Our UnidosUS colleague Laura Alfonso not only attended the Capital Pride Parade in Washington, DC on June 8: she was part of it! Alfonso was able to join UnidosUS Affiliate La Clínica del Pueblo, an organization committed to reduce health disparities in our community, on their float. La Clínica, 2018 UnidosUS LGBTQ Champion, works every day to provide safe spaces for the Latinx LGBTQ community. Read more about our colleague´s experience and learn more about our Affiliate below.
By Laura Alfonso, Membership Specialist and Regional Liaison, UnidosUS
Joining our DC Affiliate La Clínica del Pueblo (“La Clínica”) during the Capital Pride Parade in Washington, DC, was a reaffirming experience. Pride month is quite a unique time in the nation’s capital, a city that prides itself in its openness towards the LGBTQ community.
La Clínica has built a reputation in the city for its commitment to reducing health disparities based on race, immigration status, language, gender identity, and sexual orientation. When pride month comes around, La Clínica gears up to celebrate the Latino LGBTQ community. However, its work extends far beyond Pride: every day staff and allies work diligently to provide safe spaces for the Latino LGBTQ community through the “Empodérate” Centers, the only bilingual HIV initiative in the DC area.
As I made my way towards La Clínica’s float, I could feel the spirit of pride building up in the air. La Clínica’s float was not hard to spot, I could hear Selena’s “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” from a block away. Once I reached the float, I was greeted by “Empodérate” community members, as well as staff, parents, friends, and children—allies showing their support.
The float itself was impressive, vibrantly decorated with Pride flags, and their majestic butterfly of “No Human Being Is Illegal” campaign, a clear affirmation that immigrant rights and LGBTQ rights are human rights. This is part of their campaign to fight the growing anti-immigration narratives and a long-standing history of exclusion and discrimination towards immigrants. Then there was the enormous quilt of all the Latin American flags being waved along the float by youth. Seeing it made me realize the importance of the existence of spaces such as “Empodérate”, where community members can explore the intersectionality of their queer and Latinx identity.
Once the parade started, we began marching and waving our gay, bisexual, pansexual, transgender, and straight ally flags, embracing our diversity loud and proud. The streets were crowded, colorful as ever, erupting in celebration: cheering, singing, and dancing to the bachata, tropi-pop, and reggaeton coming from La Clínica’s float.
The most remarkable moments to me were seeing the Latinx community in the crowds, cheering for us as they watched us make our way. Representation is very important, especially to marginalized and vulnerable communities.
Experiencing Pride from this perspective helped me realize the importance of creating these safe, holistic spaces for communities of color to express their intersectionality proudly, boldly, and without fear, beyond Pride month. La Clínica supports the Latinx LGBTQ community through the programs and services offered at the “Empodérate” Centers, which are not only physical safe spaces, but also provide access to counseling, testing and referrals for HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, substance misuse education, support groups, and outreach activities.
La Clínica’s exceptional leadership and commitment to addressing our LGBTQ community’s disparities around healthcare, social justice, and immigration has not gone unrecognized. In 2018, UnidosUS awarded La Clínica the LGBTQ Champion Award for their initiatives that promote equity, accessibility, leadership among the Latinx community in DC. Just this month, their very own Executive Director, Catalina Sol, was recognized by El Tiempo Latino as one of 2019 Powermeter 100, a honorary list of the most influential leaders for the Latinx Community in nation’s capital.
Congratulations, Catalina and La Clínica. And to all of us, ¡feliz mes del orgullo!