Family Acceptance Is a Step Towards Marriage Equality

PHOTO: Kevin Vasquez said that the LGBTQ forum made him feel like he was with family.

A majority of Americans now support gay marriage. Along with the shifts in public opinion, political leaders and institutions have changed too. But the reality is that many LGBTQ individuals, especially youth, are still stigmatized within their communities and their own families. When it comes to gay immigrants, there are added layers as well (culturally and legally.)

In predominantly Latino areas like the Boyle Heights neighborhood in Los Angeles, there is a lack LGBTQ services and awareness. It's something advocates are trying to change.

That's why last week, theLatino Equality Alliance held a first-of-its-kind event to promote health and education and to empower LGBTQ youth in Boyle Heights.

The forum brought together families, youth and service providers to offer – what Ari Gutierrez of the Alliance called – "culturally competent" outreach.

"We don't to give up who we are as Latinos," said Gutierrez. "We want to be able to attend a gay pride parade or gay bar and feel safe, here in our own community."

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