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"We do have a lot of trauma within our culture" | Hispanic LGBTQ+ activists raise awareness to issues involving the community

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

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

“I think a lot of times the Latinx community has to choose between their Latino identity or being out as an LGBTQ person, right. Sometimes those things are clashing,” said Cris Sotomayor, Bilingual Program Coordinator for San Diego Pride.

Sotomayor says one of the biggest challenges individuals in the Latinx community face, is cultural and traditional mindsets.

"The Latin community can be very traditional and I think we are taught growing up a lot of bad and wrong information about about what it means to be LGBTQ. So it's a lot of things to navigate," added Sotomayor.

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

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

When it comes to access to services such as health care and mental health resources, Hispanic LGBTQ+ individuals face high rates of discrimination. According to research from UCLA, as many as 74% of Latinx LGBT adults reported having experienced everyday discrimination.

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

"And because of the intersectionality of sex, gender, sexual orientation, culture and mental health status, right, like you ended up having so so much layering to go through that it can be very overwhelming," added Costa.

UCLA research indicates that about 40% of LGBT adults in the United States are people of color, including 20% who identify as Latinx.

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

"Fear is always there the anxiety about potential threats is inescapable. Our community is very familiar with this kind of pain, this kind of grief and this kind of fear," said Sotomayor.

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

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

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