A new organization has formed to meet the specific needs of Georgia's Latino LGBT population.
Conversations about forming the organization began at the 2013 Creating Change conference, hosted by Atlanta that year and put on annually by the National LGBTQ Task Force. Latino LGBT activists, including Leo Martinez, Alejandro Lopez and Greg Bautista, started discussing what the community's needs were and whether there was a gap to fill.
Martinez, community education coordinator for anti-domestic violence organization Caminar Latino, says that informal discussions followed, but that action wasn't truly taken until this year.
“We started meeting again in March of this year and that's when we really decided yes, let's move forward, let's do something. Let's talk about what the community needs and put something together,” says Martinez, who is now chairman of the board of directors of Latino LinQ.
While he's hesitant to narrowly define exactly what the Latino LGBT community's needs are, Martinez does mention some areas.
“Some of the main things we recognized that are maybe higher up on that list are access to health care and mental health, HIV/AIDS education, and immigration, especially with the transgender community who are at the forefront of injustices because that's what we see the most,” he says.
However, the needs assessment is an ongoing process and the group's board of directors continues to collect feedback from the community.
The services Latino LinQ currently offers include discussion groups, health education workshops and HIV prevention services, and referrals to other agencies based on need. The group does not have its own physical meeting space yet, so they rely on other organizations like the Phillip Rush Center, Caminar Latino, the Latin American Association and others to lend out space for its programs and events.
“The idea is to hopefully raise funds and be self-sustainable,” says Martinez, noting that they are still working on setting a budget and are in the process of applying for their 501(c)3 nonprofit status.
Latino LinQ has also started a peer support group on the second and fourth Thursday of each month at the Latin American Association. Anyone seeking more information about Latino LinQ and its services is encouraged to visit their website at latinolinq.weebly.com, email latinolinQ@gmail.com or call 678-744-LINQ (5467).