By Jessica Cerda
While LGBT Pride Month focuses on the pursuit of equality and celebrates the accomplishments of LGBTQIA+ individuals, WestCare Texas – San Antonio is placing focus on prevention as it is one of the nation’s top hotspots for new HIV cases.
Lead Prevention Navigator, Xavier Graves, teamed up with community partners to create the Inaugural Pride on the Eastside Festival that took place on Saturday, June 11 at Ella Austin Community Center. The festival featured and encouraged HIV and Hepatitis C testing, a keynote address from District 2 Councilman, Jalen McKee-Rodriguez, drag shows, a LGBTQIA+ market, and resource vendors.
“Pride as a person of color to me is about visibility. It’s about knowing that even with every struggle that people of color have had to endure, they still add LGBT rights to the ‘must be respected’ list – because identities are intersectional,” said The Queen Fantasia, who is serving as the event’s Master of Ceremonies. “You can’t truly call yourself free if another part of who you are is in societal chains. It’s about the courage that it takes to be yourself regardless of the circumstances and being unapologetically authentic and knowing that freedom often has sacrifice as a precursor.”
In San Antonio, this issue disproportionately affects African American and Hispanic LGBTQIA+ youth, which is the largest demographic in the Eastside where WestCare Texas is based. The stigma held within Black and Brown communities about how HIV is contracted in the LGBTQIA+ community is the leading cause for increased cases. WestCare is working to inform the community about ways to prevent HIV contraction and help dismantle any negative stereotypes in the community.