Queer Initiatives in the West of Puerto Rico

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Miss Carib 2013, Kaila Lee Naranjo (a local Mayagüez area travesty)

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The public in the Puerto Rico Queer Film Fest at the University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez

 The west of Puerto Rico count with several organizations and events to support the LGBTT Community.  As an investigative work for the class English 3268: Writing for the Communications Media the University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez I conducted an investigation on the queer initiatives in the west part of Puerto Rico. 

On one hand,  I encountered the Project Carib which is attached to the Migrant Health Center, Inc.  The mission of Carib Project in the west region of Puerto Rico is to offer services focus on the prevention of the use of drugs and addictions, VIH and Hepatitis C between the population of young men who have sex with other men and to promote a better quality of life.  Their vision is to establish ties of support and equality for all youngsters so they can enjoy a life free of discrimination, with accessible services to health care and they can become aware of the cultural changes that affect their lives in order to be in the vanguard to changes affecting this community.  Their goal is to reduce the impact on mental problems, the risk of getting HIV or Hepatitis C in all the youngsters of the west region of Puerto Rico.  

Project Carib is concentrating their efforts to better the quality of life of the young men who have sex with other men.  They welcome all the community and they offer free services for the HSH Community (men who have sex with other men). Their offices are located in Dunscombe Avenue #191 Mayagüez, Puerto Rico 00680. You can contact them by phone at 787-833-6399 or by e-mail at carib_@live.com .  Between the services they offer you can find: health education, secure sexual practices, orientation on how to prevent HIV, test to detect HIV in 20 minutes, counseling in addictions and referrals to medical services, laboratories, housing or treatment for HIV.

In an interview conducted on Thursday, November 26, 2013 I asked Gabriel Pagán, a Counciler in Adictions and Case Manager from Carib why they chose to concentrate their efforts in the LGBTT Community and he said: “we concentrate efforts in the LGBTT community because is an organized community and this fact help us to impact more people with the federal funds that we received.  Our focus is on prevention and we are here to help the LGBTT Community members.”

On the other hand, the west counted this year with the Puerto Rico Queer Film Fest.  The Puerto Rico Film Fest was originally planned for the metropolitan area.  They have been celebrating this film fest for five years in the San Juan area and four years in Mayagüez.   In an interview conducted on Thursday, November 26, 2013 to Víctor Gonzáles Pérez, Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Film Fest he said :  “the Puerto Rico Film Fest comes to open a space for good gay film thematic and issues with the LGBTT Community to educate the society about the issues and struggles that affect this lifestyle.”   Gonzáles added that they chose to expand the queer film fest to the west part of Puerto Rico because this area counts with several nonprofit organizations incline towards the LGBTT Community that make it easier for them and free of cover charge for the public.  One of those organizations that support the film fest was Cinematheque, a student association from the UPRM.  In an interview conducted on Thursday, November 26, 2013 I ask to Lenier Arvelo, President of Cinematheque why they are giving support to the LGBTT Community and he said: “our association goal is to bring cult classic films to the community and to create a space for it in our society.”  

This year edition of the Puerto Rico Queer Film Fest in Mayagüez included a presentation of short international queer movies at Popac on November 25, 2013 at 12:00 pm, the presentation of the movie La Despedida in the nurse amphitheater of  the University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez on November 26, 2013 and a presentation of national works and short movies of queer themes in La Tertulia on November 27, 2013.

Another association that helps the LGBTT Community in the west coast of Puerto Rico is the Coai Organization.  This organization has a variety of projects and one of them is called “Ache del Oeste”.  This program is incline towards men who have sex with men and sexual workers between 18 to 49 years who comes from the region of  Mayagüez (ten municipalities; Mayagüez, Cabo Rojo, Añasco, San Germán, Lajas, Sabana Grande, Rincón, Hormigueros, Las Marías y Maricao) y Aguadilla (Aguadilla, Aguada, Isabela, San Sebastián y Moca. 

This organization has an office located in 164 calle Méndez Vigo este esquina Liceo oficina # 102 Mayagüez, PR or you can contact them by phone calling to (787) 832-7500.    This is a federal proposal supported by the Georgia Center for Disease Control and Prevention under the program 08803: Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Prevention Projects for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands.  This organization goal is to prevent HIV and sexual transmitted infections between men who have sex with men.

In an interview conducted on Thursday, December 5, 2013 to  Luis Daniel Cruz González, Coordinator of Coai for the Mayagüez area I asked him about the services they offer, and he said:  “we concentrate on men who works the street for sex or men that have sex with other men.”  On the other hand, Cruz added, “we work with them in the aspect of education, prevention of HIV and we try to get them some education on sexual relations.”  The center offer a seven session educational course intended to prevent HIV between men who have sex with men in the ages of 18 to 29.

On the other side and to close this investigation, I discovered that the LGBTT Community counts with an internet tool named Purple Roofs to identify LGBTT friendly hotels and guesthouses.  This tool will give you a list of thousands of gay and lesbian owned and friendly accommodations around the world – bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals, hotels, guest houses, and much more. According to purple Roofs the LGBTT friendly places in the west coast of Puerto Rico you can find the Tres Hermanos Beach Hotel and Guesthouse in Aňasco and Wild Flowers Guesthouse in Boquerón.

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