By Eduardo Morales, Ph.D.
The graduation ceremony of the first cohort of La Academia de SFAGUILAS included seven participants who completed the first level of four workshop trainings. (See my column in the prior issue for more about this leadership training program.) They were presented with their certificates of completion by me at Alliant International University. Completion of the joint effort of trainings led to a very proud moment in the lives of the program’s first cohort. The program is funded by the foundation ViiV HealthCare for Positive Action, and is staffed by AGUILAS ViiV Program Coordinator Gustavo Ordoñez, M.A.
Graduates participated in the first of four in-person, three-hour leadership development workshops on topics specially designed for the Latinx LBGTQI+ community. The four-part training series included: Financial Training, Effective Strategies for Advocacy, Knowing Your Legal and Civil Rights, and Efficient Communication Tools for the Mass Media. This training series completed its pilot phase and now the training program is officially launched. Training sessions are offered continuously by La Academia de SFAGUILAS in two Levels: Basic and Advanced. These trainings are available for the next three years at the offices of AGUILAS located at the SF LGBT Center.
Other highlights of the evening’s program included a Presidential Citation to Renato Talhadas, MFT, APCC, MADC, who is AGUILAS’ Program Director and was the 2021 Conference Chair of the National Latinx Psychological Association (NLPA). As the President of NLPA, I presented this honor to Renato for his outstanding contributions in organizing the highest attended and most successful virtual conference in NLPA’s history.
In a capacity crowd at the SF LGBT Center’s Rainbow Room located on the building’s second floor, AGUILAS celebrated the Graduation and Year-End Holiday Fiesta on Thursday evening of November 18, 2021, with a sit-down dinner banquet and a spectacular program while adhering to COVID-19 guidelines. HIV, SDI, and Hep C Testing were made available by the UCSF Alliance Health Project.
The Graduation and Year-End Holiday Fiesta had entertainers that included live multilingual performances by international performing artist Alex Costa, and SF Bay Area’s well-known performing artist and the Masters of Ceremonies for the evening Betty Fresas. Ney Nascimento, the Outreach Coordinator of AGUILAS, led the organization of this Graduation and Year-End Holiday Fiesta of AGUILAS and was assisted by Gustavo and the staff of AGUILAS. Pictures and videos of this spectacular event can be found on the internet Facebook page of AGUILAS El Ambiente and on SFAGUILAS’ Instagram page.
There are very few activities and programs throughout the SF Bay Area for Latinx LGBTQ+ persons, and special events like this Graduation and Fiesta by AGUILAS draw attendance from a wide range of Latinx LGBTQ+ persons. Information, program services, contact information, a calendar of upcoming events, and registration are available through the tab Mi Águilas at our website: www.sfaguilas.org
In attendance at the Graduation and Holiday Fiesta were representatives of a new nonprofit program in San Francisco entitled Rainbow Beginnings. Founded in 2020, this 501 C-3 nonprofit organization recently moved from Southern California to San Francisco. They provide assistance to Latinx LGBTQIA+ migrants with sponsorship and housing support, legal advocacy, community engagement and education services. Rainbow Beginnings specializes in services for LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers by connecting folks in detention with sponsors and various forms of support. Nobody wants to leave their homeland illegally, however, they may be compelled to do so as a last resort due to degradation of their life circumstances. More information can be obtained on their Facebook and Instagram @RainbowBeginningsLGBTQ and their website: www.rainbowbeginnings.org
A New Groundbreaking Comic Book
A recent discovery of mine is Kraven Comics, which is claiming to be one of the newest LGBTQ+ comic books created and the first of its kind conceptualized by queer Latinx individuals. It aims to provide representation in the comic book industry, and has just started its first print and digital issues in English and Spanish. Its creators have plans to have print and digital issues available in other languages. Other products and information can be found at Instagram @kravencomics and at the Kraven Comics website: www.kravencomic.com Fernando Velez is Kraven Comics’ 34-year-old creator and visionary and is from Yauco, Puerto Rico. His and his team’s superhero narratives feature LGBTQ+ heroes. Their hope is to draw positive attention to Latinx LGBTQ+ persons in entertaining and compelling ways. Their large, creative team further desires to focus on inclusivity and awareness of social justice issues and in productions that are accessible anywhere in the world.