Machismo and Religion, Main Problems for NY LGBTQ Latinos

CAMBA’s multimedia campaign, started last year, to promote family support for LGBTQ youth. (Photo via El Diario)

[The following is a shortened version of a story which ran in El Diario.]

LGBTQ Hispanics in New York face two main obstacles: religion and machismo, according to a study by CAMBA, a social services group based in Brooklyn.

“The acceptance by parents and society of LGBTQ kids decreases the risk of mental or physical problems for the kid, as well as the risk of depression, HIV infection or substance abuse,” said Joanne Oplustil, president of CAMBA.

The association served some 1,200 LGBTQ people in 2017, 35 percent Latinos from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Ecuador or Central America. In early October they launched their first bilingual campaign in Brooklyn, as they noticed that the Latino community needs special help.

The choice of Brooklyn was not by chance, as it was the borough with the most HIV diagnoses in New York, especially among African American or Latino men having sex with other men.

Latino parents of LGBTQ children concur that it is a difficult process, especially for the older relatives. Carmen, mother of a gay child, said that her mother (the child’s grandmother) “thinks that it’s just a phase.” Three of the four parents interviewed mentioned machismo and religion as key factors.

“Some people don’t see beyond their religion, they are so blind they choose religion over their own kids. I don’t get it,” said Manuel, who has a lesbian daughter and a gay son-in-law.

The lack of information and resources in schools are another big challenge for parents with LGBTQ children. “Kids must be loved and accepted as they are, and a problem in schools is that they don’t have the programs that the kids need,” said Teresa, from Colombia, and mother of a transgender child.

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