision. (Bracing myself each time for backlash, tho it never comes, true pros). Im happy other women have the same relief. There should be no negativity for our choices, but when it comes, bottom line, we know we did the right thing. And its not up to them for shaming us. Edit: my dad even told my brother and I years later ‘thank you for not making me a grandpa before I was 45.’ And gave me a pointed look. It was a small weight lifted I didnt know I carried. Especially after his reaction after i told him I was pregnant. (Explosive).” –bubblymayden

“I would have an 8 year old son right now if I hadn’t gotten an abortion. The thought of having a kid, a son, creeps me out. I have 0 regrets.” –Jens0485

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Ricky Martin Opens Up On Being A Queer Latino And Talks New Music In Powerful New Interview

Entertainment

Ricky Martin Opens Up On Being A Queer Latino And Talks New Music In Powerful New Interview

Mike Windler / Getty Images

Ricky Martin has long been an international superstar – even long before ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’ took over virtually every airway in the world. But it’s hard to deny that with that song, the Puerto Rican singer entered the global mainstream and ever since he’s been a pop icon.

From being one of the first major pop stars to publicly come out as gay, to acting in popular TV series, and getting married and becoming a father of four, Ricky Martin has always been a very busy man.

And despite a global pandemic that has forced all of us to stay at home and find a ‘new normal,’ Martin has forged a path forward. He recently sat down for an interview with Billboard to discuss everything from new music, the global Coronavirus pandemic, and his identity as an out and proud gay Latino.

Considering we’re all still living amid a global pandemic, the Billboard interview started on this very relevant topic.

Billboard points out that Martin and his family live in a very big and beautiful house in Beverly Hills, which likely makes staying at home a bit easier compared to the rest of us. However, Martin points out that he has a very loud home – with four kids and his mom all living under one roof. But he admits, “…I am very lucky. I am in a comfortable home where my kids can play.”

Ricky Martin is also working on new music. He released Pausa in May, and now as he works on new music the world is a very different place. He told Billboard: “I started working on my music maybe nine months ago. In my mind, the album was going to be called Movimiento, which means movement. But with all this [pandemic], it just told me… “The way it was, was not working. Let’s do it differently.” I have music with rhythm, but I was not going to tell people to move! So I named it Pausa.”

He also speaks about his close relationship with fellow Puerto Rican, El Conejo Malo.

Shortly after Billboard released its history-making cover with Bad Bunny on the the cover, Martin described San Benito as a “Latin queer icon.” Many people – of all backgrounds – took issue with that. But Ricky Martin tells Billboard that “allies are so important. Without them, our fight for equality is impossible. It really tickles me to see Bad Bunny as a gay icon — just like Cher could be. Why not?”

The Puerto Rican singer shared what his coming out experience was like and reveals he never tires of sharing it.

In the interview, Martin is very open about his coming out as gay. The singer came out as gay in 2010, married husband Jwan Yosef in 2017, and together the couple is raising four children.

Rolling Stone asked Martin, 48, what it was like to remain closeted during “the most public, exposed period” of his life.

“I had moments of extreme positivity, and not so positive [moments],” Martin answered. “Life was a bit on steroids in those days. Everything was really intense, but I could take it! I come from a school of military discipline when it comes to training for music, dance, and acting. I started when I was 12. So for me, it was about not being ready to open [up]. When you open an egg from the outside, what comes out is death. But when the egg opens from the inside, what comes out is life. It’s something that needs to come from within. Every time someone forces someone to come out, what you’re doing is you’re destroying the natural flow of the self-discovery.”

When asked what motivated him to come out publicly, Martin said that a kid somewhere in America needs to see positive headlines about coming out.

“Today I woke up to this beautiful headline that I know someone out there is in need of. The headline was something like, ‘I came out. And ever since I’ve been the happiest.’ Something like that, something… My heart is beating faster because I know today a kid somewhere in America woke up needing to hear those words. A lot of people say they get tired of talking about the same thing. Why would I? Are you kidding me? For so many years I had to keep it inside. And then the effect of someone… What people are getting from it in their healing process?”

Billboard also asked Martin his feelings on how the media is profiting and accepting Puerto Rican and Latinx culture.

When asked if he feels that the American media has gotten better or more open to understanding Puerto Rican culture, Martin responded: “We certainly have a long way to go, but the important thing is that we see that there’s an audience that is interested. And it’s up to us to bring [the] education.”

And he’s absolutely right. This year has seen several Latino artists rise to the top of all sorts of charts. Bad Bunny and J Balvin are among the most streamed artists globally and Bad Bunny is one of the most streamed artists on YouTube as well.

Meanwhile, Maluma and Jennifer Lopez are working on a film that will be out early next year. The Emmy’s, VMAs, and other award shows finally had decent representation of artists of color – particularly among the Latinx community.

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