I have been working in the community my entire career. My interest began from a young age way back before it was even a dialogue in our society and culture. My mom identifies as a lesbian and came out way back in the early 80’s to her family. It was a time of great distress for her and watching the pain she went through changed me. It’s one thing to talk about family separation and loss. It another to sit with someone who really understands what that can be like. So many nuances which have gotten better in the community and our society since then have inspired great hope and opportunities for the future. The truth, though, is that although some things are better, within many of our families old beliefs and culture remain a stronghold for continued rejection and discrimination.
My uncle is also a wonderful inspiration in my life. He was 34 when he passed from HIV in the early 90’s. My father’s family had rejected him due to his sexuality and I was never allowed to interact with him as a child. When he got sick, I remember the silent judgement and shame that the family had about his illness. Being a gay man in the latino culture was and is very difficult. My father cleaned out his apartment and brought me a box of books and things he didn’t know what to do with. In the box was the very first volume of the Diagnostic and Statistical manual for psychiatric diagnosis, an abnormal psychology textbook, Woody Allen movies, and a variety of other psychology books. He changed my life. He gave me a road map of possibilities and I thank him everyday.
Through my uncles books I developed critical thinking skills and understood from a young age what the field of Psychology had wrong about gender identity and sexuality in those early volumes of the DSM. It fueled my curiosity and continues to do so.
Through my mom, I also learned about Trans people. I worked with trans people in all stages of transition during my graduate training through volunteer work at Gay Mens Health Crisis NYC and afterwards while working with the HIV community in Newark and Jersey City. While many things have changed, the need for support is greater than ever. Currently, I offer a support group for anyone who may be interested in any stage of transition or contemplation. A safe and affirming place to receive support, validation and encouragement.
While I am Cis, my love for the community and understanding of gender identity and sexual expression continues to deepen and helps me learn to be a strong ally.
I grew up with a lot of love from my mom and watched her endure so many forms of rejection in all the areas of her life and understand how love, hope, inclusivity, and encouragement can truly change a person and their trajectory in life. I have received nothing but love from the community and am honored to give some back. This is what I offer my clients and am always amazed by their ability to transform their lives in such remarkable ways.