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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Mother And Teen Daughter Endured Ten Years Of Separation, A Dramatic Border, And A Covid Hospitalization To Be Together

Fierce

Mother And Teen Daughter Endured Ten Years Of Separation, A Dramatic Border, And A Covid Hospitalization To Be Together

Separated from her mother for a decade, seventeen-year-old Cindy (who is only being identified by her first name) took a chance last month to see her. Despite her age, a raging pandemic, and the risks of crossing the Mexico–United States border she journeyed from Honduras to see her mother in New York. Her love for her mother was so deep, she was willing to risk everything.

In her mission, Cindy wound up in U.S. immigration facilities where she contracted Covid-19. After three days in a hospital bed in California, Cindy was finally able to contact her mother who had not learned of her daughter’s hospitalization.

Thanks to the help of a doctor who lent her their phone Cindy was able to make the call to her mother, Maria Ana.

“There are backlogs and delays in communication that are really unacceptable,” Maria Ana’s immigration lawyer Kate Goldfinch, who is also the president of the nonprofit Vecina, explained to NBC.

After learning about her daughter’s COVID-19 hospitalization, Maria Ana feared the worst. “Following weeks of anguish and uncertainty, Maria Ana spent most of her nights painting the bedroom she has fixed for Cindy, just ‘waiting for my girl,'” she explained to NBC.

Last Wednesday night, Maria Ana flew to San Diego to be with her daughter after she’d finally recovered from Covid.

At the emotional mother-daughter reunion, Maria Ana assured her daughter “no one else is going to hurt you.”

After Cindy crossed the border, she spent several days in a detention facility in Texas in the custody of Customs and Border Protection. According to NBC “On any given night, Cindy said, she would share two mattresses with about eight other girls. She could shower only every five days in one of the eight showers the facility had to serve 700 girls.”

“It was really bad,” Cindy told the outlet..

Cindy was among almost 13,350 unaccompanied children left in the care and custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement at HHS. This last year has seen over 3,715 unaccompanied children at these facilities diagnosed with Covid-19. Worse, there are currently 528 unaccompanied children who have tested positive for Covid-19 and put in medical isolation.

Now, immigration advocates and families are pressing the U.S. government to pick up reunions of children and their families in the United States. Over 80 percent of unaccompanied minors currently in federal custody have family living in the states. According to Goldfinch, “40 percent have parents in the U.S.”

“So we would think that it would be fairly quick and simple to release a child to their own parent. But because of the chaos of the system, the reunification of these kids with their parents is really frustrating and backlogged,” Goldfinch explained, “most frustrating, of course, for the actual children and their parents.”

While Cindy was in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services, no one managed to notify Ana Maria that her daughter was in the hospital according to Goldfinch

“I don’t know why my daughter has to be suffering this way, because it’s not fair. It’s something very sad for me,” Maria Ana explained to NBC

“I’ve already been through a lot,” Cindy went onto share. “But I hope it’s all worth it.”

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

Entertainment

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

Photo via Getty

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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