The Hispanic LGBTQ+ community faces its own set of issues

Mental health, social acceptance, economic disparities and fear of reprisals and violence are major concerns for the community.

SAN DIEGO – Pride events are underway in San Diego with the Pride Parade taking place Saturday in Hillcrest. The theme for this year’s parade is Justice with Joy, which emphasizes that art and advocacy go hand in hand, showing that there is still work to be done to address the discrimination that still exists for the LGBTQ+ community. And for those who also identify as part of the Hispanic community, these people often face their own set of issues.

“I think a lot of times the Latinx community has to choose between their Latino identity or being an LGBTQ person, right. Sometimes those things collide,” said Cris Sotomayor, bilingual program coordinator for San Diego Pride.

Sotomayor says one of the biggest challenges facing members of the Latinx community is the cultural and traditional mindset.

“The Latino community can be very traditional and I think we’re taught growing up a lot of bad and misguided information about what it means to be LGBTQ. So there’s a lot to navigate,” Sotomayor added.

Dieniz Costa, a San Diego Latinx Coalition volunteer and mental health practitioner, says most cultural differences stem from generational trauma.

“One of the things I’ve found is that we have a lot of trauma in our culture, intergenerational trauma, and when you grow up in an environment where your trauma is dismissed and mental health is stigmatized. You don’t realize what you’re dealing with is something you can get help with,” Costa said.

When it comes to accessing services such as health care and mental health resources, Hispanic LGBTQ+ people face high rates of discrimination. According to a UCLA study, up to 74% of LGBT Latinx adults reported experiencing discrimination on a daily basis.

Costa says that for these people, finding help can be much more complicated.

“And because of the intersectionality of sex, gender, sexual orientation, culture and mental health status, it’s true, like you have so many layers to go through that it can be very overwhelming,” Costa added.

Research from UCLA indicates that approximately 40% of LGBT adults in the United States are people of color, including 20% ​​who identify as Latinx.

Economic disparities and fear of reprisals and violence are major concerns for the community.

“The fear is always there, the anxiety about potential threats is inevitable. Our community is very familiar with that kind of pain, that kind of grief and that kind of fear,” Sotomayor said.

Despite the challenges, Sotomayor and Costa say the Latinx community is strong and resilient.

Watch Related: Celebrating Identity | Latinx, AAPI LGBTQ+ Pride kicks off in San Diego (June 4, 2022)

James C. Tibbs