Community, friendships and relationships are some of the strongest contributors to our health and well-being. Everyone deserves to experience these things and lead a fulfilling and resilient life even when times are hard–unfortunately not everyone gets this opportunity.
Within the Latino and LGBTQ communities, there is a population that is often overlooked by greater society: Gay Latino Men over the age of 55.
For various reasons and circumstances, these older gay men are much more prone to experience mental health symptoms of loneliness, isolation and depression. Some of these factors include:
- living with HIV or other chronic health conditions
- living alone and/or in lackluster housing such as shelters
- being undocumented and experiencing fear related to their status
- living far away from their closest family and relatives; often in their home countries
- inability to pay for extracurricular activities due to low-wage employment
- coming out as gay at a later age
For many of these men who come to Bienestar Human Services, attending our weekly support groups or counseling sessions with our staff are their only refuge. While we provide much needed support and care to these men, once they leave our doors and go home, they often return to these hard-to-overcome feelings of isolation and loneliness.
With your help, we will work to help build a strong network among these men that can foster the long-lasting, substantial friendships, relationships and personal growth to overcome some of these experiences of mental health symptoms that they so often relate to us.
Money raised through this campaign will allow us to coordinate community-building and social bonding activities and programs for these men, encompassing multiple facets of our lives for a holistic approach to improving health & well-being:
- Arts & Culture: art and history museum visits; learning how to paint, draw or write; participating in arts workshops
- Appreciation of Nature: hikes in nature; visits to the mountains, ocean, beach
- Mentorship & Teaching: imparting wisdom onto younger generations through mentor-mentee pairings
- Community Service: volunteering together with other nonprofit organizations for the community
- Leadership & Advocacy: meeting with local legislators to share their stories & advocate for themselves and others
- Friendship/Relationship Building: social activities including community meals; team-building exercises and workshops
- Health & Wellness: education and information about mental health and other relevant wellness topics for these men
- LGBTQ Identity: engage in important discussions and talks about the challenges and assets of being an older gay Latino man
This is important to us at Bienestar as our mission is to uplift the health & well-being of the Latino community and other underserved communities. By building community with these men, we hope to fulfill our mission by helping them live more fulfilling, healthy lives.
Are you ready to help us build community? Any donation–no matter how big or small–means more than the world to us!
Why This Is So Important:
Many older gay Hispanic men have to overcome unique challenges and obstacles in their lives in order to live openly gay in a society that accepts them. Many of the men we support are undocumented immigrants who traveled to the U.S. on their own in order to live in a country where they can identify as gay. Often, their family members in Mexico or other Latin American countries don’t accept their sexual orientation or the fact that they may be HIV positive, or are unaware due to fear and stigma.
Because of their status, they are much more likely to work in low-paying jobs just to survive–they often did not get access to higher education, professional opportunities or the chance to learn English fluently in order to excel financially.
Due to these circumstances, it is no wonder that compared to the general LGBT population, LGBT Hispanic older men are far more likely to experience mental health problems. Due to these consequences, later life depression is an important public health problem. It is associated with increased risk of suicide, self-neglect, decreased physical, cognitive and social functioning all of which contribute to increased mortality.
To overcome these issues, it is crucial to have a support network including: community, friends and family who share values, trust and cooperation in order to achieve a true sense of well-being and optimal health for aging Latinos who are coping with isolation or loneliness.
How You Can Help:
Any donation–no matter how big or small–means more than the world to us!
As part of the #SALUD4ALL Campaign, The California Endowment has made $10,000 available in matching funds to participating organizations.
If you would like the opportunity to have your donation to our project matched, then please give on: Thursday, June 28th at 12pm PST and Tuesday, July 10th at 12pm PST.
For example, if you give $25 on that day, at that time, then it is likely your donation will be matched, making it worth a total of $50!
All of the funds donated to this campaign will go toward community-building and social bonding activities for these older men including opportunities to experience: nature, museums, community service, mentorship, meetings with local politicians, and so much more–as part of a unified community of people just like themselves.
If you cannot provide a financial donation, there are still many ways that you can help!
- SHARE this fundraiser on your social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
- VOLUNTEER with us to support these various activities and programs
- CONNECT us with anyone in your network who can help us build community activities
About Bienestar: Our Story
Bienestar Human Services is a nonprofit organization that has been serving the Latino and LGBTQ communities of Los Angeles since 1989, initially working to help address the disparities of the HIV/AIDS crisis within these populations. Since then, with a nearly 30-year track record in the community, Bienestar has expanded its reach to encompass mental health and substance abuse treatment, support groups for people of all identities, linkage to care services for newly diagnosed individuals, and a wealth of other health & wellness services.
Oscar De La O
Joanna L. Barreras
Frank H Galvan
Jesse & Tony
Oscar De La O
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